M. K. Theodoratus, Fantasy Writer, blogs about the books she reads--mostly fantasy and mystery authors whose books catch her eye and keep her interest. Nothing so formal as a book review, just chats about what she liked. Theodoratus also mutters about her own writing progress or ... lack of it.

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Monday, April 19, 2010

Dumb Queries

Query Quicksand:  Since I'm stuck in the swamp, you'll just have to listen to me groan and whine about writing queries -- unless you quickly backspace or scroll down.  I thought of calling this "query hell", but I think someone else has already used the term.

In case you're wondering what I'm bitching about.  Here's as far as I've got with Emma's query:  

"Thirteen-year-old EMMA KLOKEN just knows she's the unluckiest girl in the world.  Every time she turns around, her grandmother locks her in the broom closet -- even before she thinks about doing something bad.  Emma wishes she could tell the old bat to jump in a lake, but she's too afraid.

"When her family moves to Hardscrabble in the California Gold Country, Emma's bad luck holds true.  The first girls she meets [NANCY and GLENDA] told a grudge against her because they think Emma's father 'stole' Nancy's mother's promotion.  When Nancy and Glenda take Emma for a picnic in the foothills, they throw her new bike down an abandoned mine and ditch her.  Trying to rescue her bike, Emma slides into the mine where she encounters GRIMM, a hobgoblin, who rescues her.

"When Emma learns Grimm was punished for helping her, she decides to go to Faery to rescue him.  Only problem, Nancy insists on joining her because Glenda has disappeared into Faery too."

If you're stuck on writing queries, I'm finding myself working with several tools a lot:

1)  From the Northern Colorado Writers conference pitch class:  Be able to put the basics of your story into the formula,  MC wants ????????, but can't because  ???????? makes it impossible.  Expand on that, and you have a query.  --  If you can't, you don't have a clear idea about what your story's about.

2)  Kristen Lesko at The Disobediant Writer also has a great blog about  writing pitches, http://disobedientwriter.wordpress.com/2010/04/09/writing-the-pitch/.
I printed it out a while back and have covered it with red underlinings of things I should already be able to do, but seemingly can't.

3)  Then, there's the Guide to Literary Agents.  Chuck Sambuchino features a series on successful queries.  The latest is from Ginger Clark at the Curtis Brown Agency.  http://tinyurl.com/y7k9ypw  In case you didn't know, Sambuchino is an editor at the Writer's Digest.

The Read:  Thought it was time I proved I read middle grade fiction as well as the other stuff.  So,  Ta Dah  --  let's consider Theodosia and the Serpents of Chaos by R. L. Lafevers set before WW 1, another example of the smart kid/stupid parents genre.  You'd expect Lafevers  to fill the book with tons of backstory and explanations on Edwardian England.  Actually she concentrates on the mystery of the Egyptian curses and how Theodosia protects everyone from them.  In the process, she doles out background info on a need-to-know basis.  --  Just so happens I've spent a fair amount of time in the modern British Museum/Charing Cross neighborhoods, and I could almost picture the street layout in my mind as the kids chased around.  Also, loved Lafevers' description of the Seven Dials neighborhood which was physically more visual than given by Anne Perry, the mystery writer.

One thing to note:  While the plot is simpler than in adult/YA novels, it follows the pattern of introducing a major plot change about every third of the way through the book.  This is another book worth studying to see how an accomplished author handles a major problem. 

Progress:  How nice to be writing again -- as opposed to spinning my brain.  The funeral is going nicely, thank you.  I still have to go back to the foreshadowing of Kaffy Anne's abilities to perceive ghosts.

Trivia:  It's raining, it's pouring, and the pollen is drowning.  Hooray!  --  Except, it's Sunday and the sun came back -- so the stuff's polluting the air again.  Yeah, I know the plants don't agree with me.
Oh, I forgot.
This is my 101th post.  Guess I can keep a blog going after all.

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