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.
Nadine Harper has an attitude problem. She also has a caffeine addiction not sure if the caffeine addiction is important to the plot or here for the query phrasing?, half a heart, and a guardian angel. The angel happens to be her grandfather who died from her same heart condition. Awkward phrasing here, I’d try to find a way to fit in these details in the preceding and following sentences. Problem is, she only sees him when she’s comatose. So it’s up to her to listen to the signs he sends, remember their discussions from her last heart attack and adhere to his advice. This is an interesting concept. I feel like the hook needs to be slightly stronger, but I like the idea.
When Nadine realizes her stank-face glare isn’t making her any memories and her heart is close to failing, she decides it’s time to take his counsel and start living. I feel like we need to know what her relationship is like with the grandpa – how does she feel about his presence? She allows the new open mic contestant at Blackbird Café to play his way right into her life. James Backer’s swagger casts him as the perfect summer fling. His onyx eyes, disheveled hair and leather jacket stop every double X chromosome in their tracks. But his brooding ways do more than make her heart beat fast. They threaten to break it- for good.
While deciphering James’s mixed signals and fearing her own last breath, Nadine learns that living like a four-chamber teenager isn’t as easy as Hollywood conveys in their rom coms. With help from her Pa, she must decide between dying with an empty diary and risking her heart to fill it with a life worth leaving behind. Nice. I love all the phrasing here at the end.
I am a graduate of Purdue University with a Bachelor’s in Literature and am a relative of a hypo-plastic left heart survivor. Great way to show how you’re qualified to write the book. In my debut novel I wouldn’t call it that yet, as it’s unpublished. Refer to it by the title, or as a manuscript, I convey the difficulties of a bed ridden heart-warrior refusing to let a disease define her. Thank you for your time and consideration. You definitely need a genre and word count indication. It feels like it could be women’s lit, or even romance, but then you’ve got a fairly heavy description of it here in the ending para. Definitely indicate where you feel it falls in genre-speak.