Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Which came first - the query or the book?

Cute. This is before the little fella tried to figure out which way round was best.
 I've done it both ways - book then pitch, and pitch then book (although I'm yet to complete that second way - at the moment I have two pitches written that are bookless).

Here's what I found: When I wrote my first pitch there was anguish and rending of garments and so on. I'd written the book (it was a bit rubbish) and there was no way I could make the story fit into the Query Shark formula (side note: some people can break the rules and get results with queries. I'm not one of those people, so I follow the formula). My book just didn't want to be constrained that way because it was just too...

It was just too rubbish is what it was. It took a long time to write a decent query for that book because the book itself didn't have great stakes.

Book 2's query took a similarly long time, but for different reasons. Namely these: I'd spent so long writing my book, it had so many great things in it that NEEDED to be in that query and there was no way 250 words was enough. (It can be hard to see the core of the story - especially if you've pantsed it in the first place.)

In short, despite the fact that my query for Book 2 worked, it was DIFFICULT to write.

Here's the good bit: More recently, Ive been writing the pitch first. And it's been a complete revelation.

Mind. Blown.

One advantage of doing it this way round is that you don't get bogged down with uneccessary detail or tempted to make mention of that incredible sub plot you have going on. The idea comes out pure. And although it might need a little flavour injecting into it later on when you've nailed down the characters and the setting, you'll have the core plot ready made.

I'm also hoping it will keep me on track when I come to actually write the book. I know what the main thrust of the plot is, so I can (theoretically) make sure I'm always writing towards it (and bypassing that scene at the sewage plant that seemed like a good idea at the time in favour of something that matters and isn't gross).

Plus I know that the plot is big enough, that the stakes are high, and that the choices these charatcers are going to have to make are WHOA (this is a technical writerly term I'm sure you're all familiar with). 

Not convinced? How about this: Do it this way round and you won't waste any time writing a book that isn't going to fly. You won't feel pressure to do your wonderful book justice and gnash your teeth over the pitch, because you haven't written said wonderful book yet. Stress-free query writing!

Yes, I googled 'book coming out of an egg'. Not sure what I was expecting.

So what do you think? Have you tried this? Did it work for you?

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

The one where there's even more news from Christmas in July and it is also awesome

Remember this fantastic entry to Christmas in July? Of course you do, because SING TO THE WIND by Jaye Robin Brown is great and you know it is : D

She got three well deserved full requests from Christmas in July plus much agent interest from querying. You can check out Jaye's story on her blog wherein there is much encouragement and also stats.

And for those of you following the progress of #midlifecrisis, mainly manifested on the top of my head, here's the latest colour:

Yes, it's orange. No, it wasn't meant to be. Adding #bleachfail to #midlifecrisis.

Saturday, 18 August 2012

The one where there's news from Christmas in July and it's awesome

This is a post for the people out there in the query trenches, whether you're revelling in it or hating it out there. I always kinda liked it myself. It made me someone who was doing something positive about grabbing hold of the whole writing life thing. But I know that some of you think it's about as much fun as a room full of rakes. So here's some cool news. You know, because this could be right around the corner for you too.

It's been about four weeks since the Christmas in July contest, and in that time, four of the fifteen people whose work went up on my blog have signed with agents.

This is cool. Very cool. It's cool for them, but it's also cool for you because this is how it happens. One day you don't have an agent and the next,

And here's the post on Linda McLaren's blog where she tells you that she's now signed with Judith Engracia! I couldn't be happier for them both. Linda's THE SOUND CATCHERS caught plenty of agent eye, and I can't wait to read the whole story.

Thursday, 2 August 2012

Books I loved that you should probably read

Christmas in July took up ALL THE POSTS and so I haven't had chance to foist my opinions about good books on you for a while. Here are my favourites since last I made noise about what you should be reading.

Under the Never Sky (Under the Never Sky, #1)Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Great, hard-won relationship between the two mc's, fantastic world-building, excellent story. I find myself reluctant to buy into books that aren't standalones, but I loved this one and it had a satisfying ending. Bring on the sequel. (And thanks to Michelle for making me read this!)

GlowGlow by Amy Kathleen Ryan

Sci-fi! My agent recommended this one to me. It's a great example of using every opportunity to block your mc from achieving their goal to make a tense story. Another one where I will definitely be looking for the sequel.

Just ListenJust Listen by Sarah Dessen

The first Dessen book I've read. I went out and bought The Truth about Forever when I finished this. I liked the intricacies of the relationships between all the characters here. This is why contemp rocks.

Torn Torn by Cat Clarke

This is one of those thought-provoking books that made me squirm. You know what's coming, but not how it happens and you CAN'T LOOK AWAY. If you haven't read this or Clarke's first book, Entangled, you need to.

A Monster CallsA Monster Calls by Patrick Ness
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Heart. Broken.

This is a must read.

Any recommendations for me?