Friday, July 3, 2009

The Worst Part of Writing

I have a folder for queries and proposals. Not stuffed with ones I've sent, mind you, but rather packed with examples and tips and a trough of ideas that supposedly work.

It's a terrifying folder, really. Built on the back of that other folder I have for synopsises.

An author asked me the other day if I had my query letter and synopsis all ready to go. She knows I'm targeting this month to be finished with my SFD.

I guess I was a bit shocked. It felt like that would be putting the cart before the horse.

Wouldn't it?

I wrote a synopsis ages ago, and that will definitely need re-tooled. Why sweat out a query letter as well, only to have to re-sweat later?


Well, kinda. The thing with the exercise of writing a synopsis and query letter is that it makes you examine your story from a different perspective.

Rather than being in the middle of the forest, where you can see only so many trees around you at any given moment, writing a synopsis (ugh!) and query letter (blick!) are like flying over the forest in a helicopter. (Or, if you prefer, a glider.) You can see so much more of the countryside, and how everything works together. The details aren't apparent, but the location and shape and expanse are easy to see.

I'm not advocating everyone do this, but it couldn't hurt. Even if you have to suck it up and do them all again later.

CR: Plan B by Anne Lammot. It's a compilation kind of thing, so it will be easy to put down and come back to when the Barclay arrives.

It's all better with friends.


  1. What you suggest makes me shake in my boots (or summertime bare feet), Peg. I don't know enough about what the novel will contain to synopsize it before I've scrawled the end. I usually do know the ending, have some inkling of the climactic scene, but enough of the points along the way? No way. This time around my agent had me write something about the next book as she is going for a two book deal. I closed my eyes, bit my lip, and wrote something so short as to be almost flap copy. I really admire you for having a go--and can't wait to hear what you do next! Yay, you, for being on track with your deadline!!

  2. I guess the post was a bit misleading . . . I'll have a go at the query and synopsis when I've completed my SFD.

    But I realized the other day, when I was having trouble with a scene and wanted to brainstorm with some friends, that it really helped to put the parameters down on paper. It clarified things for me in a succinct way—and felt a bit like a poorly written synopsis.

    The scene remains a bugger, just in case you're wondering . . .

    Happy 4th!