Mar 20, 2009

How Long is TOO Long? Why writing a Query Letter can be so Frustrating!

Where less is more and more is less, is there a middle ground? When writing a query letter, how much of the plot do you really need to expose? Will your synopsis measure up enough to get a request for a partial?

I can honestly say I do NOT find the actual writing of a novel to be the hardest part. Although it is difficult to sit down and come up with a beginning, middle and end to a well written book, it pales in comparison to the actual writing of the query letter. Imagine for a moment, taking an 80,000 word story, and being told that you are only allowed to use about 500 words to explain the entire work of literature. Does anyone else see how this appears to be almost virtually impossible!?!? And this is not the end to the insanity.

Not only do you need to figure out how to insanely condense your hard work into an email or letter, but now you must decide which portions of the story are relevant and important enough to capture your readers attention. Are you merely looking to dangle a tiny piece of steak in front of a starving dog, leaving them with just enough to want more? Or do you want to just throw them the bone, the major piece that holds the steak together and smells of what they want, but leaves off all the beef making them NEED that sustenance? And let's face it, we could always just throw them the whole dang steak and hope it tastes sufficient enough to want the entire cow?

Therein lies the question, how long is too long? Is more less or is less more? And if that wasn't enough to make you lose your mind and consider maybe this novel is not worth the hassle, the process only becomes increasingly complicated.

EACH individual Agent is different. Each has their own guidelines about formatting and grammar. Each has their own style, their own represented genre, and their own preferences about how many credentials you have. There is not going to be just ONE query letter you are writing for this ONE novel. Instead there will be ONE query letter specifically written for EACH agent. What? You had not even considered researching your agents? You were planning on just sending out a "generic form" query letter and hoping one bites? OH! Well I hope you are planning on getting ONE "generic form" rejection letter from EACH Agent as well.

This is the life of a writer my friends. Maybe after reading this you think I am insane and surely I should give up. But maybe, JUST MAYBE, I do believe my novel will capture the eyes of even ONE Agent. It is possible I believe that by writing NUMEROUS query letters, and exposing a different amount of my plot to each Agent, ONE will bite and be as excited about my story as I have become. I may not know the answer to "How long is too long?", but I can assure that I fully intend to find out!

Lesson of the day kids, don't give up because something sounds impossible. If you believe in will become possible! Will MY synopsis measure up? Well I can assure I refuse to discontinue my efforts until it has.

Ok, enough with the speeches and back to the editing... Have I mentioned how frustrating editing is yet???


Crystal said...
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JessicaM81 said...

Now you know what my entire undergraduate education was like. I didn't have to write the books, but I sure had to sum them up, find the important, relevant parts...and figure out what they meant!! :)

T. Anne said...

For me the synopsis is even more of a challenge than the query. My own work my biggest stumbling block, go figure.

Marybeth said...

It's funny that we can put together an 80,000 word novel but become unable to write a 1000 word synopsis of that story. I'm with you T. Anne!

Crystal said...

Ugh, I'm so nervous about having to write the dreaded query letter! I'm not finished with my novel yet, but am anxiously anticipating when the day will come when the "real" work of the query letter begins. I like reading your first-hand experiences with all of this. Makes me feel a little less anxious. Love your blog!

Marybeth said...

Thanks :) I will agree with you...the real work certainly starts AFTER the novel is written.