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Thursday, September 16, 2010

Query Letters Workshop

I'm not going to lie. I love writing queries. I love queries as much as I hate writing a synopsis and that's about as much as I hate getting shots.

(Okay, I pass out when I get shots so maybe that's not accurate, but whatever. You get the point.)

One of the discussions I went to at last weekend's Alaska Writer's Guild Conference was Janet Reid's query workshop.

Janet had us write queries off the cuff. Scary! I'm not going to recap everything she said- most of you follow Query Shark as it is. (And if you don't, you should!) Here's her formula for a hook.

Start with your character's name and tell what choice they have to make.

Easy peasy, right? (Okay, we all know writing queries isn't exactly easy.) But really, that's pretty straightforward.

What about you? Do you like or loathe queries? Any advice you'd like to share on writing those oh so important letters?


Also, Carolyn Schriber is celebrating the release of her novel Beyond All Price. There are nifty workshops and sorts of cool info- yours truly might have done a little interview. Check it out!

19 comments:

Vicki Rocho said...

I'm not to the query stage yet, but I think I'll like it. I've been reading about them for so long now I'm itching to give it a shot!

Nicole Zoltack said...

Writing compelling queries are hard! I'm constantly revising mine but I finally think both are good to send out now.

VICTORIA SAAVEDRA said...

I'm not at the query stage either. However, I've heard enough from other writers how stressful and wonderful they can be.

Good luck with yours!

Angela M. said...

Queries are a struggle for me. I don't have trouble seeing the strengths and weaknesses in other people's queries, but when it comes to mine, I feel a bit blind. The hardest part for me is cutting it down to a decent length.

Amanda Sablan said...

You love writing queries?! Wow, how do you do it?! :O

I hate them hate them hate them and it took me three months to write a query that I was confident with. I'm with Angela in that it was so hard for me to pare it down to a page. And I think the best advice I've heard about queries is that it should be a reflection of your writing, ie serious if you write serious fiction, funny if you write funny fiction. Let the agent get a feel for your book through the query.

Roland D. Yeomans said...

Earlier today I posted after been rejected and presented my new query

http://rolandyeomans.blogspot.com/2010/09/what-to-do-after-rejection.html

I grieve over my queries. I'm glad you enjoy yours. As for writing a synopsis, I feel much the same as you.

Tommorow afternoon, I have the ghost of Samuel Clemens pontificate on how to make writing a synopsis easy. Yeah, but he's dead.

Have a great tomorrow, Roland

Roland D. Yeomans said...

Earlier today I posted after been rejected and presented my new query

http://rolandyeomans.blogspot.com/2010/09/what-to-do-after-rejection.html

I grieve over my queries. I'm glad you enjoy yours. As for writing a synopsis, I feel much the same as you.

Tommorow afternoon, I have the ghost of Samuel Clemens pontificate on how to make writing a synopsis easy. Yeah, but he's dead.

Have a great tomorrow, Roland

Stina Lindenblatt said...

I hate queries. Fortunately, I learned to start writing it well before I start to query, and make sure I get tons of feedback. Okay, the latter can be really frustrating when there so much conflicting feedback. ;)

paulgreci said...

I think I fall on the side of liking to write query letters. It is challenging and really causes you to take a close look at the significance of your story.

I usually start with a one sentence pitch about what the story is about and go from there.

MT said...

I'm scared of the query shark, but one of these days I'm going to have to gather my courage.
Thanks for the tip! Have a great weekend. :)

VR Barkowski said...

Synopses are tedious, but I LOATHE queries. Not all stories lend themselves to the query format. My first book boasted a very complex non-linear storyline with multiple protagonists. To fit the query format, the story had to be simplified to a degree that it came across as inane, pedestrian and unoriginal - which it was NOT.

And yes, if you can't tell, I'm still stinging from the experience. :)

Susan R. Mills said...

I'm working on my query now. I'm enjoying it actually, but like you, I hate writing the synopsis.

L. Diane Wolfe said...

Not thrilled about the query writing! A full synopsis is difficult, too.

Shannon O'Donnell said...

I love queries! I just hate writing them!! LOL. :-)

Jemi Fraser said...

I used to despise queries - but I've learned a lot from Query Shark, AQ, QT and Elana Johnson's book so they're not quite as terrifying anymore :)

Julie Dao said...

I'm not at the query stage yet but I know who to go to for advice when I do get there! :) :)

ann foxlee said...

I actually like query writing too. I did my first round of queries before I probably ought to have... I really needed to do a re-working of one plot element before the MS was truly ready for anyone to look at it. Now I'm dying to send it out again, but I'm *still* editing (and don't remind me how long I've been doing that!) But man, I just want to write that new query!

Synopsis? Now those things are awful. Absolutely pure evil. Don't know why, but I can summarize way better in a paragraph than I can in three pages... something about the level of detail that belongs in it. I just don't get it. Three pages is too long to be an exciting hook, but too short to draw you in with detail and character development... sigh....

When, oh when will some nice agent post an example of a good synopsis for all us poor writers? sigh.....

ann foxlee said...

PS, my biggest piece of "Don't" advice is this:
Don't compare your book to the latest mega best-seller, or to say that 'nothing like this has ever been written before'. Both will make an agent roll their eyes.

I'll have to think about my favorite piece of "Do" advice... although I really loved your bit about giving the character's name and then saying what they're up against-- it seems like a sure-fired hook!

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