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.
Meet Good King Johnny. He’s handsome. Charming. Heroic. Shining armour and all.
He’s just woken up the morning after Happily Ever After. Technically your hook is fine, but I love this idea of the morning after Happily Ever After. If you can make that your hook, it’d be more powerful. After pouring his soul into being known as the ‘good’ king, defending his borders, building hospitals and sewers, being honest and gallant and true, this is the ending he’s been dreaming of. He’d just like to live out his days with his new bride in peace.
Too bad he can’t stand her. Nor is anyone grateful for his hospitals and sewers; the taxes they require incite rebellion. Oh, and his neighbors are annexing his border castles again, probably because he spares those who surrender. He knows dead men don’t trouble you twice, but a good and benevolent king does not stoop to butchery. Nice this all looks good so far.
Conveniently, his evil younger brother will.
Edmund’s unchivalrous. Sneaky. Brutal. Even has a pointy beard. Not a full sentence here. His willingness to burn people to death in their sleep is reprehensible… but it ends the war, saving far more lives. The violence he uses to force taxes out of the populace makes Johnny’s skin crawl… but unfinished sewers leak filth and disease.
Johnny’s no longer sure what he stands for. If he uses what works, he’ll be the evil he despises, but if he sticks to his principles, countless people will die. It was never supposed to go like this; he’s supposed to be the hero! Save the world, get the girl, the end.
Problem is, there is no end. There’s just the point where the storytellers stop talking. Fantastic sinker here.
HAPPPILY EVER AFTER is a 90,000 word historical fantasy with fairytale influences. It would appeal to fans of Sharon Kay Penman’s “Lionheart” and Stephen Sondheim’s “Into The Woods.”
I am history nerd and professional performer. I’m not a knight in shining armour, but I play one at a Renaissance Faire. Great bio!
Overall this is a solid query, with a great concept – the reality behind HEA. I love the questions of the gray area between what is right and wrong. With a couple of polishes like getting the hook a little snappier, you’re ready to query.