Brainstorms, and the Art of the Query

The prompt for the June 7 Wednesday Writing Prompt Challenge was not an easy one for me for a variety of reasons. First, I don’t write magazine articles. And second, I’m not yet in a position to send out query letters.

This week’s prompt:

Brainstorming – think up five ideas for magazine articles. Pick the best one, and send it to an editor in a query letter.

The Brainstorm
If I were to write articles, what would I write about? I have no specific expertise in anything. I know a bit about a fair number of subjects, but I doubt I could be called an expert.

I do know little bit about hand crafts such as counted cross-stitch and crochet. But all I know on these subjects I’ve learned from other experts. I have nothing original to add to the conversation.

I’m the mother of three boys, and I’ve learned a thing or two about raising children, specifically boys. We’ve just left the preschool years behind us for good and are currently in the gap-toothed smiles phase. But as a parent, I’ve failed at least as often as I’ve succeeded, so what could I hope to offer anyone on the topic of parenting?

Then there is the writing itself. I feel the least qualified of all to offer any advice on this topic. I’m muddling my way through this process, trying to learn as I go. And hoping I don’t make too many mistakes along the way.

Still, I am a writer. I write this blog. I write short stories and novels. And I sometimes struggle with what to write about. Therefore, I did use this prompt to explore some ideas I might want to pursue both for my blog and in fiction.

I came up with a few ideas, more than the recommended five, in fact. I’m not going to share my list here, however. A girl’s got to keep a few secrets, after all.

The Query
As for the next part of the prompt – write and submit a query letter – this was even harder for me than the first part. As I said, I don’t write for magazines, and I’m not currently prepared to submit any short stories for publication. Nor am I quite ready to reach out to an agent.

Instead, I used this prompt as an opportunity to explore some marketing ideas. It can’t hurt to be prepared with knowledge when I am ready to submit an article, a short story or a query letter to someone with the goal of having my work published. There are a number of resources available for seeking out publication markets, The Writer’s Market perhaps being the largest.

One day, hopefully soon, I will be at a place where I will need to seek out an agent. At that time, it would be good for me to know how to write an effective query letter. Again, there are tons of resources available with a simple web search. The Writer’s Digest blog is a wealth of information on all aspects of writing. Here are a couple related to writing queries:

How to Write the Perfect Query Letter

The 10 Dos and Don’ts of Writing a Query Letter

And this article from AgentQuery.com:

How to Write a Query Letter

All three include links to various other potentially useful articles as well.

These Wednesday Challenges aren’t always just about the writing. Sometimes, like this one, they are more about the business side of writing. Still, no matter where you’re at in the process, and no matter what your specific writing goals might be, I think it’s useful to visit this side of creativity once in awhile. It could even be that in writing a synopsis for your novel you discover the true conflict at the heart of it.

Did you find this exercise useful? I’d love to hear about your experience in the comments. Thanks for reading!

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