Adam sent this query letter and asked me to critique it.
Dear include name here,
My writing partner and I have recently completed a script, ON MAGGIE, which is a good fit for your particular production company, and the projects that include name of production company here are known for.
ON MAGGIE is a bent, twisted, somewhat broad, but ultimately feel-good story of three life long friends who have grown up in a small town in the Midwest. ON MAGGIE is separate and distinct from other “road trip” films in that it does not go for the easy, predictable joke. The humor is based on interesting, sometimes even eccentric, characters that develop and evolve as the screenplay’s plot progresses.
ON MAGGIE revolves around a contest between three friends in their early twenties. The winner gets to spend a night with Maggie, the high school “It” girl who now finds herself tending bar at the local watering hole. Maggie, out of boredom as much as anything else, agrees to be the “prize”. The winner of the contest is the one who completes all five items on his “to do” list. Some of these items include: being in a threesome, attending a Jimmy Kimmel taping, and going to Mardi Gras in New Orleans.
I would be happy to send you a copy of ON MAGGIE, and answer any questions about the screenplay or its writers. Thank you.
I like the fact that it’s short and succinct. Whether a producer likes it or not that will be appreciated. They managed to squeeze in a basic logline and a short synopsis all onto less than half a page. I’ve had several people ask me what they should say in their query letter when they have no writing experience. This is a perfect example of what to do. You simply write about your story and don’t mention any experience at all like they have done here. While it’s clear they don’t have any produced credits they don’t bring attention to it either.
I’m not crazy about the opening sentence. As a rule I don’t think you should really worry about submitting to companies that do particular types of films (within reason). If the company has done feature drama and you have a feature comedy it’s probably okay to submit to them, but it means that the first sentence isn’t exactly correct. Use common sense when trying to decide if you should submit to a particular production company or not but err on the side of reckless.
If I were them I would open the letter with something like this:
“My writing partner and I have recently completed a feature length comedy script, ON MAGGIE, which we would like to submit to you for your consideration.”
In the second paragraph I would remove this sentence: “ON MAGGIE is separate and distinct from other “road trip” films in that it does not go for the easy, predictable joke. The humor is based on interesting, sometimes even eccentric, characters that develop and evolve as the screenplay’s plot progresses.”
Try to show the reader why it’s different instead of just telling them that it is. Is there any way to give a clear example of why this story is different from other road movies?
I also think they could add a sentence comparing their script with two well known films. Something like, “On Maggie is The Hangover with heart, a grown-up Stand By Me.”
I would move the second paragraph down so that it’s the third paragraph and then the synopsis / logline is the second paragraph. The synopsis paragraph (which opens with “ON MAGGIE revolves around a contest between…”) is so short that it’s almost just a logline and I feel like the basic story information in this paragraph needs to get out quickly to try and hook the reader. The second paragraph (which opens with “ON MAGGIE is a bent, twisted, somewhat broad…”) ties things together and wraps it up.
I think the synopsis paragraph could be tightened up a bit. I’m not sure “attending a Jimmy Kimmel taping” is very compelling. For someone who lives in L.A. (like myself) this is pretty ho-hum. Why is attending a taping of Jimmy Kimmel so important? It certainly isn’t hard to do. If there is something more to it (which I hope for the sake of the script there is) it should be explained a bit more to interest the reader.
Since I haven’t read the script I have no idea what the story is about or what actually happens but here’s an idea to illustrate my point:
“To win the bet they must have a threesome on the set of a Jimmy Kimmel taping and go to Mardi Gras and get arrested 10 times in one night.”
What do you think of the query letter? Feel free to offer your own opinion in the comments section.