Thursday, September 05, 2019

Worms, Roxanne, WORMS!

I read a lot of queries at Writers Digest 2019.
My eyeballs were rolling back in my head by Sunday afternoon.

One thing I noticed in a lot of queries: awkward words.

Words that weren't exactly wrong, but weren't quite right and certainly not the best.

Don't get me wrong: I do not mean fancy words. Fancy words are often a sign of a writer trying to sound writerly.

Have confidence: avoid that. Simple, elegant, EXACT RIGHT WORDS have enormous power.

There's a scene at the start of Signal by Patrick Lee that is so memorable it's fresh in my mind today, five years after publication.

There's a scene at the start of Crashers by Dana Haynes that is so memorable, someone who read it before I did knew the exact book I was talking about when I was enthusing about its sale.

Those are just two of MANY examples.

Both these gents write commercial thrillers. They create a world that is so vivid I forget I'm reading.

That's what I'm looking for.

Now, if you can use the WRONG word and make it funny, well that's just bonus content.


E.M. Goldsmith said...

And that is the real trick. The right worms. The wrong worms will never catch a shark.

Lennon Faris said...

Oh yes. So many times I can think of the most precise, technically-correct term, and it just doesn't fit.

When your character slides across the pavement, what else can you call it but a superficial abrasion? Not in urban fantasy YA, you don't.

Some Twitter Reiders had to help me out with that one.

Brenda said...

When we write prose (or tweet) we’re relaxed and the good words come easy. When we write queries? Not so much.

E. Berg said...

You had me at the headline! As a kid, I learned how to spell Albuquerque from that movie. Thanks for the post...and the nostalgia.

Kate Larkindale said...

Oh yes. But grasping the right word for that specific moment is never as easy as it seems...

C. Dan Castro said...

Was it Mark Twain who said the difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between the lightning and the lightning bug?

AJ Blythe said...

Always easier to do when looking at someone else's query!

Craig F said...

I knew I loved AJ

The only way to make a better query is practice. Get on a forum, look at queries, and, eventually, comment.

The people already commenting aren't any different than you, they are trying to get better at the damn things too.

Don't just post a query, comment some first. It will give others a reason to comment on yours and , who knows, maybe your comment will break through that wall we have all beaten our heads against.