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Three Tips On Writing Your Bio In A Query Letter For A Screenplay
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When you write a query letter, your first challenge is to summarize your 100+ page story to a paragraph or two.
The second challenge is to establish enough credibility that the person reading the query letter will feel like it's going to be worth the time it takes to read it.
The whole purpose of writing a bio that is a sentence or two long in your query letter is to establish enough credibility to make them think you can deliver on the story you're telling them about.
There are three possible things that can help your cause in this matter:
1. If You've Had Something Produced If you have had a script produced legitimately, that should be placed in the opening of the letter.
This is where you can name-drop anything associated with it to legitimize it. This does NOT include a producer saying they thought it was great but passed on it. (They obviously didn't like it enough!) However, if you had a different script optioned by a legit producer (not the script you're writing about in this letter, though), then you can mention that early on as part of your bio.
You should also be careful about mentioning where you placed in contests if you weren't in the Top 10%. If you state that you made it to the quarter-finals and nothing more, that actually detracts from your credibility because there were a bunch more that were better. You would need to make it sound better by playing a game with the statistics somehow.
For example, if you placed fourth in the Nicholl Fellowship, you could say you placed fourth, but this reminds us that there were 3 that were definitely better. Or you could say that you were in the Top 2% out of 3000, for example. Play around with how to present the statistics to give you the most credibility.
2. You have expertise In The Subject Matter.
A second type of information that could be relevant is your expertise in the subject matter. For example, it might be a medical thriller and you are an ER Nurse. Or perhaps, it's about an affliction that someone in your family has. Or it might be about a behind-the-scenes beauty queen story with some great catfights in it and you used to be one.
The point is to let them know that you have this insider viewpoint. But this does not work with the kind of experience that too many people have. For instance, if the main thrust of the story is about growing up in the 60s, and that's when you grew up, that is not enough relevancy to warrant mentioning. You would need to make it more specific for it to be to worth mentioning.
But if you can take it a step further and mention something unique such as that your parents lived in a commune in the 60s and that's where you spent the first few years of your life, and that's what inspired the script. That makes it far more interesting.
3. Mention something super interesting abbout your background even it if is only indirectly related.
Perhaps you are the granddaughter of a super famous person, or maybe Albert Einstein was your uncle. Or maybe you invented some odd-ball item that you were able to sell to QVC -- it's could be any little fun fact! Somehow, then make a tie-in to the subject of your script.
These things would not be totally relevant to your script, however, they make you seem like an interesting person. And since the script is by an interesting person like you, it could give you enough credibility for them to want to read your script if they like the idea to begin with.
And a final bonus tip: Do not put "I always wanted to write a screenplay, and I know this is what I'm meant to do." This does not give you credibility and in fact will work against you as it calls attention to the fact that you are an amateur.
So there you have it -- three possible ways to enhance your credibility in your query letter through your bio.
Ultimately, your bio needs to move them forward in reading your script and, if possible, to even color their experience positively before they read it. If you have told them that you won a top contest, they will already have their mind oriented around the idea that it is a good script. If you don't have anything that can give you credibility, then don't put anything. It's better not to put anything than to put something boring.
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