I came across a blog post this morning that really pissed me off! The blog and blogger will remain nameless for their own protection, but the title of the post was 'An Angry Rant About Query Letter Writing', and it was all about this tweet the blogger had read. The tweet was made by a literary agent and basically said that if you can't write a good query, then you probably can't write a good novel. Well the blogger was completely outraged by this and went on and on about how wrong that is, and how hard it is to write a query, and how agents just don't understand, and how it is a total crap shoot, etc. Then, to make matters worse, she had like fifty odd comments from readers, most of whom agreed with her!
Well I have news for the blogger and all her loyal followers...
THE TWEETER WAS RIGHT!
If you can write, you can write - if you can't, you can't. End of story.
Now, that's not to say query letters are easy to write, because they're not. They take time, and effort, and loads of rewrites and revisions, and that's what people don't seem to understand. They take months writing, revising, and editing their novel, but when it comes time to write the query they expect it to just fall out of their ass with little to no effort. Then when it doesn't, they whine and bitch about how hard it is. It's not hard, it's in your head! You can write your novel with no problem because you are writing what you want. It is coming from your heart and you are not stressing about it. Then when it comes to writing the query (and the synopsis for that matter) people freak out, because all anyone can say is how hard it is, and how everyone hates it - so it is horrible and you do hate it even if it's only for thinking you will! Self fulfilling prophecy people!
Prime example: When it was time for me to write my synopsis for my book, I wasn't really sure how to do it, or how long it should be, so I did some research online... BIG MISTAKE! Every singe site I pulled up had horrible doomsday like words right in the first sentence - sometimes in the page title! 'The Dreaded Synopsis', 'The Part You've Been Dreading', 'The Synopsis Curse'. Even the ones that said things like 'Don't be afraid', were still subconsciously telling me that I already should be. It was terrible! I wasn't worried at all until everyone else said I should be. You want to learn how to write a good synopsis? All you have to do is go the wikipedia.com and look up any book and read the Plot Summary on that page. Choose an older book, as sometimes the newer ones don't have summaries. Something by Jane Austin, or Shakespheare, or the like. There you will find a plot synopsis that takes an entire book down to a few paragraphs. The whole story, told with little to no emotion, and only the main plot points - exactly what a synopsis is supposed to be. If the 560,000 words of War and Peace can be told in a five and a half page (that's Times New Roman 12point single spaced with a space between each paragraph) synopsis, then I grantee your book can be summarized in less.
...but I digress...
The point of my rant is if you can write a good novel, you can write anything well, it just takes effort. The query is the first and possible only example of your writing an agent is going to see, so why should they assume that that isn't the best representation of your writing? Do you really expect them to say, "Well this letter sound like a five year old write it, but I'm sure the novel is better..." Yeah right!
If you give the tools to selling your novel (query, synopsis, etc.) the same care an attention you gave to the novel itself, then I promise you, you will reap the rewards. Take the time, and do it right! And for God sake, stop blaming the agents, and the editors and even the query letter itself!!!