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Posts Tagged ‘query’

I can see it glittering in the very near distance, my finished query.  It is now worlds different from the previous one, much more voice than before (of course anything over zero is an improvement), and I’m pretty sure it shows, not tells.  My protagonist was definitely hovering around during the creation of it, unlike the first version, when she was off doing whatever she’s off doing while I’m not writing about her (come on, you know that characters have lives during the down time.  And if you don’t, you should read The Eyre Affair and its progeny).

 

Every source I’ve read about writing a query talks about how hard it is.  They were not kidding.  For me, writing the novel was a fun adventure, intense, yes, but because I didn’t know what was going to happen while I was writing it, it was somewhat like reading a book for the first time.  I loved the surprise of thinking that it was going to go one way, and the characters and the story telling me that it wasn’t.  I enjoyed that moment when I’d put something in, puzzle at it for a second while feeling compelled to leave it, only to discover why it was there pages and pages later.   Or in some cases, after the first revision, when I could see the pieces all together but they didn’t exactly fit. 

 

Queries have none of that.   Worse, they have almost no space in which to convey the whole sense of the book, as well as a lack of access to the tools (point of view, misdirection, foreshadowing) which really add depth to the story.  Basically, you get a template and are told to make it unique.  That you need to write a “business letter” with voice. 

 

No wonder writers hate them. 

 

You’ve just had the wonderful expansiveness of hundreds of pages to tell a story, and now you get to retell it in half of one percent of the words.  Sounds a little like something I once heard in a song somewhere about a camel and an eye of a needle.

 

I’m closing in, though.  Phew.

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So since last week, I’ve been doing a lot of research on crafting a query.  Before I sent the first one, I thought I’d taken enough time to really get a sense of what it was supposed to look like, sound like, feel like.

 

Just one week after sending it out, the idea of it makes me cringe.  Especially after reading the example for Hell’s Belles which I think is the most engaging query I’ve read yet (I’m running out to buy the book, and I’ve never read a novel about a succubus.   Or a stripper.  No wonder she was snatched up).  Some of the other samples, ones that left agents breathless and reaching for the phone, I still don’t get.  It’s hard to understand the magic if you don’t see the magic in it, but then again, I suppose everyone’s taste is different.

 

The most challenging part—and apparently the most mandatory—is showing, not telling, in what is essentially a business letter.  Somehow, you have to demonstrate voice, even while following a formula.  It’s like saying here, follow this template, but do it uniquely.  Huh?

 

Everything I’ve read was so accurate, writing the novel was the easy part, it’s the query that’s killer.

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