Posted in query letter, writing tips

Writing a Query Letter: Part 3

To find the first part of this series, Click HERE. For Part 2, click HERE. To listen to the full discussion on the Write. Publish. Repeat. Podcast, click HERE.

Paragraph Two of the Query Letter

9e9dd-largestackofbooksMini-Synopsis
Similar to the back cover summary
100-250 words

Expand on your hook
Explain more about your Main characters…
Problems/conflicts…
How adversity changes them…

Read back covers of other books for examples!

Paragraph Three: Bio

Brand new Author?
(You may want to skip this)

  • What to include?
    Is it meaningful to the query?
    Does it show personality?
  • Keep it short
  • Keep it writing related
  • Education
  • Work
  • Personal experience
  • Research

Publishing Credits/Awards

  • Awards
    • If you’ve won them…INCLUDE THEM
      Don’t be modest, but don’t go overboard

Publishing credits (BE SPECIFIC)
Journals
Online/trade magazines

Unpublished?
You don’t need to say

Academic or Nonfiction?
Shows you know the process

DON’T INCLUDE:
Church news letter, credits unrelated to professional writing

Self-Published: Include or Not Include?

  • Timing
    • It will be discussed eventually
  • Doesn’t hurt your chances
  • Be confident
  • Be ready discuss success/failure
  • Do you consider it a Mistake/Irrelevant
    • Leave it out
  • Does it make you a more desirable client?
    • Depends on success – mention sales numbers, length of time on sale
      • Success to some agents/pub = 5000 sales (per month…)

Open Blue BookWhat NOT to Mention

  • Social media presence/platform
    • UNLESS you have A LOT of followers
    • Agents will Google you anyway
  • Marketing Plan
  • Years of effort and dedication
  • Family/friends opinions
  • Past rejections/near misses
  • Apologize
  • Compliment your work
  • Discuss $$ your book will make

Thank You/Closing

  • Thank the agent/pub
  • Time & consideration
  • Alert agent/pub full manuscript is available upon request
  • Mention if your book is being considered by another agency
  • Series potential/written
  • Include contact information basics
  • Only offer exclusives for a short time period
  • Only compare your book to another in terms of style, voice, theme (Not $$)

Join me next week for a discussion on writing a great blurb for your query.


Listen to the full discussion now on my new podcast!

Write. Publish. Repeat. Podcast: How to Write a Query Letter Without Going Completely Crazy

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Posted in writing, writing advice, writing tips

Creating a Protagonist With Depth: Part Five

If you haven’t read the first three part in the series, you can find Part One HERE, Part Two HERE, Part Three HERE and Part Four HERE.


Now let’s discuss how to make your characters fail in a way that makes them better.


iStock_000024086772Large

Failure

Just like nobody enjoys a perfect character, no one likes a character that always makes the right choices and succeeds
If your character always succeeds, where’s the tension, the worry that they might fail? Without that, readers get bored.
A story needs fear that the character will fail/die/be beaten in order to keep readers flipping pages.
Even if they think they know where the story is going, they want to find out how they’ll get there


 How do you make them fail? Rope 2

Look back at their list of faults and flaws. Which of those can you use to put them in a situation where making the right choice will be difficult?
In “What We Saw At Night” Allie doesn’t tell the police what she saw because she’s afraid of getting in trouble for being somewhere she shouldn’t.
Why was she out at night? Because she has a severe sun allergy and has started taking risks because she thinks she won’t live very long.


hand over mouthHow do you avoid nonsense failure?

Does it make sense in real life?
If some guy told you he was sneaking into your room to watch you sleep at night, you’d freak out. Bella, though, was totally cool with it, which has garnered criticism.
Would two parents ever actually split up twin girls and never let them see each other for their own selfish reasons like they did in The Parent Trap? I highly doubt it.
When helping characters make decisions, make sure there’s a good reason for what they choose. Lean on that backstory you crafted.
Do their fears influence them?
Have past hurts caused them to mistrust others when they shouldn’t?


What character failures have left an impression with you?


Posted in writing tips

Creating a Protagonist with Depth: Part 1

Where do you start when you want to create a really great character?

That’s a question that any writers, bot new and established, ask. There’s no black and white answer, but this series will offer up tips on creating strong characters that are layered and offer readers a reason to connect and share their story.

