Purple Prose + querying

Promises Promises Promises

©Stina Lindenblatt

Promise only what you can deliver. Then deliver more than you promise. Author Unknown

Nothing is more frustrating than being the recipient of empty promises. Especially when they come from the same person. Again and again and again. When you make a promise and you know at the time it’ll be impossible keep, it’s no longer a promise. It’s a lie. Make too many of them, and you lose credibility, and no one wants that, right?


In writing, broken promises can be both good and bad. When you write a query or synopsis, you’re making a promise to the agent or editor. If you’re promising a book filled with mystery and intrigue, your book better live up to that promise.

©Stina Lindenblatt

Thou ought to be nice, even to superstition, in keeping thy promises, and therefore equally cautious in making them. ~Thomas Fuller

The dreaded first chapter is the king of promises. If your first pages are filled with grammatical errors, awkward sentences, and typos, guess what you’re promising the rest of the book will be like? If your main character is flat, then the agent expects he won’t improve much beyond the first chapter. These are two promises you want to break. Unfortunately, agents won't stick around to find out if you do.

If the beginning is humorous, the reader expects this tone to continue throughout the story. If your first chapter is kickass great, you’ve promised the rest of the book is the same. Professional critiques from conferences and workshops are wonderful, but you need to make sure what was said in those pages carries through to the end of the book. These two promises are ones you don't want to break.

©Stina Lindenblatt

What do promises and hearts have in common? They're meant to be kept but always end up broken. Author Unknown

Broken promises in your story can add conflict, and this is when broken promises rock. If your character’s boyfriend keeps making promises he doesn’t keep, this will ultimately shape the story and affect her character arc. If a character’s dad always made promises he didn’t keep when she was a kid, that will shape who she is at the beginning of the story, and how she acts in given situations. Because of her dad’s empty promises, she doesn’t trust men. Think of all the story possibilities waiting for you given that scenario, especially if your book is a romance.

How do broken promises make you feel? Do you use them in your stories?

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Promises Promises Promises + querying