Worldbuilding: Mapmaking

When you’re worldbuilding, creating a map for your world can be helpful in seeing how kingdoms, cities, and towns fit together. Especially if your novel involves some sort of journey, a map can show you the logical paths to take to your characters’ destinations. A map adds an element of reality to your world and will absolutely make you feel like you’re getting somewhere.

Now, you can get into all types of mapmaking software that will allow you to customize every detail to your desire. But why get into spending money and learning how a software works with complicated instruction manuals that will take you at least a few days to learn the basics? My recommendation is getting a pen and paper or if you prefer, opening up a PowerPoint document and going to town.

Let’s begin.

Step 1: Understand the regions of your world.

Before you start mapping your universe, you need to understand how the world is broken up. Do you have multiple realms that you need to take into account? How many kingdoms or states do you have? How are those divided up: cities, towns, villages? You also want to make note of main geographical features that may divide up your land as well. Mountains, rivers, and forests can divide land or encircle it in such ways that can be important notes in your book. Go back to your notes from my Worldbuilding Questions series for help.

Step 2: Decide how to represent each place.

If you’re a fantastic artist who can draw beautiful buildings and detailed trees and mountain sides, you can skip over this section. If you’re like me and can’t really draw to save your life, you’re going to want to come up with some simple icons to represent your regions whether you’re drawing by hand or creating by computer. In terms of my PowerPoint, I used clipart of small houses to represent villages, a town hall to represent towns, and a group of skyscrapers to represent cities. Triangles became mountains, and blue lines became rivers. Make sure you write down your key so you’ll know what your icons stand for when you go back to edit your manuscript six months later.

Step 3: Create.

Once you’ve got all the logistical brainstorming out of the way, it’s time to create! Plan on spending at least an hour or two on your map even if you’re working with simple icons. This is a real opportunity to ground yourself in your world before you write your story. Really enjoy the process of creating your map. It’s fun!

Examples: The Three Realms

The Upper Realm
The Middle Realm
The Lower Realm

Happy mapmaking!

The Revision Process

The revision process, for me, was actually more fun to me than writing your first draft.

Now hear me out.

During your first draft, it’s all chaos. You’re writing to get the story on the page. Of course your work is creative and a beautiful story, but it is in its rawest form. It’s at the worst it’s ever gonna be. So, the revision process allows you to truly create, to embellish and to detail every element of your novel. From the plot, to the characters, and the world, not a single detail remains untouched.

Everyone revises differently. Some people like to do three drafts; some want to do at least six. I couldn’t find a lot of really solid information out there about how to revise most effectively. Until I found this guide. I would highly reccomend most of the materials on this website. Writers Edit walks through a lot of writing concepts and practices similarly to what I do. This guide got me through the revision process. My article today is going to take it down to its bare bones and some of the modifications that I made to it to fit me best. Read their article if you’re looking for more in depth details.

Distance

Your first job as a writer is to separate yourself from your work for a period of time. This allows you to approach the work from a fresh perspective. Many sources reccomend a month to six weeks; if you’re an eager writer like me, I managed to make it two and a half weeks before jumping in. And that worked well for me. Make sure you give at least two weeks at the bare minimum. Trust me. It really helps.

First Readthrough

Sit down with your first draft and read it in its entirety. It’s best to do this in one sitting if you can, but never more than two. You want to see the novel’s arc and how events fit together, and it can be hard to do that if your reading is too fragmented. While you’re reading, take notes on each scene or chapter. Make notes about what each section is about, the characters that play a major role, and what the main goal of that scene or chapter is. Also note any changes that you’d like to make. Focus on major or medium-sized changes, but if you see something small that will bug you if it’s not fixed, write that down too.

When you finish reading, analyze the notes you’ve made about each scene. Do some seem out of place? Could some be rearranged or even eliminated entirely?

Second Draft

Take the time to make all of the changes that you want to make. Go down your list. Personally, I like to work chronologically starting from the first chapter through to the end. Your second draft should take you a decent amount of time to finish. Take your time to get the core elements right. Your draft should absolutely transform.

