Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Practice Makes Perfect: Query, Pitch, Action! # 2

Hello, my dears!

As you can tell from the title, there's more to the original post than the pitch.

Thought I forgot, didn't you? Well, I did.

Like I've said in previous posts, a lot of my posting-fuel has come from avoiding fixing a very old problem. There's a lot of structural faults in my story.

I think I just write too much.

Here's how to do 50k in a week

But anyway, that practice pitch/draft pitch gives me an idea for the query. It helps me expand into a query. Snowflake Method really does help organize thoughts.

If you look at the last writing post I did, I talk about the evolution and devolution of my query. You can also read the first critique of it here.

I am not the first to say query writing is hard.

You have to condense your story, sans the ending and possibly kissing parts, into something someone will actually want to read.

If inviting someone to look at something you put your heart and soul into isn't unnerving enough, now you have to convince someone that this is the thing they want to spend their time on.

There are so many requirements, in a way. Be concise. Stick to plot points.

Add personality! Be tasteful. Stay with the same tone as the story.

There's great advice out there too, though. Dig up queries that are similar to your story. Follow the flow of it. It helps the agent/editor/reader know what kind of journey you're taking them on.

QueryShark is incredible reading. Don't judge me, but I love Slushpile Hell for What Not To Dos.

But really I just need something to laugh about before I cry a river

The Quintessentially Questionable Query Experiment provides feedback too.

So many places to look!

But if you're like me, reading something and getting it right, totally different. Everything is harder when you put it into practice.

But like this Practice Makes Perfect title promises, practice makes perfect.

Wouldn't it be cool if at the end of this series I said I had rep because of my query evolution?
I know a ton of writers actually started writing by doing fanfic. Do you remember those days?

Because I do. My beginnings were actually in Sailor Moon fanfic.

Yeah! I know, right? I totally didn't know that either.

One of the things that's helped me a lot more than just winging it and putting severed parts together is actually copying other queries/summaries and changing the little details so it makes sense with my story.

It helps with flow and structure. The more you copy things that work, the more you learn from it.

You remember this, don't you?

One of the summaries that really caught my eye, and led me to buy the book, was from SEA OF SHADOWS by Kelley Armstrong. By the way, for a limited time, this ebook is $1.99! Go get it!

The Amazon summary reads:

This so freaking good! Do you know how many words there are here? Just in the body of the actual summary?

Freaking 76!

Not a word is wasted.

First line gives us characters, age group, sets up genre (fantasy if they were marked at birth sounds a lot like destiny type deal,) and gives us a taste of the world we'll be in with the words Keeper and Seeker, not to mention there's a name for this world. Edgewood.

This is so concise, so perfect, I seriously couldn't stop reading the summary.

The second line expands on this too, though, so you're grounded in what all this first line means. You get a feel for what the girls have to do.

Fighting? Clearly, there's something dangerous to being Keeper and Seeker. Secret rites of the spirits? Why is it secret? Does everyone in the town believe in spirits? And not knowing exactly the answer to these questions is what will compel readers to find out.

But in that same second line, we find out there's a routine. They've done this before. Leading an annual tripwho's going?to the Forest of the Dead. More places! More specifics without derailing anything.

This is just the background information, things already established and known at the beginning of the novel. The Ordinary World, as someone into the Hero's Journey would call it.

As if this world didn't already seem compelling enough. If you can summarize your world into two sentences, and establish a sense of the rules, your world is a place where I want to spend time in. Trust me.

Now the third line does what usually trips me up. It promises that something ritual/annual can be dangerous. Back to the fighting bit just a sentence before!

Third line talks about where the line between living and dead worlds is thinnest. The secret rites come back here too because this is where the girls come to pay their respects.

These three lines have done magic on a sense of world, tone, and genre.

But the fourth and last line seals the deal. With a promise of danger, eight words only say something goes wrong.

And that's it. With fighting training, with secret rites, where the veil is thinnest, after practice of years, something has gone wrong.


Take ALL of my money. I wanna see how this turns out!

Seventy-six words.

I can't find a single one that's a waste. Holy cow!

*stares at it for ten minutes* *tries to buy it again*

Don't ask me how the story goes. Sadly, I've been trying to trudge through the paperbacks I got. Hoarding books is a problem, people.

But that summary? It's made the book go higher and higher on my TBR. Because I need to know what goes wrong. They sounded so well trained! What happened?


Deep breath.

Anyway, this is how you do a summary. I know not everyone is writing a fantasy like Sea of Shadows, but this is such a great example, how could we not give it a try?

For me, my problem is that I try to cram too many details into my summaries, worried that if I don't mention this or that, someone will set the story down and keep walking. You know, virtually.

I think that's what first attracted me to Sea of Shadows. I could not believe how hooked I was by SEVENTY-SIX words.

This awkward baby is 182 words. :|

But this is also a good place to start. Because it's not a blank page.

Have you guys tried to do the copy method? I've tried it on DVD summaries, book summaries, with Netflix summaries. Still practicing until I love it and it's short like Sea of Shadows.

Just an idea. 😉

Talk to you tomorrow!