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.

In Syrendale, citizens find their mate at the Maiden Night Ball, and sparks fly through the air each time a match is made. But at the age of eighteen, life for one daughter from each family holds a different fate. The daughters selected as their family’s Maiden give themselves to the sea and transform into the noble creatures that guard Syrendale’s shores. This is good – you’re setting up your world and while the hook isn’t necessary splashy, it’s effective. The tiniest tweak is to maybe indicate how many families there are, or how many girls become Syrens.

Bookish Verabelle Chetworth is more comfortable immersed in the world of a story than she is in real life. Verabelle is pinned their family’s Maiden, but at the last minute her protective older sister Ameryst suddenly and without explanation volunteers to take the pin for her, leaving false evidence behind to suggest she took the noble leap. I’m not understanding about the false evidence that is left behind… The unveiling of Ameryst’s escape prompts a search for her throughout the land and the family’s obligation remains unfulfilled, leaving Verabelle to confront her insecurities and summon up the bravery that will be required to step off the cliffs of Syrendale during her Maiden Night Ball.

Okay, so Ameryst says she’ll be the person to become a Syren, in place of her sister but it’s not an immediate thing… so she makes it seem like she made this sacrifice, but actually she just split. Because there are Hunger Games overtones here, I felt like this would be more of an immediate thing – Ameryst is tossed off a cliff, or dragged to the sea, without getting the chance to leave behind false evidence… or anything whatsoever. You need to get that clarification in there, otherwise it’s a bit confusing.

As Maiden Night approaches, Verabelle discovers an eerie connection between Syrendale and the world of one of her stories. A world trapped under a vengeful curse, where a sacrifice of women’s lives is hidden under a fairytale sheen. When Ameryst returns and confirms her worst fears are true, Verabelle must decide if she is brave enough to find a way to save herself and those she loves from the Maiden’s macabre fate.

LITTLE WOMEN meets BROTHERS GRIMM, young adult fantasy THE BRAVEST OF THEM ALL combines the bonds and trials of sisterhood within the context of a dark fairytale conflict and setting. It is told in the alternating viewpoints of Verabelle and her two sisters and is complete at 74,000 words. I hold a B.A. in Creative Writing, work as a literacy coach in urban schools, and am a wife and mother to three. I write while my children sleep in Southeastern Wisconsin, amidst the finest cheeses and beers in the Midwest.

Honestly, this is in great shape except for that little clarification snag. Best of luck querying!