NaNo Hangover: What to do between your first draft and second (part 1)

I don’t know if my NaNo is the best thing I’ve ever written, or the stupidest. It’s certainly the weirdest, and was definitely the most fun.

I think one of the most helpful things you can do after you finish a first draft is write a query letter.

DON’T SEND IT, for Pop’s sake, you manuscript is not ready. Not by a long shot. But writing the query letter does amazing things.

First off, it’s fun and you can ride the energy of finishing your first draft.

Second, it forces you to figure out what your story is really about because you have to summarize it on one page. Who is your story about? What are the stakes? What must she learn/do/experience in order to redeem herself? How is it resolved?

When I teach this I always ask: what MUST protag do BEFORE / OR ELSE what will happen?

Third, I like to try to capture the tone and voice of the story into the query letter itself to make it stand out. Be careful not to fall into a GIMMICK, though. It has to sound authentic.

There are tons of great web resources for writing query letters. Here are a few of them:

How to Write a Query Letter (AgentQuery)

The Complete Nobody’s Guide to Writing a Query letter (Sci Fi / Fantasy Writers of Am)

Query Shark (An anonymous agent who crits queries online)

Miss Snark’s First Victim (a repped/published author who has lots of query info and links)

Chuck Sambuccino over at Writer’s Digest who has a feature called Successful Queries that posts the letters that landed agents. Then the agent discusses why he/she liked the pitch.

REMEMBER – I am not saying you are ready to start sending your pitch letters out. I just think this is a fun way to help focus your story and prepare for the rewrite.


  1. Deb Marshall
    Dec 3, 2011

    Great suggestion and I will do it. Still plugging away on the first draft, at 45, 000.

  2. Go, Deb! I just wrote a draft of mine and it was strangely easier than I thought. This must mean that I have a good sense of what my story is about. I”m going to do another edit on it then put it away. Haven’t decided whether I’m going to share it or not . . . lol.

  3. Coreena
    Dec 5, 2011

    Great idea, and thanks for the links.

  4. Shannon O'Donnell
    Dec 5, 2011

    I am so glad you reviewed this one. I’ve been curious about it for quite a while but haven’t had rime to read it myself. 🙂

  5. Shannon O'Donnell
    Dec 5, 2011

    Oops! I thought I was commenting on MMGM. He he he.

  6. That happens a lot for some reason, Shannon. Guess it’s hard to see the comment thingy at the to of each entry.

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