1. People overthink queries. Okay, so they are the only thing that an agent or editor might ever see of your work. So they have to embody everything about your personality and your books personality in a single page. So you will get absolutely nowhere if your queries suck, no matter if you’ve written the Great American Novel. Still, people overthink them. And this is why. Because
2. Agents are people too. More importantly, they are not just any people, they are readers. So guess what — the thing that makes you pick up a book is what makes an agent pick up a book. So therefore
3. Really, your query letter should read like the back of a book. Or the inside jacket flap or whatever. The bit that has the tantalizing description of the plot. A really effectively written jacket copy will tell you the tone of novel, the general premise, and probably a bit about the main players, and all in two paragraphs or less. What does this sound like – oh SNAP a query. But this is all good news for the aspiring query writer, because it means that there are lots of places to
4. Read good query letters. Where do you find these things, you ask? (cry, beg, plead) Which blogs? Which websites! which books! Well, now that you know that queries are really just awesome jacket copy, so the place to look is where there is good jacket copy. In case you do not know where to find novels, they are at these places called bookstores. Also, your shelves. Also, libraries. Also, Amazon. While you are there you will
5. Look at how succinctly successful book blurbs get across the main relevant points of the book. Each sentence does double duty, containing in its potent words setting and plot, or plot and character, or character and mood – just like in your novel. Oh, how hard your prose works for you! Even harder in this little blurb. A little game I like to play is called “sum up my novel in one sentence.” The idea is to pack in mood, hook, and characters into one sentence. (SHIVER’s was: ”a bittersweet love story about a girl who has always loved the wolves behind her house and a boy who must become a wolf each winter.”) If you can get it down to one sentence, a query is easy. Especially if you
6. Only include the relevant stuff. Relevant, I realize, is so subjective, but let’s pretend we have two seconds in a grocery store line to a) sum up our book and b) sum up our qualifications to write said book. So side characters go bye-bye. Hook is king. Then voice. Then the finer details of the plot. If you’re writing something more character-driven, voice is most important. Then hook. Get in, get out. Nobody gets hurt. And then, once you’re done with the book (please remember to include word count, title, and genre), include
7. Only relevant stuff about you. Believe it or not, most everything about you is irrelevant. Oh psh, I know you’re a speshul snowflake. So am I. But the point is, the reader is not going to care/ know about most everything about you, and so the agent/ editor doesn’t care. If it’s something the reader might know about, then it’s useful. So if you are, for instance, Orlando Bloom writing your first YA, you can mention your acting career. If you are, as I was, a big art blogger, you can mention your blog statistics (but they really need to be impressive to be worth mentioning). If you have won some writing award that more than twenty people care about, you can include that. If you have short stories published in a pro market, go for it. There are lots of things that you don’t include, however, because
8. No one cares if you’re a rocket scientist, unless your book is about rocket science. If you save baby kittens in your spare time, jump burning buildings in a single bound, invented the concept of Mozart, made the first jar of mayo in the world — it doesn’t matter. Neither does the number of kids you have, where you live, what you do for a living, how long it took you to write this book, etc. Relevant. Err on the safe side. Because really
9. The only thing that matters is the book. If they don’t care about your hook and voice, nothing about you will change their mind, even if you are the world’s biggest pinball champion. Just: Sell. the. Book. Also
10. Follow the rules. Target the editors and agents that read your genre (www.agentquery.com will help with this). Keep it to one page. Don’t use funky fonts, colors, animated smileys, pictures of kittens waving at the agent. Remember, it’s about the book. The only reason why rules are in there are to keep from distracting the important part: your hook. Your voice. Everything else is just underwire in the literary bra of your query. Make it invisible and don’t let it poke people. Okay?
So, pretty frequently writers screw up when they write about injuries. People are clonked over the head, pass out for hours, and wake up with just a headache… Eragon breaks his wrist and it’s just fine within days… Wounds heal with nary a scar, ever…
I’m aiming to fix that.
Here are over 100 links covering just about every facet of traumatic injuries (physical, psychological, long-term), focusing mainly on burns, concussions, fractures, and lacerations. Now you can beat up your characters properly!
PubMed: The source for biomedical literature
General overview: Includes degrees
Burn severity: Including how to estimate body area affected
Incisions and Lacerations
Essentials of skin laceration repair (including stitching techniques)
When to stitch (Journal article—Doctors apparently usually go by experience on this)
More about when to stitch (Simple guide for moms)
Incision vs. laceration: Most of the time (including in medical literature) they’re used synonymously, but eh.
Types of lacerations: Page has links to some particularly graphic images—beware!
Puncture wounds: Including a bit about what sort of wounds are most likely to become infected
Wound assessment: A huge amount of information, including what the color of the flesh indicates, different kinds of things that ooze from a wound, and so much more.
Tourniquet use: Controversy around it, latest research
Location pain chart: Originally intended for tattoo pain, but pretty accurate for cuts
General note: Deeper=more serious. Elevate wounded limb so that gravity draws blood towards heart. Scalp wounds also bleed a lot but tend to be superficial. If it’s dirty, risk infection. If it hits the digestive system and you don’t die immediately, infection’ll probably kill you. Don’t forget the possibility of tetanus! If a wound is positioned such that movement would cause the wound to gape open (i.e. horizontally across the knee) it’s harder to keep it closed and may take longer for it to heal.
Setting a broken bone when no doctor is available
General notes: If it’s a compound fracture (bone poking through) good luck fixing it on your own. If the bone is in multiple pieces, surgery is necessary to fix it—probably can’t reduce (“set”) it from the outside. Older people heal more slowly. It’s possible for bones to “heal” crooked and cause long-term problems and joint pain. Consider damage to nearby nerves, muscle, and blood vessels.
Mild Brain Injuries: The next step up from most severe type of concussion, Grade 3
Second impact syndrome: When a second blow delivered before recovering from the initial concussion has catastrophic effects. Apparently rare.
Symptoms: Scroll about halfway down the page for the most severe symptoms
General notes: If you pass out, even for a few seconds, it’s serious. If you have multiple concussions over a lifetime, they will be progressively more serious. Symptoms can linger for a long time.
Snake bites: No, you don’t suck the venom out or apply tourniquettes
When frostbite sets in: A handy chart for how long your characters have outside at various temperatures and wind speeds before they get frostbitten
Poisons: Why inducing vomiting is a bad idea
Dislocations: Symptoms 1, 2; treatment. General notes: Repeated dislocations of same joint may lead to permanent tissue damage and may cause or be symptomatic of weakened ligaments. Docs recommend against trying to reduce (put back) dislocated joint on your own, though information about how to do it is easily found online.
Current CPR practices: We don’t do mouth-to-mouth anymore.
The DSM IV, for all your mental illness needs.
Human response to electrical shock: Includes handy-dandy voltage chart
Acquired savant syndrome: Brain injuries (including a lightning strike) triggering development of amazing artistic and other abilities
Please don’t repost! You can find the original document (also created by me) here.
IT’S INCREDIBLY HELPFUL AND CAN FOR INSTANCE GENERATE TOPICS AND FIRST LINES, CONTAINS LOADS OF EXERCISES AND YOU CAN FIND PLENTY OF WRITING TIPS.
BLESS YOU I LOVE YOU OH MY GODS I’VE NEEDED THIS
WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN ALL MY LIFE?
Before reporting broken links, please check the updated version which is always located here. Updated: 8/10/13
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