Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Q, P, F

When I was little, I think my favorite letter was "C" ... because "C" is for "Cookie" and that's good enough for me! "C" also stood for "Christine" and for "Christmas" - both cool things if you asked me. Nowadays, my life seems to revolve around the letters Q, P, and F - Queries, Partials, and Fulls.

I was thinking about those letters today and how tricky they were. Each time you "graduate" from a Q to a P to an F, the stakes get higher and higher. And when I say "stakes," I mean pain. I finally figured it out. With a Q, you're trying to sell an idea. In a way, queries are sort of like pick-up lines and good hygiene - you need both to make a good first impression. With a P, you're trying to sell your writing. That's why a reject for a P hurts ten times more (maybe even 50 times more) than a reject for a Q. An agent probably knows if he/she likes your writing after the first 2-5 pages ... maybe 10. No longer are you trying to hook the agent with a fancy one-liner, you're trying to keep them reading. If they stop, then, well, sometimes you wonder if you should give up as well. Then, there's the F. With the F, you're trying to sell your story. Your story includes your beloved characters and this universe you made just for them. It's your love for your characters and the adventures they seek that encourages you to write till the 100,000th word. If the agent rejects you there, that's probably pain times 1000. What it means is that you got their attention, they liked your writing, BUT they didn't like the story you wrote.

And why do we write? It's because we thought we had a story to tell.