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.

If you’re looking for query advice, but are slightly intimidated by my claws, blade, or just my rolling googly-eyes, check out the query critique boards over at AgentQueryConnect. This is where I got my start, with advice from people smarter than me. Don’t be afraid to ask for help with the most critical first step of your writing journey – the query. My comments appear in green.

Seventeen-year-old Cade Guthrie might as well be on the Endangered Species list. Decent hook, I don’t think you need to capitalize “endangered species” though. The people of WEST clarifying what WEST is would be good here  – I assume from the CAPS that it’s an acronym for something sinister, but whenever the phrase “the people of” is used I auto-assume that we’re talking about a physical place, possibly a town. So there is some confusion there relentlessly pursue him for what he is: a being with the uncanny ability to harness the forces of nature, otherwise known as a Harbinger. OK cool, but why pursue him? To harness his power? To destroy him because they hate his kind? Hiding in plain sight in the middle of Tornado Alley, things are quiet until Cade runs into Lana Paros, a girl with an uncanny ability of her own, and, if WEST gets to her first, a girl who just might hold the power to destroy him and the rest of his kind forever. Interesting, but I think I need to know more about her power, whether it’s a spoiler or not. Right now you’re showing us a Chosen One story with elementals as powers, which has been done many times. Why is yours different?

Maelstrom is an 80,000 word YA Adventure fiction novel that sparks as the first in a trilogy with the last two sequels currently underway. This novel is told from two perspectives, male and female, which may appeal to both male and female audiences. Love the title, and good to mention that it is an alternating POV, but you don’t need to add that it will have gender-netural appeal – that’s an assumed with the statement. I also would try very hard to make this a stand-alone, which may go against your creative urges, but general a first time writer querying a trilogy is a hard sell anyway, and there has been reader-backlash against the glut of trilogies in the marketplace.

I have attended several writing workshops and English classes, and I am a writer for a review blog entitled Teen Librarian’s Toolbox that is dedicated to the Young Adult and Middle Grade reading community, and have had several reviews published. Nice – it’s definitely good to show that you are serious about writing, and are well versed in the market. Well done on the bio!

Overall this is a decent query, but you need to give more time to your explanation of the story. It’s *there* but it’s also very bare-bones. Your bio and specs are nice and tight, so you’ve left yourself plenty of room to expand, and you should use that to differentiate your title from the fantasies that already exist.

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