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.
Manipulating fear as a force is dangerous. I like the hook. I’m definitely curious how someone can manipulate fear. It’s pretty vague though, so you’ll have to be sure to deliver below.
But it’s a danger seventeen-year-old David Stephens is fine with. He enjoys the power, and freedom away from his adoptive family.
Then that all crumbles when David finds out that the organization he belongs to, the Chosen, has a powerful enemy.
And David ends up in his hands. This all sounds interesting but there’s a lot of white space here – figuratively and literally. The big question is why? Why is he manipulating fear? What’s the point? Who is he manipulating it on? Does he like doing it?
David soon finds what it’s like to be on the wrong side of fear as the enemy manipulator forces information from him. What kind of information? About what? Who is in danger here?
But when the manipulator leaves David in the hands of his pretty daughter, Cayla, David begins to wonder whether the manipulator really is bad. Especially as Cayla treats David well and attempts to convince him of how evil the Chosen are.
But then David and Cayla are attacked by the blackness—a force that wasn’t supposed to exist. Everything David was taught about fear seems to fragment and he begins to wonder just how much of the Chosen is as it seems. David soon finds himself allied with Cayla as they attempt to understand the truth behind the blackness.
But neither of them know how deeply they are connected to the truth. And that the truth may destroy them both.
There are a lot of holes at work here. We’ve definitely got good and bad – and a question of who is which – but other than that I don’t understand what’s going on. Who is David using his power against? What’s the point? Why mention his adoptive family unless it’s a plot point? If it is a plot point you need to not drop it after first mention? I also don’t have any idea of what kind of world we’re in – is this a contemporary with magical realism, or is this a high fantasy? You definitely need to get the details into this query to make it more than the standard Question What You’ve Been Raised To Believe story.