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.

When twenty-four year old Neha is left standing alone at her wedding with nothing but henna designs on her hands as humiliating souvenirs, she has to swallow her pride and do the unthinkable – embrace the age old Indian tradition of arranged marriages. Absolutely fantastic hook. I’m totally into it.

Thanks to her nosy relatives, rumors spread about her possible rewording to “the” scandal. Worried the stigma will adversely affect her younger sibling’s prospects, her parents place matrimonial ads in leading newspapers. I think perhaps just an indication her of why Neha’s shame would also touch upon her sisters? You don’t have to go into intense cultural detail, but a word wouldn’t hurt. While Neha is not entirely thrilled about being reduced to ‘Hindu software engineer girl, slim, fair comma here seeking alliance with highly educated engineer or doctor in Bombay’, she goes along with it for the sake of her parents. When I’d rephrase to “With” her stressed father is on the brink of a second heart attack, she agrees to marry Sameer – a man she barely knows. He has a stable job, treats her family with respect and Neha knows in her heart that here is a man who would never walk out on her. I’d use a little more word economy in this last sentence. 

When Neha is sent to New York on an IT consulting gig with her nerdy, but compassionate teammate Raj, somewhere between battling snow storms to getting mugged, they fall for each other. Now Neha is having second thoughts about her impending nuptials. But with Raj planning to marry a U.S citizen to permanently stay in America, Neha must choose between her family’s happiness or fight for Raj and true love.

I think this is a great query for a pretty fantastic concept. There are some very slight rewordings that I would address, but otherwise this is solid. I don’t think it would hurt to indicate why her intended left her at the altar, and perhaps as I said above a mention of why her failed marriage would impact her younger sisters for those unfamiliar with the culture. Also, you definitely need a genre and word count para. This could be literary, women’s fiction, or even romance just going by the body of the query. Good luck – I think this is a solid query!

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