The very last week of Novel Boot Camp is upon us! I can hardly believe it!
I’ve been enjoying your questions on the previous workshop, so I will leave it open in case you have any more questions you want to ask the editor (me).
I also want to let everyone know that the contest results and winners will be posted this Friday. This means that this workshop will be open for two days after the winner has been selected.
Now that your novels are starting to look shinier, let’s look towards the future – a future in which you all seek publication! Let’s focus on our query letters and blurbs. If you aren’t quite to the querying stage yet, don’t worry. Writing out a practice query can be a great way to solidify the plot and catch structural errors.
Want to get a leg up? Here are my best tips for a successful query (they work on most blurbs too):
How to Write a Query Letter
There are six important elements of a query letter. When all six are present, you know you’re getting close to a winner!
What is your character like? What are her good and bad personality traits? The query letter should lightly incorporate this information, but should nestle the info in active, interesting sentences.
What does your character want? What motivates her? The query letter should clearly define what it is your character hopes to achieve.
What stands in the character’s way? Why can’t he get what he wants? The query letter should make the obstacle(s) in the path of the character clear.
What does the character have to do to solve the problem? What is required of him or her? The query letter should explain how the character is proactive.
What happens if the character fails? What will they lose? The query letter should use the story’s stakes to suck the reader into the tension of the conflict.
What is the tone of your novel? The query letter should mirror this tone so that the reader gets from the novel exactly what they would anticipate after reading the query.
Workshop #5: Query Letter & Blurb Critique
July 28 – August 3
(Winners chosen on August 1st)
How to Submit Your Query Letter or Blurb
*Please read all of the rules before posting.*
Your submission should be posted in the comments section below and should include nothing but your genre and the first 250 words. Do not begin or end your post (or reply to your own post) with any additional information. The goal is to get unbiased, authentic critiques.
The critique is open to both query letters and back cover blurbs (for those who are self publishing).
Each writer may post up to two times. This may be two versions of your query letter or blurb, two different query letters or blurbs, or one blurb and one query letter.
What to Do After Receiving a Critique
You are welcome to reply to critiques on your work to thank the critiquer or to seek clarification.
Please do not post updated versions of your query letter or blurb. This will prevent any individual writer from dominating the workshop. Asking for subsequent critiques is also asking a lot from your fellow writers who already took time to help you out.
Absolutely do not, under any circumstances, reply to a critique in an aggressive, insulting, or demeaning manor. It’s okay to disagree, but please do so respectfully.
I want this to be a positive and empowering experience for the Novel Boot Campers! If I feel that someone is disrupting that experience, I reserve the right to remove their posts and/or ban them as necessary.
How to Leave a Critique
Please post your critiques as a reply to the query letter or blurb, not as a general reply in the comments section.
Please do not post one sentence critiques, such as, “I liked it.” Why did you like it? Be specific.
Do not mention your writing “status.” For example, do not mention that you’re a published author, an editor, a bestseller, an award-winner, etc. I do not have time to validate these statements and do not want writers being misled into believing they are being given professional advice.
Prize – Free Query Letter or Blurb Critique
Due to the volume of participants, it is unlikely that I will be able to select a winner based entirely on merit. Unless there is one critiquer who really stands out from the rest, the winner will be selected randomly.
That said, I will check through the posts of the random winner to ensure that they participated to the best of their ability. This means that the winner must have made a minimum of 5 critiques, all of which must be 3 sentences or longer in length.
I will be offering critiques as I am willing and able. I’m editing novels 50 hours per week (not including the time spent on Novel Boot Camp) so it is unlikely that I will be able to offer critiques for most writers. 😦
Please do not take it personally! The ones I comment on will be more or less random.
And who knows? Novel Boot Camp will be over someday and maybe I’ll have time then to offer some critiques.
Connect with Other Novel Boot Camp Participants
Need a writing friend? Got a question? Need a shoulder to cry on? We’re there for you!
I will be answering writing and editing questions on our Twitter hashtag as time allows. Due to the insane volume of emails I’m receiving, I cannot provide free advice or assistance via email. Thank you!
What is Novel Boot Camp?
Novel Boot Camp is a free online novel writing course focused on identifying and correcting problems in your novel. Learn more about Novel Boot Camp and find past (and future) posts here.