Thursday, April 26, 2018

W is for Who, What, When, Where, Why (and How): A Query Shortcut #AtoZChallenge

Operation Awesome's #AtoZChallenge theme for 2018 is... 
OA to Z! We'll be correlating our usual posts with the challenge letters, plus, each weekend, you'll get a chance to get to know one of our bloggers better.

As I critique queries and synopses, I try to focus on the five Ws (along with the H). Answering the questions Who, What, When, Where, Why, and How will give you a jump-start on summarizing your novel for queries and synopses. For example:

WHO is your main character? Give the reader a quick description, including age (if relevant), situation (princess, student, etc.), and notable characteristics.

WHAT does your main character want? This is so important. 'Want' is the main source of conflict in your novel, and it needs to be clear to the reader right upfront.

WHAT happens if your main character doesn't get what they want? Also vital. These are the stakes. Does your main character lose a scholarship? Lose a war? Die? Spell it out!

WHEN does the action take place? This is really only important in a historical novel, or if you're working in sci-fi or fantasy and the action takes place in the future.

WHERE does the action take place? Give the reader a hint of your setting.

WHY does your main character care? Again, this goes to stakes. It also goes to your main conflict, and the person or entity that opposes your main character. Who's stopping your main character from getting what they want?

HOW does your main character proceed? In a query, you don't want to give away the ending (though you do in a synopsis), but you do need to explain what your main character has to do. Whether it's a decision or an action, make sure that's clear.

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