Updated: Feb 2, 2020
The most difficult part of being a writer is the waiting. At least, that’s what drives me mad. Not writer’s block. Not how competitive it is. Not rejection. Waiting. Maybe it’s the control freak in me. I don’t have any control over the waiting. You put yourself out there and wait for critique, then an agent’s response, then an agent’s read through, then the call, then the contract. And finally, after more revision and waiting for the agent to read the revision and prepare the proposal, you finally get to submit to publishers and wait some more.
So, what the heck are you supposed to do in the meantime?
At the last conference I attended, the panel of editors and agents gave some good advice about that:
If you haven’t secured an agent yet, and you’re reading this because you’re interested in querying me, here’s a tip: The most important item to include in your query to me is suspense.
You can provide a wonderful summary paragraph, but if I’m not dying to know how it will turn out, I’ll probably pass. There are just too many queries in the inbox. I’m not going to take the time to do more than skim your pages, if I’m not intrigued by your premise.
The main character’s big choice must be clearly defined. You must also clearly define the consequences: If the MC doesn’t (fill in the blank), the world is going to end—his world, anyway, either literally or metaphorically because something bad—and preferably surprising—is going to happen. And only your MC can save that world because of what he’s learned from the other building blocks of the story. Ask yourself: If I dropped my MC from the beginning of the story into the end, would he/she still be able to “save the world.” Hopefully not. Because there needs to be character growth.
Then, if you’re writing is strong with a character voice that shines, you’ll get a full request and you’ll get to wait for me to read it.
Hang in there and write on,