Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Don’t Query Before You’re Finished!

“Yes, I know okay. It’s just a big Crap-o-meter--albeit a nicer one--, I’ll be fine.” That’s what I thought ten days ago when I prepared to submit the hook to my fantasy novel to Fangs, Fur, and Fey. It was just a laid back, help people with their hooks, type of thing.

Being a newbie to the business, I looked forward to submitting hook on Friday the 13th no less. I’d read a little bit of Evil Editor, and submitted a 99 word blurb about Dan Lazar and a helicopter to Miss Snark, had just finished many revisions of draft one of the current WIP when I saw the FFF contest and I thought, “Perfect.”

I followed Miss Snark’s XYZ guide to writing a hook, and concisely crafted the main points with excitement, then off it went. I felt a slight pleasure at having gotten it done and looked forward with eagerness to read the judge’s comments.

That was before I started reading the comments. Now I’m an anxious mess waiting on tenterhooks on the off chance that my hook is selected to move to the next round. A few days have passed since they started posting the results, and out of 250 hooks, 44 remain. Need I say that mine hasn’t been critiqued yet?

Now you might say, “Why Bitter, I thought you were just submitting for comments to improve your hook.”

Then I would answer, “Yes, yes I did.” However, that’s all changed. As the days have progressed since I submitted my hook, I’ve become aware that many of the other writers have used this contest as a way to get their work in front of an extremely fabulous and savvy literary agent and rightfully so. (The agent will critique the winner’s first three chapters.)

And that’s how the word of many bloggers have come to haunt me. “Don’t query before you’re finished.” I admit, I did think of making the final cut, but I thought great, no obligations, an insiders thoughts on my work. Not, what if she asks for more pages? I was looking forward to letting my story rest for at least a month before digging back into it for the second round.

So alas, here I wait, anxious for my comments but worried about the consequences. Like plopping a kielbasa sausage hot off the grill into your mouth. It tastes oh so good, but you might get burned. Here’s hoping I don’t get burned.


Update: My hook (#120) finally got posted this morning. Here’s the link if you’re interested in reading the comments they gave me. I’m off the hot-seat for now, in a couple of months when the second draft and polish are done, I’ll start anew. Hopefully I’ll find the right home for my work. A public thanks to FFF for hosting the contest and the generous judges who critiqued the hooks and juggled the logistical nightmare.


  1. I personally don't think the reviewer took enough time to really read through your hook. It seems like some of the questions he/she poses are already answered in the hook. Perhaps rewriting the hook would make these answers more apparent to the casual reader. From my reading, I immediately recognized the main character as an elf who, after reporting the treachery of stollen mage books--done by humans, joins in the search to get them back--discovering her own mage qualities along the way. I'm definitely interested in 5 more pages so keep at it!

  2. Thanks for the encouragement Confused. I think with a little rewording and fleshing out, the next version of the hook will be better.

    Have a great day!