With the recent terrorist events in Paris, I decided that my current manuscript about a terrorist plot should be shelved for awhile. The emotions I’m feeling and the emotions of the world are just too raw to want to read a book about that right now. Timing sucks as I just started querying, but I feel that’s what I need to do. So, I’m focusing all of my energy on my new WIP that has an antihero as the main character. I’m hoping she isn’t too unlikable.
If you’re a frequent visitor of this blog, you’ll know I lament over writing queries and synopsis. I hate them, despise them, will do anything to avoid them, etc. So, I love to read any help that fellow authors are willing to give regarding these two areas. Even though most of the posts say the same things, I can usually glean a little nugget or two. Recently, I read a post on queries that put it so succinctly, I had several aha moments. Here’s a few of them, from a post on PubCrawl:
Step 1. Start with a hook. (The post explains very well what this is.)
Step 2. Include what the inciting incident is that changes your hero’s story and puts them on the path of their journey.
Step 3. Explain what your hero needs to accomplish or overcome
Step 4. Make sure you state WHY the hero has to get involved. This is the personal stakes of the story.
This is part two of a series and it looks like there might be a part three. I urge you to read the whole article for additional information.
If you’ve followed this blog at all, you might know that I SUCK at query letters. Before I send one out, I’ve rewritten it at least thirty times, requested feedback from everyone that I know and their dog and yet, I still can’t seem to nail it. One of my favorite blogs written by Janet Reid posted a dynamite answer to all of your query woes. If you are in the throws of querying or soon will be, you should check it out.
Great post on how to condense your manuscript into a query letter by Relentless Writers.
If you’re wondering how many queries an agent receives or how many times that agent signed someone, agent Natalie Lakosil spills the beans.
Curious as to what an agent thinks when s/he’s reading the slush pile? Here’s agent, Carly Watter’s thoughts as to why she rejects submitted pages and/or manuscripts.
Hey fellow writers, Brenda Drake has opened her Pitch Wars contest early. If you have a completed manuscript, you should head on over to her site and check out all of the rules and mentors. If chosen, the mentors will help you polish your manuscript and query letter until they shine brighter than a rare gem. So, watcha waitin’ for? Head over now, before it closes on August 18th.
If you are a regular reader of my posts, you know how much I hate query letters! If not, you now know I despise them. Mine are horrible. Over the years, I’ve taken classes, read books, and followed blog advice. So when I recently entered a new contest that required me to have a query letter, I cringed and went back to one of my favorite advice blogs–Query Shark. Unfortunately, I didn’t have a chance to read all of the entries (per her suggestion) before the contest. So, I entered anyway and followed the tweets religiously. Sure enough, one of the judges mentioned my entry and how disappointed he was with how generic my stakes were. UGH!
His advice was incentive enough to continue reading Query Shark. I finally found the entry (can’t find it again), where the writer is told once again to show the stakes. BUT this time, Query Shark identified what that meant and I had an AHA moment. So here it is–the stakes are the question the hero/ine has to make. According to Query Shark, every genre should have their main character make a choice, otherwise there is no stakes. *queue music*
Now, I finally have a much better ending with the stakes clearly shown. This information also helped me identify a weak area with my brand new WIP (8k words into it). I really wished I’d known this concept or understood it three years ago when I first ventured, seriously, into writing.
Hi all. I know it’s been a long time since I posted, but I’ve been super busy writing and learning about the publishing/agenting business. I thought I’d share some of my knowledge. Today’s blog posts discusses what happens to your manuscript after you sign with the agent until it’s pitched to an editor.
Your agent will provide you with an editorial letter which is a page or more describing the overall issues with your story. It can be anything from adding more depth to your characters or pacing issues. From there you will either agree or disagree about making the changes. (For the most part authors agree because they realize that the changes are improving the story. Of course there are some exceptions on both sides and for good reasons but we aren’t going to discuss those today.)
Once you agree to what you will change, you then go back to your manuscript and rewrite, cut more scenes, or add more scenes. Whatever is needed. Then your lucky agent rereads your manuscript and if s/he thinks it’s perfect then you are on to the next step. HOWEVER, you could receive another editorial letter detailing additional changes, which will require you to once again edit. This might even happen a third time until the manuscript is just right. Remember your agent isn’t trying to torture you, they want the manuscript to showcase your best work and best story.
After you’ve finished editing, your agent writes a pitch letter. A pitch letter is like a query letter and oftentimes the agent will pick things out of your letter to use. (That’s why those dang things are so important.) In essence, the pitch letter entices an editor(s) to read the now polished manuscript. Now it’s your agent’s turn to wait to hear back and sometimes that can take f-o-r-e-v-e-r! If the editor(s) doesn’t love it, the agent will pitch to another small handful of editors. And so on, until hopefully one of the editors falls in love with the manuscript.
What happens after that is another blog for another day!
The intern job I applied for required a test to gauge my abilities. The agent sent me four query letters with the first ten pages of the manuscript and a full manuscript. (For confidentiality purposes, the names were redacted.) My “job” was to read the query letters and the accompanying pages. Then I needed to write a few sentences on whether I would ask for more pages or pass and why. As for the manuscript, I had to write a report detailing the plot summary, discuss strengths and weaknesses, and make a recommendation.
Here’s what I learned:
Query Letters & 1st ten pages
- Too many names in query letters and the first ten pages make it difficult to read or follow along with the story line.
- Too much back story is distracting to the reader and disconnects them from the story.
- The query letter needs to clearly state the GOAL, MOTIVATION, and CONFLICT of the main character because the first ten pages cannot convey all that.
- If you start with too much action, it loses the reader and distances them from the story.
- One query letter didn’t even talk about the main character or the plot. The author only extolled the virtues of his/her writing.
- Don’t rush to submit your book. If you’re sick of writing the same manuscript, set it aside and let it rest for a while. The MS I read was beautifully written, but the plot fell apart a third of the way into it. It required extensive editing and was too much time for the agent to take it on.
- Ask your critique partners about the story’s timeline. Does it feel too hazy? Most of the time I couldn’t tell when the story moved on to a different day or the time of the day. It made me feel as if I were reading while drunk.
- Make sure your character’s motivations are clear. If your main character’s aunt is suffering a mental breakdown and the mc is worried about her, but goes outside to weed the garden, explain why that’s more important. Otherwise, it pulls the reader out of the story and the character loses its creditability.
I hope you found these insights as helpful as I did. Hopefully, I’ll be able to share more in the future.