Confession: I’ve been writing a lot for a long time. Throwing ideas on paper, shaping them into a story, seeing what I liked, throwing away what I didn’t. Thousands of pages over many years. Just one big brain dump after another.
Result: No focus. A story morphing into one thing, then another. A short story collection with whiskers. Novels that deservedly sit hidden in a drawer.
This week I read again Chuck Wendig’s 25 Ways to Plot, Plan and Prep Your Story. In the midst of his entertaining verbal gymnastics I found the nugget I could have used 25 years ago.
You might think to write your query letter, treatment or synopsis last. Bzzt. Wrong move, donkeyface. Write it up front. It’s not etched in stone, but it’ll give you a good idea of how to stay on target with this story.”
So did I ever write an outline? Sometimes. Did I ever write a query letter? Occasionally. (I have sent out some stuff. And all rejected, deservedly so.)
And then came my most recent project. It’s in it’s final phases, synopsis written, humongous query letter efforts, and what I discovered is: Chuck’s right. Writing the synpsis and query letter last is a wrong move. I’m a donkeyface.
Feedback on the query letter for my WIP helped me focus on what the essence of the story was. Sure, the story is a lot of things, a lot of ins and outs, as The Dude would say, but it does have one central story. And it took rewriting the query letter a zillion times to find it.
So, listen to Chuck. (This Chuck, not the other one, unless you want to.) Before you finish the mind dump, write an outline, synopsis, query letter. Focus. It’ll save you a lot of time. And effort.
See ya next week.