Saturday Slash

The Saturday Slash

Meet the BBC Hatchet of Death (or, some other colorful description RC Lewis and I come up with at any given moment). This is how I edit myself, it is how I edit others. If you think you want to play with me and my hatchet, shoot us an email.

Art by Lynn Phillips Nelson
We all know the first line of a query is your “hook.” I call the last line the “sinker.” You want it to punch  them in the face, in a nice, friendly kind of way that makes them unable to forget you after having read the 300 other queries in their inbox.
Also, for my brave Saturday Slash volunteers I will gladly do follow-up slashes (each more kindly than the next) on your query if you post them on the Query Critique board over on AgentQuery Connect. You’ll get advice from me, and also people who are smarter than me. If you do post on AQ, be sure to follow the guidelines and let me know you posted so that I can follow up!
And now for the next brave volunteer. For clarity, my comments are in yellow.

Born into one of the Big Three families of the Enchanter realm, 17-year-old Finna Claremont’s lineage—yeah, lineage—should mean she’ll make a great guardian…. Right. The hook isn’t fantastic, but I like the slight snark in the voice here, so I would keep reading.

Finna’s screwed up everything from transporting to blocking her thoughts since she was little, so when a fairy declares Finna has special responsibilities to protect her world Whose world? Finna’s, or the fairy’s?, it shocks everyone, including Finna. I’m a little confused here – is this in an entirely different realm? To prove she can hack it as a guardian, Finna sets out to stop an evil politician threatening the rights of all Enchanters. Hmm… yeah I don’t have a good feel for this world right now. It feels all high fantasy with elves and enchanters and lineages, but now we’re talking about politicians? And what does an Enchanter do? She’ll have to trust the last person she ever expected to befriend Why? Why does she need his help? How is she going to stop this politician? Clearly more than holding a protest march, I guess. (not to mention fall in love with) to pull it off. And trusting Liam Monroe isn’t as easy as it sounds. Because he’s a Monroe. They’ve hated the Claremonts for a hundred years, and the feeling is mutual. There’s a lot more than family honor riding on the line if Finna fails to measure up. She’ll have to count on her fledgling powers or else watch the world she knows disappear.

The powerful family ties and strong adult characters set apart BLOOM, a YA fantasy novel complete at 86,000 words.

I don’t know that you want to use this as a sinker, because your query hasn’t shown me powerful family ties or strong adult characters. If those are truly strong selling points for your book, get them out into the query. Right now, i think one of the more interesting aspects I see in this query is the idea of the bad guy being a politician, and that the threat lies in losing rights. Usually in fantasy we expect bad sorcerers and dragons as the threat… so I’d say that’s another aspect that sets you apart.

Build on those. Right now you’re trying to sell a not-ilving-up-to-her-potential heroine who is supposed to save the world along with a Hatfield and McCoy romance. All those things have been done before, not necessarily all together, but they have been done. Build the query around your world, because I think that’s what’s going to set you apart. We need to know what an Enchanter does in the first place, what rights are being threatened, and how Finna intends to fix that with Liam’s help in order to say – Wow! I want to read that!

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