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.

Everyone wants to control the most powerful magical being alive. Too bad she’s escaped her universe, Coronam, and spent the past eight years pretending to be human. Until she’s caught. Hmm… I feel like I need to know who caught her, and why?

Now, sixteen year old Selena Bennet is living in her former palace once again, this time as a prisoner. Her only chance of getting out: convincing her captors they’ve found the wrong girl. To do that, she must pretend her memory’s been erased – something that could only happen to a human. I think I need to know why she left in the first place, and why it’s so important to have her back. Also, is the memory erasing thing a common tact used by the citizens / soldiers of Coronam? It seems like an odd plan otherwise. 

Back in Coronam, Selena learns a lot has changed since she was still the princess. She’s spent the last eight years trying to disassociate herself with the homeland that now hates her, but what she discovers may no longer make going back an option. Selena is the only one strong enough to start another war, and it might just be time to fight. Again, we need to know her motivation for leaving, and why they hate her now. Also, I’m not sure I’d put so much emphasis on the plan being try to convince people she’s the wrong person, if she then has to turn around and convince people to follow her into a war. Seems like really shaky logic, and a very abrupt change of heart, which will make agents wonder if the text suffers because of the flip-flop.

Coronam’s Lost is a YA fantasy completed at 92,000 words, and is available upon request. It will appeal to lovers of strong, female characters, political and moral issues, as well as readers who enjoyed Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard, The Young Elites by Marie Lu and Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi. I’ve attended creative writing classes, and am a member of SCBWI.

So you say it has these things – strong female characters, political and moral issues – but I don’t see them in the query. I see a girl who ran away from responsibility (why?) then flip-flops on what she wants (stay or go?) and a war against… ? and for… ? I have no idea. Get those things in the query.

One thought on “The Saturday Slash

  1. Mindy has some good advice here. The query is focused on plot/action but doesn't give readers a glimpse into the world, and it doesn't show much of the mc's character. Weave in a little more character and world building, and cut back on the action. Also ask, what is back story and what is the main action? In the query, does the reader really need to know about all the flip flopping, or can you focus in on something else?

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