Monday, November 10, 2008

On writing query letters . . .

Each day that I write, I've been editing and revising my historical novel, Standing Stones. Two resources have been very helpful -- the generosity and insights of writers participating in the Internet Writing Workshop and Elizabeth Lyon's Manuscript Makeover. Today, the Willamette Writer's newsletter highlighted a You-Tube presentation by Elizabeth Lyon, my editing heroine, speaking on query letters (just 8 minutes long).

I've heard other writers say that their characters come alive, hold conversations, and otherwise pester the writer to tell "their" story. I always thought this was silly, but in this second year of writing, my characters have begun to infiltrate my dreams. I awake with whole scenes that need to be integrated here or there or new insights into my characters that really do tell me what's next or explain what happened. Some days are slow. I feel inept as a writer. But then, a bit of research opens up new understanding or confirms what I thought I knew. And so I persevere. Perhaps one day I will actually finish this book and be at the stage to write that query letter. For now, I just write.


  1. Hi Beth,
    I stumbled on your blog sometime ago…not long after I too attended the Willamette Writers Conference—Sorry I missed you there. ;) I don’t remember what search I was doing that lead me to your blog but I remember flagging it because it looked interesting and I’m also writing a book set in 18th century Scotland. I’m not nearly as far along as you, having just started writing seriously this summer.

    I can really relate to what you’ve written in this post. I love that your characters are coming alive—it gives me hope. I don’t know if you attended any of Eric Witchey’s classes at the conference or not, but what I remember most is that if you practice writing, you will get better. Ineptitude will become expertise. This post was great for me because I see I am not alone…like you I persevere. So keep the faith. You’ll be writing that query letter before you know it.


    PS. Thanks so much for the link to the Internet Writing Workshop…I think I’ll join. I live in rural North Idaho and there are no writing groups in my area. This could be a great resource for me.

  2. Anonymous8:40 PM

    This post is a piƱata, a big deal. I enjoyed the heck out of the Lyon presentation, loved hearing of your experience with your characters, and to find out you, who writes so well, feels inept as a writer, is a Hallelujah-I’m-not-alone! Most times when I sit down to write, there’s a nasty devil hovering around, telling me I won’t be able to pull it off.