Author Topic: Writing the query BEFORE the MS  (Read 5037 times)

dannymctx

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Writing the query BEFORE the MS
« on: June 22, 2014, 05:34:31 PM »
Thanks to some replies from an earlier topic (in the "Welcome" section), I decided to write the query letter immediately after I recently completed Chapter 1 in a newly started MS.

Both Ch. 1 and the Query itself will be edited many times of course, but I really think this was a great idea - at least for this particular MG novel.

So thanks to Falen and SpikeTheBunny  (and others too) for your previous comments!    :clap:

Now... off to chapter two... Oh, and several months from now I will pay someone dearly to do the synopsis   :wink:

Offline klnorton

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Re: Writing the query BEFORE the MS
« Reply #1 on: June 23, 2014, 04:44:01 AM »
I just wrote the query for a new WIP too, and I thought it was so helpful. I actually wrote it back-to-back with the query for the manuscript I was revising, and I found the new WIP query to be so much easier to write. I think after the fact we get too bogged down by all the details. It's easier to pare it down when you haven't written all those fun details yet.
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Offline Sarah Ahiers (Falen)

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Re: Writing the query BEFORE the MS
« Reply #2 on: June 23, 2014, 07:52:15 AM »
YAY!!

I mean, i have an agent and junk now, so i don't even need to write queries anymore, but i still crank one out before i start writing a new draft. Theyr'e just helpful
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Offline SamIAm

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Re: Writing the query BEFORE the MS
« Reply #3 on: June 23, 2014, 08:29:28 AM »
Yay!  So glad it helped!  I find it really helps me streamline my story and, by the time I'm ready to query, it's so much easier to go back and edit the query I did at the beginning, rather than start from scratch.  I also find that if I CAN'T write the query for the book I'm plotting, it's going to go nowhere.

Offline Jim Williams

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Re: Writing the query BEFORE the MS
« Reply #4 on: July 06, 2014, 11:22:14 AM »
I wrote my first query for my memoir when I was at 17,000 words, and just learning there was such a thing as agents. So I sent it to one, written like an employment resume, asking what are agents? I got the most gracious response, only to learn memoirs needed be completed before querying.     

When in doubt, read the instructions. So, having finally looked up what a memoir is, I'm in the process of rewriting my MS now. As memoirs have, as a rule, a common theme or story throughout as does a novel, I find writing queries now to be most helpful. But I don't necessarily send them, balancing how much an enthused agent might be disappointed with the MS.

Offline klnorton

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Re: Writing the query BEFORE the MS
« Reply #5 on: July 06, 2014, 11:31:48 AM »
I completely agree Jim! I wouldn't send the query until my manuscript was finished, polished, and polished again. But I feel like it's easier to write when I only have the outline for my novel - the subplots don't distract me as much. And then it helps to keep me focused while writing. I'm glad you had such a gracious agent that gave you a kind and helpful response! It's nice to know that they truly want us to succeed! :)
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dannymctx

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Re: Writing the query BEFORE the MS
« Reply #6 on: July 06, 2014, 12:00:16 PM »
I wrote my first query for my memoir when I was at 17,000 words, and just learning there was such a thing as agents. So I sent it to one, written like an employment resume, asking what are agents? I got the most gracious response, only to learn memoirs needed be completed before querying.    

When in doubt, read the instructions. So, having finally looked up what a memoir is, I'm in the process of rewriting my MS now. As memoirs have, as a rule, a common theme or story throughout as does a novel, I find writing queries now to be most helpful. But I don't necessarily send them, balancing how much an enthused agent might be disappointed with the MS.

