Monday, February 24, 2014

Query, Synopsis, First Chapter, Oh My!

By Julie Daines

With conference season coming up, it seems everyone is frantically working on putting together queries and first chapters and such. Here's a post from the past that might help.

Selling your novel can be harder than writing it.  So when it comes time to start sending your precious story off like a lamb to the slaughter, it pays to do it right.

Most agents request three elements: the query, the synopsis and the first chapter.  These are your tools for selling your book.

Here’s a basic guide that I’ve found helpful in preparing each of these elements.

The Query:  In the query letter you are selling the concept of your book.  It should identify the main characters and setting, and then a quick idea of the main themes, the conflict, and what’s at stake.  It should have a hook to grab the agent's attention and make them hungry for more.  

The Synopsis:  In the synopsis you are selling the story of your book.  The plot, what happens, the character arc, and how it all comes together in an exciting and wonderfully original, thought-out way.

The First Chapter:  With the first chapter you’re selling the writing of your book.  This is where you let them see your amazing style, the original voicing, and the way you turn a phrase just right.  With these pages you convince them that they can’t possibly live without reading the rest of your novel.

This is, of course, a general guideline.  Ideally, you want an overlap, letting each element carry a hint of the others. For example, the fact that you are a good writer should also be evident in the query. 

2 comments:

Bruce Luck said...

I like those distinctions: selling the concept, the story, the writing of the book.

Yamile said...

Great reminders! Very timely too as I'm working on my synopsis and query right now. I've learned not to hate/fear queries and synopsis.
I'm not a very good outliner, but I always have an idea of where my story is going, so I write a base query and synopsis to guide me.