Beta Reader #1

Once your second draft is finished, I would reccomend sending your draft to a first beta reader. Pick someone that you can trust with your work, whether that’s someone you know personally or someone you meet through a writing group or the Twitter #WritingCommunity. A note: if you pick someone close to you, make sure they have the guts to give you real harsh criticism. Beta readers need to give you honest feedback, and family and friends can sometimes sugarcoat the truth in order not to hurt your feelings. Remember, criticism only gives you the opportunity to grow. I was lucky enough that my boyfriend is one of those people who gives honest criticism and feedback. I couldn’t have been happier for him to be the first person to see my work.

Also, set a time limit in which to have it back to you. Two weeks is usually a good time frame. Also be prepared to be flexible if needed.

Third Draft

The third draft is the best time to make edits that your beta reader has suggested as well as to hone in on the details. If your beta reader suggests major changes, insert another draft before this one where you focus on making those edits. Sometimes separating major from minor helps writers to focus on what matters most in their own time. If most of their suggestions are medium to minor sized changes, all you need is this third draft. While you’re at it, think about bringing out key moments in the story to the forefront, particularly in your worldbuilding. If details that you’ve created have gotten lost in the shuffle, add them back into your story. If a character is missing a key trait, incorporate it back in. This is another chance to enhance and embellish. Don’t waste it.

Second Readthrough

Read through your new draft a second time, making notes similar to your first readthrough.  A lot may have changed, so don’t half-ass it.

Fourth Draft

Make the changes you thought of in your second readthrough. Very simple.

Beta Reader #2 (Or maybe even #3)

Time to hand over your work to a second beta reader. My suggestion is to pick someone who has an entirely different reading or editing style than your previous beta reader. Branch out within your genre’s readers. You want to make sure your book appeals to a wide range of people. That’s why I would also reccomend even selecting a third beta reader to read simultaneously.

Fifth Draft

Make the changes your beta reader or readers suggested.

Final Readthrough/Grammar Check

Make one final readthrough on your computer. You can make any small changes that you want to regarding word choice and grammar as you read along. Consider having a grammar editor running as you do so you can catch mistakes easier. BUT DO NOT RELY ON IT FULLY. It does not catch everything, as I discovered. Force yourself to go slowly and steadily, reading every word and every comma and period. Trust me, you’ll thank yourself when you’re submitting to literary agents.

And there you have it! You’ve made it through the full revision process. Congratulations! Pat yourself on the back and get to querying!

The Three Realms: Rules of Magic

Previously, in my worldbuilding series, I talked to you about the importance of building rules and structure for your magic system. I thought it might be a great addition if I was to show off how magic works in my own world. I absolutely love the way this system works, and I hope you do too.

Introduction

Magic power in the Three Realms comes from the energy in a Fae or demon’s soul. A magic user feeds the spells with his or her willpower. While the magic that is present in the general world is inexhaustible, the magic present in an individual person is exhaustible. It can usually be recharged with rest, sleep, or certain potions if exhausted. If used up too quickly or too strongly, the magic user will fall into an unconscious state, whether temporary or in extreme cases, permanent. If magic continues to be used to the limit consistently, death is inevitable.

Limits of Magic

Fae are born with a certain small number of inherent magical gifts, or specific types of magic that they have a greater affinity for. This type is called inherent magic. However, noble Fae are born with a greater number of inherent gifts because of their bloodline.

Fae can also learn other types of magic that they do not have a natural affinity for. However, it takes years and years of study to perfect their talents, and even then, some people cannot achieve other types of magic effectively. There are a handful of mages who have power nearly equal to that of a noble Fae because of their propensity to learn. They spend their whole lives studying and usually teaching magic.

Some spells are limited by the time they can be cast. An example of this is a spell that depends on the position of the sun or moon.

Casting A Spell

Casting a spell requires up to three distinct pieces. The first and most general one is intent. The intention of the spell must be focused on intently in order for it to work. In the beginning, Fae must focus for an extended period of time to get a spell to work. More advanced magic users only need a few seconds. The second one is the correct wording. Some spells require a recitation of words coupled with the intent to complete it. This usually starts out as a verbal command and then eventually, with time and practice, can become a non-verbal command. The third one is the correct materials. Certain protection spells or soul-seeking magic must occur at specific times with specific items handy. This can consist of anything from ordinary plants to magical artifacts. These items can usually be obtained from magical craftsmen or magical merchants. However, occasionally, it takes a far rarer type of item that can only be found in certain geographic locations or in certain centers.

