Yes, this is filled with whisky

Yes, this is filled with whisky

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Question: Pegging to a news event



I’m working on my third novel, the inspiration of which comes directly from front page news.

Once I begin querying, (light years from now), is it advisable to actually compare the news event with the story. In the first line of my query I want to use the newsworthy real-name as background and the character’s name to then set up the situation.

I’ve found that when mentioning nationally known terms, names, and headlines the recognizable aspect helps to alleviate reams of backstory. “JFK” an era, “911” a tragic event and place, “Sandy Hook”, “Columbine”, “Joel Steinberg”, “December 7th”, “1929”, all of them set the stage and create mindset. To me it makes for a great pitch, but then again, I’m thinking that somewhere on page whatever of Novel Writing for Dummies it might be an agent turnoff.


It's not so much a turnoff as it can be confusing.

In fact, I wrote a blog post about this not too long ago. If you say 9/11 to mean a tragic event that isn't 9/11, you're in trouble.  If you say JFK to mean 1962, and your book isn't about JFK, you're in trouble.

Your query should entice me to read your book. That is the ONLY rule you need to remember.

BUT if you are still light years from querying, don't think about it. Not at all. And particularly don't worry about what to say.

Right now, finish your novel. That's the first big step.

4 comments:

Carolynnwith2Ns said...

"Right now, finish your novel."

Thanks mom, I will.

Jennifer R. Donohue said...

"And particularly don't worry about what to say."

Oh, but we do! And you've got that nice toothy blog dedicated to it...

I've actually heard of people, On the Internet, who write the query letter first and then the novel. I'm fairly sure they're a minority.

(I'm not even querying you and I worry about what I say here. Seriously.)

Debbie said...

Sorry, have to say it. "Light-year" is a measure of distance, not time.

My inner Sheldon wouldn't allow me to let that one go. Carry on.

Colin Smith said...

Jennifer: I wrote a query for my the WIP I'm currently editing before I finished the novel. It helped me focus on what the main story is, and, when I finished, I just tweaked it a little to account for plot changes, etc. When it's actually ready to query, I may need to tweak it some more, but that's a whole lot better than starting from scratch. We'll see how that goes... :)