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.
I am seeking representation for my YA Sci-Fi adventure series, OBLIQUITY (95,000), and I am reaching out to you because of your specific interests in the genre. Hmm… honestly I’ve always felt like stating that your seeking representation is kind of silly – you wrote a query letter, so they kind of guessed that part already. Stating that you know they like the genre is fine, but maybe being a little more specific would be good — otherwise it might look like you’re up for ANY agent who reps the genre. Also pitching as a series right off the bat might not be the best. It’d call it a standalone with series potential — but only if that’s true.
Someone wants to kill Lya Rheas – It wasn’t chance that brought her to the prestigious Blue Air Force and it wasn’t luck that assigned her to the command of the mysterious Captain Surek – This is all great — good hook and good voice. However I’d do away with the dashes and just let these sentences stand on their own. If she wants to live, she must find out who is after her and why she is mentioned in a prophecy written over one hundred years ago.
Born of a blue-collar family, headstrong and rebellious sixteen-year-old, comma overuse Lya Rheas probably not necessary to give her full name again, always dreamed of becoming relevant in this world – a hero – like the legendary Captain Surek. This sentence is pretty long and wordy – read it aloud, you run out of breath Lya gets what she asks for and more when she is unexpectedly recruited to the prestigious Bleu Different than before- which way are you spelling it? Air Force. But we already knew that – you’re repeating information from your hook, and wasting word economy.
During her first calibration with the thought-controlled navigation system of what? a plane?, she experiences a mysterious vision, which her supervisor insists is a system malfunction, but after several attempts on her life, Lya suspects that someone is watching her – a group of believers of the old prophecy – who are convinced that she is the foretold Ender or (of?) Wars. This is great stuff, and I like it. However it’s also a big run-on sentence. Again, read it aloud and you’ll run out of breath. If your query reads like this, it might be an indication that the ms does too.
After surviving an intensive training program, Lya is shocked to find herself selected as Captain Surek’s copilot. During their missions, she struggles with her morals how? What is she asked to do? and constantly challenges the young, brooding and irascible captain. He’s legendary, but yet young enough to be the love interest? Just as she contemplates leaving the Air Force, an attack by the Red Citadel leads her to discover a conspiracy that promotes the war and that powerful men will stop at nothing to prevent her from fulfilling the prophecy. Thrown into a race against time, Lya has no choice but to enlist the help of friends and allies like who? to unearth the mysterious origins of the prophecy, to stop the war and to save her own life.
Obliquity is the first book of a series, set in a dark future, on an island once known as Greenland, where the last of humanity has been waging a hundred-year war over the last habitable land on Earth. Again, I’d consider making it a standalone with series potential.
I graduated from NYU in Film and TV Production and have since worked for companies such as MTV, Columbia University and the Weinstein Company in their purchasing department. While I have worked extensively with screenplays before, Obliquity is my first novel. Good bio!
You’ve got plot and voice doing good things for you here, and the setting seems pretty solid. However you need to do more to show that this book is different from every other chosen one novel out there with a headstrong, plucky female and a brooding love interest. What makes your plot different and unique from similar books? Get that in here, and shorten up some of your sentences.