Query Letters, Synopses, and the Creative Muse

This week I’ve written nothing but query letters, synopses, and, completely unrelated, targeted curriculum vita and resumes. Not a single fictional word has been typed by these fingers in a week or better. I feel unproductive. But then I realized something.

Not only was I the opposite of unproductive since I wrote all those things these last few days. But I realized something equally important and somewhat less obvious: writing query letters and synopses of my book helped me with my book!

Many writers think query letters, synopses, and other “sell yourself to the Devil” time suckers are not conducive to the creative way. That writers are artists and artist aren’t salespeople. The muse dies when you sell and don’t work on your fiction. I beg to differ, and here’s why…

Query letters force you to put your money where your mouth is. You realize what your book is really about. You get to know your audience. How? While searching for the right agent for your book, you read about all sorts of agents that represent tons of genres. As much as writers (and all artists) hate to pigeonhole themselves, it’s necessary. Searching for the right agent lets you realize who your audience is…or should be.

The query letter itself encourages you to explain why the hell anyone in their right mind would even want to read your stuff or want to waste their time with you. It’s a job interview. That’s what it is: a job interview. It’s about practice (cubed). It’s about knowing yourself. And it’s about knowing your abilities. Best part is, it’s an interview that demands you use the one thing you think you’re capable of…writing!

Synopses work in a similar but different fashion.

Synopses force you to understand your novel. Many of my writer friends say “There’s no way I can squeeze my book into one page, or one paragraph, or (God forbid) a single tweet!” Problem is, if you can’t explain your novel in a single page, a single paragraph, or a single tweet, you don’t know your novel. If you don’t know your novel, you can’t sell your book. If you can’t sell your book, you’re just a wanker typing on your laptop in the middle of the night.

Query letters and synopses don’t murder your muse. They take her and slap her around and her to get back to the creative-ing.

Then again, I may just be attempting to justify the last week’s worth of torture.

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