The Saturday Slash

Meet my 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!

Valora can end the nightmarish hallucinations plaguing the world, but to do so, she will have to join the enemy. Good hook, I’m rather interested. So the whole world is being plagued by scary visions? Awesome. I’m in. The only slight problem I have with this hook is that it doesn’t allude much to what the genre is. This could be anything from SF to straight F to magical realism to dystopian. But – the hook is good enough that I (and other people who matter more) would keep reading anyway and figure it out on their own. Good job.

At seventeen, Valora remembers nothing of her past, but that doesn’t stop her from moving forward. After all, reality is a gift given to her by the Potesters who freed her from dark visions. I’m curious as to whether freeing her from her visions is why she can’t remember her past. I want to know if there’s a connection, or *why* she can’t remember her past. Adjusting to society, Valora knows it is forbidden to provoke their enemies, the Spurons, who are to blame for the nightmares. Again, I’m still not clear where / when we are, and I feel like I should probably know that by now.

The only problem is that Valora would like nothing more than vengeance. She would do anything to repay the Potesters’ kindness of giving her freedom. Attacking the Spurons would be the perfect act of gratitude – laws be damned.

Haunted by her unknown past and a newly freed mind great phrase, she grows restless with her life and accidentally I need more detail here. “Accidentally” is what happens when you roll down a hill and land in dog crap. I don’t need to know the details but give me a little more here – Does she go on long walks and meet a stranger? Something, just a little more, to illustrate that there’s a good plot point behind the accidentuncovers secrets more powerful than the terrifying delusions themselves: the Spurons are not the enemy. The Potesters created the dreams to enslave the people, building a fully subjugated army of suppressed minds. OK cool – but why free a chosen few?

Now Valora has to warn the Spurons, who are preparing for a war to end the hallucinations. But it’s not easy, because she must sacrifice the impossible to win the war. Herself. Cool, but why? Is there some reason why she must die in order for the good guys to win? Right now it just seems like yes SHE MUST DIE because that’s dramatic. But, no – why? 

Besides the big question of why she has to sacrifice herself (and why her, after all?) I think the plot sounds fun. The problem is that right now dystopian is kind of a bad word (think vampires two years ago), so you need to show why you can cut the mustard. Tell us more about these hallucinations – this is what makes you different from every other dystop query out there, so give that angle some meat.


3 thoughts on “The Saturday Slash

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