The Saturday Slash

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.

Tired of being different, Ella Farnsworth decides to give her magic away, but all of her efforts to be normal, she exhausts her magic. Hmm… I don’t actually think this sentence is sensical. Read it aloud. Ella’s POOFING is out of control. When she ends up with an elephant and nowhere to keep it, she must figure out how to get her magic back.

In THE PROBLEM WITH ELEPHANTS, Ella attempts to forget she is magical, but she cannot. She pretends to be like everyone else, but she is not. The echo here from first sentence isn’t working in your favor, I don’t think. I would combine the two things that she isn’t into one sentence. Still, Ella doesn’t like feeling different, so she attempts to POOF her magic away. That does not work. She attempts to POOF her magic to everyone else. Nope, that doesn’t work either. Ella doesn’t give up easily. She POOFS and POOFS until she is all POOFED out. Ella exhausts her magic, and now her magic is out-of-control. Technically though, if she has exhausted her magic in itself than it could hardly be out of control, since it’s non-existent in the moment. Are you saying that the objects she POOFed are out of control? You might want to be more specific about what POOFing is. Anything and everything Ella thinks about starts appearing. But again, that’s definitely magic, and you said her magic was exhausted. When Ella makes an elephant appear, she has to get her magic back to fix things. Definitely confused about the chain of events here. Her magic is exhausted, then out of control, then creating a lot, then gone again and she needs it back? Check and make sure that what you have here is a true timeline according to the book.

THE PROBLEM WITH ELEPHANTS is a picture story book comparable to other magic-themed picture storybooks such as “Cow’s Can’t Fly,” “Tuesday,” and the wordless picture book “Journey.”

As an aspiring author and a Master of Arts in English, Creative Writing student, helping children understanding their gifts and the importance of being authentic is part of my journey as a write. I am a member of SCBWI, a member of Sigma Tau Delta’s International English Honor Society, and an inductee in The National Society of Leadership and Success’ Sigma Alpha Pi chapter.

Great bio!

I admittedly know very little about querying picture books, but I do think the repetition of your first paragraph to your second paragraph isn’t helping. Your first para encapsulates everything and reads like a summary of the second one, so I’m not sure what the purpose of having both is. I’d work with what you have in the second one, and clarify the question I raised therein.