I haven't been doing a lot of editing, lately, because I've felt pretty uncreative and preoccupied in general. This and upcoming finals are my excuse for lack of blog posts. I do feel pretty bad about it all and am trying to pull things together.
However, in the meantime when I wasn't doing all the stuff I should, I was working on my query. I've been working on this same query for at least twelve months, if not more. My "MIRRORPASS Query" folder has 23 documents--most of them complete rewrites of previous versions. To wit, I fail.
I'm not sure how this happened either. I mean, I know the rules of queries. I know what makes a good hook and how they sound. Plus, I've summarized my novel so many zillion times, that I am 100% certain of it's main themes, plot points, and climax. I'm a writer. I should be able to do this!
And yet--23 horrible, bloated, oblique queries sit inside the folder like so many dead fish on a line. They stink. I can smell them from here. When looking them over, I feel such an immense desperation.
I used to put them up on AW for crits, but that only seemed to make it worse. Don't get me wrong--I've gotten some very thoughtful comments that should be helpful. Except when reviewing them, I find myself realizing there's no way to resolve the issue that's been highlighted, except by starting completely over. It all sums up to the same thing: this doesn't work. Back to the drawing board.
Every three weeks or so, I open a new document, and start a new query. I find myself saying the exact things I've said before. I try to find a new way to say them, a new angle, a fresh slant. I try recombining old statements to try and make them mesh better. Maybe when I open it the next morning, it will have something work working on. Most of the time, I open it to find it's the same skunk poo I've written before.
Let me tell you a few of the things I've tried:
- Writing the query in first-person, using my characters voice. (This didn't work so great since MIRRORPASS is in third person anyway.)
- Posting on AW and making every change a critter suggests
- Starting with the action
- Starting with backstory
- Focusing on each of the three main plotlines (Aria needs to find her crystal, Aria needs to find her twin, Aria needs to get them all home)
- Focusing on two or more of the main plotlines
- Focusing on subplots (Aria and the investigative report, Aria and her discovery of self)
- Focusing on a mix of subplots and main plots
- Making up new plotlines to focus on, because maybe there's something wrong with the novel?
- Focusing on NASA as the villian
- Focusing on DARPA as the villian
- Focusing on a combination of made-up plots, subplots, main plots, backstory, and action, with both NASA and DARPA as villians, or neither, or just one
- Writing queries en masse in the hopes one will turn out half decent
You see, I really have tried everything. My current experiment--and the one that seems to be faring best--is hunting through all my queries for the very best beginning sentence, then searching for the very best next sentence, and writing a query that way.
I mean, each query usually has a good nugget, it's the rest that's like skunk poo. So smart me, I decided to harvest the nuggets. I started out of desperation, but as stated before, it seems to be my best idea so far.
I'm also pretty sure there's other people who struggle as much as me when it comes to queries. Share! Make me feel like less of a wuss! I'd love to hear any tips on how you guys managed your query writing process.
Truly and always,