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.
All her life, Kaliyah has trained to graduate from the Drákon Akademie, a school for dragon slayers. After all, a girl doesn’t have much choice when her father is a General.
Outside the Colony walls, the battle to control magic wages on, dragons against humans, but inside the Colony walls, laws against magic have separated its people. Here, Kaliyah meets an infuriatingly troublesome prodigy who poses a threat to everything she’s worked towards. When she makes a deal with him it might be good to name this male character in the query if he’s a significant plot point, she discovers the dragons aren’t the only ones with stokers and scales. As a person who is not well-versed in dragons, I don’t know what a stoker is. Delving deeper into the magic the Akademie forbids, Kaliyah’s forced to acknowledge a burning secret she can no longer ignore—the desire to never slay again. What does her research and the magic have to do with this desire?
So when Kaliyah tarnishes her family’s legacy and breaks Akademie code by freeing a Stoker dragon, she learns the true meaning of Akademie Above All. The more secrets Kaliyah uncovers—the Akademie’s history, the reason behind the quarantine of slayer recruits, and the oppression of magic—the more Kaliyah realizes becoming an Akademie General one day is the furthest from her goals.
Now she must decide how much she’s willing to sacrifice: save herself from certain exile by swearing her soul to the Akademie or defend her faith in magic…at the risk of losing her life.
This is actually well written and quite good. The main plot point is clear, but what we need to know is what makes this book different from the others that already exist? A reluctant child of an ideology’s leader who discovers something dark about her group isn’t exactly a new story – give us details. What’s at work here that separates this from every other novel that uses that storyline?