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.
Fearing Micah’s fanatic mother will convince him homosexulity is a sin, Charlie declines his acceptance to MIT and takes a job he got through his father’s military connections. There’s some confusion here in that I don’t know if the concern is that the mother will influence Micah or Charlie. Also, why would the mother be connected to an acceptance at MIT for Charlie? Micah plans to move in with Charlie as soon as he turns 18, but after months of not seeing or hearing from Charlie, he begins to fall for his mother’s doctrine.
Instead of developing technology for a government contractor, Charlie finds himself cut off from the outside world, using his inventions to kill. He tries to resist “The Boss,” but is tortured until he complies. Eventually, he manages to escape and find Micah.
Together, the two boys head for New York City, where they disappear among the millions of people and Wi-Fi signals already living there. Finally away from his parents influence, Micah is free to make his own decisions about what his faith is and who he loves while Charlie attempts to secure his freedom. What does this mean? Freedom from what or who? Is he still in danger? And why? They need to take down Charlie’s former employer, Why do they need to? but as homeless teens with no supportive family, they have very few resources to work with.
Complete at 52,000 words, Like Birds Under the City Sky is a young adult novel that blends elements of literary fiction with cyberpunk thriller. It appeals to readers who enjoy Valiant, Wire Walker, and Agents of Shield.
I was the second place winner of Women on Writing’s Winter 2016 Flash Fiction Contest. My short fiction was published in Helios Quarterly, Secrets of the Goat People, The Centropic Oracle, Dark Magic: Witches, Hackers and Robots, Youth Imagination and Spaceports & Spidersilk.
I think the biggest stumbling block for you here is going to be the meshing of these two disparate forms – coming of age and techno thriller. It feels like a jolt going from the identity issues in the first para, to tech and torture in the second. You need a smoother transition from one to the next. I would suggest talking more about Charlie’s tech interest in the first para (why MIT? for example). It’s not a bad query, it’s just bumpy because of inherent genre issues.