If any of you follow twitter you know I’ve been whining complaining quite a bit about my query for The Devil You Know.
Now a query is an important part of a writer’s arsenal and a mastering it is vital to bagging acquiring an agent.
After I finished the first draft of the novel, I wrote a query and set it aside. Now that I’m polishing, I opened and read it and wasn’t quite happy with what I saw. I decided to do what any author would, I set out to fix it. On the internet, in books, and even on almost every blogging agent’s website, you will find hints, structures and requirements for the query. I read these as well as a few published authors’ queries. Armed with all this information, I sat down before my computer, hands on keyboard and stared at the cursor. Long story short, I’d ‘ruled’ and ‘must have’d myself into a corner. Everything I wrote was flat and the more I tried, the worse it got. I grew more and more frustrated. If I can write a hundred thousand-word book, why couldn’t I write a two hundred-word query?
So I did what I’ve never done before, I called for help. Several talented writers came to the rescue with ideas and specifics as to why my query wasn’t working. I read through the advice and still I sat in front of that bloody curser. There was a dam in my head and the ideas were on the other side. I think I finally became acquainted with writers block. Not a momentary or even a day of pondering what to do next, but an actual infinite wall between you and the ideas you know are there.
Now granted, I’m trying to write this query in possibly one of the most emotionally difficult periods in my life, but for me, writing has always soothed, always been there for me. Now, the answer to the simple question: What is the book about? completely eluded me and the mantra, ‘you’ve only got one shot per agent’, pounded in my head. I didn’t even have the energy to hate the query; it had defeated me. What to do? What to do?
And that’s what I did even though it felt like giving up. I emotionally and mentally divorced myself from the thing. I worked on editing a few chapters for other writers, I tweeted, a lot. I even organized some of my files, watched a few movies, cleaned my house and then I came back, but not in the same frame of mind. During the time I wasn’t thinking about it, some of the comments from other writers had weakened that wall.
I don’t write plot driven novels. For me, the characters always come first. I’ll ‘overhear’ a conversation or ‘see’ a scene and from that, the novel unfolds. I do plot, but always with a character firmly in mind.
Why then write a plot driven query? I don’t know why this is the epiphany that I needed, but it was. The second revelation was as important as the first. Stop writing the world’s best query, the query that will please every agent and have them banging at your door. Just write. Sounds simple, huh? It is and it isn’t.
So I thought about my two MC characters, about the conflict they face and what they are working to accomplish and bam, there it was. It’s not perfect, I’ll be the first to admit, but it’s good.
Thank you, again, to everyone who helped me blow a hole in that wall. You know who you are. : )
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