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.
Ginnifer’s past vanished at five when her parents died in a fire. Her past vanished or any access she has to her past is gone because her parents are gone and she was too little to remember anything? Now sixteen, all that remains is endless nightmares and visions which she hardly can recall the next day. Other than the fact that someone is ALWAYS I wouldn’t use caps trying to kill her in them! I wouldn’t use an exclamation point either. Reserve those for major, major shockers.
Her adopted gypsy-born if this is a contemporary story you might want to rephrase this… I don’t know what it means to be a gypsy in the modern world family only tells her that the dreams will fade with time, but everything changes when three new students show up at school. Ginnifer is drawn to them; especially the bad boy that most parents warn about. (It’s the eyes…definitely the eyes) Suddenly, a girl dies at the football game: the very same girl she had a vision of that morning. It was a memory…really unsure what you mean here – how is it a memory and a vision at the same time? Also earlier you said she can “hardly recall” the visions but now she can? so now she’s not a total mental case. If the light tone here fits with the voice of the novel it’s fine, but don’t make the query purposefully campy unless it matches the tone of the book.
But as more deaths take hold of the town, Ginnifer is determined to find her connection to them. She learns that she’s an Abnormal, a half-mortal with a masked rare gene. Definitely need to expand on this – half-mortals have been done over and over again in YA. What is this masked gene? Why is this story different from every other already existing urban fantasy? One whose life will always be surrounded by blood. Then the bombshell: the killer might actually be targeting her. Why? And if she’s the target, why kill others first?
As if being a junior in high school wasn’t hard enough. Not only is she in a twisted gypsy protection program from someone who wants her dead, What’s so twisted about it? And what about those three new students? Is that the program you mention here? They were mentioned and then dropped but she is torn between the life she knows and the life she forgot. Ginnifer is hell bent to find an in between. She must make a choice: either seek out the killer and fight or stay hidden.
ABNORMALS is a 94,000-word YA urban fantasy. This book would appeal to fans of The Vampire Academy and The Mortal Instruments.
There definitely needs to be a correlation drawn between her visions, the gypsies, the program, and what this gene is that she harbors. Is the gene the reason she has visions? What’s her purpose? Why would the gene mean she’s always surrounded by blood? What does the gene actually do? Why would someone want her dead and why are the gypsies the ones that are supposed to protect her? If she’s only half-mortal, what’s her other half? Angelic? Demonic? God? You’ll need to get the fine points in here in order to differentiate this from existing titles.