I agree with KL -- you had a very gracious agent.  And Jim, I too never knew that Literary Agents existed until a few months ago. Do they call us "old schoolers"?   :)

Offline Jim Williams

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Re: Writing the query BEFORE the MS
« Reply #7 on: July 06, 2014, 12:12:50 PM »
klnorton:
I'm amazed at how much the MS and query balance. It seems the more complete I have my MS, the easier it is to have a query come out the way I want while the better the query is, the easier it is to polish the MS. They seem to build on each other. :naughty: 
DannyMc:
I'm not sure what agents call us as they gaze at the slush fund. I fear it may not be, "old schoolers".

dannymctx

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Re: Writing the query BEFORE the MS
« Reply #8 on: July 06, 2014, 08:20:50 PM »

DannyMc:
I'm not sure what agents call us as they gaze at the slush fund. I fear it may not be, "old schoolers".

Funny, Jim!   Yep, I've been called worse.... this morning, actually.    :)

Offline Falthor

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Re: Writing the query BEFORE the MS
« Reply #9 on: July 07, 2014, 11:50:33 AM »
I think I'm the only one in the other camp?

  I find I can't write a query until I'm at least done my first draft, and even then, sometimes, I can't.

   My characters tend to grow and change as I write, and Change the freaking story on me.   I know the basics, and by that I mean the barest of basics, when i start to write something, adn then I let the characters tell me the story, while keeping them in line and on topic, so if i try to write a query I generally find by the time I'm done the book it doesn't match up and I have to start over.

  I generally, like I said, wont even contemplate one until I have a first draft and the characters seemed to have settled down in their story telling. 
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Offline olashorty

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Re: Writing the query BEFORE the MS
« Reply #10 on: July 07, 2014, 12:03:45 PM »
I'm the same, Falthor. I have some ideas in my head but no query written for my current WIP. I took a look at the outline for my last MS and the story's so different now; couldn't imagine if I'd tried to do a query based on that one.

I could see it working for folks, though--the query isn't entirely dependent on the exact storyline, so even if you make some changes, it should be alright. Maybe I'll try it for the next one...

Offline Jim Williams

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Re: Writing the query BEFORE the MS
« Reply #11 on: July 07, 2014, 02:26:33 PM »
Perhaps writing a memoir is still a little different than a novel. I've never tried to write a novel. There are people who know a great deal more about this than I do, but it seems memoirs break down into two kinds; one based on famous people, and one based on unknowns. Apparently in famous people, even the idea of a memoir can be accept by an agent before the first word is written, and it's only for unknowns the MS should be finished beforehand. What I did in the past was complete the story-line, then began filling in the particulars, and do a little exploratory querying to boot.

Then I threw out my first story-line completely, and came up with the one I have now, which is different. I'm now in the process of organizing my 65,000 words of particulars around my new story-line, which is accurately reflected in my new query letter. I've become convinced by QT members, and others, that unlike before, it is still better to hold off on querying agents until the MS is polished and done, which I'm doing now. Having a complete story-line, I continue to polish my query letter though. I hope my doing so is within acceptable limits.
« Last Edit: July 07, 2014, 02:29:55 PM by Jim Williams »

Offline Blatherskite

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Re: Writing the query BEFORE the MS
« Reply #12 on: July 08, 2014, 03:09:10 PM »
You know, i resolved to do this after enduring much pain composing the query for the novel I'm now querying. I was about 15k into the next novel, so I stopped and wrote the query.

Son of a gun, I think it helped. It made me realize that an important character didn't have enough to do. She's a cute kid, very sympathetic, and she has a POV that no one else can match, but all her problems are her own, she's not tied in closely enough with the main plotline. So I beefed her up, and she'll have more to do in the climax.

Thank you, query.

Offline 007 fan

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Re: Writing the query BEFORE the MS
« Reply #13 on: January 08, 2019, 03:11:35 AM »
Found a guest reading this. Posting to bring it back up....

There are some good reasons listed for writing a query very early in a project.
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Offline kaperton

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Re: Writing the query BEFORE the MS
« Reply #14 on: January 08, 2019, 06:48:26 PM »
I could have saved myself some heartache if I'd written my query a lot earlier. It wasn't until I was writing mine, and reading a lot of other queries, that I realized my story had no hook.