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.

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 last) 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!

Two days ago, Reese’s country was attacked.
Today, she saved the life of a stranger.
Not only is West a stranger, but he is also the enemy. Hmm… I’m not sure if the choppity-chop delivery of the hook here is working for me. It could be entirely personal opinion though. Also this doesn’t tell me much about genre, it could be anything from high SF to a post-apoc to a contemporary set in a war-torn country. 

When Reese comes across enemy soldiers about to kill one of their own, without knowing why—having no reason other than her heart telling her to hmmm, maybe just b/c she’s a moral person? I’m not sure that the “without knowing why” is such a big incentive to read here. All it’s establishing is that the MC is a good and decent person—she saves his life. Within the next few days, Reese quickly finds out that West isn’t like any other boy she has ever met . . . and she might be falling for him. Torn between not trusting him and having no choice but to, Reese is determined to find her younger brother, refusing to believe he’s dead. What’s the story with younger brother? Is he a soldier? Is he simply missing? What kind of attack are we talking about and in what kind of country? What are the living conditions? Does she have a cell phone still? Are there any social services available or are we talking total anarchy? Right now I’m seeing these two MC’s existing together in a vacuum, and that’s not painting much of a picture. 

But what Reese doesn’t know, is when she saved West’s life, that one selfless act changed the course of the war. Nice sinker, I like this. But I need to know why?

Sunlight is a YA science fiction novel complete at 96,000 words. Sunlight was the top pick on Harper Collins’ website Inkpop in 2011, and also nominated for the Watty Awards on in 2012. Nice, this is great information to include, but you need to show why in the query. Why is this book so good that it received these accolades? Praise alone isn’t going to get your foot in the door – it helps, but you need to get your it factor out front in the query to go hand-in-hand with the praise.

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