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Workshop Wednesday

We’ve been doing Workshop Wednesday for a few months now and so far I’ve been very happy with the way things are going. I wanted to take a break today from an actual critique to answer some of the questions and respond to some of the feedback we’ve received.

You may have noticed that we’ve only done, to the best of my knowledge, one nonfiction query. That’s because we haven’t received very many nonfiction queries for the workshop. We’ve had requests from readers to workshop more, but unless we’re getting them we can’t workshop them.

We also had a comment from a reader asking to see more critiques on queries that were “close” but not quite there. We’ve been receiving queries for the workshop since February. Every Wednesday we receive a few more. When choosing which queries to workshop we choose randomly. I scroll through the query folder, drop my cursor on an email and critique that query. I know that when Kim, Jessica, or Lauren critiques a query they do the same thing. In other words, what you’re seeing from our query critiques is a very real example of what an agent’s query inbox must look like. There are a few hits and a lot of misses for various reasons. We’re not choosing queries that necessarily need more work, we’re just choosing queries.

And last, I want to thank all of you who have been regularly participating and giving feedback of your own. Some of your insight has been fantastic and I’ve noticed that some of you have a real eye for queries and writing, a real editorial eye.

Stay tuned next week for another critique.


Category: Blog



  1. Thank you for doing the workshop. I think it's really helpful to see real life examples, and not just the ones that successfully hooked agents or the ones that are so laughable they get mocked.

    Also, a quick question: Is it becoming normal for agents to skip the partial request and go straight for the full? If so, why? I've just noticed, anecdotally, that my friends who are querying this year are getting full requests right away, whereas friends querying last year got partial requests.

  2. I definitely agree on the "close" queries. When a query is completely out there because of poor writing or not telling the plot, etc, we can spot it ourselves after a while. But suppose have a decently written thing that describes the plot, what takes it from a "eh, decent query, pass" to a request?

  3. I'm new to the literary world. Taken a few creative writing courses and found that critiques are a valuable way to strengthen my writing.

    How do I get in on the Workshop Wednesdays? I would love to submit some writing and contribute to the critiquing as well.

  4. I am always very excited for Wednesdays, but not so that I can mock a person for putting their ego on the line to query and then fail, but because we can all learn from other people's mistakes. I would also like to see some more examples of queries from authors you represent, or queries that made it through to the requesting stage. Is that possible?

  5. I love this workshop, and hope it will continue beyond 2011! I'm sure it's been very educational for all of us, and there have been some great critiques and interactions.

    @Kristan: Perhaps it's because, since so much is done by email these days, it's just easier to ask for the full up front rather than ask for the partial, decide you like it, and ask for more? Back when everything was sent via snail mail, it'd make sense not to send fulls all the time because the postage would add up. With email, though, it's just as easy to send and receive a full as it is a partial.

  6. I've been really enjoying these as well. I come here religiously on Wednesdays! I love the sort of tight writing and editing these things require, to really pop out, and its fun to hear all these ideas that have been turned into stories.

    Actually, yesterday, I was feeling really grim and depressed, and all I wanted to do was read some queries – I actually joined Absolute Write just to get my hands on some fresh ones! (All you agents probably think I'm nuts. 😀 )

  7. This is my first time across this blog, and I really appreciate what you're doing! I am at that scary point where I have poked and prodded my manuscript enough that it's time to actually do something with it… but query letters TERRIFY me. Thanks for holding our hands and walking us through it!

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