Some spells can be stored in charms or amulets for later use.

Some spells require long drawn out rituals, usually ones involving elements of nature (sun, moon, ocean, etc.).

Two or more magic users can combine their power to amplify a spell. However, it is extremely taxing on the both of them and usually not worth the energy loss. It is only used in dire situations.

A mage’s powers often grows stronger over time with age. The level of power in a Fae is measured by:

  1. Presence of noble blood.
  2. Number of inherent gifts.
  3. Education.
  4. Execution of non-inherent magic.

Types of Magic: Levels and Tiers

My magic system is broken up into three levels, each with five tiers. At each tier, you step up the strength of each type of magic. At each level, you also increase the strength. Using this method offered me a clear path of seeing how strong an individual character was, how others measured up against one another. It’s been incredibly useful. I have tables and everything. I started typing those, but they would make this article about twenty pages long. Let me know if you’d like to see that in a PDF in the comments below!

Here are the types of magic that exist in the Three Realms:

  • Animation Magic: The ability to bring in animate objects to life
  • Disintegration Magic: The ability to disintegrate matter
  • Elemental Magic: The ability to control or manipulate the elements of nature (water, fire, wind, earth).
  • Absorption Magic: The ability to absorb energy and convert it into something else like physical strength.
  • Augmentation Magic: The ability to enhance or weaken someone else’s powers.
  • Conversion Magic: The ability to absorb one form of energy and convert it into another form of energy.
  • Energy Manipulation Magic: The ability to manipulate another person’s powers into something else.
  • Force Field Generation Magic: The ability to project powerful fields of manipulated energy that often act as shields.
  • Negation Magic: The ability to mute the powers of another person.
  • Sacrificial Magic: The ability to draw power from the death of another.
  • Sensing Magic: The ability to sense or recognize magical power.
  • Sourcing Magic: The ability to draw magical power from energy sources.
  • Flight Magic: The ability to levitate oneself or to fly.
  • Forensic Magic: The ability to backtrace a spell for the purpose of tracking down people who commit crimes.
  • Glamour Magic: The ability to disguise oneself.
  • Healing Magic: The ability to heal or heal from any injury.
  • Illusion Magic: The ability to disguise something as something else.
  • Divination: The ability to foresee or foretell future events.
  • Invisibility: The ability to be invisible.
  • Shapeshifting Magic: The ability to turn one’s form into that of an animal.
  • Gravity Magic: The ability to manipulate gravity and its effects.
  • Light Magic: The ability to generate or extinguish light.
  • Quantum Tunneling Magic: The ability to move through walls.
  • Medium Magic: The ability to see and communicate with the dead.
  • Necromancy: the ability to reanimate and/or control the dead.
  • Poison Magic: The ability to work with poisons more adeptly and/or possess poisonous abilities.
  • Possession Magic: The ability to occupy, dominate, and/or control another person from within.
  • Psionic Magic: The ability to communicate or perceive beyond the five physical senses, including empathetic magic, memory manipulation, mind control, telekinesis, and telepathy.
  • Sound Manipulation Magic: The ability to alter sound.
  • Durability Magic: The ability to have a higher resistance to injury than an average person.
  • Reflex Amplification Magic: The ability react faster than an average person.
  • Senses Magic: The magnified ability to see, hear, feel, smell, and/or taste.
  • Speed Magic: The ability to move faster than an average person.
  • Strength Magic: The ability to have more strength than an average person.
  • Water Breathing Magic: The ability to breathe underwater.
  • Herb Magic: The propensity for discovering/working with various herbs.
  • Plant Magic: The propensity for discovering/working with various plants.
  • Weapons Amplification Magic: The ability to strengthen the impact, defense abilities, and durability or weapons.

Wow, that’s a mouthful, huh? It’s fairly complex, but I really enjoy the way it all fits together. What do you think? Let me know in the comments below. Happy writing!

The Write Track Podcast: Episode #7 (And Some Advice About Podcasts)

Hello everybody! First, I want to make an exciting announcement. Today, episode #7 of the Write Track Podcast released today on which I am a guest panelist. In this episode, two other fantastic authors and I discuss YA as a genre along with the host, Valencia Stokes, along with its strengths and biggest criticisms. This was such a fantastic experience; I had a great time recording this with these ladies. Listening back to it, I sound pretty professional. Blows my mind. I’d appreciate it if everyone would give it a listen. Click this link to take you to the website! This podcast is also available on Spotify and iTunes.

