Thursday, June 5, 2014

QueryKombat: Writing Tips

Are you brave? Do you enter contests? I've got one I’d recommend--QueryKombat, an on-line writing contest hosted by bloggers:

I’ve been monitoring the blog posts and the twitter feed. It’s been my obsession for the last week or so.

On Thursday, May 22nd at noon an entry window opened and SC, Michael and Michelle accepted 225 entries, plus some free entries from another blog event. From those, they picked 64 entries. Mine included.

In round one, Kombatants’ entries were paired up to square off one on one, head to head, mano-a-mano in 34 blog posts.  The coordinators tried to match the entries by genre and target audience. Judges visited each pair, made comments and then picked their favorite and many of the judges and Kombatants posted writing advice on twitter.

 Here are thirteen of my favorite writing tips.

  1. One thing I'm learning from QueryKombat. Think about where your story begins. It can make the difference between a "WOW" & a "meh" opening. ~Amy Trueblood
  2. Your query should have your character, conflict (what do they want? What stands in their way?) & stakes (what if they fail?)~ Naomi Hughes
  3. The question isn't if others love or hate your story. The question is, do YOU love your story, and have you told it truthfully? ~Lisa Dunn
  4. Whatever happens, just keep writing!~ Heather Harris-Brady
  5. Voice. Voice. Voice. I don't care what you're selling, if your query has voice, I'll read the hell out of it & want more...~ Ami Allen-Vath ‏
  6. If I don't connect to your CHARACTER, I can't connect to your CONFLICT, rendering your stakes meaningless!~ Lauren Spieller 
  7. All queries need 3 elements, or they cannot succeed. those elements are: conflict, character, and stakes. ~ Lauren Spieller 
  8. Subjectivity plays a huge role in contests (and in publishing in general). Listen carefully to critique, then go with your gut.~ Naomi Hughes
  9. Another QueryKombat observation: The last line of your query shouldn't be a summary, but a tight line leaving your reader begging for more!~ Amy Trueblood
  10. I can tell what the book's about, & what will happen if the character fails...but I have no idea who the character really is!~ Lauren Spieller 
  11. This doesn't mean you should write a query that's full of character development but no conflict. It means you need to IMBUE your conflict with CHARACTER. ~Lauren Spieller
  12. Never give up! ~Ingrid Seymour
  13. Just remember that not all of the light at the end of your quest belongs to a train, your fate and dreams are there somewhere.~ Ramon Ballard

Good advice. My twitter friends have a lot of wise words to share, but I’m guessing you do, too. Want to share some sage counsel? Or share a contest experience you’ve had? I’d love to hear about it.


  1. This is some great advice. I'll have to check out those contests, too, since I'm always looking for new ones to enter.

    The best advice I've heard was that everyone's zero draft is a mix of trash and gold. No one needs to see it but you, so write freely and save your inner critic for the edits.

    1. Emilie Peck,
      Yep, it's good to give yourself permission to write whatever you need to in the first draft. I have to remind my inner critic about that. Thanks.

  2. Nice insights into the minds of editors.

  3. Good advice. My best advice is to apply butt to chair and write.

    1. Yes! Butt in the chair. Fingers on the keyboard. :) Thanks.

  4. Some good advice in there. My latest peeve -- and this would be my sage cousel -- is the use, especially overuse, of "just then." I ranted about it on my blog earlier this week. Recently Read

  5. Oh, I'll go and check out your "just then" rant. Thanks.

  6. Excellent advice. My advice is to get the first draft down. Don't stress about word choice or anything else. Spurt out those words and later, you can create the magic.

  7. I really like this one> If I don't connect to your CHARACTER, I can't connect to your CONFLICT, rendering your stakes meaningless!~ Lauren Spieller

    Great character can save a crappy story

  8. Two things: Read Stephen King's "On Writing". All the advice I needed was in that book. And two, remember that all those little sayings out there (Like "Write every day"! "The difference between a successful author and an unsuccessful author is one quit") are supposed to INSPIRE you. If they don't, screw 'em.