Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Your Query Says All

Since I'm in the beta and revision stages of my book, I haven't written much about queries in a while. I just read and incredible post at The Other Side of the Story with Janice Hardy that was about both revisions and queries. It inspired me to write a reaction to it.  

(I don't know if doing this is good blogger etiquette, but I'm going to do it anyway because it's going to be awesome.)

The basic gist of the article is that when there's a flaw in your query, it's almost certain to be a flaw in your novel as well.

At first I thought there was no way this was true because my old query was terrible and my book is wonderful (despite the major revising it needs). Then I realized that even though an unsuccessful query doesn't necessarily mean your book sucks, my betas said the same thing about my book that people have said about my query. Too much history, too much tell not show, long sentences, not enough focus on the main story line, etc.

I saw another example of this with a book I beta read. I helped with her query on Absolute Write before we started swapping chapters. The query basically listed the characters and their main traits without saying a word of what the story was about. Do NOT do this.

After working with her, people discovered she had an amazing plot about war and rebellion and love. I don't know what she was thinking when she didn't include that stuff in the first place. Her new query was what made me want to work with her.

The first three chapters were about her characters. No plot. I kept asking myself, "When are we going to get to the good stuff? Where’s the war and the rebellion and the love?" I started to wonder if anything ever would happen.

So, bad queries are tools to improve writing. Who knew?


Here's another great article about how movie previews show story arcs, and it made me think of query letters. Definitely worth a look.

2 comments:

  1. I love your blog and I couldn't find you on twitter so I thought I'd just tell you here that I gave you an award on my blog :) http://leahraemiller.blogspot.com/2011/02/aw-shucks-i-got-award.html

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thank you! I'll have to join in on the fun.

    ReplyDelete

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