Show, don’t tell.
This is probably something you’ve seen me say before if you’ve been reading critiques. It’s probably something you’ve heard other people say before. So if you don’t know what it means, I’ll explain it quickly.
Telling: Captain America is heroic.
Showing: Captain America fought the Red Skull and saved the city of New York.
Both sentences get the idea that Cap is heroic across. But the second one is detailed and more effective.
This is an issue in query letters when somebody says their book is “a heart-warming tale” or a “humorous adventure.” Instead of telling me that it’s heart-warming, write a query letter that gives me warm fuzzies. Instead of telling me that it’s humorous, write a query letter that makes me laugh. A well crafted query letter should match the tone of the book, and will imply a lot about the nature of the book.
This is actually also a very useful skill if you ever have to write a statement of intent or cover letter. Instead of saying you’re a hard work, give an example of a time you worked hard. You’ll stand out from all the other hard workers who applied.