This brings up a great topic that I’d like to briefly touch on today, which is how to conduct yourself during a podcast. Doing a podcast was unlike anything I had ever experienced before. Surprisingly, it was really easy to get into it and communicate effectively. Here are my top three best tips that I can provide for doing a speaking engagement like this.

  1. Prepare. – Now in this instance, I was lucky enough to receive a list of questions that would be asked beforehand. That gave me the opportunity to make some notes about how I wanted to answer each of the questions that I could have with me during recording. If that is the case for your podcast, I would highly recommend making some notes. It’s a great guide even though you will absolutely go off on a tangent. Don’t be afraid of it. If you don’t get a list of questions, make some notes about the topic in general so you will feel less blindsided.
  2. Make sure your audio is set up. – No matter what recording platform you are using, all of them will use some kind of audio settings. If you’re recording over your laptop or phone, take some time beforehand to make sure your microphone and speakers are in good working order. Be prepared to fiddle with it if something goes wrong during recording. My speakers suddenly cut out, and the audio I was listening to dropped to a whisper. I had to hold my phone up to hear for a couple questions before I spoke. Luckily, I got it fixed, and everything went smoothly from there. Which brings me to my next point…
  3. Don’t be afraid to adapt. – The conversation is going to flow in a lot of unexpected directions even if there is a loose outline in place. That’s the beauty of a podcast. Expect to come up with things on the fly. But if you’re invited to a podcast, you know your stuff. You know your topic. You just have to talk. Let it flow. Play off of what someone else has said. Take an opposing point. Make yourself be heard.

Thank you for reading today. Check out the podcast, and happy writing!

Prologue or No Prologue: The Debate

One of the biggest debates in fantasy writing is whether or not to include a prologue. While prologues are popular in certain subgenres, nowadays we are starting to see less and less of them. This stems from a large shift in opinion in the eyes of both authors and literary agents. Today’s post is going to summarize this debate and hopefully offer a few pointers no matter what decision you ultimately make.

The Argument For Prologues

  1. If the prologue adds to the story, it can be incredibly useful. – Make sure that if you do use a prologue, it is going to add to your story. Introduce characters that are directly relevant to your story, and make it unique. Lead your readers into the main story.
  2. Keep it short and sweet, and your prologue will stand out. A short prologue (typically under 1000 words) can be a great tone setter for the rest of the story. Are you going to set up high intensity action or a tragic event?  Make it match.
  3. Prologues are great for switching point of view. – Sometimes you may want to introduce a character in first person or third person and then switch to the opposite point of view for the rest of the story. This can be great to get inside one character’s head and see what they are thinking before leaping into the story. Conversely, you may want to observe a character or event from an outside perspective before diving into the story.

The Argument Against Prologues

  1. Authors often use prologues as an infodump. – If you’re using your prologue to get across vital information that you feel like the reader has to know before reading your story, nine times out of ten you can get rid of it. Part of being a great writer is the ability to weave vital information into your story seamlessly without sending up a blatant flare for your readers.
  2. Sometimes your prologue will make a much better first chapter – If you’re introducing action in the prologue and then continuing on (even if there is a time skip), think about if your prologue can actually become the first chapter. You may find that it’s a lot better to start right away. People who may read the first few pages of your book (especially literary agents!) will want to know everything they need to know about if they want to keep reading your story without the prologue in the way to muddle things.
  3. Readers often skip prologues. – Enough said. Why write them if readers might skip them anyway?

So which one is best? Well, I believe that’s entirely up to the writer. Do what you feel comfortable doing. Remember, during revisions, you can always change your mind. Writing is never set in stone. You can always build off of it or from it in different ways (just look at the popularity of fanfiction!).

Happy writing!

An Interview With Aiden

A rendition of Aiden.

What is your full name? – My name is Aiden Faolan Çaelic.

Where do you call home now? – Now, I’m a bit more of a wanderer. I’m with the House of the Sun’s military. I’m stationed currently in Shadowshore, a mining town in the House of the Day.

