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.

TESS it looks like you’re a little confused about capitalization of character names. You definitely do this in a synopsis or a proposal the first time a character is mentioned, but you don’t do it in a query is hated. She’s a scholarship charity case in a school with a half million dollar gymnasium. She’s best friends with YELENA, who seduced the boys’ basketball coach and got him fired days before the start of the state tournament. She supports Yelena’s cousin PETR, who doesn’t hide his sexual orientation in a high school that thrives on fakeness and posers. And worse, the trio is Russian. Why would being Russian be a problem? 

Despite her high school social status, Tess wants to experience a normal American teenage romance and naively crushes on ELLIOT, an upperclassman basketball player. Elliot struggles with his own feelings for Petr, which complicates the strained tensions between the Russians and the basketball team. Again, the Russian aspect isn’t quite coming clear to me, unless this is set during the Cold War? When WADE, the basketball team captain, follows Tess down a deserted road, the simmering hate explodes into violence. Tess is torn between trusting Elliot why would her trusting Elliot one way or another matter? What is she trusting him about?—whose teammates pressure him to participate in a hate crime against the Russian Orthodox Church—or her fellow Russians who want to plant a bomb at the basketball gymnasium in retaliation. Wow, that seems… like an overreaction. Whatever her choice, someone will die if Tess learns the lessons of forgiveness too late.

Inspired by THE OUTSIDERS, FORGIVENESS depicts the fine line between love, hate, and self-loathing that is prevalent in Sara Zarr’s STORY OF A GIRL. A YA Contemporary, FORGIVENESS is a simultaneous submission complete at 50,000 words.

In May I won the Young Adult Review Network’s Random Word Contest.  In November, my writing will appear in the military anthology PROUD TO BE: WRITING BY AMERICAN WARRIORS, Volume 3. This fall, I continue my education with a MFA for Children and Young Adults from Spalding University.

Great bio. If this is contemp, I think you need to be very clear about why specifically the Russians are so hated on this campus. Is this an entirely white school and they are the only ethnic group? I find it hard to believe that if there are other ethnic groups present, that the Russians would be the ones to be the focus of all the racial hatred. Be clear about the motivations here, since it’s the impetus of the entire story.

3 thoughts on “The Saturday Slash

  1. I'd say cut the mention of Yelena. It sounds like the only reason she's important is her cousin, so skip straight to Petr.

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