Friday, November 13, 2009

This Query Is Kicking My Butt

Here's an idea. If you ever wonder how to suck all the life out of a story you spent over a year working on, if you ever want to drain every juicy drop of joy from your ideas until they're as stale as last week's bread ... why, all you have to do is write a query!

What I've been doing is eliminating possibilities. Does this work? Let's try it. Nope, failure.

How about that? Let's try it. Nope, failure.

This? Failure.

That? Failure.

Scrub everything, try again.

Failure.

The trouble is that it's supposed to be the synopsis that's the spirit-breaker. Distilling the story into a 1-2 page summary, glossing over nuance and completely skipping subplots, all of it in dreadful passive language with no room for motivation and meaning? That's hell; that's a synopsis. You expect that to be hard.

But a query? A query is supposed to find the spark at the core of the story, that burning piece of starlight that beams across the pages and pages and pages. What it all means. Why it matters.

Identifying that should be easy, right? Writing it into a couple of sentence should be fun, right?

Right?

right...?

I'm off to a conference this weekend. I intend to return with a new energy. I will master this query!

7 comments:

Barbara said...

The gist/meaning/ultimate message that keeps the reader turning every page to find out what happens next, then finishes the story, closes the cover slowly and sits quietly pondering about how the author could send such a powerful message to move you to want more. Now THAT should be the query. Oh ha-ha--as if I could write one!

Sam said...

You can do it!

missalister said...

After all you’ve done and in the face of all that will happen next, there’s a lot of psychological/perspectival stuff going on, like Monty Python’s killer rabbit, What could a rabbit do? Barbara’s onto the “glint in your eye” part. And from the peanut gallery, I’d say next comes the “just flash the ring and pop the question already!” part. It’s a love thang, not a query thing. Of course you can do it : )

S R Wood said...

Thanks, everyone! I was struck by inspiration while sitting in the audience at the SCBWI conference. Totally worth it; progress made. Look for the first draft of the query soon...

Barbara said...

Good news--what was the conference?

Sam said...

Okay..maybe you should stop working on the query so much and start posting more blog posts.

Barbara said...

You must be busy with boatbuilding--no blogs lately. We miss them!