Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Posted by Laurel Garver on Tuesday, July 26, 2011 16 comments
How is your summer going, friends? I am having a great time researching a shiny new idea while simultaneously having a not-so-great time revising marketing materials for a finished book.

After a long chat with a CP who encouraged me to start my query from scratch, I realized something. I've been channeling my frustrations with query letter writing into how I conceive of my character. This is a very bad thing. One's query should always convey a sense of excitement about the project. Yet the more drafts I wrote, the more judgmental of my MC they sound.

I had a long talk with my girl this morning. I apologized to her for losing the love, for not listening with a truly sympathetic ear. Answers to common query questions--What does she want? What must she do to get it? What's in the way? What happens if she can't get it?--must come from within her and her story. She is what makes the story have heart, not my (stumbling) attempts to cleverly describe it.

Writing from a place of love isn't just for the book itself--it's for everything surrounding it, queries and synopses included. If you find yourself genuinely perplexed about the marketing end, it's time to get back to the basics and love your characters and their world.

Have you dealt with query/synopsis struggles? What helped?

16 comments:

  1. I share your pain! So far, it's helped to scrap a query and start from scratch, often from a different angle altogether, and several times over.

    I've also found some of the community boards-- QueryTracker's for example-- helpful for feedback/critique

    Good luck!

    ReplyDelete
  2. This is SO true. It helped me to take a little break before rewriting my query. Also, reading examples of good and bad queries on Query Shark and Nathan B's blogs helped get me "in the groove" of things. Good luck!

    ReplyDelete
  3. oh, man. So glad to know I'm not the only one whose emotions show up in my writing--LOL! I've had queries like that, that were just grumpy and not selling the book. That's always the signal to step back--as you did. Good work~ :o) <3

    ReplyDelete
  4. The most helpful thing for me to do for a project I was once querying (no longer) was to write the query from the character's POV and then switch it to 3rd person. I felt the same as you: I was getting caught up in how I would describe the book, but it's not my story, it's the character's story. It really helped me.

    ReplyDelete
  5. I also think it's a good idea to have more than one version, based on the agent. Mine is a YA and for those that like contemporary romance, I talk more about the relationship between the two mc's. For agents who hint they enjoy sci-fi or speculative fiction, I mention that side of my book more prominently. It's the same book, but hopefully something in the more personalized query gets a partial request (and has). Good luck!
    erica

    ReplyDelete
  6. I have been there! (I might just be there now). Perhaps starting fresh with a little more love is something I should try. :)

    Best of luck with yours!

    ReplyDelete
  7. The process is so long and is filled mainly with obstacles that it gets difficult to keep going. But writing with love is a great antidote to the weariness and insecurity. Thanks for the reminder.

    ReplyDelete
  8. My problem was trying to stuff everything into the query blurb, as if I was writing the synopsis. I thought I had to detail every conflict and resolution - but no! It's the angle/plot point that's the most dynamic that goes into the query letter. Anything else can be discarded.
    But I still struggle at catching the right tone...

    ReplyDelete
  9. Hmm, maybe I'll copy those questions and sit down with my query again.

    I hate query writing.

    .......dhole

    ReplyDelete
  10. Perri: Yep. That's where I am. I've had some helpful feedback at AgentQuery--enough to know I needed to try yet another angle.

    Saumya: Unfortunately, I keep falling in love with query approaches that don't fit my book. Though helpful at first, reading many examples seems like it may actually be contributing to my losing my character's voice.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Leigh: I was reading over some query draft notes and saw how badly I was harshing on my character's choices instead of simply describing them. That was an a-ha moment.

    E&C: I think that taking a similar route will work for me, too. Thanks for suggesting it. I think having multiple spins would definitely make me less crazy trying to be all things in one letter.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Janet: I knew I hadn't lost faith in the book per se, just my ability to make the marketing materials adequately enticing. Then I realized I needed to tap into that first love and the enticing qualities would become apparent.

    Deniz: I hear you. It seems like I can go very voicey, but the plot is muddled, or I can be very clear and lose the voice. I'm giving my MC some extra hugs and hope she'll help me with the latter issue--I'll bring clarity if she'll bring the voice.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Donna: I got those questions from a couple of helpful sources--Elena Johnson's "From the Query to the Call" e-book, and from the AgentQuery site. They're good basics for choosing which incidents to highlight in the query. it can really help to practice using the questions on published books you've read, just to get the hang of it.

    ReplyDelete
  14. I need to fall back in love with my MC, too. Good point!

    ReplyDelete
  15. Excellent advice to remember! I’m delighted to be a new follower. And I’ve left a reply to your comment on Bird’s-eye View, http://michellefayard.blogspot.com/2011/07/getting-blog-comments-to-work-for-you.html.

    ReplyDelete
  16. Margo: It's amazing what a difference it makes!

    Michelle: Thanks for the follow and welcome!

    ReplyDelete