Saturday, January 10, 2009

The Perfect Writer

I’ve been researching a bit about synopsis and query writing as I’m about to send my young adult romance, Claudia Lanchaster’s Adventures in Love, back out into that scary place-Submission World. The research has pushed me into a bit of a funk. (Or it could be the rejections I got this morning. For some reason the magazine sent the rejection five times. Maybe it’s me, BUT I’m thinking they really don’t want me to submit again)

It seems the success of your novel rests precariously on the properly placed word in a query letter, a bit of writing that rarely exceeds 100 words. The query letter is the first contact you make with the agent or publisher to hook them in. According to the people I’ve been reading, these folks are inundated with emails and if you have a passive sentence or an “awkward turn of phrase” you and your beloved novel are heading for the scrap heap.

I’ve spent about five years fiddling with Claudia (that sounds a bit pervy- not meant to be) but it looks like I’ll need to spend just as much trying to create the perfect query letter. Then, of course, there is the whole nightmare of a synopsis. “Include the themes” – to be honest, five years on and I’m not quite sure what it’s all about. “Give us the gist of the story with plot twists- but don’t go into details”- okay… understood (?). “No hyperbole”- so delete that whole bit about Oprah’s Book Club and greatest book since the Bible; but that was my favourite part. :(

It’s all quite frightening. If you go by what they say, us writers are expected to be perfect. Misplaced metaphor- My God, and she calls herself a writer? Run-on sentence? Is she joking? Redundancy? (A new buzz word that is seriously getting up my nose) Does she know nothing at all?

I’m not perfect at anything. My desk is a little dusty. I’ve never worn a size 5. My eyes need three different pairs of glasses to accomplish all the things they must. I once, for no reason at all, fell off a chair inside of the bank manager’s office. I often think I’m about to play a high E and instead get a C. My hair is neither curly nor straight. I’m just not perfect, I never have been. 45 years down the line, I don’t see perfect suddenly making an appearance in my writing world. I just try my best. In a way I guess it’s better my future agent and future publisher and I all get on the correct page straight away.

So my imperfect query letter will be sent. And if they can swallow that, it will be followed by my imperfect synopsis with the three highly imperfect chapters. And if things go my way, I will one day see Claudia (in all of her imperfectness, created by this imperfect writer) sitting a little bit crooked on shelves in bookstores all over the world- that is, of course, in a perfect world.


Anonymous said...

Once more into the breach, eh?
I hate query letters and synopses. Who invented them??? I mean, really.
I want this for you so I'm going to keep everything crossed. Best of luck!!!

Morgan Mandel said...

Keep at it. All you need is one person who likes your manuscript and you'll have a contract.

Morgan Mandel

Lauri said...

Morgan & Selma- thanks for your encouragement.

I thought an interesting project would be to track my progress here in my blog- so keep posted.

Anonymous said...

Most sincere best luck! Keep us posted on progress - nice post, very interesting.