I recently tried to write a query letter for one of my novels, with the idea I might start querying some agents here in the next month or two. I’ve written queries before, but I’ve never been quite satisfied with the outcome and it was back when I was just starting out and just didn’t quite know how important they were.
Many of the agents I’ve looked at and some of the publishers out there just want a query letter to start off with. That means, at best you’re getting 2-3 paragraphs to explain your story and make it seem innovative and interesting and sellable and GOOD. I think this is challenging for romance because there is a basic structure (notice I say structure, NOT formula) to all romance novels.
Boy Meets Girl. There is some kind of problem keeping them apart. They overcome it and live happily ever after. The end.
Now, that simplifies romance, makes it seem trivial, and it isn’t, but it’s the basic idea behind romance. Now… how do you make all the little details you have to make that structure a good read pop out to an agent or editor?
I have no idea.
Trying to sum up my story in an interesting way, trying to identify that “hook” of why my story is special… well, it’s been a little disconcerting. I’ve read some things that say if you can’t explain your novel in a one sentence pitch, then it isn’t good.
My first instinct was to say I’m screwed. My story must suck. What was I thinking? I’m just going to have to keep entering contests and hope I can bypass the query letter.
But, then I opened a blank document and just started writing blurb after blurb for this story. I’m still not to the point where I could give a strong one sentence pitch for this story, but I’m getting closer. Each blurb gets better, more succinct.
I guess the point is the query and synopsis are really challenging, and they can be a little paralyzing because they are SO important. And honestly, in the past year of trying to get published I’ve kind of ignored their importance hoping they’d somehow go away. But, both are here to stay. So, I can keep burying my head in the sand and just writing more novels without ever writing the first steps in getting them published… OR… I can start trying to perfect my query and synopsis writing abilities.