Posts Tagged ‘advice’
No, not IT it. But I just found out I’ve been taking the wrong approach to query writing.
A friend and I recently exchanged query letters. Keep in mind that I’ve written my share of queries — and have read more than my fair share of advice on how to write a great one.
But the one she read was my first stab at a query for this particular manuscript — and apparently it’s no good.
What I have is more one-page synopsis than a query. Hmm … or should I say “harumph”?
My friend’s advice is to follow this formula for the summary graph:
First sentence about the heroine/hero. Second sentence about hero/heroine. Third sentence covers the conflict in their relationship. Fourth sentence either asks a question or teases the reader in some way.
I can buy into that advice — except for the very last part. All the things I’ve read say to answer any questions you ask. You shouldn’t leave the agent/editor hanging … or so I thought.
What say you, loyal commenters? Ask and answer or just ask?
P.S. On the bright side, I guess I have an even shorter synopsis I can send out. Why couldn’t I have realized that before submitting to the Golden Heart? I could have squeezed another page of excellent writing into my entry. 😉
Every few months, it wallops me upside the head.
What is it, you ask? Nothing good, that’s for sure. It’s the fear that, even after years of writing — and getting a degree in journalism, I still don’t have a clue what I’m doing.
The familiar foe hit me again this weekend. My local RWA chapter, NARWA, hosted Erin Quinn for morning and afternoon workshops.
After lunch, she talked about creating a setting so strong that it’s really a character. (Think the storms in “Wizard of Oz” or the jungle in “Jurassic Park,” she said.)
The comment that stuck with me most was this: “If at the end of the scene, you could pluck the players and dialog out and plant them anywhere else without some major work, you haven’t done your job.”
Uh-oh. If that’s true, I’m in trouble. Many of my characters’ conversations — witty, laugh-packed chats — take place in restaurants or other standard “date” places … generic, could-be-anywhere places.
I think this is where my training in journalism serves me ill. When you’re writing a news story, you relay quotes and facts … not take note of how birds flitted past overhead while your source was speaking, or how his eyes were the exact same shade of periwinkle as his sweater.
Heck … a journalist probably wouldn’t even use “periwinkle.” Don’t use a $10 word when a 10-cent one (blue) gets the point across just as well.
As a result, my prose is relatively straightforward. “He laughed.” “She wrinkled her nose.” “He bolted upright so fast he nearly fell out of his hammock.”
You get the idea.
My GH entries may need more help than I think. Good thing I still have some time to make ’em shine.
It always amazes me how attending my RWA chapter meeting recharges my creative battery.
Sure, it means a long day for me. I usually don’t get to bed until at least 2 a.m., and I’m up before 8 on meeting day. We meet from 10:30-ish to 2 p.m. and drive an hour and a half back home. Then I usually have to head into work and put in a full day there.
But I wouldn’t miss it. The chats while we’re carpooling are a great way to get new insights. And the meetings themselves always serve up something useful.
This time, we had a group critique: Several members submitted the first three pages of their WIP. Entries were read aloud, anonymously, then everyone shared their thoughts.
There wasn’t a single one that didn’t intrigue us enough to want to read more. That, of course, begs the question: Why haven’t any of us wannabes made a sale yet? But that’s probably a question best left for another post (in which I’ll rail against the publishing industry that depends so much on sheer luck. You have to be in the right place at the right time and know all the right people. Your MS could sparkle like the Hope Diamond, but if it crosses the desk when the editor’s having a bad day, too bad for you.).
Sure, a few of them had issues: Too much backstory, head-hopping. But the only way to improve is to have someone point out where you need improvement.
Our members are great at offering the right mix of encouragement and advice. I think (hope) we all left with a warm, fuzzy feeling — and some tips to take us another step closer to the ultimate goal of publication.
For my part, I realized (with feedback) the new beginning works really well. It was also pointed out I need a solid description of my hero in those opening pages.
As a side note, I had no idea Matt sounded so arrogant. But when you read it aloud, he sure does. He doesn’t remain arrogant throughout the novel, though, so I’m not sure what to do about that.
Since those first pages are in Meg’s POV, maybe we can chalk it up to her perception? He’s not really all that arrogant, she’s just in a bad mood, so she sees him as more arrogant than he really is?
I spent most of today working on a couple of scenes from Bethany and Cody’s story … 3,115 words written. I was surprised again, though: Beth’s mother sounds like a guest on “Jerry Springer.” She must be from Southern Illinois! 😉
It’s time for me to start polishing next year’s Golden Heart entries, though. My Orange Rose scores came back Friday. With those and Saturday’s feedback on the contemporary series story I want to enter, I’m ready to put the comments to good use.