Okay, peeps. I've discussed the importance of specificity in a query letter (thanks to the fantabulous Nathan Bransford, of course!). Now I'll tackle something bigger. Something that will definitely set you apart from every other aspiring author trying to nab that agent.
Many people have defined voice over the years. I'm no expert (shocking, I know. You'll get over it...). But I do know that a writer's voice needs to be authentic and true to their narrative.
Let's say your manuscript is an epic fantasy about dimwitted dwarves bent on slaying elves (not that I have anything against the dimwitted... they make me laugh...). A little bloodshed here, a bit of political undertones there, and you finish your manuscript, pumped up to go write that query letter. It should be a no brainer, but sometimes we forget that our queries should be written in the same tone as the novel. If your main character is an elf struggling to keep his chastity belt on while a gold-lovin' dwarf swoops in and steals The Hot Elf Girl by bribing her, go right ahead and make your query humorous.
Elf wants to defend his family and the forest of Urganzul from the bloodthirsty dwarves of cave Krltyk? Make that query sound as suspenseful and emotion driven as your plot.
Voice doesn't equate to describing every little detail with a bunch of adjectives, excessive use of adverbs, or snarky humor where it doesn't belong. Plain and simple, voice is how you write your story. That's what sets you apart from everyone else: sentence structure, pacing, and plot are all key elements in your novel, and should be summed up using the same tone in your query letter.
I'm still working on finding my voice. Something tells me I'm not the only one, but that's what makes the writing process so thrilling. As we change, our writing style changes (hopefully for the better!). But no matter how long it takes to develop, a writer's voice will always shine through the pages, and make us fall in love with the story.
Even if the dwarf gets the girl in the end.