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.
Eternity is a long time to dodge enemies, and after living for centuries, Carla Dubrov knows sooner or later, everyone dies. Good hook, I like it.
In the 1800s, Anthony, the man Carla loved, is killed on her father’s demand. Their forbidden love starts a war between Carla’s kind and Anthony’s We definitely need to know what kind of creatures they are, and why the love would be forbidden. Now, two hundred years later, she can finally repay Anthony’s sacrifice by saving his eighteen-year-old brother Jason from his reckless self. What does that mean? So are both kinds immortal? Is Carla still young? How young? And is Jason also immortal or just born way later? His blatant search for Anthony’s murderers leads her father’s assassins to his hometown, Lake Forest, Illinois.
Jason resents Carla from the moment they meet Why? Does he know Anthony was murdered because of their relationship?, but when their lives are threatened, they overcome their differences and protect each other. They both have their reasons: Carla owes it to Anthony to keep Jason alive, and Jason knows Carla is the only one who can tell him what truly happened to his brother.
As her father’s assassin closes in, Carla understands she is the ultimate target. Why? How does that make sense? Her survival instinct tells her to run, but she knows that in order to save herself and Jason, she must stay and fight. As her feelings for Jason grow stronger than they should, Carla grows more determined than ever to have a future — but first she must conquer her past.
SHADES OF DARKNESS: THE LIGHT is a young adult urban fantasy novel with series potential, complete at 83,000 words.
You definitely need to clarify what the creatures are, and why their love would be forbidden. Also why does the focus switch to Carla being the target? Has Jason been searching for Anthony’s killers for 200 years, or is this a new thing for him? There are a lot of questions being raised by the query, and you need to address them before you can more forward.