The querying process: trust your instincts

As I submerge myself in this world of querying agents and receiving rejections, I started to take it as part of the common writing process. I no longer feel bad for the rejections coming from literary agent’s, in fact, I think they are making me stronger and more resilient.

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In the meantime, I’ve also started to experiment with different query letters, manuscript summaries, and even decided to change my first chapter. I feel happy on the latter. I was never happy with having a prologue. For some reason, I thought my story really needed that prologue. However, once I decided to challenge this idea, I put my hands on re-writing the first chapter, integrating in it the prologue. It worked so well that I couldn’t believe it! I regretted sending queries to agents that had to go through my prologue (when they requested the first chapters or pages in the query letter). But well…sigh… one learns from these mistakes. It is not like I’m an expert or a published author.

I also took on revamping my query letter and summary – for those that request it. From the beginning, I knew they weren’t the best possible and I attributed this to my story being so complex that I couldn’t describe it in a couple of paragraphs, but I later discovered they were totally improvable and I twitched them a bit until I felt prouder of them.

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I’m still going through my list of agents I want to query to. I’m not doing them all at once, neither one by one. But if the rejection trend is here to stay, then I’ll start pondering about self-publishing, which is not that bad according to what I heard. My only worry is that traditional publishing helps you get inside bookshops which is what I always wanted. It is not that I don’t trust the digital channels, and don’t see the potential in it, but there is a sweet spot in my heart where I want to see my book in a shelf in a bookshop. Who knows how things turn around. I’ve witnessed quite amazing events happening in my life.

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In the meantime, if anybody is out there in the process of querying, writing query letters, preparing summaries, trust your instincts and make sure you are really proud of them.

I started to kill my darlings and it feels so liberating…

For those who have been following my blog, you know I’ve been writing my first novel during these months, and now I’m totally trying to finish my first manuscript by the hand of NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). But being my first time experience as a writer, I’ve discovered so many writing tips during these months, that I would lie if I say I knew all of them existed, like the infamous darlings for example.

But could you imagine if I were oblivious to these writer’s tips, notes, methods, etc.? For a first time novelist, the most possible outcome would be a dreadful first draft.  Of course, I’m perfectly aware that my fist draft will not be the best, neither the second, or not even the first novel; it could take me years (hopefully not decades) to learn to write properly; but I believe that with practice and huge receptivity for criticism (read my previous post), I can actually improve a lot.

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But enough of rambling about all this writing learning-curve-process, I wanted to talk you about my darlings, yes you read well, my darlings, and I’m not talking about my beloved ones, or my several stacked virtual boyfriends (who happen to exist  in a quantity equivalent to zero), but I’m talking about William Faulkner’ famous darlings.  For those who are not into writing, a quick definition will help you not close this blog post immediately.

What is a darling in writing? A darling, according to the Urban Dictionary, is a literary advice that refers to the dangers of an author using personal favorite elements. In other words, I interpret the darlings as those phrases that look so cute or so wording abundant and excessive vocabulary that although, they make writers feel proud, they can actually cause readers to roll their eyes.

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I’ve been struggling with darlings for months, in my excuse to find my unique voice (which for some reasons started to come with darlings) until recently, when I realized that I only needed to stop worrying about them. That all I needed was to start writing a story with truthful characters and strong emotions, and that was it.

Darlings have started to disappear, and whenever I read my first chapters (which of course I will have to revisit later when I finish my first draft), I will be ready to push my magic Delete button on the keyboard, and kill all the darlings mercilessly, for they are only barriers that stop us telling a truthful story (no need of decoration).

And you have you ever heard about these darlings? If you haven’t, well now you know that writers are not crazy murderers whenever they talk about killing their darlings.

And if you’ve heard about them, how do you cope with them? Do they usually chase you in your writing?

P.S. I tried to google images related to “kill your darlings” but it seems that there’s a movie with Harry Potter in it (I mean the actor).


So what is it with young-adult fiction novels? I’m no teenager yet I can’t seem to drop Divergent from my hands….

Yes, when you hear about young-adult fiction novels, images of Twilight and other similar stories come to my mind. I know they are supposed to be directed to an audience of teenagers and young adults in general (say around 20 the most?), I don´t know.

However, I went eagerly to watch all the Twilight series and the same with the Hunger Games. I remembered going to the premier of one of the Twilight movies in my city (I think it was the last part) and being impressed by fifteen year old’s sighing when they either saw R. Pattinson or T. Lautner (well, let´s assume it, it was justified, but me in my early 30s was very far from being in their type of public, yet I was enjoying it very much).

But apart from the movies and all the fuzz that comes with the actors, etc. I really didn´t picture myself buying the books for these movies.  I didn´t know very much about Stephanie Meyer and Suzanne Collins, except that they were the authors responsible for these stories (Twilight and The Hunger Games respectively).

But the story with Veronica Roth (author of Divergent) was different. You see I was making a list of the books I may want to shop while I was in the UK for holidays. I knew I had to the take this opportunity to buy me some nice books written in English since they are very difficult to get them in my country.  I don´t know how I came across with Divergent and the story of its author, I think she was only 22 or something like that when she first wrote Divergent. I read an interview about her online. It was supposed to be the next big thing, the next Hunger Games, but what came to my attention was that the author was so young to be so extremely accomplished. I decided to put the book in my list, just in case.



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Well, due to my endless activities in my trip, I only got the chance to look for books while I was at London Gatwick airport. I didn´t have my list with me in that particular moment, but the moment I stepped in WHSmith, the best sellers and the most popular books came to my encounter, and guess what? the most visible one was Divergent. The edition I ended buying already had the cover with the Hollywood actors on it and already said “now a major motion picture”.

Since I had no idea when the movie was going to be released (I hadn´t been able to watch TV or any internet site while travelling), I thought I was going to have plenty of time to read it before the movie came out. But when I got home, the first thing I saw on TV was the trailer of its release in 5 days.

I read a lot, but I´m not that fast when it comes to finishing books. I usually take between 3 weeks or even a month to finish a book with an average of 500 pages. Of course, I only read one hour per day, approximately and even less, and not every day, usually I forget about the book I´m reading in the weekends.



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Friends were already telling me about their plans to go to see the movie next week (that is tomorrow). I was thinking that I would have liked to have read it first before going to see the movie. I decided to give it a try and see how much I could move forward with the book before I went to the movies, guess what? I´m about to finish it, surely this night I will finish it. Just on time.

I can´t seem to drop the book, I have been reading past midnight and even more these days. I dream and wake up thinking about the characters and the story. It´s unbelievable. I have read plenty of page-turner books, but this one can´t take my mind of it. The narration in itself is simple, and the plot once you get to understand is very easy to follow, so what is it then? An author so young capable of doing this? It´s actually very motivating for any person who wants to be writer.

The truth is simple, she knows how NOT to get people bored and she knows how to engage people to keep reading. I couldn´t seem to find a part in the book where I could put a halt and say “well that´s it for tonight, let´s continue tomorrow”. You couldn´t, it was like a crime to close the book when it was getting more and more interesting. For such an age, extraordinary, my sincere reverences to her…