Me,  Writing

How Often Do You Switch Things Up?

I don’t know about you, but I’ve found when working on specific aspects of writing/submitting prep work (I’m thinking specifically of writing query letters and/or a synopsis, but I’m sure this applies to other aspects as well) that I have to sort of pick certain approaches and avoid other ones. Sometimes this is something small, like whether the query begins or ends with the title/genre of the manuscript, and sometimes it’s bigger, like what the tone of voice a query or even a whole synopsis is written in. Certain features can be mixed and matched, but others simply…can’t.
And in the end, this all comes together to create my own unique style of querying/synopsizing, just as I have my own unique style of writing in general, as every writer does. But as tedious and gut-wrenching as some of these things can be, querying and synopsizing can be a lot of fun because, if something doesn’t work at first, you can easily start from scratch and do it over in a completely different way.

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And I’m curious to know…do you? I tend to make small changes throughout the submission process, while I’m feeling out the reaction and trying to pinpoint if it’s the query/synopsis/sample pages that are getting people’s attention (or, you know, not!) But every so often I’ll make a more drastic change.
Recently, for example, I came across a cool list of real-life successful queries from recently published books. And I was in awe reading them, not because the queries were so amazing (although of course some of them were), but because over and over again I saw these queries do things that you aren’t supposed to do in a query! The voice, the style, and the lengths varied so much in these successful queries, and yet, each and every one of them was, in fact, successful.
I always take advice appreciatively, but with a sneeze-guard up at the same time. What holds true for one person does not hold true for everyone, even if it holds true for quite a few. Some of the writing guidelines I’ve read in the past have been wonderful, and make so much sense, and create stronger pieces of writing overall. But sometimes, clearly, things need to be shaken up.
And that’s what I’ve done (although after all this build up, I have to admit the change really isn’t that crazy or shocking), but it’s something I’ve never done before. And we’ll see how it goes! It could fall flat on its face, and then I’ll know to dust it off and change it again. But, it’s different, and sometimes that’s a definite necessity.
So how about you? Do you tend to stick to certain guidelines when you write, or do you like to take chances and switch things up? Do your queries or synopsizes usually follow a similar style, or are they completely different from one story to the next? Ever made a big change you regretted/absolutely loved?  


  • Stephanie Faris

    I think it's normal to want to tweak your query as you start to get feedback…you may see things that aren't quite coming across the way they should. But it's also important not to sacrifice your story because an editor/agent criticizes it. That same thing one person hated may be the thing that wins another agent/editor's attention.

  • Jennifer Kreft

    I was recently helping my daughter with algebra, and as we plugged in values, solving endlessly for X, I kept thinking "this reminds me of something!" You guessed it. Querying. For me, there seems to be a formula. And I said I'd never use algebra again.

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