I finished a draft in December of Time Gangsters and started working on writing a query letter for it. First off, I do not know much about query letters, so I did some research on what things you need to include in one. I needed to come up with a good 'hook' for my book, plus describe the characters and how they arc, the conflicts and the consequences. As I mapped out those things, I realized that my query letter was describing things better than how they actually worked in the book. With a loud groan, I realized that I needed to do another draft of my book to make it match the hype of my letter.
Cue February. New draft done. Begin writing query letter again. Lo and behold, I have an epiphany on how I can improve the character arcs even further. With gritted teeth, I realized yesterday that I need to do another draft because the idea was just too good. It made me wish that I had thought of this when I first started writing the book. It might have saved me a few rewrites.
Then I thought, "What if I wrote a query letter for a book before I wrote it. Then I'd have to figure out things like character arcs and conflicts and all that stuff ahead of time." See, some of you are saying, "Well, duh." Okay, but keep in mind that I am naturally a discovery writer. I can easily spin out stories and have no idea about what is going to happen next. It's fun to write like that, but I'm reaching a stage in my development where that is no longer enough. I need to think through things and maybe even do an . . . this is a naughty word in my vocabulary . . . outline. (gasp!)
So, that's my wisdom for the week, er, month: write a "query letter" for your book before you write it. Not that you would actually submit it, because nothing turns an agent off faster than, "Boy, do I have a million dollar book idea for you." It doesn't necessarily have to be in a query letter format either, but just some jotted notes on who your characters are, what they need to learn and improve with, the conflicts they face and how those conflicts can make them better people, etc. So, good luck and make those ou . . . out . . . you know, that 'O' word.