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.
Twelve-year-old Amanda is a vibrant spot in a boring town, thanks to her vivid imagination and adventuresome spirit. Even her neon-green crocs I like the voice here but I’m not are about using a brand name in a query. Also, I think Crocs might be out and bright-yellow denim cutoffs can be seen from outer space. Too bad the only thing remotely interesting—and kind of creepy—about her town is the never-before-seen bacterium that broke out a month ago. The mysterious disease only infects kids, giving them cold-like symptoms along with a ring of purple sores on their foreheads. Even more disturbing, none of the infected has (have – assuming the infected are plural) recovered. This is reading great, but maybe a touch more here on what you mean by recovered. Are they home in bed? In the hospital? Dying, or just inconvenienced and scared?
But after an inspiring Social Studies lesson on famous explorers, Amanda investigates the woods by her house, yanking her friend Sam along for the mission. Much to their surprise, they discover what appears to be a giant spaceship in the forest’s clearing. They then spaz out as they witness every grownup in town, including their parents, fly out of the ship Superman-style. Completing the frightening scene is the school nurse carrying the bacterium’s latest unconscious victim into the ship.
Amanda and Sam put two and two together—aliens must have replaced all the adults in town and are testing the bacterium on the kids before using it for global domination. Amanda and Sam race to alert the authorities in the next town, but the aliens are one step ahead. And now that Amanda and Sam have started start exhibiting signs of the debilitating bacterial infection themselves, they’re running out of time not just to save themselves, but all of mankind.
Read it to yourself out loud to double check your tenses, but overall this is in good shape and just needs that final polish before you start querying!