Savvy Authors Blog: How to Write Specific vs. Vague Conflict in a Query

The purpose of a query is to entice a literary agent or editor to read (more of) your manuscript.

Some literary agents will only read the manuscript pages if the query entices them enough, other agents will read both the query and pages for each submission they receive, and yet others will read the pages before they query. But in order to receive a partial or full request, it’s essential for agents to finish reading your submission thinking, “I need more.” And there’s an easy way you can do that within your query: specific conflict.

When I worked as a literary agent and read through the query box or perused the feed of Twitter pitch contests, writers would often over-simplify their stories or plot. This over-simplifying not only doesn’t provide an overview of the story in the plot summary (also called the story blurb), but it doesn’t leave a reader eager for more.

To see specific examples of vague conflict vs. specific conflict, click the button below to read the full blog!



Want to Learn More About How to Write a Strong Query or Pitch?

Join Meg on September 24 for a Query-Writing Boot Camp!

Just like writing a book is a skill acquired through hard work and practice, so is writing a query letter. A query is essentially a pitch for your novel in the form of a book industry-specific cover letter. In this one-week course, you will learn: popular types of query formatting, how you can stand out, personalization, as well as how to create a strong book blurb/plot summary that will have literary agents asking for more.

Included in this one-week workshop:

  • Two lessons on how to write a query
  • Live query critiques
  • Live Q&A with instructor to ask individual query questions


  • September 24: First lesson posted
  • September 25: Live Q&A from 7:00-7:30 pm EST
  • September 26: Second lesson posted
  • September 27: Live Q&A from 7:00-7:30 pm EST

Hope to see you there!




About Meg

Meg LaTorre is a writer, YouTuber, developmental book editor, writing coach, creator of Query Hack, and former literary agent with a background in magazine publishing, medical/technical writing, and journalism. On Meg’s YouTube channel, iWriterly, she geeks out on all things books—from the concept to the bookshelves (and everything in between). Meg also launched Query Hack, a query critique platform where writers can submit their manuscript queries or Twitter pitches for free feedback. She has written for publications such as Writer’s Digest and SavvyAuthors on topics related to writing and publishing, participated as an editor in Twitter contests, including #RevPit (Revise and Resubmit) and Pitch to Publication, and can be found teaching online classes throughout the year. To learn more about Meg, follow her on Twitter/Instagram/Facebook, sign up for her monthly newsletter (Book Nerd Buzz), and subscribe to her YouTube channel, iWriterly.



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