Sunday, November 14, 2010

Junk This Query & Start From Scratch

FIRST OFF: Sign up for my QUERY LETTER BLOGFEST happening Dec. 12th-18th
On to the query post…
As many of you know, I am hosting a query letter blogfest happening Dec. 12th-18th.  And if you don’t you  missed the link at the top of this post J Go sign up…there’s a prize.
This morning Janet Reid, The Query Shark, posted Query #187 .This was a ‘junk this query and start completely over’ rejection. But The Shark didn’t just leave the author hanging. Nope she included two samples of a query letter template. In The Shark’s words:

What does the protaonist want?
What's keeping him from getting it?
What choice/decision (A) does he face?
What terrible thing will happen if he chooses A; what terrible thing will happen if he doesn't?

Here's another form of the same thing:
The main character must decide whether to______. If s/he decided to do (this), the consequences/outcome/peril s/he faces are_______. If s/he decideds NOT to do this: the consequences/outcome/peril s/he faces are_______.

Obvisouly you don't just fill in the blanks, or just answer the questions. You use this template to get the important information in the right order. You build on to this skeleton. But, you start here, and work up.
The Shark has given you the three MAIN things to include in the query letter. Once you have these you need to spice it up with the last two things: Setting and Voice.
My suggestion: answer the questions first.
If you can’t answer those, then there might be SOMETHING wrong with your manuscript and/or you are just not getting the main plot of your own book. If it’s the latter, has anyone else read your completed novel. Ask them what the main plot/conflict is…sometimes we’re too close to the thing to know anything!!!
I run into this problem all the time as I write multiple POV books and have multiple plot arcs in each POV, but the plots all merge –eventually—and I can’t tweeze the MAIN PLOT out for querying purposes. My NaNo novel Light is told from one POV. WOW, I just simplified my life.
My second suggestion: take your answers and plug them into the second form The Shark has given us. Then add descriptors of the protag and antag, the setting and breath voice into the whole thing. Easy peasy, right?
More like yeah right!
These things are hard, harder than writing the entire novel from start to finished, harder than editing the novel. We are condensing 50K for YA to 100K for adult into 250 concise words with a killer hook/logline that will pull the reader into the rest of the query.
Roland over at Writing in the Corsshairs, has a great suggestion for transforming the boring logline into an attention grabbing one. Check out his post HERE. You will thank him and yourself for visiting and actually trying his suggestions. They work. I have been doing this with my loglines lately
You have four weeks –one month—before my blogfest to write your query letters. Go forth and write.
Happy reading. Happier writing-query letters.


Misty Waters said...

I hate writing queries, and more than that, I hate writing the synopsis! I'm bad at both. Seriously. I'm a naturally long-winded person, so . . .

You write from 2 POV's? 1st or 3rd person? My first 2 are from 2 POV's and in first. I've often wondered if that's going to kill my chances, but I think it's so damn GOOD. It's all my friends favorite. In my vamp series, I went to another POV in the 3rd book for plotting reasons, but I think this resembles more of like what Stephanie Meyer did in the Breaking Dawn.

gideon 86 said...

Thanks for the great post Jodi. Some good information it there.

Did you get some good writing in this weekend?