The Query Letter

You’ve brainstormed a concept, you’ve outlined and rearranged, you’ve written, rewritten, and then rewritten again, and you’ve got yourself a daggum screenplay. Congratulations! First, take a second to pat yourself on the back. Everyone’s got an idea for a movie, but very few people actually finish what they start. Once you’re done being proud of yourself, that sinking feeling sets in and you ask yourself this horrifying question: “what do I do now?”

There are countless ways to “break into the business” which can somehow make it seem more difficult to accomplish. But if you’re starting from scratch, the next best step is to get your query letter together.

A query letter in today’s world is an email with a casual introduction, a killer logline, and a polite sign off. That’s it. Take a look at this helpful article from ScreenCraft about how to construct the perfect query letter.

Ask a Screenwriter!

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As always, these are fake questions from actual readers. All comments and questions for publication can be directed to dearscriptguy@gmail.com.

Dear Script Guy,

I have an amazing screenplay idea. It’s about a world in turmoil where everyone is dyslexic and named Beatrice. There’s this sadistic, fascist dictator and he’s after this one dissident who used to be his lover, a fifty-year old woman who lost her sons in the last big war, but it turns out that their relationship was only an experimental drug-induced hallucination, and the midpoint is when the two of them realize the drug manufacturer is the real villain and they have to join forces in order to save the world.

I’m halfway through my first rough outline and I’m hoping you can help me. Since all the characters in the script are dyslexic, I want to misspell all the dialogue, you know, give it a sense of realism. My question to you – will my artistic integrity keep my screenplay from selling?

Sincerely,
Grammar and Punctuation Emergency

Dear GAPE,

Ecxelent qeustoin. Aoccdrnig to a rscheearch procejt at Cmabrigde I raed abuot, it deosnt mttaer waht oredr the ltteers in a wrod are, the olny iprmoatnt tihng is taht the frist and lsat ltteer are in the rghit pclae. Tihs is bcuseae the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey lteter.

So rest easy, GAPE, when your script fails to sell, spell check will be the last thing to blame. Instead, I’d look inward at your decision to make a woman over the age of forty central to your movie. This is cutting off your legs before taking your first step. Save yourself the grief and make every female character a late 20’s/early 30’s knockout with enormous breasts. Screenplays aren’t meant to be read, and Hollywood is not about to stop coercing women into elective plastic surgery to assuage your vision of a learning disability filled world of Beatrices.

Try not to be too upset. Nations have risen and fallen over beauty. The sad truth is your artistic integrity is no match for boobs and never was.

About the Author:

Stapleton J. Marleybone III, aka Script Guy, is a thirty-year screenwriting vet who has written the ‘Ask a Screenwriter!’ column since 2009. Born during a freak thunderstorm on a fishing boat not far from Bayou La Batre, Stapleton dropped out of high school to pursue a career in Hollywood. He cut his teeth as a production assistant on the never released Roger Corman classic She Rides to Hell at Midnight. His largely biographical debut feature grew from the experience and would go on to be nominated for two CableACE awards in 1978. He currently resides in Sherman Oaks with his third wife and her five unpleasant stepchildren.