Thursday, February 12, 2009

I think I've made up the difference for the earlier slow-start to the revision.

My original plan--which has since been scrapped--called for a synopsis and query letter to be created this week as well. At the end of the week I think I'll have a solid, submittable draft of a novel but 'the package' is not complete.

Here is where my expertise is shaky. I can talk all day about how to develop characters and how to create goodish dialogue and how to write sentence after sentence. But a business letter?

The many agents that have spoken on the subject say that a good writer is a good writer is a good writer. Savvy? If you write a compelling novel you should be able to write a compelling query letter and/or a compelling synopsis. Deep down I agree...if you're good you should be able to do it. But the level of difficulty is different in my opinion, and that's what I think us writers whine about. We just want to do the fun stuff. Not the research papers.

You know how you have writing a short story and a novel are different beasts? Well, a novel and a query letter are even more different. One is a creative endeavour--an attempt to explore the foibles and fuck-ups of mankind. The other is a marketing tool--a sales letter--an implementation of many sales seminars and corporations. (So, perhaps John is the most qualified of us to create a query letter: the MBA Man.)

I have to adjust my writing muscles and I'm feeling the strain, is pretty much what I'm saying. So far, I've started two new novels, am editing a third, and trying to put together a 'sales' package. Three different kinds/stages of writing.

At least my writing biceps should be sexy enough for sleeveless shirts.


  1. It's a very different thing. A query letter is salesmanship. That has got to be the hardest thing in the world. After all, it answers the question- why should you read this? Personally, I'd rather never do a query letter but I know I have to. I'd rather write 3 novels than that.

  2. I think query letters can be pretty creative. I mean, you've got to mould them to you, to be a representation of your work, and to the fella who's gonna read it as well. I think such things is an incredibly psychological prochess, like writing a really good psychological thriller or mystery--not speaking from experience, but imagined/wished for experience. I figure the point of query letters be to psychologically work over an agent/editor/whoever and insidiously coerce them to see things your way--but politely, hopefully. That's what you want to do in your psychological thriller/mystery/romance/chile recipe.

    Chile recipe isn't a euphemism for anything. I just like chile.

    The word verification word is: splatati. COOL!

  3. Actually, thinking of query letters as insiduous is kind of cool.

  4. I've written business letters all my adult life, but the query is just that much different, because there is that element of creativity as well. Write it in the same voice as the novel while remaining businesslike and salesmanny. Ho-kay

    My goal (as with any cover letter and resume) is to get past that first gatekeeper. After that, it's the work doing the talking.

    And I hope the work speaks very well for itself and me.

    You, it does. No doubt.


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