Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Wednesday's Inked WIP

Today I'd like to discuss the query letter revision. You've posted your query in various contests, blog hops and places that offer help and advice. You've gotten your advice. What do you think? Did you like the advice? Was it genuinely helpful?

Now what do you do?

You revise, of course!

The query for my YA historical fictions, THE MEMORY KEEPER, looks completely different now than the first time I wrote it. My first line was:

River Morgan is petite, pink haired and not quite seventeen, but she knows how to erase a memory.

I loved that sentence (plus a whole lot of others...) but NO ONE else liked it. Some said it sounded forced. Some said it wasn't needed. Some said it didn't make any sense. Well, I liked it. Actually I loved it. But int he end, I decided to delete it. It hurt. I fumed and fused over the beautiful piece of art I had created. But alas, I changed it.

To many, my new sentence isn't good either. But that's okay. It's a learning process, and I will never say I've arrived and need no more learning. After going back and reading my old query and comparing it to my newest one, I realize the query really doesn't even sound like me. It seems like I lost a my voice in the query.

But then I also read the pages of my manuscript and find the old query doesn't match the voice in my pages, either. So I thought about it for a while and came to the decision I must have written my first query while trying to impress someone. Yes. I know the point f a query letter is to catch the attention of an agent, but you will not do that if the query is flashy, forced, fake or not you.

Something else to remember is the fact that someone who has not read your manuscript has no idea what our story is about. your job is to hook them, surprise them, and entice them to want to know what our book is about. Get straight tot he point, leave out the flowery details, and be as creative and interesting as you can.

So, take your critiqued query letters, and edit away. Make it work for you. Remember, critiques are so subjective and it is always up to YOU to decide if deleting or changing something is the best thing for your novel.

What about you? How do you handle revisions? Do you always agree with what others say? Do you fret over deleted words or sentences?

Happy revisions, beautiful guys and dolls:)

37 comments:

  1. I used to pick and choose which criticisms I listened to, based on whether I agreed with them or not. Now I've figured out that even when I don't think their suggestions would strengthen my query/book, the sections they want changed are inadequate. And just having those points picked out, I can usually figure out another, more fitting fixes for them. And if I'm really in love with something I can't use, I cut and paste it into a "cut things" document.

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    1. "I can usually figure out other, more fitting fixes"

      Grammar...

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    2. Oh, I love that idea! Cut and paste doc. Then it's always there if I need it elsewhere or change my mind and decide to use it. Thanks for sharing that little tidbit:)

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  2. Sometimes you have to kill your darlings. That's just the way it is, though I have shed a tear or two for them myself. Better your crit partners tell you than lose the chance with the agent, right?

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    1. I agree. But it's always such a sad occasion. Funerals are never a delightful experience, even when it's someone you don't like.

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  3. I grab multiple crits. Often if they are all pointing out something in the same section, there is an issue.

    Every CP sees something different. A good thing. But the author does have right of refusal. If they do, they should have a very good reason other than "I love the words."

    Much different when going to publication. Those edits are required as laid out in the contract.

    Best bet is to love the story, not every line of prose. Love the overall premise, characters and plot. Not words which can be manipulated, revised and removed.

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    1. But, it's words that make a story, a character, a plot. Beautifully written words are what makes the story, unless it happens to be a plot driven novel. Even then, it's the words that you read that keep you turning the page.

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  4. Hmmm I kind of liked your first sentence, too bad it had to go!

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    1. I agree. Besides, it's a similar style of the hook in a query Query Shark critiqued, and she loved that particular hook.

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    2. Interesting. Where can I read that query? Was it recent? I'd love to take a look at it and read the comments.

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    3. Here you go: http://queryshark.blogspot.com/2012/06/224.html

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    4. Thanks, Irene. The more I think about them, the more I wonder if I need to include them again, somehow, someway.

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    5. Thank you Lanette. I guess it is a similar opening, but not alike in the rest. Anyway, she did say the opening of that query rocked, didn't she? Hmmm, maybe some revisions are in order for my beloved character. It is more fitting for her style.

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  5. I have put my query through so many groups that I can honestly say I have no real emotion attachment to it anymore. I like it and all but it's like the teenage child....I need to give it the freedom to grow and not stifle it with only my thoughts and opinions, it needs to grow. On that note--I wonder if there is a pt when there are too many fingers in the pot. I have my originals and it seems like the process has gone full circle. The things I pared down are now being asked for. My head is spinning. Hee her. But i'm addicted to critiques and just keep tweaking and maybe some day it will be kind of finished.

