Wow! This has been an awesome weekend. My head is chock full of ideas, my muse is in full effect and I’m coming back to the real world refresh, rejuvenated and inspired.
Today’s workshops were just as exciting and informative as the previous days. My morning started in a workshop where we explored different creative and innovative ways to off a victim. Yes, you read that correctly. It was funny in a macabre kind of way to listen to a group of adults debate the pros and cons of “bashing someone over the head” versus “running them over with one of those motorized wheelchairs that old people use.” The discussion was hilarious.
After folk stopped laughing, the general consensus was that the method of murder would depend on the genre in which you’re writing. For example, cozy readers have very different expectations about the murder than readers of thrillers or suspense. They tend to be more interested in the puzzle of solving the murder rather than the murder itself. Whereas readers of thrillers/suspense may be more interested in the motivation of the killer, therefore the method of death may actually lead to clues or insights about the murderer.
Next, I sat in a two-part session dedicated to “Writing the killer query letter” presented by CJ Redwine. This workshop is particularly timely for me and so I paid rapt attention to the details. Fortunately, the speaker echoed many of the points held by the agents I listened to on Saturday, so I won’t repeat her Do and Don’t list. However, I will share one point that was unique to this workshop.
Books sell on the hook and concept, not on a deluge of information
In other words, the query letter is not a condensed synopsis. You want to capture the attention of the agent or editor by giving him/her the underlying concept of your story and then reeling them in. If you get this part right, creating just the right hook, then you will get the opportunity to to provide the other details. CJ Redwine advised us to find 5 or 6 books from our bookshelves, turn the book over and read through the back cover blurb. What did the author say in that brief blurb that intrigued you enough to purchase the book? You should model your own query letter on that example.
Bottom line: (at least according to Ms Redwine), your hook should make the agent/editor worry and wonder what can happen.
Sad to say, I was unable to stay for the final afternoon sessions. There was a panel scheduled for Rescue Dogs and their trainers. As I checked out of the hotel, I met a 180 pound Old English Sheepdog named Marty. Even on all fours, he stood nearly as waist level. His handler assured me he was gentle and sweet-natured. But even as he sat patiently while I rubbed his head and combed through his beautiful coat, I couldn’t help but wonder about the damage those huge jaws could do if he were provoked. Sounds like an interesting plot point to me.
I can’t wait for next year!