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.
A girl who’s memories were made for her. A boy who’s choice nearly cost him everything. Double check who’s vs whose And a death that no one saw coming. Your hook is a little vague, I’m curious how someone’s memories can be made for them, but a choice that cost “everything” is a bit cliche.
Three months ago, Tara Shock died in a tragic car accident that stunned her small town of Red Hawk, Colorado. No one took her death harder than her boyfriend, Nash Adams. But now, Nash is ready to try to regain some sort of normalcy in his life…until the day that Tara shows up at his baseball game. This is good, succinct and to the point. Work on getting this kind of voice into your hook.
However, the girl that Nash sees isn’t actually Tara: She’s Natalie Grey, the sassy new girl who’s not exactly happy with small-town life….and just happens to look exactly exactly echo like Tara. But there’s just one thing Natalie can’t quite figure out: Besides herself and Nash, no one sees Tara when they look at her. Like, no one else thinks the two look alike? Or Natalie literally appears differently to everyone else? Enlisting the help of Red Hawk’s somewhat deranged golden-boy Nash Adams, this sentence feels like you’re introducing Nash all over again, and like it’s been inserted from a different version of the same query. Natalie searches for clues to the mystery that’s plaguing both their lives.
Meanwhile, Nash is still trying to come to terms with what happened to
himself “him.” Also… what happened to him? The car crash? last September— and reconciling his relationship with his former best friend would be a bonus, too. Why are they at odds? Does it have something to do with the crash? Answers are hard to come by in this secluded town, but that’s exactly what Nash and Natalie need if they’re going to unravel the supernatural and personal secrets that Red Hawk is housing…
Told in alternating points of view, AFTER SHOCK is part contemporary and part paranormal, totaling at 86,000 words. In this e-mail, I have attached a brief sample of my novel, so that you can examine my writing style. My entire novel is available for review. Also, I am submitting my work to other agents. I attended the AWP Conference in Seattle, Washington, in 2013.
No need to mention that it’s a simultaneous submission, it’s to be expected. Also if the writing sample is specifically asked for by an agent in their submission guidelines, it’s fine to paste it after the query – but most won’t accept attachments. It’s also assumed that since you are querying that the novel is finished and therefore available for review — no harm stating these things, but you don’t necessarily need to either. If you don’t have much of a bio, don’t worry about it — just let the work stand on its own.