on the q-word

Posted on Posted in nulla dies sine linea, shadow queen, writing life

Personally, I find queries to be nasty, brutish creatures. I will cook and clean in preference to writing a query. (Those who know my propensity for all things domestic are noisily choking to death right about now.)

Theoretically, I must be capable of writing them. I pitched a story to Postscripts on a query, which landed me a sale, after all, so I must have it in me. Right? Er… right.

Problem is, I find it easier to blurb a short story than a novel. Short stories have less threads, less weaving work. Just basically less. 200 words is an immense 3% of 7,000 words; it's only 0.2% of 100,000 words.

I spent an hour and a half yesterday, and an hour today, working on a query for Dead Queen, and I still don't entirely like what I have, although it's getting closer. But intriguing and comprehensible at the same time? Ha!

On the other hand, I think I figured out why it's taken me over a month to sit down and come up with a new query: I was too close to the previous version before now. It's that old bugbear again, time and distance. If only my brain worked the way I decree it should, we'd get along much better.

In the meantime, I give up for today, and I'll work on it again tomorrow. I guess there's only so much squeezing, and re-reading the same four sentences over and over, that your brain can do in one day.

What are your tricks for queries? How do you get yourself sitting down and concentrating on them, if you hate them? And how do you pick and choose what to put in, what to hint at, and what to leave unmentioned entirely?

2 thoughts on “on the q-word

  1. I think writing what you think is especially cool about your story is at least easier than trying to say in fifteen words or less what your story is about: "It's um… a supernatural mystery set on a boat in the middle of Bass Strait with lesbian romance and sea eagles…."
    or "Um there's this orphan, and it's based on a bad dream I had once… and Bad Things happen to her."
    I've got to get better at this stuff. Especially when I'm now saying "Yay me! I'm getting my First Ever Story published!" That's the immediate question: "Ooh! What's it about?"
    Then I 'um' and 'ah' a lot – I like the answer I wrote above better than any I've blurted out at people over the past 12 months.
    But yes, compressing enough to make it intriguing without giving it away in a couple of sentences is still kind of tough. Although better than writing job applications by a long shot.

  2. better than writing job applications by a long shot

    LOL – very, very, amazingly good point! I shall never look at queries quite the same way again :mrgreen:

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