Take time to deliberate, but when the time for action has arrived, stop thinking and go in.
- Napoleon

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

How Much Is Enough... or Too Much?

Writing a query letter is much like walking a tightrope. You have just so much space, and falling to either side of that space can be disastrous. (And part of the problem is you don't know you've fallen until after you're already smushed on the rejection concrete below.)

Yesterday Kristen asked if Blink has any romance, since I didn't hint at it in my last pass at the cover copy. It does. I mentioned it in one of my other drafts, but I eventually elected to delete that information. Why?

As I said above, there's only so much space. You have to make a decision on each story element as to whether it's crucial enough to stick into that space. In the case of the romance angle, I decided it wasn't germane to the crux of the story. It's like the suspense angle, or the betrayal angle, or the mystery. It's there, and it adds conflict for Mary, but the real story is her journey from crawling to fighting.

The urge is there to put in a snippet about the hero. I'd also like to mention the villain, but in the scheme of things, it's enough to use the Union and not mention the man who heads it. If I had the space, I'd talk about the grandfatherly Russell who introduces her to the Order.

I could delve into Mary's search for identity, because as a 'foundling' she doesn't really know her past or her family, and it's key to discovering who she really is as an individual.

See why writing a query blurb is so damn hard? It was actually harder for this book than any other so far. There's a lot woven into those 94K words.

Anyway, I think I hit the right balance. The book is broken into three parts, and each is represented in the three paragraphs - albeit not in any encompassing way. Time will tell if I got it right or it fell off the tightrope into the abyss. I just need to hook them, so they'll want to read more.

Now I have to write the synopsis (something I neglected to do last year for my aborted query pass). There's where I can let it all hang out - in five pages or less.

Heh. Is it any wonder I'm a wee bit loony?



Kristen Painter said...

If you're sending this query to editors/agents who buy/represent romance but you don't include that angle, I think you're doing your story a disservice. JMO.

B.E. Sanderson said...

True. Maybe different copy for different agencies is the answer. I'm working on another angle right now. If it seems any good, I'll post it. (Unless everyone is getting sick of watching this process, of course.)