On a day of intensives, I got a chance to stop by and listen to agent Tina Wexler. Tina is a literary agent at ICM, representing authors in both the children's and adult marketplace. Her intensive was: Hook, Line, and Sinker! How To Catch An Agent With A Perfect Query Letter.
Tina started by explaining some basics of the query letter, including how she personally reads them. She prefers her queries to be in email format, and not business letter format. She also likes to hear the reasons an author thinks she'd be a good fit for their manuscript.
Your query should only be a shadow compared to the brilliance that is the manuscript. And once you've figured out the mechanics and structure of your letter, go back through and work on word choice--interjecting authentic voice when you can.
Tina made a great point about trying something different with your query when you can. It doesn't have to always start with your character. It could be the bigger theme. Play around and see what you come up with.
Attendees were then broken up into groups where their queries were critiqued by both Tina and other writers. Very informative with great energy!