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.

Eleven-year-old Alexander Sighs hates being the middle child. I think you’ll need a stronger hook here. His mother spends most of her time with his youngest sister teaching her the art of beauty pageants, while his father spends his time with his older brother teaching him little league jousting and sword fighting. Sounds like an interesting family… but I think we need to know more about Alexander himself – what does he like? What are his interests? Why aren’t they fostered is this home? His family never notices when he’s there, so he decides to teach them a lesson and run away from home. His original preparations get botched when he captures two leprechauns. Hmmm…. maybe a little more about the how of that?

Alexander is convinced to join them on a quest to find unicorns that were stolen by the evil King. It’d be just like running away only better because he’s promised an exciting adventure, fraught with danger. Unfortunately, leprechauns take that promise seriously. They get unexpected help from the evil king’s daughter–a witch. While she helps Alexander escape one near-death experience after another, he is surprised to find himself on the King’s most wanted list for helping her run away. If Alexander fails to retrieve the unicorns, leprechauns and all they stand for will cease to exist. But if he succeeds, his own existence might come to an end.

But why? Like in order to succeed he has to die? Or something else? We definitely need to know more about what is going on here, plotwise. Is he in our world chasing these unicorns? Or another one entirely? What’s the actual danger here? The King? Why? What can he do / not do to Alexander? Why did he take the unicorns in the first place? How did Alexander help the princess run away? Why would he do that, anyway? 

Also, I think we need to know more about why Alexander wants to run away. It sounds like his family is slightly quirky if they have a jouster in the family – what is it about Alexander that doesn’t fit in?

ALEXANDER is a 40,000-word MG standalone fantasy novel, with sequel possibilities.

I am a member of Springfield Writer’s Guild, and the Ozark Romance Authors, where I have been the Vice President for the past year. I also have one historical, CHASING ETERNITY. THE LAST CHANCE, and one MG book, A SOMEWHAT TRUE ADVENTURE OF SARA ROBERTS published. Traditionally, or self-pubbed? You’ll want to clarify. Also, if your sales aren’t good for these, I wouldn’t mention them until you are at the phone call stage.

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