Monday, May 26, 2014

Query dispatches

 
1. If you describe women by how they look and men by how they act, I'm pretty likely to say no. This is not a political statement. I prefer to read about three-dimensional characters and if the most appealing thing you can tell me about the heroine is the color of her eyes and hair, that's superficial 101.

2. Don't tell me how much you love to read. Or write. I don't care. I only care about your book. Do you put "I love to crunch numbers" on a job application? No, you talk about your skills and experience. In a query, you "skills and experience" = the book you wrote.  Whether you love it or hate it, or are doing it to wreck vengeance on you high school composition teacher is immaterial.

3. When your first line is the cumbersome " The story I’m seeking representation for" I know I'm going to find similar sentences in your manuscript. By the time you are ready to query you should recognize this as bad writing.  [I'm seeking representation for (title)]

4. It will really really help if your debut novel is not about something that's been done so often that anything new must be breathtakingly amazing.  Set the bar a little lower for yourself. Write about something new and fresh. 

7 comments:

DLM said...

A friend of mine had a first draft in which every chapter opened with the introduction, by full name, of a new character. The first woman was presented looking at herself in a mirror, and the scene was nothing but a description of her looks. If I never read That Scene again in my life, it will be too soon. He did rewrite. :)

donnaeverhart.com said...

4. It will really really help if your debut novel is not about something that's been done so often that anything new must be breathtakingly amazing. Set the bar a little lower for yourself. Write about something new and fresh.

This. I've got something no one has written about before - not to my knowledge. So...this is what I've set my sights on...and hope it works out.

Kitty said...

#1 Has been a pet peeve of mine for as long as I've been able to read. Or as the character Mack put it in John Steinbeck's "Sweet Thursday":
Well, I like a lot of talk in a book, and I don't like to have nobody tell me what the guy that's talking looks like. I want to figure out what he looks like from the way he talks.

Carolynnwith2Ns said...

5. The story I have written, because I really like to write, is a fiction novel about a really smart guy with a very pretty wife. Their kids turn out to be vampire wizards who can't see their images in mirrors, so there's one rule I didn't break.
Oh,I got A's in English and my mom really likes the book I wrote, except for the dirty parts.

Elissa M said...

Actually, vampire wizards doesn't sound that bad compared to some stories I've seen.

Lanette said...

I started to cringe when I read Carolynn's post, then realized she's very witty. Applause!

Steve Stubbs said...

I am wondering what you mean by "three dimensional characters." If a woman character has blond hair and blue eyes, what is the third dimension? Is that a question that can be answered in a family friendly clog?