Monday, December 20, 2010

One last question

Happy Monday everyone!

I hope you are all having a wonderful December, and Holiday season. I love this time of year so much. Sometimes it can end up being stressful if we spread ourselves too thin, and I'm trying to avoid that. I am going to answer one more question on querying (from my contest/post last Monday), and then I'm going to take a break for the rest of the Christmas/New Year holidays. I want to spend the next couple of weeks focusing on my family, and making this a really fun break for my son who is now out of school until January. I will miss you all, and may break down and pop in a few times. We'll see. ;)

So, here's Jennie Bailey's question:

How do you whittle your book down to one small paragraph without leaving anything important out? Do you give away your ending? Or keep it secret?
Often the best way to do this is to write your query BEFORE you write your book. If you try to write it then, the idea is still at its core elements (usually), and you won't have all the details that come later confusing and befuddling you. You'll end up revising it, I can almost guarantee it, but you'll have a great start. If you've already written your book, the best thing to do is to focus on only one character--your main character, none of the supporting cast should appear unless absolutely necessary. Then decide what is his/her main conflict--aka, what is your hook? That is what your write your query on, and that's IT. You don't reveal the ending in a query, that is for a synopsis. Your query should really be no longer than two paragraphs for the book and one paragraph for your bio (if you have one). The query isn't intended to show all your complex plotting, and twists and turns, etc. Go find some of your favorite books, and read the jacket copy. Notice how different they are, and try and figure out which ones grab your attention the most. Or, you could go to the bookstore and try this. Find a bunch of different books you haven't read yet and try reading their jacket copy. Which ones grab your attention the most and make you want to buy it? What is the difference? That's basically what you're trying to accomplish. A short, concise, intriguing two paragraph letter that will grab an agent's attention. Also, the query should show the M.C.'s voice, so sometimes it works to write it in first person when you're drafting it, then switch it to third when you revise it.

I hope that helps! I could keep going and going, but I better get going on entertaining my kids! (Who are currently being entertained by the Disney Channel while I write this.) I hope you all have a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! I will "see you" in 2011!

13 comments:

DL Hammons said...

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year Sara! :)

Melissa Gill said...

Thanks for the great advice. Have a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

Shari said...

Great answer to a good question! Merry Christmas, Sara!

Elle Strauss said...

Great tips! I'm not writing a query but I do need to write a what is your new wip about paragraph--and this is good advice for that as well!

Merry Christmas Sara, and enjoy your family time!

Jennie Bailey said...

Thank you for answering my question! I have a file titled "Notes" on my computer. When I was gathering ideas and flushing things out, I would use that file. I told myself the story over and over again. I think I'll go back to that! I never would have thought to do that if you hadn't answered my question! Thanks again, Sara - for everything. You are such a great help!! In so many ways! Have a safe and happy holiday!!

Colene Murphy said...

Great answer!! Thank you, much help indeed!!

Merry Christmas Sara!!

Jessica Lei said...

I wrote my query before I really started to get to work on the book. It felt really weird to get critique on it when other people said "I just finished my book and now I need to work on my query" when for me, it's the opposite! But it's glad to know I'm not the only freak who thinks it's a good idea to start it first.

Carolina Valdez Miller said...

That's such a good idea! I've never done it myself, but I think it would be helpful. A great precursor to an outline. I might give it a shot with my next new story!

Susan Fields said...

That's a great suggestion to write the query before the book. I'll try that next time. Thanks for another great post!

L.T. Elliot said...

Merry Christmas, Sara! Thanks for the excellent query tips!

Chelsea Talks Smack said...

This is great! Merry Christmas!

Carolyn V. said...

I'm a little behind on the blogging Sara, but I hope you had a great Christmas! (hugs)

Russo said...

Your posts always help me- you write so clear and consise. Thank you for writing this. PS My Aunt adores your blog-she says you are full of charm (I agree)