Today, I’ll start off with two popular options for getting started on Character Development.

Option One

Character ProfilingCharacter Traits

  • Start with the basics: Who is your character?
    • Create a character profile sheet and be as detailed as possible
      • Physical characteristics
      • Eye/hair color, weight, height, etc.
      • Personality traits
      • Happy, gloomy, morose, optimistic, etc.
    • Likes/Dislikes
    • Fears/Dreams
    • Talents/Goals
      • Secret or otherwise
    • Flaws
    • We’ll talk about this on in more depth later

Option Two

Start with a Picture

Instead of starting from scratch, find a picture you think is interesting and describe what you see. Go deeper than how they look. What motivates these characters? What are there goals? What are they afraid of? Start making a list of character traits that will help bring them to life.

Take a look at these two characters and tell me what they’re afraid of, why someone might be afraid of them, what they love, what they dream about, what their favorite flavor of ice cream is, or even what their secret fears are. Most of what you come up with you won’t actually use, but it will help you understand them.

I’d love to hear what you come up with for these two characters, so feel free to post your ideas in the comments! And don’t forget to come back for the next installment of Creating A Protagonist With Depth next week.

Posted in creative writing, writing, writing thoughts, writing tips

#Perfectionism and #Writing…

I think a lot of writers will agree that making sure their books are “perfect” is a bit of an obsession. 

We obsess over every word, line, paragraph, chapter… you get the point. We’ll research something until our fingers are about to fall off from too many internet searches. Our friends will be sick of hearing about a particular troublesome scene and threaten to throw a book at us if we ask them to read it one more time. 

Having said all of that, I completely agree with Anne Lamott when she said… 

“Perfectionism is the voice of the oppressor, the enemy of the people. It will keep you cramped and insane your whole life.”

All that obsessing over how we write our books or scenes can really kill a story. When you over think while writing, you second-guess your decisions, which leads to endlessly rewriting particular scenes, changing whole passages to try it another way, or scrapping the whole project. 
Now, yes, sometimes these things have to be done, but not every time you sit down to write. If this is your process, it’ll be awfully hard to ever finish a book or story. Every writer has to develop their own process, but here are a few tips I’ve picked up over the years. 
Tip #1: Whether you like to outline or not, don’t limit yourself to sticking to your outline or notes verbatim. If you feel like the story needs to take a left instead of a right, or a U-turn in a whole new direction, go with it. Let your plot develop organically and don’t feel like you have to go back to an outline and re-outline after every change. Just write. 
Tip #2: Don’t edit while you write. You’ll kill your progress if you go back and edit what you’ve just written. Give yourself some time to let that chapter or scene sit and solidify. Even if you have to reread a chapter or two when you come back so you know where you left off, DON’T EDIT, aside from maybe a few typos. Even when you finish the entire book, don’t jump right into editing. Work on something else. Give it at least a week (longer if you can) and come back to it when you have fresh eyes. 
Tip #3: Sending your work out to beta readers (readers who read an early draft in order to give you feedback and suggestions) can be anxiety laden. It always is. Waiting to send it out until your book is perfectly edited and all the holes are filled in just isn’t reasonable. Find beta readers you trust to be honest, let them know it’s not a perfect story and you need helpful critiques, and hit the send button. There are always problems with a manuscript that you as the author won’t be able to see. Waiting until it’s perfect just prolongs the inevitable and often leaves you with more revisions to make than you would have had otherwise. 
Tip #4: Give yourself permission to make mistakes. Don’t want to put a scene on hold to do a little research? Not sure if what you’re writing is possible, but the scene is just begging to be written? Great! Keep writing! You can always go back and correct mistakes. In fact, you usually learn a lot from making those mistakes, and then you don’t make them as often in the future. It’s tough to get into a writing groove sometimes, and if you’re in one, let yourself just get your ideas down on paper and worry about refining later on. 
Tip #5: Accept the fact that your book will never be perfect. That’s just how it is. There will always be something you think could have been better, or should have been changed. Reviews will make you doubt scenes or chapters or endings. It will never, ever be completely perfect…and that’s okay. 

What perfectionist habits keep you from getting things done?