Hello again friends and fellow writerly type people!
Last time around, I wrote about what I thought makes a great query letter. Well now you have that great query and you’re sending it out to all the those lucky agents who are just dying to rep you and fantastically fantastic manuscript.
GO YOU *waves pom-poms*
But in the meantime, you have to wait.
What do you while you wait for a response? Well, I have some suggestions, my dear readers. And no, one of those suggestions is not to obsessively stalk QueryTracker to see where agents are in their slush pile and how many requests for fulls they’ve sent out and hey I sent my query out before this guy who already got a response and OMG ITS BEEN A MONTH NOW I HAVENT HEARD ANYTHING
No, I don’t suggest you do that. *peeks at two tabs over*
Here’s what you may want to do instead!
Exciting news, folks – I’m back in the query trenches again! (screams internally) We’ve all been there before and some of us will be there again. It’s difficult. It’s demand. It’s downright daunting. But in the end, we all hope it will also be rewarding. It’s taken about a month for me to get the letter for THE RADIANCE OF BLACK into something worthwhile (in my most humble of opinions, at least), and I think it’s as good as it’s going to get.
I thought, while it’s timely and topically, why not write about query letters this week? So without further delay, I’m going to outline what I think are the essential things a powerful and engaging query letter should have AND I’M GOING TO DO SO USING WRASSLIN’ GIFS!
*snaps into Slim Jim*
The first thing you should lay out in your query is The Hook or logline. This is the so called ‘Elevator Pitch’. Basically what you want to do is show what this story about and what sets it apart from all the other hopeful manuscripts floating around in the literary purgatory that is The Slush. You want something catchy here, something that pops from the page. Something enticing that will make your would-be agent read onward. A story they NEED to know more about. I’ve read numerous articles about how some agents will just read logline and if it doesn’t hook them, that’s it. One. Two. Three. You’re out. But if it does hook, they read on. Your query lives to see another paragraph. I think The Hook is the make or break part of the query. The rest of it might be awesome, but if you don’t set the tone with something exciting, then you might find yourself already fighting a losing battle.
If you have been following my Twitter (and why wouldn’t you be?) then you know that last weekend I attended my first ever writer’s conference – the venerable Writer’s Digest Conference East (WDCE) in New York City. This was a pretty big step for me and I think for a whole bunch of other authors in attendance. It was the first time I would be pitching my novel OF FATES CONVERGED to actual agents, the prospect of which was incredibly exciting and pretty nerve wracking too.
So without further adieu – here are some of the highlights of the weekend:
So, I’ve been slogging through FALL OF HYPERION for the past couple of months. It’s been a severe disappointment compared to the first novel, which I thought was a truly stunning and original work of fiction. I mean really, whose brilliant idea was it to turn the great set up from HYPERION into the Severn and Gladstone Show featuring the Hyperion Six? Dreadful.
Anywho… I desperately needed to take a break from the doldrums of this novel. I’ve had Mr. Wendig’s BLACKBIRDS sitting on my shelf for a while now and I am going to be seeing him speak at Writer’s Digest East Conference (so hyped) in April, so this seemed like the perfect time to delve in. Plus, BLACKBIRDS looked to be the exact opposite of what I was currently reading and the desired respite from highfaluting space opera I was searching for.
Though I mostly read SFF, I can get into pretty much anything that has engaging characters and an appealing premise, even nonfiction (recently finished the Steve Jobs biography, and I’ll be damned if he wasn’t an engaging character). I admit too, I’ve not read too many “urban fantasy” novels, but I guess I was hoping to get something like GIRL WITH DRAGON TATTOO – badass female main character in a grim and gritty world of crime and mystery, which is pretty much what I got.
So, as per usual in these bookish bloggies, I present random thoughts. Caution, there may be spoilers lurking amongst these words:
- The Miriam Black character, in all of her filthy, white-trashy splendor, hooked me at once. She swear, she snarks, but behind all of her cocksure bravado, Miss Black shields a terrible secret. She can see how people die, and does so in extremely gruesome detail. She’s not really a likable person, no I wouldn’t call her that, but she has this sort of vile charm that I found quite irresistible.
- Mr. Wendig’s wickedly clever prose does a marvelous job of bringing Miriam’ grimy, blood soaked and roach infested world to life while not bogging the reader down with unnecessarily lengthy descriptions. He really makes you feel like your right there, siting in some dingy motel or some seedy hole in the wall with Miriam and her pals all the way.
- And speaking of not bogging down – the novel moves at a breakneck speed, never really slowing down for much time at all. There are some small respites from the action, but the tension never dissipates, even in the quietest moments. I think it took me about three hours total to read through it.
- I very much enjoyed the interludes where Miriam reveals her past to Paul. The revelation about the red balloon was especially excellent, heartbreaking stuff. These interludes gave just enough of a break in the action, but like I said before, never siphoned away any of tension from the main narrative.
- As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, I am a sucker for exceptional villains, and think they are often the most important characters in a story. Mr. Wendig surely did not fail me in this department. His villains are as engaging as they are frightening – especially Harriet, the sadistic, beady eyed Hobbit with a torture fetish. Easily, my favorite part of the novel was “Harriet’s Story”. OMFG, so great.
- The only thing in story that didn’t really click with me was the Miriam / Louis relationship. I felt to me like she was more interested in saving him just to give a big FU to the fates, to prove that she could control her power, rather than because she actually cared about him. I see where their relationship blossomed over the course of the novel, as Louis was the only person who really cared about her and was such a decent guy compared to the sleazy Ashley, but for whatever reason, the romantic connection between them never gelled for me.
- That said, I did enjoy the ending of the novel, Miriam’s story arch came to a nice crescendo and even thought I know there is a sequel (which I will be picking up shortly) I would have been wholly satisfied with the conclusion Mr. Wendig presented.
So, all in all, I throughly enjoyed BLACKBIRDS, it was a refreshing change of pace from the voluminous scifi and fantasy stories I’ve reading (and writing, lol) recently and Mr. Wending’s electrifying prose and dynamic characters kept me intrigued throughout the novel. What say you, my dear readers?