Do you have a lifelong dream or aspiration? – I’d like to find… I don’t know.. Some sort of meaning in life. Something to strive for. Something to live for. I want adventure in my life. I joined the military to find it, but I haven’t found it yet.

How would you describe your personality? – I’m… *smiles coyly* a bit of a flirt. You can ask around; anyone will tell you so. It’s healthy to explore the more… sensual sides of your personality. I’m straightforward with people. What you see is what you get. I’m not ashamed of who I am. I am loud and proud, and I like to showcase that. But don’t think I’m some airhead. I’ve got a strong head on my shoulders, and my magical abilities are nothing to chuckle at.

Describe a normal day for you. – Let’s see… I normally wake up alone or with my latest find if it’s a weekend at whatever lodging the troop has stopped at for the night. I like to cuddle after sex; I would rather have my women stay the night. Now, I can be an early riser during the week, mainly due to mandatory obligations to the military. If it’s a weekend, you better believe I’m sleeping in. During the week, it’s training exercises and patrols and the like. I try to search for a little adventure or some skirt to chase. I usually save that for the evening though. Nights are for prowling, throwing back a couple beers with some friends, and just generally having a good time.

How close are you to your family? – In general, I’m pretty close to my family. My mother and I are the closest. She’s always been there for me, always helped me through any and every situation. My father and I have a little bit more of a cordial relationship than a clearly loving one. But we respect each other. My brother and I aren’t really close though.

What are your reasons for being an adventurer? – I’m an adventurer for reasons that are fairly simple. I want to find something in my life worth fighting for. And I’ll face every challenge, climb every mountain, and chase every storm until I find it.

What do you believe makes a successful life? – Freedom to be who you are. To live out a life that’s exciting to you, no matter in what way that is. Enough money to live comfortably and a family to share it with. Life is short. You have to live it to the fullest. Or else, what’s the point?

My First Publication

I am so pleased to announce that I am officially published in the historical field. The World War I Centennial website is currently being archived by the US Government for future research and therefore counts as a professional publication. I am absolutely ecstatic. To be published in my field at my age is a huge deal, and I’m incredibly proud of this piece. Please enjoy!

https://www.worldwar1centennial.org/index.php/communicate/press-media/wwi-centennial-news/6411-cornell-university-tompkins-county-ny-had-outsize-wwi-role.html

Chesapeake Writing Workshop: A Day to Remember

Credits for this image to Booking.com (https://www.booking.com/hotel/us/crystal-gateway-marriott.html).

Yesterday, I attended the Chesapeake Writing Workshop in Arlington, VA. This was my very first writing conference, and it was such a whirlwind! I had the opportunity to interact with other writers in the area, get some feedback on my first ten pages, and pitch my book to a literary agent for the first time. I’ve got a lot to tell you about, so let me get started right away.

Arrival

I actually missed the first train to Crystal City.

I was in the Foggy Bottom metro station waiting for the blue line train to come at 8:36 am. An orange line train was stuck on the track because of a holdup at the next station over. I was getting nervous because I wanted to get to the hotel with enough time to check in and get oriented. Then, out of the corner of my eye, I watch a blue line train pull into the opposite track. Turns out, I had been looking at the wrong side.

Typical of me to get turned around, to be honest.

The doors closed before I could hop on, so I had to wait for the 8:48 am train. Luckily, I made it to the Crystal Gateway Marriott in plenty of time. I got my nametag and a folder with a copy of the day’s schedule before setting off to the first talk I wanted to see.

The first lecture I attended was about middle grade and young adult books. It was there that I truly understood how versatile the YA genre truly is; people from mid elementary age all the way up to adulthood read young adult novels. You have the ability to cater to a wide audience with YA that I think is very genre-unique. I only got to stay in about twenty minutes though because at 10 am, it was time for my 10 page critique.

Ten Page Critique

I wasn’t sure what to expect going into my critique. I wanted to keep my expectations reasonable, but I also wanted to believe that I was ready for querying. In my heart, I was ready. But was the book ready?

