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.
16-year-old Elena may just be the only human who hates the fact the sun is always in the sky. Sounds intriguing – but I’ll need to know why she actually *hates* it, that’s a strong word.
But then, her opinion doesn’t matter much, since not only does the sun power all of the humans’ technology, but it also keeps the Nightwalkers deep in their caves. Not that the Nightwalkers really should be much of a threat—after all, the only thing different about them is that they can see in the dark. Isn’t that what the hell flashlights are for? I like the voice, but I also question why would they want the Nightwalkers to stay in their caves if they don’t pose a threat? And also, why would the sky always being there make them stay in the dark? Does the sun hurt them? Is it too bright for their eyes? Lots of animals can see in the dark, but they don’t mind the sun.
It’s the other race, the Magicals, who hold the sun in the sky all day with their nonsensical/freaky powers. Supposedly, not even they could hold the Nightwalkers back back from what? If they only difference between them and humans is that they can see in the dark, why would they need to be held back? If differences are such a big problem for humans, why are they perfectly okay with Magicals? before they decided to play with day and night. Elena calls BS on that one. They can hold the freaking sun in the sky, after all! I feel some genre confusion as well here – the fact that all the tech is solar powered makes me think it’s a future / SF earth-based story, but the appearance of Magicals enters a fantasy element.
Then Elena, on a sort of ridiculous/stupid revenge mission against her mom definitely need more info on motivation here, breaks the number one rule all the humans are taught: Never enter the Nightwalkers’ caves.
And she meets a 17-year-old Nightwalker boy, Matt—who just happens to be one of the toughest and most feared of his kind. But instead of killing Elena why would he kill her? Is he supposed to?, he helps her. And soon, Elena finds herself falling for him—a Nightwalker! But a war between humans and Nightwalkers is about to erupt. Why? And Elena and Matt will be caught in the middle.
What no one knows is that the Magicals are behind the conflict, with an agenda that will tear the world to pieces. Why? Definitely need motivation here.
SUNSET is an 80,000 word fantasy/sci-fi YA novel, told from the perspective of both Elena and Matt. It’s Riddick meets Romeo and Juliet—if Riddick was in Romeo’s place, and Juliet happened to be a smartass girl. It’s a standalone novel, with series potential. Great comp titles! And I think they help clear up the genre question I had above. You definitely need to get some world building clarity and motivation injected into this query before it goes out to agents though.