Ego, meet Bludgeon. Bludgeon, Ego. – Thank you, sir, may I have another?
I’m writing. A lot. I work at least 3-4 hours every morning, either composing or editing. Or, if it’s a new project, I outline. I spent July through October outlining, for example. On the one hand, I have The Big Project. On the other hand, I have the Many Smaller Projects.
The Big Project is a young adult urban fantasy series. There will be five books, each with a different protagonist, and while the books take place in a specific order, the idea that I’m trying to work with is that the books interlock. The order in which I mean them to be read is based on how they end – book 1 in January, book 2 in February, book 3 in April, book 4 in June, and book 5 in August.
They all begin at different times, though – book 1 in August, covering 6 months. Book 2 begins in the May before book 1, covering 10 months. Book 3 begins 7 years before 2. Book 4 begins 14 years before book 2. Book 5 begins when book 2 does, but covers 13 months because of its longer time.
The books will interlock. The characters all know one another and major scenes in book 3 might be disregarded in book 2 entirely because what is important to Samantha (3) is irrelevant to Dante (2).
On the one hand, this is a vast experiment, and in at least one way its wholly successful. I’ve finished a draft of book 3 and am now slogging through the first act of book 4. I WROTE A NOVEL! Having done this and nothing else fills me with delighted accomplishment.
Of course I hope there will be more. I want to finish all five books. I want to get an agent, then a publisher, then have commercially successful career.* I’m writing other things in the meantime, when I get stuck, which are the Many Smaller Projects. I drafted a screenplay on which Lisa’s now tackling the 2nd draft. I drafted a short, unproduceable stage play (31 pages, 5 actors, 0 set, 1 billion lights).
This is all the short form of what I’m doing and why I’m trying to be more active here, to keep my brain moving in different directions. The reason I’m writing this today is because of the Query Letter. This is the approximately 250 word missive that you pen to an agent in hopes of having them send you a reply that says, “let me read your manuscript.” They might still reject you, naturally, but getting requests for “fulls” and “partials” is apparently going to be my drug-of-choice in about a year, where the agents are the dealers.
There are some fantastic people in the Intertubes who run query critiques. The people who chime in with comments are not, in my limited reading experience, trolls. They don’t know each other, they have no axe to grind. They read your letter without prejudice and offer comments. My first query attempt is up today at Robyn Lucas, Writer, where you can read a stab at what I’m writing.
Two quick notes: my manuscript is WAY too long at 158,000 words. YA fantasy generally tops out at an absolute maximum of 115-120,000, unless you’re JKRowling – and note that The Sorcerer’s Stone was nowhere near the length of Goblet of Fire. She built up to that word length.
Second, the query letter is supposed to:
- Hook the reader
- Tell the story the way a blurb on a back jacket might
- Be good and engaging writing on its own merits, showcasing your voice
In other words, it’s a little bit of everything. No easy task, which is why these critiquing folks are so terrifically awesome. Today at Robyn Lucas is my query with comments. Go back tomorrow to see what Ms. Lucas herself has to say.
*Lisa wants this, too.