The Saturday Slash

A quick reminder that tomorrow starts the A Book A Day Giveaway here on the blog. Don’t forget to check in and see what I’m giving away Sunday – Friday. The top-off item on Friday is a *signed* copy of THE WARRIOR HEIR by Cinda Williams Chima. In order to win Friday’s item, you must have entered to win one of the previous books throughout the week. All you have to do to enter is comment on post for the book(s) you’re interested in and be a follower of the blog – good luck!

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.

Freedom is never worth the price paid. Hundreds of children murdered with no end in sight. This is a very generic hook. It could be the hook for anything with a war theme. Make it specific to your book.

Seventeen-year-old Edom is the oldest healer in the country of Menrio where his kind are hunted and killed because of their gifts. Why? I don’t understand why healers would be hunted and killed. I would think the opposite would be true if there were a war going on. He has a protective nature, guarding the life of his little sister, Liora, and any other healer he can find. King Alined is a merciless man, intent on the slaughter of these children. Why? I don’t understand why the King wants healers dead. And why are the healers all children? Have all the adults been murdered already? After a failed rescue attempt, Edom is imprisoned by the king. Confused. Are you saying here that Edom was attempting to rescue someone (if so who)? Or are you saying that someone failed to rescue Edom from the King and so he is now imprisoned?
A young woman rescues him, but in an effort to protect her from the wrath of King Alined, Edom kidnaps her. Huh? First of all – why does she rescue him? Sounds like healers are pretty dangerous people to align yourself with. So you’re saying that Edom forces her under his protection to keep her safe after she rescues him? It doesn’t take long to discover that she has a secret. She’s the princess, Dalia. She has been raised to hate healers, but after witnessing the mistreatment of them she decides to save him. Continuity problem here – she’s already saved him, right? This needs to come earlier when I’m asking why would someone rescue a healer? With the Guard closing in, Edom and his friends travel through the mountains, desperation spurring them forward. Edom must find a way to save the healers or their kind will be lost forever. Definitely need more here. It sounds like they’re trying to get away rather than launch some kind of counter attack on the King, which is fine. But is that how he’s going to save his kind? By retreating? Don’t use the query as a tease. The agent needs to know what Edom’s survival plan is going to be.
NAMELESS is a YA fantasy, complete at 50,000 words. NAMELESS is a standalone with series potential.
I think the biggest thing here is that I really don’t understand why the King is killing healers. I need a real motive. It seems like having a healer around would be a really useful thing, even if there isn’t a war of some type going on. Also, what does your hook have to do with the plot? Whose freedom is the death of these children paying for?

Also, I wouldn’t name the little sister, as she only comes up once in the query and never pops up again. Her name doesn’t need to be dropped. Keep the focus on your MC, the King and the Princess. Also – is there a romance b/w Edom and the Princess? If so you need to put that here, it’s a selling point. As it stands right now it sounds like he’s dragging her over the mountains against her will, with her dad’s soldiers hot on his heels.

Get the motivations out there front and center. Why is the King killing healers? Why would the Princess spring Edom? And lastly – what is the big plan to keep them from being killed off?


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