6.18.2006

Cowabunga!

O, Devious & Wonderful Miss Snark, (and his Royal Highness, Killer Yapp),

An agent asks for a first chapter to be included with a query. I just happen to have both the query and the first chapter. The one problem is that my first chapter is barely four pages long, and doesn't give a good feel for the story of the characters. I just put it first so I can start off with action.

Do I send these four pages alone, put it at the end of chapter two (where it chronologically belongs) and make chapter two chapter one, or just decide not to send to this agent?

I've searched the Snarkives, but didn't find a proper answer to this question (though, it may be there).

Please help me! (I tried sending Killer a tin of chocolate-flavored bones, but for some reason they won't go through with an e-mail.)


KY has his own email address. It is tuffmofo@misssnark.comma

Let's pause for a moment and consider the purpose of the writing sample you are sending. It is to put your best foot forward and snag the interest of an agent. Therefore, disregard page and chapter numbers and assemble your sample in the way that will best accomplish that.

I'm a devotee of early action. If you have my interest, if I want to find out "what happens next", I'll hang in there for character development and story. And if you're asked to send only one chapter a very savvy writer would make sure that chapter had about ten pages.

Remember, what you send the agent is not necessarily what will be the final draft. First things first: get my attention, then show me you can surf the word ocean successfully. After that we'll see what washes up on shore and drink mai tais with Annette and Frankie down at the Sugar Shack.

9 comments:

Shadow said...

Your email program is astutely aware that chocolate is bad for dogs. Try again with carob-coated treats (to the right email address, of course.)

Anonymous said...

Oh Miss Snark. Annette and Frankie at the Sugar Shack! You are dating yourself. And since I understand this reference, I must be dating myself, too--well, figuratively speaking, not literally, since I'm waiting for Mr. Clooney and you to suggest one of his pals for a double-date for me! Perhaps we could go to the Sugar Shack.

Feisty said...

Are Annette and Frankie still down at the Sugar Shack? Hahahahaha. Gosh, that brought back some memories.

Evil minion #667 said...

The Spousal Unit just received a rejection from an agent because the plot was not evident in the first chapter. (Synopsis included but apparently irrelevant.)

How many books expose the plot in the first chapter? Is this agent looking for "high concept" as described recently by MS?

Trying to discern what agents & publishers really want, but I think I shall go mad first.

Anonymous said...

shadow: they were chocolate flavored. ;)

Shadow said...

Anon #2: Then it was just the email address issue. Query on!

McKoala said...

Just attach some/all of chapter two and call your new hybrid chapter one for query purposes...

Anonymous said...

Here's a thought... Remove the heading 'Chapter 2' from the MS and replace with a scene break.
* * *
Voila. One chapter.

jude calvert-toulmin said...

> The one problem is that my first chapter is barely four pages long,

Thanks for publishing this email Miss Snark, this is a problem I will be facing myself, as the first chapter of my MS is 150 words (whereas most come in at between 1500 - 3K). Oh, and the first word of the first chapter title is "Fuck".

So I know I'm going to have a few problems, but hey, I'm not in this for money or fame (spits in spittoon; fame is a price, not a reward). However I am in this to access the widest number of readers and for the book to sell, as fundamentally this is a business after all.

So...do I amalgamate the first two chapters or not as suggested by "anonymous" above.*

* A little tip. When posting on forums, message boards or comment sections, using some kind of pseudonym (if you don't want to use your real name as I do) will at least differentiate you from other posters for reference purposes.


> Therefore, disregard page and chapter numbers and assemble your sample in the way that will best accomplish that.

Thanks for that advice.

> And if you're asked to send only one chapter a very savvy writer would make sure that chapter had about ten pages.

OK, good advice, but from my research it is the first four chapters which are often requested. If you substitute an alternative chapter which is longer, will you not be provoking the wrath of the agent by not conforming to what is initially requested?

> Remember, what you send the agent is not necessarily what will be the final draft. First things first: get my attention, then show me you can surf the word ocean successfully.

I guess this answers my question. Provoking interest is far more important than trainspotterly like adherence to the rules, am I right?