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 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!

Worst Case Scenario is a medical thriller about what happens when a desperate woman seeks infertility treatment from an OB/GYN willing to do anything to save his own son’s life. This is a decent hook, it makes me wonder what the two have to do with each other and so I’m intrigued to find out how these two things are going to connect for the plot. But you need to rephrase so that you’re not opening with the title of the book.

Sarah Carlson has to pursue infertility treatment in secret because of her husband’s objections. Jay Adams is a brilliant scientist determined to produce the first human clone designed to die shortly after birth–the perfect organ donor. I need more here about who these people are. You’re telling me what they want, and how their needs are going to cross paths in order to create the plot, but I don’t have any feeling about them as people whatsoever.

Dr. Larry Johnson takes advantage of both and inserts an embryonic clone in Sarah’s uterus that will become a kidney donor for his son. Nine month’s later, his plan threatens Sarah’s life and his partner’s career when the delivery turns into an obstetrical nightmare. So what is the end goal here? Saving Sarah’s life? Saving the son? Saving reputations? Saving all these things? Does the Dr. have moral issues about what’s going on or is this totally an end game for him? Does Sarah have any idea about what’s going on at any point? I need more about where the plot goes as well – is the botched delivery the beginning of the story, or the end? Is the book actually about the fallout from the delivery and trying to cover it up, or is the delivery the culmination of the plot? You’ve got room to play because what you have here is very short, so beef this up with details and humanize your characters.