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Screenwriting

How to Write the Best Query Letter

By January 13, 2022No Comments5 min read

Do Query Letters Work?

When it comes to screenwriting, pitching your script is as important as writing it. This is where query letters come in. Introduced in the 1980s-90s, query letters are still relevant in determining who’s script gets seen by the right people. Writing a query letter can often cause much anxiety to screenwriters, especially considering its importance. If you’re facing the same worry, this article is for you. Here, I’ll be dealing with how you can write the best query letter for your script.

Wait, What’s a Query Letter?

A query letter is used by a screenwriter to get a manager, studio, production company or agent interested in the work you’d like to send them. Simply put, it is a sales pitch for your script – a brief email that talks about why your script should be turned into a movie. Your logline will be critical in communicating your story’s concept in a query letter.

The purpose of your query letter is to:

  1. Open the door and establish a professional relationship
  2. Request permission to submit your screenplay legally
  3. Serve as a paper trail so that you have a record of everywhere your script was submitted

How To Approach Writing a Query Letter?

There are three things you need to consider before writing a query letter– targeting, researching, and specificity. You need to have a thorough idea of who you’re writing to, and tune your letter such that it caters to the recipient’s tastes.

This is where researching your recipient plays a crucial role. It is also essential to keep your query letter succinct and to the point.

The general structure that a query letter follows is this: an opening statement or greeting that includes the title, a logline, an optional brief mention about your background if it helps your credibility and a closing sentence inviting the person to read your script. They don’t need to be in the same order but these components are essential to every screenwriter’s query letter.

Keep in mind brevity is key. The folks you’re sending it to get hundreds of these things on a weekly basis.

Tips for Writing a Query Letter

  1. Make sure the screenplay is completely finished and polished before sending to anyone. You’ll also want to make sure you copyright it as well.
  2. As I’ve already mentioned, extensively research your recipient, read up on what kind of scripts they’re interested in and the projects they’ve worked on. Find out if you have any connection with them. If yes, use it to your advantage without any hesitation. For example, if you both have a mutual friend or colleague be sure to mention that in your query letter. Establishing a connection with a prospective agent can help a lot in generating their interest in your script.
  3. While “To whomever it may concern” seems easier and more convenient for an email blast, avoid that if you want a positive response for your query letter. It’s always best to directly address the particular person in your emails as it shows effort and an earnest desire to establish a connection from your side. This tends to catch more attention than a generic, impersonal address.

  4. Limit your biography to one or two sentences at most. The spotlight should be on your story. You may talk about your relevant achievements, if any, or even about your passion for the theme that you chose for your story. Try to convince the agent that your story is unique. Be sure to communicate why “you” are the best one to tell that story.

  5. Lastly, make sure that your query letter is devoid of any spelling, grammatical, or punctuation errors. Such mistakes may lead to instant rejection as a sloppy letter is the last thing any agent would want to read and is a reflection on your script.

Query Letter Example #1

Hi Brian,

I’ve got a mind-bending sci-fi thriller named “Inception” that I feel would be great for [his production company].

A thief who steals corporate secrets through dream-sharing technology must plant an idea into the mind of a C.E.O., but his tragic past may doom the project and his team while costing him his own sanity.

I’d love to send you the script. Let me know your thoughts.

Thanks,

Joe Blow
(555) 555-5555

Query Letter Example #2

Hi Brian,

I’m a past winner from the Nicholl Fellowship and I’ve got a mind-bending sci-fi thriller named “Inception” that I feel would be great for [his production company].

A thief who steals corporate secrets through dream-sharing technology must plant an idea into the mind of a C.E.O., but his tragic past may doom the project and his team while costing him his own sanity.

Based on your track record with sci-fi, I figured you were the best fit for this genre. If this is something you’d be interested in let me know.

Thanks,

Joe Blow
(555) 555-5555

Query Letter Example #3

Hi Brian,

I used to intern for Warner Brothers under Chris Bradey and after discussing my sci-fi thriller “Inception” with him — he recommended I reach out to you.

A thief who steals corporate secrets through dream-sharing technology must plant an idea into the mind of a C.E.O., but his tragic past may doom the project and his team while costing him his own sanity.

It’s The Bank Job meets Total Recall.

Thanks,

Joe Blow
(555) 555-5555

Jay

Jay Carver is a screenwriter, director and producer. Through his production company J-Style Films, he has done work for companies such as Turner Broadcasting. In the past, he has worked with Hollywood actor Omari Hardwick and won several film festivals including "Best Director".

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