I met with Moe Shalabi, a Palestinian-American author and former junior literary agent at Talcott Notch Literary. As soon as I sat down, the first words out of his mouth were how he loved the story, loved the characters, and needed to know more. I have to say, I was floored. I just filled up with excitement, wanting to hear more of what he had to say. His evaluation of my work was incredibly helpful. He pointed out some details to elaborate on: ways to bring the world to life more, a few points about fleshing out the characters sooner, and some points about verb tense in flashbacks. He also said something to me that I will never forget, something that’s going to stick with me for a long time.

He told me that I had a natural talent for writing.

In that moment, I felt like I was on the right path in my life. This was the idea, this was the story, this was the one that was going to get me where I’d always wanted to be ever since I was 11 writing my first novel.

Published.

It was such an honor to hear that, and I’m quite humbled by it. I couldn’t wait to get home and make those edits. I knew they were going to make my work stronger.

My First Pitch

Of course, then I had to turn around and pitch half an hour later! I spent about ten minutes riding out the high of my critique before I buckled down and drilled my pitch out loud several times. I wanted to make sure I could deliver my summary confidently and clearly.

At 10:50 am, I walked over to Stephanie Kehr, a junior agent for C.Y.L.E Literary. She was my one and only pitch for the day. I liked what I had read about her, and I was hoping that I could make a good impression. After introducing myself, I sat down and launched directly into my pitch. For the first time, I delivered something verbal clearly and concisely with no waver on my voice and without my face turning bright red. It went off without a hitch.

She asked me if I happened to have a sample chapter with me. Although the conference had said you shouldn’t need to hand over anything to the agent you’re pitching to, I had thought ahead. I had seen on Stephanie’s website that for in person pitches, she liked to see a sample chapter, so I had one on hand. She glanced over the first page and told me it seemed like good writing. She handed me her business card and asked me to submit materials to her: my first three chapters, a synopsis, and platform numbers.

I was ecstatic. Especially because she’s currently closed to submissions. To make it over that hurdle means the world to me even if that’s where my book stops with her.

Somehow after all that, I still had almost five minutes left in my ten minute pitch time. I felt incredibly awkward, so I tried to start up a conversation. She gave me some good advice for debut writers and young writers in particular, and we talked briefly about YA as a genre and its versatility. I thanked her for her time and walked out of that room beaming.

Afternoon Lecture: Author Platform

After lunch and a sit-in on a live agent critique of authors’ first pages (never got to mine), I went to my favorite lecture of the day on building an author platform. This is probably my favorite subject, and as most of you know, I’ve been doing a lot of work on building that up over the last six months. But I really wanted to know what more I could be doing to improve my visibility.

A couple takeaways for me:

  • I really need to start working on an email newsletter. I’ve attempted to start one a few times, but due to international spam law (that’s a thing!), I have to leave a mailing address at the bottom of the newsletter. Now that I’ve had more time to think about it, I probably could use my mailbox at my college. That would be a physical mailing address I have access to, but if something malicious were to occur, I can’t be tracked to my dorm room or my home address. I need to look more into that.
  • I want to do more guest posts for others. Preferably fantasy leaning or writing blogs that would help boost traffic onto my website. I think I’m doing a fairly good job of writing about fantasy writing, so why not share it with more people?

Aftermath

After the conference, I worked into the late evening on editing my first ten pages according to my critique. I pulled all of my query materials together, and last night, I sent out the first batch of query submissions: the six that I originally selected plus Stephanie Kehr from the conference. I had a little send off call with my mom, sister, and boyfriend where I sent off the emails/online forms with them on the call with me. My dad was unfortunately traveling, so he didn’t get to join me. Next time though for sure! I’ve forbid him from traveling during the next submission round xD.

Now comes the waiting game.

How long will that be?!

Note: I want to especially thank my father for paying my way for this conference. It was an invaluable experience that I will never forget. I made steps in my writing career today because of him, and I just want to say thank you.

Author Update!

Hey everybody! For today’s post, I want to take some time to go over what’s happening in my life right now, both the writing news and the life news.

Chasing Fae is Complete!

Monday night, I finished my novel, Chasing Fae! It’s finished! I’ve done four different revisions on this book from first draft to the final draft (draft five!). It’s been a real learning curve, learning how to edit properly. I’ll definitely be pulling information on revising and editing your novel for a blog series for you guys because I had enough difficulty trying to figure it out on my own research. I did my final readthrough and grammar check over two days to make sure I caught any remaining mistakes.

