A query letter with a pithy, high-concept summary is crucial. Which means the story has to have a high-concept summary. Indeed, there’s little point in starting something that doesn’t have a simple, catchy slogan as its synopsis.

This leads to a cover art question.

Yes, I’m well aware I’m still rewriting and polishing; I haven’t sold any of the four Tales of the Red Ranger books. So, yes, cover art can be seen as premature.

I think the cover art question is important, though. It’s as important as the query letter high concept.

Some spectacle has to accompany stages in the Hero’s Journey. Location changes are important.

There have to be at least two dramatic set pieces in my kind of #SFF writing. One is fixed around the hero's decision to depart and another is part of the hero's decision to return. These turning points should have locations that emphasize what’s being lost and what could be gained.

Theatrically, there could be a choice presented in the staging of the scene. People on one side. People on the other. The actor must exit stage left or stage right. The choice must be as difficult as it is important.

Additionally, the Ultimate Boon of the quest generally requires some dramatic framing to make the importance clear to the reader. Betrayals. Life-and-Death battles. Those sorts of things have to frame the hero’s gain (and the antagonist’s eventual loss.)

I’m not a fan of the highly melodramatic.

But I need to develop a taste for it.

Currently, my turning points are evolutions in thought that spread over a chapter. While I like the gritty detail of it, there’s no cinematic, theatrical moment that someone could capture in a cover painting. It’s a bunch of small moments.

I’m pretty sure I should rework some chapters to pile up the drama into a larger, denser set piece. Something worthy of a painting.