Sunday, August 14, 2011

YOUR HONESTY IS DESPERATLY NEEDED

I think I might be a little crazy or at least have masochistic tendencies. You know how people always tell you that when one of your W.I.P’s is unsuccessful with agents that you should query another project? Well, I can’t let go of this one. I truly believe that this is my best work to date even though I have written other completed manuscripts as well.

I know it is really stupid to keep querying a manuscript that keeps getting rejected, but my heart is truly invested in this one. It is the first book in a series and that might also be what puts off agents.

I just keep thinking, what if I wrote a bad hook or what if I didn’t do justice to the first chapter, because the hardest part about writing for me is the first chapter. I just can’t seem to get it right.

So I keep rewriting the first chapter and my query letter hoping I will finally get it right and impress an agent. I am aware I am wasting a lot of time with just one manuscript, but isn’t it worth the trouble if you really truly believe in your work? I naively think so.

So to torture myself further, here is the hook from my query letter. Please, do not be afraid to be brutal. Your honesty is what I am yearning for.

What would you do if you were told you had the potential to be an immortal? That was an offer Claire could not refuse. But could everything be so easy? Not if Alex, an Amaranthine, could help it. He constantly makes Claire’s journey into the world of immortals difficult, at times resulting in moments of laughter and tears. But is Alex simply obnoxious or is he trying to prevent Claire from understanding the true meaning of their relationship.

Did you like it? Did you hate it? Please, leave a comment.

10 comments :

  1. Hi. I just gave you an award. :)

    I don't think you should give up. Writing critique partners have really helped me polish up my fiction - I think if you don't feel 100% confident about it, you should keep working on it.

    I have read that it's bad form to use questions in queries. It might be better to state it directly - Claire was offered the potential to be an immortal and couldn't refuse.

    I wonder who offered it to her or how (if that matters in your story).

    I don't know what an Amaranthine is - if that's something you created that's central to the part, it might be good to clarify what he is and maybe state the relationship between them is complex but not state all the statements about feelings.

    I struggle with this too, but try writing down how you would summarize the story if you were talking about it to someone you know - in four sentences.

    Here's a link about how to do the back cover blurb, which I think is similar:
    http://www.fromthewriteangle.com/2011/07/writing-back-cover-blurb.html

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  2. I was interested in this blurb and then you added 'But is Alex simply obnoxious or is he trying to prevent Claire from understanding the true meaning of their relationship.'
    I think you need to make the meaning - of why he is stopping her - much more powerful. You give a powerful intro and then bring it down to the mundane, there should be much more at stake here than a simple relationship.

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  3. Tonja - Thank you so much for the award. But more importantly thank you for stopping by and commenting. You really gave some great advice that I will gladly take and your honesty is so appreciated. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

    Carole - Thank you so much for stopping by. Your advice is greatly appreciated and I will definitely use your suggestions without a doubt. Thank you so much again.

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  4. Your query is definitely weak, in my opinion.

    First, there's just not enough information. Every detail you mention is floating in a void of context. What kind of person is Claire? Why has she been offered immortality? How does she achieve it? What kind of world does she live in? Who the heck is Alex and what is an Amaranthine? What does he have to do with Claire anyway and why does he make things difficult for her? Why does he even care?

    I could go on and on but you get the point. Now, perhaps you're trying to inspire curiosity with the lack of information, but when your query spawns that many unanswered questions it's more likely going to lead to frustration and the garbage can. Because it doesn't really sound like you're just hinting at greater things to come. It sounds more like a hook that will never end because there isn't really anything backing it up. And while I am a bit intrigued, if this was a back cover blurb I would not be intrigued enough to buy it. And I doubt an agent or an editor will have time for so much ambiguity.

    Though I will say, I find your use of the term Amaranthine to (I assume) refer to immortals very clever. However, you should probably just stick with the term immortal in your query. I doubt there are many people who know that the Amaranth is a symbol of immortality. (I had to wikipedia it to figure that out.)

    Don't rewrite your first chapter anymore! You'll only make it worse, not better. Have you had beta readers? Was their response to your story positive? Because if readers (even a small number) have enjoyed your story then don't give up on it. And don't start thinking there's something wrong with the story its self if your readers have liked it. Breaking into the publishing business is harder than ever right now. The industry is going through so much upheaval and publishers are not going to want to take as many risks as they used to until things smooth over. So just remember that to a certain extent, it's not you, it's them.

    Keep smiling and writing. :)

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  5. I personally don't get hooked in with hypothetical ("what if") questions, mostly because they're too far fetched or have a fairly obvious yes/no answer. A hook needs to be specific enough that the reader knows what kind of story they're going to read (is it action? Romance? Horror? Fantasy?) without giving away bit of information that don't really hook in (laughter and tears, so is it a drama or comedy? I don't know what amaranthine is, so I can't know if it's something I'm interested in).

    Another thing I didn't find"hooking" was that he "constantly triestomake her journey more difficult." What journey into this world? Howdoes he make it difficult?

    I'm no expert at hooks, I certainly have never won a hookwriting contest. Red several blurbs and see what it is about them that draws you in. Read back entries on Query Shark to see what works and what doesn't. Have a critique partner read your letter and first chapter.

    And for the love of Belgian chocolate, don't stop writing and querying!

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  6. Sarah - Thank you so much. You make very valid points. I will absolutely rewrite this query. Thank you so much for the great advice and for taking the time to comment. Thank you.

    Renee- Thank you. Don't worry I am not going to stop writing or querying. I am very grateful for all the problem areas you have pointed out. I really appreciate the honesty. Thank you!

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  7. It's the author's lot – we live with rejection. And giving up on a project we've invested time, toil, sweat and even a little blood on feels like giving up on one of our children.

    That being said, you don't want to kvetch about it too much in your blog. Book agents have Internet access too, and if they're half interested they'll google you. (They probably don't hve to. If you're like me, you include your blog in your query. But they can.) If they find you venting about rejection – tempting though it is – all that tells them is you've been rejected a few times. And you kvetch. Neither is a turn-on to an agent.

    It only takes one agent believing in you to make it work. So be careful not to give them a reason NOT to believe.

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  8. As to questions in queries – In the news biz we were always cautioned against using question leads and the reasoning applies here as well. Why start your query with something that invites the agent to be snarky and say "No, I never wondered that," while consigning your query to the electronic dust heap.

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  9. John - Thank you for the awesome advice. It is really appreciated. I will work harder on my query letter. Thank you so very much.

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  10. Munir - I think it is very unfair to discriminate against anyone because of their gender. And unfortunately it still happens. But I wish you all the best, thank you for stopping by and commenting.

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