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.
Carla Dubrov has fought all her life against the voice inside her head, her father’s true daughter. Confusing sentence structure. Is she her father’s true daughter b/c she’s fighting the voice, or is the voice inside her head belong to her father’s true daughter?
Despite the feud between their families, Carla falls in love with Anthony D’Cartey. When their love is discovered, her father condemns her to death, but Anthony gives his life to save her. His murder turns the smoldering feud into the war Carla’s father has long yearned for. Shattered by Anthony’s brutal execution, Carla’s grief turns her into the very killer her father wishes her to be; a killer he molds into his most lethal weapon, a killer he is proud to call daughter. This para itself is great, but as of right now this could be a fantasy, or a historical. I don’t have a grasp on the setting or genre. Also, I don’t know what this has to do with the voice inside her head? What is it saying?
Tough thought? she escapes from under her father’s control, her Shadow still resides just underneath the surface. Now, more than ever, she must keep her darkness at bay. What is this darkness? What is a Shadow? Her life has finally porous again. No idea what this means. His name is Jason. He is Anthony’s brother, and the secret son of her father’s sworn enemy. Carla knows her father wants nothing more than to bring D’Cartey to his knees by killing his second son as well. Carla can finally honor Anthony’s sacrifice by saving his brother.
As her father’s assassins close in, Carla realizes her father used Jason to lure her into his trap. If he kills Jason, her heart will be shredded again, and her grief will push her back into the darkness controlled by her father. He will use her against the very ones she’s trying to protect.
But before she can face her father, Carla must find a way to overcome her own darkness. The voice that grows ever stronger craves the same things as her father: death and destruction. Her Shadow’s voice.
SHADES OF DARKNESS: THE LIGHT is a young adult urban fantasy novel with series potential, completed at 83,000 words.
I think the biggest thing here is that we don’t know much about the setting. Is this in a normal world with magical elements? Or a different setting entirely? Why are these groups fighting in the first place? What is a Shadow and what does the voice in her head that you lead with have to do with anything?