Jeff O'Handley

The Doubting Writer Finds His Voice

A Pep Talk

Be brave.

Take risks.

Tell the story you want to tell. If it means ruffling a few feathers, ruffle them.

Don’t apologize for your work, and don’t hold back in your query. Don’t hide the uncomfortable or controversial beneath twisted layers of plot and names and places.

I read a query letter this weekend that showed great promise. Unfortunately, the writer was afraid to highlight the grittier elements of his story. He downplayed them, hid them beneath piles of extraneous details. He was afraid.

Don’t be afraid.

13 Responses

  1. I was like that when I first started writing my query. I thought the horrible incident would turn agents off when it was the most intriguing part of the story. DOH!

    BTW – I will be able to start critiquing BW this week. Yay, finally!!

  2. What a shame. If the grittier elements are already written into the story, the agent needs to know they are there. This is what determines the type of book and audience who cares to read it. Not everything should be bold and gritty, but if it is . . .
    Thanks for the post.

  3. WARNING: Being unafraid and writing what you really want to write, and being unabashed about that, may mean you end up self-publishing.

    BONUS ADDENDUM TO WARNING: You will then find yourself able to quit your day job and write full-time, like me. Surprise!

    Which is all a way of saying, I agree with Jeff. Write what you know you must, not what you think you must, and don't be shy.

  4. Hey, who let Joe Konrath in the room?

    Just kidding. Thanks for commenting, as always. You're 'warning' has sparked a little something that maybe we'll see tomorrow.

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