I've been nominated to take part in the Triple-7 Challenge given to me by fellow author T.N. Payne. Let's do this!
object of the challenge is to share 7 lines from Page 7 of my
manuscript and then tag 7 bloggers. Since 7 is one of my favorite numbers (3 being the other), I
couldn't pass it up. I've decided to pull these from my middle grade novel ROWDY DAYS OF DOM SANDERS that's currently on submission with my agent Jessica at Golden Wheat Literary. This novel has been through a lot of changes, and its been a while since I've shared much of those during the editing process this past spring. In this chapter, Dom has just been swindling the boys at church.
I held another dollar to put into my horse jar."
I nominate the following friends, including some whose writing I don't know very well but would like to hear more about:
When authors chat about writing their query letters, usually surrounding writing contests or just before querying, they talk about how hard it is to distill so many pages into so short of a description, and with feeling. Most people focus so much on the word count that they forget or forego lacing it with voice.
This is a fatal mistake.
The same voice that makes your novel one of a kind is the same one that will grab and hold an agent. The query should be the first introduction to that and help make requesting your full manuscript easy. Always make that easy for them. Always.
But Emily, you say, how do I do that with so few words and so little space? Don't worry, I have some tips to help you infuse some of your character into the query without getting too gimicky or overdoing it. Tasteful voice, we'll call it.
One of the best ways to get some unique voice going is to use words that point toward the setting and/or emotional landscape of the plot. Is it a terrifying, mystifying, jumpy sort of plot? Does it pulse and writhe and twist? Do the character feel conflicted, torn, or abandoned? Sprinkling these in can give feeling to the novel, as well as display your writing abilities. Name Calling
No, we're not talking being mean here, although in some cases it may come across that way. In most queries you shouldn't have more than 1-2 characters mentioned, and often those will be the good guy and the bad guy, respectively (in multi POV, remember, you're focusing on one character.) When you're describing the antagonist, use nicknames or slang your protagonist would. For example, in my novel ROWDY DAYS OF DOM SANDERS query, my protagonist calls his neighborhood bully the jerk in his head. So in my query, when I mention the bully a second time in my stakes, Dom is trying to decide whether to "let the jerk go to juvie" or admit what he witnessed.
This is my favorite way of infusing voice into query letters, and all the luckies that have snagged a Query Helper critique have heard these words: Write your query letter the way your main character would. Not from their point of view, as though the character is talking to the literary agent, but with their same voice. Use their vocabulary (above) to describe their world, use nicknames for other characters (also above), and also let your letter flow with their way of thinking and perceiving the world. How would they recall the story, plot points, or hard decision they have to make?In my example above, notice I didn't say "let Taylor go to the juvenile detention ward". By saying juvie, I've added slang and even touched on the setting by using a modern term.
Even though I now have an [awesome, stupendous, superhero] agent Jessica Schmeidler of Golden Wheat Literary, writing a query letter is still an exercise I practice with every idea for a work in progress. It's great practice for contest entries, figuring out theme and playing with voice. I also love giving away critiques as The Query Helper, so be sure to subscribe by email (to the right) so you never miss a chance to get your name in the hat!
Questions? Remarks? General joviality? Please share in the comments below!
It's hard to put into words how amazing the writing community is. A small piece of that shined in the world when I put on the auction to help Veronica Bartles raise funds to fix her ruined home. We managed to raise over $1000 in bids, and I don't even know how many additional donations were added. I'd like to add just a little more to the pot, so The Query Helper is throwing in some more give-a-ways!
FIRST OFF, THANK YOU TO EVERYONE THAT BIDDED IN THE AUCTION!
It's your generosity that makes me think there is hope for writer-kind!
I put everyone who participated but didn't win an item in random.org and drew two numbers. The two chosen people will each get a query critique from me!
The winners are....
Please email me your queries: emilygmoorewriter at yahoo
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In an effort to continue giving to the cause, let's do one more! Anyone who donates $5 to Veronica's GoFundMe Page between
August 3rd and August 10th
will be put in another drawing for a first 3 pages and query critique, and I'll get them back to you just in time for Pitchwars submission!