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!

Aziza’s life is seemlessly (I think you mean “seamlessly”) complete.

Newly married and now more socially accepted by her beloved valley people, Aziza is taming her wild spirit to embrace her new simple life.

When Aziza gazes out her bedroom window, the view of the great forest and the mountain’s wake is broken by the presence of an armored guardian. Panic engulfs her once the armored guardian blows a horn which releases a sound she will forevermore remember. The sound calls to her soul to serve in a purpose far greater than that of a hunter’s wife. It’s a sound she can’t resist. It’s a sound only she can hear. Okay, not going to lie I was pretty bored with this whole thing until I got to this last sentence – here is your hook. A sound only she can hear? Awesome – start with that. So she’s torn between this calm, married life that she’s settled into and her wild past – also pretty cool. But how many variations on this story have we heard? A lot. Like, many-many. So, what makes yours different? A crazy dude with a horn that only she can hear? Sexy.

Upon seeking the wisdom of the valley oracle, Aziza finds herself in the middle of the I feel like this should read “a long forgotten…” If it really is forgotten, it probably doesn’t deserve a definite article long forgotten prophecy. If Aziza refuses to heed the warning of the oracle, Strace, don’t bother mentioning him by name the blood-thirsty warlord, will fall upon the peaceful valley, decimating all. The choice is simple for Aziza.

She must leave all she loves in order to save all she loves. This is a great line, but it’s also kind of pulling me out of where I thought this query was going. The entire beginning is about establishing the dichotomy of her life, but now you say the decision is simple. Ok, that’s cool – but then where’s the story?

But can she survive the journey to the gleaming white city? Oh, here’s the story… hmmm… then I think you need to restructure this into more adventurous feeling query. Right now there’s the promise of adventure and action, but it feels more like an internal thing – am I a warrior or a wife?

Aziza knows she’ll give her last breath trying.

Definitely figure out where the main problem is – is it internal, or external? I’m not saying you can’t have both, but don’t set up the whole beginning of the query as internal then tell us she’ll die to fulfill an external goal. And why will she die? What threatens her on the road? Only the sorcerer? His minions? What are they like? There are elements of fantasy here, but right now I’m only hearing about human characters. Are there creatures in this world? What about this gleaming white city? Is it the center of sin? Why would a warlord want a peaceful valley anyway? And who’s the guardian with the horn? A potential love interest?

Both self-realization and Chosen One adventure quests are out there tenfold. Why is yours special? What is it about your world, MC and story that should make someone read another one? Find the answer and get it in your query.