Wednesday, March 9, 2011

One Page Equals 250 Words Equals Blowing Your Mind

For this week's Writing Wednesday post, I wanted to share with everyone a first draft of my query letter for Line 21. I actually had enough quiet time a couple of weekends ago to sit in front of my computer and make an honest attempt at writing out the first draft of my query.

However, after the 72 hour weekend finished up, the only thing that I had to show for my efforts was this opening hook:

The game of public sex is hard enough to play when you got a family loan shark looking for a piece of your action, but when your symbiont wants a piece of the action as well, it can make you question your own sanity.

And why was this the only part of my query letter that I was able to write that weekend, boys and girls? Because I spent the rest of the weekend frying out my brain cells doing the following: reading up on how to properly write a query letter; how to properly format a query letter; reading dozens of samples of good and bad query letters (note, I am not that overly impressed with Janet Reid's Miss Snark blog); and thinking about how to distill my two and a quarter page synopsis down to 150 words.

As a matter of fact, the only part of the letter that I really have planned out besides the opening hook, which needs a little tweaking, is probably the other part of the opening (which will not be at the top but right after the synopsis) that mentions the book title/word count and what the book is all about.

Beyond those two items, I am like a bad driver that is tire-well deep in a mud bog with the pavement just mere inches away from pulling me to safety.

In other words, hopelessly stuck.

In days gone by, I probably would've chucked in the towel, put the novel on the back burner (or worse) and continue on my merry way writing up a storm and playing the mind game of "what if" until I screamed for mercy.

But, since I decided to get published the normal (i.e. the traditional) way instead of non-normal way (self-pubbing with a good business plan in place), I will be cracking down this week to work on the query letter.

I will admit that I am just a tad nervous about doing this letter, just like when I wrote the synopsis. Why? Because throughout my life, there have been times where I didn't do certain things simply because I didn't think I could do it without monumentally screwing it up (aka failing), and since I abhor failing, I never made the attempt.

This time around though, capitulation is not an option, viable or otherwise. I will refuse to capitulate on something that is strongly required in order advance along my chosen path of self-destruction. After all, do I capitulate on potential job openings if I don't exactly qualify for them? Sometimes I do, but that is the real world, where you have to pick and choose your battles in order to maximize the necessity of staying gainfully employed during economic strife.

While this is also the real world, this is something where for the most part, it is considered a second income for a great many people who choose to pursue this particular endeavor. Writing is only a primary income for a small percentage of people who have chosen to make it their primary occupation in life.

So, I will make another attempt this coming weekend to write something of a query letter (have the hook all set and have a something of a rough draft for a pitch at the end to replace the writer's bio that I do not have at the moment), because quite frankly, I'm getting tired of sitting on the sidelines with this book. The book is written, edited, re-written, re-edited, re-re-written, and re-re-edited. The synopsis has been written, critiqued, edited, and re-written. I have four agents picked out that I want to query, as well as a few potential small press publishers.

What I need is a good query letter to complete the package.

Writing a query letter is like having the Novocaine wearing off from a pulled tooth extraction and the painkiller prescription is sitting in your pocket because you're stuck in rush hour traffic and you have absolutely nothing to wash it down with.


  1. I wish you luck, man. It's not an easy thing. Sometimes we have to write better to sell our writing than we do to get it written in the first place.

  2. I have a question regarding a specific word, but the question really addresses a larger issue.

    Symbiont - not everyone will be familiar with or immediately identify with that particular word. Should you try to go with a more accessible word choice? Or, is it better to figure that an agent / publisher that doesn't "get it" immediately is probably not the best choice for your book anyway?

    Sorry to write so much, G. I'm just wondering what you think.

  3. Charles: Thanks, and ain't that the bitter truth.

    Trying to self yourself when it don't come easy is often the fatest way to proscratinate until you have a nervous breakdown.

    I sometimes suck at selling myself because I often wonder what people think of me if they look beyond that manufactured facade and wrongly think, "Oh, he's not living up to his billing."

    Mama Z: Good question. I figure that by this day and age, with all the exposure that sci-fi/fantasy has gotten through either the movies or television (the Star Trek series comes to mind), that most agents would understand the terms "symbiont" and "symbiotic" when its used to describe a relationship.

    I don't think I can come up with any other word that would accurately describe not only the mental and emotional relationship that Jeannie and Aissa (the two MC's) have with each other, but the physical one as well.

    I think that if an agent/publisher doesn't "get it", then yes, they probably wouldn't be a good fit. Although I would hope that in this day and age, they would get it and see the potential of the story (which does scream for a sequel in the long run).

  4. That's a pretty good comparison. I have to rewrite mine and am not looking forward to it.

  5. R: I would love to rewrite mine, if I ever get to that point.

    Right now, I'm still procrastinating as I decided to re-write a short story that I posted about a year ago.

    Not sure what I'm gonna do with it, but I needed to let off a little steam until I can get some quiet time again this weekend.

  6. Sometimes the query letter has to evolve, too. You might finetune it as you go, depending on the agent responses. Good luck!

  7. Your pursuit of perfection is really slowing you down! Good hook!

    w ver = "reflunks" !!

  8. Joanne: Thanks. I don't think I'll have a problem fine-tuning it for certain agents...once I get the blasted thing completely written. That is my goal for this weekend.

    Snaggle: Yeah, perfectionism has been the bane of my existence from time to time.

    Just to come up with that hook took me about 45 minutes of tinkering and tweaking.

  9. Lynn: Thanks, I'll need it.


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