I polished up my query for Clean on Friday to send out to agents in the next few weeks. Like a good girl, I got a couple of talented other writers to take a look at it and give me feedback. I got the usual responses, mostly making me clarify my thoughts (thanks guys) but one radically different one.
One guy rewrote my query completely, so that it reads like a novel. The first four paragraphs are spent on my protagonist and his struggles, only then getting down to the nitty-gritty of title and wordcount. The writing is extremely simplified, the “big words” quotient reset to zero, and it’s fantastic. It’s also different from anything I’ve ever tried to do in a query.
I have a dear friend who’s a journalist, a talented lady who helped me prepare my pitch for the Willamette Writer’s Conference this year. She, too, stopped me cold on my prepared speech and told me to say it simply. To talk. To take the time I needed, hit a few key points, and leave all the fancy words aside. After thirty minutes of coaching, I had a pitch that got me three partial requests from three interviews. (Thank you, sweetie.)
So the concept on the table is something radical: can I really leave behind a lifetime of “smart people” writing and say it simply? Ignore the big words and write like I would talk to a friend? Put all my eggs in a simple, elegant, straightforward basket? Once it’s said like that, the answer seems obvious. But then, the best new ideas often do.
So here’s shooting for a simple query, the easiest and hardest thing to accomplish in whole wide world.