Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Accepting the Process

There are things about querying that seem unfair. You might have had the same thoughts. Describing your entire novel in a two page summary? Unfair! Competing against hundreds of other novels on the basis of a query? Unfair! Being judged on the basis of your first five pages, when your story gets amazing later on? So unfair!

I'll admit, I've had a few of these thoughts. My first time submitting was frustrating, because I just couldn't figure out how to express how awesome my book was. Sure, the first five pages weren't awesome, but the rest totally was!

Then I remembered.

I remembered the dance competitions I used to attend as a teenager. I used to sit and watch every single dance. Hundreds and hundreds of dances. I took notes in my programs and developed my own system for rating the performers. And, I came to realize something.

Most of the time I could tell whether or not a dancer was going to be good by the way they walked onstage. I didn't even have to see them perform. The way they held themselves was enough to demonstrate their competency. The training, dedication and passion were all revealed.

Isn't it the same with writing? Aren't our first five pages like that walk onstage? Don't they reveal the amount of confidence, polish and work that have been put into our manuscripts? If we've done our job right, they should.


  1. I totally agree. It's a frustrating truth, but it is a truth.

  2. Great comparison. And so many readers will choose books based on just a brief summary and the first page or two, so the (awfulterriblestressfulunfair) query process actually makes some sense.

  3. I must say, though, I still chafe when required to provide a synopsis. If the agent is interested enough by the query or partial that s/he wants to know what happens, I think it's much fairer to request a full and read the novel. After all, if the query has already told the agent this is a novel they might like to rep, the only real question then is whether the writing lives up to the promise of the query--and a synopsis certainly isn't going to tell you that. BUT... what can we do? If that's what they want. :)

  4. Yes, I imagine it is. It's important to learn and research. If you want something badly enough, you'll do what it takes.

  5. That's a great analogy. Competency can be shown in so many ways, and it doesn't take long to see who is good and who isn't.

  6. Absolutely! Very apt analogy. We can tell just with a snippet, a beginning. I love watching dance, and when I do, esp during live performances, I zero in on the "best" dancer--most energetic, most "into" the music and the moves. Then I watch that dancer almost exclusively throughout the scene. :)

  7. I see what you're saying. But I've also seen someone stumble and then recover beautifully. This tends to especially happen in skating. (It's slippery out there!)

    We just have to keep practicing, right?