Query: Take 20
Ask any yet-to-be-repped-novelist. Query writing sucks. Simply by their very nasty nature, they suck. But if we want to get published, we write them. And agents on the look-out for new talent with good books read them.
“Okay”, we say to ourselves, “We”ll play that game. We can do this. If we can write a book or 3 or 4 we can certainly write a compelling 250 word letter.”
And I even write business correspondence in my day job! I strategize and persuade and I’ve been told I’m good at it. I’ve taken Business Writing classes. I have a COMMUNICATIONS DEGREE fercrissakes! *headsmack* I’ve read the blogs by the agent-y types and studied and practiced and practiced…
And yet, my query letters are simply not living up to the task. For what’s been sent out, I’ve gotten a somewhat low request rate. The last version got me three full requests and a partial request, though, so it seemed to be working. I was very proud. Then those numbers trailed off to Form Rejections and Flat-out Ignores.
So in the middle of the night two nights ago, I thought of a bit of a different hook for the letter, which, when applied, lead to a whole new attitude for the letter. (Which, when applied, added a whole new paragraph to the letter. )
So what did I accomplish? I think I finally got the right tone; I got the right voice. I also got about 100 too many words.
*Recalls Her Sharkness saying “ENTICE ME to want to read it” with a sharp, toothy grin.*
“Hmmm” I thought, “I’m going to need a bigger, yet less wordy and better-equipped, boat.”
So today, I imagined her gnashing teeth at my backside as I listened to a writer friend tell me that I’m giving away too much story, that I’ve gone too far in and too many details and names, and, and, and… *head spins* The words “entice me, entice me” drift hauntingly through my head as I see exactly what he means. Somewhere in the distance I hear the Jaws Theme. Then I say, “Ah, crap!”
So MS Word and I had a bout with the backspace and delete keys and I replaced the too-telly paragraph with *wait for it* one really craptastic sentence.
But that’s OK!! I know it’s not a good sentence, but it is serving the purpose for now. It is an important sentence, and currently it is also a placeholder for the perfect sentence. It’s a placeholder for the sentence that says, “look at me! Look how enticing I am!”
So sometime in the next few days, the perfect bait, (aka the “look at me! See me enticing you?” sentence) will surface. Probably sometime around Query: Take 30.
In the meantime, here’s the new opening of the query:
Everyone who knows Eric Bastien also knows that he can’t get his shit together. His best friend describes him most accurately; “he’s like a guy who pokes a beehive with a stick and can’t figure out why he’s getting stung”. Eric is sent on an errand for his recently deceased father and goes from “beehive poker” to something worse. He’s seeing and talking to a ghost. If everyone thought he was off his nut before, they ain’t seen nothin’ yet. Because it’s not just any ghost; it’s Ernest Hemingway. And he’s a ghost on a mission; not least of which is getting Eric to put down the stick.
Eric comes by the crazies quite naturally from his mother, who’s a few too many drinks in at the moment and headed for trouble. But Hemingway and Eric’s dead father have a plan.
Now, onto Take 21.