Tag: writing advice

December/January Queries for a Cause

Throughout December (2017) and January (2018) if you donate $15 to End the Backlog I will critique your query for free.

What’s End the Backlog?

When tested, DNA evidence contained inside rape kits is an invaluable investigative tool to solve and prevent crime. It can identify an unknown assailant, reveal serial offenders, and bring opportunities for justice and healing to survivors.

To accomplish these things, however, rape kits must be tested.

END THE BACKLOG is an initiative of the Joyful Heart Foundation to shine a light on—and eliminate—the backlog of hundreds of thousands of untested rape kits in the United States.

After you donate, please contact me on Twitter to send me your receipt. (DM me, if I don’t follow you, tweet at me so I can start following you.)

Querying Part 2: Building a Query – The Formula

While doing query critiques, I’ve noticed a bit of a theme — backstory. Because you’re so limited on space in a query, it’s important that every word you use is absolutely essential. If you’re including that your character broke their arm last summer, it needs to be clear why. Why is that important to the story? Why do I need to know that NOW, and not in the first chapter?

Your pages are for backstory

Your pages should cover all the backstory necessary for your character. Your query’s job is to explain your plot, and give the Agent or Publisher a hint at who your character is. If you have backstory in your query, chances are, you can cut it out, and no one will miss it.

So, what do I put in my query?

There’s an easy formula for deciding what belongs in your query.

Character + Conflict + Stakes.

That’s it. Character. Conflict. Stakes. That should give the agent a pretty good idea of what your story is about. Need more to go on than that?

Be sure that you answer these questions:

Who is your character? If you’re writing YA or MG, be sure to put in the age of the character.

What or who is your character up against? Why are they up against that person/thing? Why is it only they who can solve/fix it?

And finally, what happens if they don’t succeed? Does the world end? Do they die? Do they lose someone they love? The final sentence should sum up the stakes. Tell the reader why they should care.

If you can, include a great hook.

Additional information for your query

Be sure to include the word count of the MS. The genre(s) that your book fits in. (Be sure these are real existing genres, and not a genre you’re making up). And audience. Is your book YA, MG, Adult? The Agent will need to know the market.

About you

You don’t need to include that this is your first novel. DON’T say that you ‘completed your MS recently’, as it looks like you may not have edited it. You don’t need to include publishing history, if you don’t have one. And, more importantly, you don’t have to include any information about yourself if you don’t want to.

Need more query tips? My CP has some great tips on her blog!

When to Give Up

Today, I’m going to talk about something difficult. Giving up. Not giving up on writing all together mind you. But giving up on a story, or a character.

Last year, I started seven projects. Three of those, I competed. Those three completed projects, I outlined, researched, interviewed experts, wrote, edited. And they’re going on the shelf — the shelf of projects that will likely never see the light of day.

That’s right. I wrote over 150,000 words for those projects, and I’m putting them on the shelf.

Why? Because I don’t love them. I don’t even like them.

Are the stories okay? Probably.

Are the characters fine? Yeah.

So why am I giving up on them? Because I don’t feel connected to them. I don’t feel like they’re stories that currently need to be told. They’re fodder, filler. They helped me grow in some areas that I need to, namely romance. But would I want to stamp my name on these and put them out in the world for all to see? Nope.

There might be a time I’ll change my mind, in six months, a year, five years. But for now, I’m giving up. And that’s okay.

I’ve realized that I’m happier, and better off writing fantasy and horror. The other projects don’t have a single speculative word in them. And that’s just not me, not right now anyway.

If you ever feel like you’re being dragged down by your story, if you feel like you aren’t doing it justice — put it away. Write something else. Read something else. When you’re ready, that story will still be there. And maybe that will be the right time to make it perfect. But if today isn’t that day, there are many other stories you can write.