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    1. I'm sure I can relate! This query of mine in particular has been through the wringer so much, at one time I just shelved it. I'm afraid that even though I worked on it recently and queried with it, it's still leading to rejections. So, I have decided to shelf it again. Just for a while, though...

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    2. This is EXACTLY what happened to me! A few days ago my entire query, from hook to end, stood at four sentence, and finally was asked, "What about this and that?" and it was stuff I'd cut out. So I feel like I'm starting all over again.

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  6. I bought a query critique from a junior editor, and the one I have is the result of collaborating with her. Before I worked with her, I didn't get any requests. Since the revised query, I've only gotten one. That's not a good rate of return, but I'm hesitant to change anything without a good reason because my query is so much better after working with the junior agent than before, and I worry about taking a step backwards if I tweak it.

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    1. I wouldn't give up yet. Maybe it just needs more eyes. Even revisions sometimes can be revised. But I do understand your hesitations. I'm there too:)

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  7. I think TJ nailed it-- get multiple CPs for whatever you're working on and try to blend their opinions.

    I acted as a CP for someone on their MS and didn't care for a particular style he employed and told him so, but his response was he LOVED that style and he was going to stick with it and you know what? I was tickled. Because he owned it and was willing to believe in it and keep it. I think that's important too.

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    1. You are right! One query (only one so far) I wrote, I never asked anyone their opinion. So far, I have received 3 full requests.

      Sometimes, grabbing the opinions of others can be so confusing. Because everyone has their "OWN" opinion. It's important for a writer to know what is right for their writing, but have enough wisdom to know when another opinion maters:)

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  8. I tend to fight for what I love and change everything else.

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    1. That's right! Keep what you love. If you believe in it, keep it. If it doesn't work, change it. Good advice:)

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  9. Yes, but I like you, have learned it's very subjective. By the way, I loved that original first line.

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    1. Another vote for #1? Yay! Maybe I should put up a poll???

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  10. I don't have CPs (not for want of trying), so my revisions come from myself, and sometimes from putting work in a contest. Awhile ago, I changed an opening far too much based on criticism from the first GUTGAA in 2011. I'd had the old-fashioned opening style of setting up a character and situation instead of diving right in, and most people didn't like that. The way I rewrote it made my character sound like some simpering, overly emotive idiot, not at all like the cocky, self-assured guy I've fine-tuned over the years. I ditched that pathetic opener and rewrote it so that it was actually in line with his character, not the way other people wanted me to write it.

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    1. That's what you have to do sometimes. No one knows your character like you do, the creator. It's wise to use the advice of others, but only if you know it works for your story.

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  11. YOUR blog looks gorgeous! I fret and worry, but keep going... :D
    I do think we have to remove doubt and trying to impress and get the the meat of our message! Okay the heart...see meat didn't work, lol

    Thank you for all you do!

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    1. Second guesses happen, in spite of the best efforts. But you are so right. Get passed the worry and write the heart of the story.
      How are you doing?

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  13. Okay, what I mean to say is...originally my query was shorter, but it left people on ACQ with a lot of questions and gave them a wrong impression about where the story led, so I added more details, to make it precise what would happen, not wanting to led an agent astray. But now, looking back at it, I think it is too long and does read like a mini-synopsis. When I get extra time, I'm going to try to re-tinker with it and try to make it snappier, but keep the emotional core. I love that ya'll on here got that it was a character-driven book.

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    1. No question about that. Tear-jerker novels are generally character driver.

      Just remember: Tell us who your MC is and what she wants, the conflict (or what stands in her way) and the choices she must face (or what is at stake)

      Can't wait to see the revise!

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    2. This happened to me. When I'd pared it down to just four sentences from hook to end, taking out what different people told mer weren't needed, I ended up with something that someone said sounded like Twilight. Now my book can hardly be more different, despite vampires. Juliette and Bella are polar opposites. Juliette not wanting to become a vampire is the smallest difference.

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  14. I'm making changes without input now because I got none on Tuesday's post. =P

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    1. Oh no! I will make comments today! So sorry about that. Really, I apologize:(

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    2. That's okay. :) I deleted what I had posted and posted my revised one. I've hacked that thing so many times I'm dizzy.

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  15. My queries get revamped dozens of times. I actually start working on them before I start writing my MS, changing in several times during the writing phase. Then, before I start my first round of revision on the MS, I already put my query up on a forum. Then it gets changed again. When the MS is really ready to go out, I throw up the query again, revise again, send it to CPs... well, I think you get the drift ;)

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    1. Yea, that's what happens during revisions. Change, change, change@

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