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Thursday, February 3, 2011

DRIVING IN THE POURING RAIN TAUGHT ME HOW TO WRITE A QUERY


The art of driving in the pouring rain is much like writing a query.

Yes.

There are similarities between the two.

For instance, the question :

SHE DOES SEE ME, DOESN'T SHE?

The truth? No. No, she doesn't.

In her mind's eye, she sees the face of her friend as she's talking into her Bluetooth headset. By the dashboard clock, she sees that she's 10 minutes late. In the rearview mirror, she sees the bouncing image of her lips as she tries to apply lipstick without ending up looking like Bozo the Clown.

But you? You she doesn't see.

Not to worry. Just drive as if everyone around you is going to do the stupidest thing imaginable, and you'll be just fine.

THE AGENT TO WHOM YOU'RE WRITING DOESN'T SEE YOU EITHER.

She sees the precious sleep she's missing by reading query after query into the wee hours of the morning.

She sees the worst pieces of prose from past queries that stick like cockle burrs in her mind.

She sees the long list of things she has to do the next day on less sleep that she wanted.

She sees the sad face of that editor saying "No" to her earlier in the day when she was so sure he was going to say "yes."

She sees the mounting bills she has to pay ... BUT SHE DOESN'T SEE YOUR QUERY ... at least not clearly.

What do you do?

With a driver, you honk the horn. With a weary agent, you reach out and shake her awake to truly see your query for what it hopefully is : engaging and intriguing.

How? However you do it, you have to do it in 10 seconds. That's how long you have before her routine of "Wax on; wax off" is finished. Actually, it's read, yawn, reject.

For you to get through to her, it has to be a one - two punch. Hook of a title. Then, wham! A fascinating one paragraph summation:

PROJECT POPE : Robot priests construct their own Pope in their search for God. Then, the unimaginable happens. They find Him. {The classic by Clifford D. Simak.}

2nd Way Querying is like driving in the pouring rain :

JUST BECAUSE YOU CAN DO A THING DOESN'T MEAN YOU SHOULD.

Hundreds of thousands of drivers die needlessly each year by insisting on driving the speed limit in blinding rain.

In writing a query, you have fantastic leeway. You can write in any voice you choose. Frivolous. Condescending. Antagonistic. Suicidal, oh I repeat myself.

Your query is a business interview. Treat it as such and treat the agent as the potential employer. Be professional. Follow her website's guidelines. And show respect.

3rd Way Querying is like driving in the pouring rain :

YOU HAVE TO ALWAYS KEEP THE BIG PICTURE IN MIND :

In driving that is looking past the hood to at least 200 feet ahead of you. Flick your eyes from side to side to prevent nasty surprises. Keep looking at the rearview mirror to see what may be charging right at you.

In Querying :
Keep in mind the ultimate goal : intriguing the agent enough for her to want to read more.

You don't have to cram 500 pages of story into one page. In essence, you're writing a movie trailer. Remember the latest movie trailer you saw. Did it give the whole story? No. It teased, giving you the hero, the antagonist, and a glimpse of humor and danger.

Now, get to teasing those agents.




Then, there's this song, an echo of yesterday's post :


17 comments:

  1. Great analogy, Roland.

    I hope to start querying next week, so I will keep this post in mind.

    Thanks for the clever way you teach us.


    Michael

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  2. Thanks, Michael. I want to help my friends avoid some of the potholes that I twisted my writer's ankle in! Have a warm evening.

    Wendy : Good seeing you again. I tried to entertain as well as teach my friends in blogdom. Have a healing Friday, Roland

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  3. This is an incredible analogy! You see so clearly through the pouring rain!! You ARE a great teacher through your writing!
    Ann Best, Author

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  4. Thanks so much, Ann, for your kind words. I try to point out smoother paths for my friends that come after me. We're all in this together. Have a great and happy weekend, Roland

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  5. Interesting analogy of women and driving, and women agents...
    let's blame it on the rain?

    have a good nite.

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  6. I hope you have a better day tomorrow. Take Care.

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  7. I ditto and double-ditto the sentiment: great analogy and post. It makes a writer feel sorry for the agents--and YES, we can write queries and stories that will get their attention. Right? ;o)

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  8. Imagery Imagined : I think such thoughts as I drive through blinding rains like today to keep my sanity. I'm glad you enjoyed it. Have a great Friday, Roland

    Carol Riggs : Thanks for liking my take on trying to see things through the eyes of the harried, struggling agents. And yes, I do believe it is possible to snag their attention -- at least that's my hope and dream! LOL

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  9. Well done! I have just started querying so I will keep this in mind!

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  10. This is an excellent point, they really don't see us and we don't see them. Those who may seem like the dream agent on line may be completely wrong for us. This is part of why I'm such a huge supporter of workshops and conferences. It's great to meet them in person and get a feel for who they really are.

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  11. Well said. Plus, there's a lot of slippin' and slidin' going on.

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  12. Oh, great analogy Roland! Easiest way to be seen is to do somethign really stupid, but that is a really bad idea!

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  13. I have had a morning of emergencies, or I would have already replied to your gracious comments :

    Tabitha : I wish you luck in your querying. It is a daunting task but one that others have successfully done. I know you can, too.

    Heather : My hectic work schedule leaves me no time for conferences, and I deeply regret that. Thanks for the nice comments. It's always good to see your name here.

    Travener : Thanks. And you're right, on the roads and on the path of finding the right agent, there certainly is a lot of slipping and sliding going on!

    Hart : Being human as we are, it is so easy to err even though we try our hardest. Thanks for appreciating and enjoying my post. Have a great Friday, Roland

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  14. Timely as I get back to querying.

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  15. M Pax : My next post will help a bit more in querying I hope. Have a warm end of week, Roland

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  16. That was really well done, Roland. Great way to illustrate. Queries make me quiver...they're so intimidating.
    Edge of Your Seat Romance

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