I’m incredibly proud of this novel; it has been a long time coming to get from idea to where I am right now. I want to thank everyone in my life who has supported me throughout this journey: from my parents, to my little sister, to my amazing boyfriend, and all my friends over in the Writing Community. I wish I had the time to thank absolutely everyone who was involved, but you’d be here all day!

Next Stop: The Querying Stage

Starting Saturday, I’ll be sending out my first batch of queries. Six, to be exact. I’ve read that it’s good to send out between six and eight at once. I’ve already picked my first six literary agents to query to, and honestly, I’d be pleased to work with any of them. I’m feeling confident about my query letter itself; the professional editor thought it was very strong. Now, it’s all up to fate! Wish me luck!

My First Writing Conference

On Saturday, I will be attending the Chesapeake Writing Workshop right here in DC! I’m so humbled to have the opportunity to attend this writers’ conference. I’m going to be sitting in on various lectures from professionals on a variety of subjects on writing and publishing. I also have the opportunity to pitch my book to a literary agent for the first time and get feedback on the first ten pages of my novel, which is usually part of your standard query package. I can’t wait!

Professional Publication

I’m super excited to announce that this week, one of my articles I wrote at my internship is going to be published on their website this week! Because the website is being archived by the government, it qualifies as a professional publication. I’m so incredibly proud. To be professionally published in my chosen field of history at nineteen is crazy. I can’t wait to see it. Let me know if you want me to link it on the site!

Getting Geared Up For Fall Classes

I know it’s almost two months out, but I’m already getting ready for fall classes. This fall semester is going to be a big one for me. I’m declaring both of my majors, history and anthropology, which means I need to start thinking about who I want to be my advisors! That’s gonna be a difficult find. I’ve also got a really great line up of classes. I found a way to take three history classes because one of them is under the classics department. Sneaky, huh? (They don’t typically recommend doing that, but I know what I want!) I’m taking a Greek Civilization class, a class on the Crusades, and a class on historical method. I’m also continuing on with French while simultaneously starting German. Yes. I know I’m crazy. But hey, if I’m looking at grad school, I want a good head start.

Thanks for reading! See you on Saturday where I’ll be catching you up on what happens at the writing conference!

Writing Your First Query Letter: The Basics

Hello everyone! Happy 4th of July weekend! DC essentially shuts down for the Fourth, so I’ve got a super long weekend to look forward to. Only one more week until my writers’ conference! I can’t wait to go. I’m still working on my pitch; I’ll let you all know how that goes!

Today, I want to talk to you about the basics of writing a query letter, especially for you young first-timers. I just wrote my query letter for the first time, and I’ve love to share some of my insights.

Basic Parts of A Query Letter

When I geared up to write my query letter, I did a lot of research. I scoured the internet far and wide looking for sample query letters, guides to writing query letters, and my favorite, lists of dos and don’ts. I made sure to focus my search on what specifically works best for a fantasy query letter. Here’s what I was able to scrounge up:

1. The Basics: When beginning your query letter, I believe that the best way to start is to come straight in with the facts. It’s a simple equation: I am seeking representation for [Title of Novel], a [State your genre and audience.], complete at [Word Count]. I’ve found that this gets the point of your letter across right away. Getting to the point is important in such a quick letter.

2. Referral: Where did you hear about this agent from? Did you meet at a conference? Did you speak with the agent in any capacity? If not, you should list what the specific reason is that you contacted this agent. Go back to that agent’s wish list and make sure your book matches.

3. Summary: I will be the first to admit that I am horrible at summarizing. I can never get my thoughts condensed down to a handful of words. But it is essential for writing the best query possible. Now, I’m not equipped to give tips on how to do this. What I did was essentially sit down for a while and think hard about my story. Then I just wrote it, a summary of a little less than two hundred words. I actually really like the way it turned out.

4. Credentials: After your summary, you should talk about any and all writing credentials you have that may relate to the genre you’re writing. Make sure to mention any published works that you’ve written or any life experience that may relate directly to your genre. I talked about my website and its followers as well as my growing following on Twitter.

5. Closing: Make sure to close your query politely. Thank the agent for their time and consideration, but don’t sound overly thankful or apologetic about your own work. You’ve got this!

Thanks for reading! Comment below if this has been helpful to you.