Thursday, March 22, 2012

Your Story Blurb Has To Be Precise - Rejections Come When These Aren't

I know that all of you hate writing query letters but it is a necessary evil and one that far too many authors simply screw up. No, it is not the format of the query, it is simply the blurb about the book. Unfortunately, many authors simply are not clear and precise in these blurbs. In the end, as editors and agents, we end up passing on these projects because we really don't have a sense of the project. Despite what many of you might think, we are not going to request a project just to see if it will work for us.

The brief paragraph about your story doesn't need to give us everything that happens in the story, but it should give us the general sense of who the story is about, the setting, the conflict and the conclusion. We don't need to know the background history of the characters, we don't need to know who the lesser characters are - we just need the basics.

There is no perfect formula for writing these, but you have to make sure the basics are there. The best approach to doing this is to treat the elements first as a fill-in-the-blank worksheet. For many of you, I am betting you used something like this with your character bios in the early drafting stage.

I always recommend this basic approach. Certainly it isn't fixed in stone and every book can be dealt with differently, but you should get the general idea.

Paragraph 1:
  1. Title
  2. Genre
  3. Word Count
  4. High Concept
Paragraph 2 (This is the big one and the most crucial):
  1. Who is the heroine? What is her internal conflict?
  2. Who is the hero? What is his internal conflict?
  3. What is getting in the way of these two getting together?
  4. How will we get to the resolution?
The key here is to globalize the telling of this story. This is not simply a list where you writer " and then... and then... and then." Give us the big picture.

Obviously the last paragraph is a bit about you and your writing.

That's the short and sweet of it.

See you tomorrow.


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