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.
Alliances are fragile, especially between galaxies. I think we need a little more bite for the hook. Lilavata Dewa hates space. More than that, she hates being Raejina. At seventeen, she was thrust into the position after her mother’s sudden passing, and now needs to appear to be the leader her planet deserves, despite her lack of training. Instead of enjoying her lush planet, she must attend the Intergalactic Peace Summit. There she must accomplish two things: protect her planet’s power source and keep her mother’s darkest secret about an unknown galaxy, one that’s been whispering of an interstellar war. Okay, not a bad start. I do think we need to know what the power source is, and why it’s in need of protection, and how an unknown galaxy can threaten interstellar war. That’s something that can come later, just making a note of it here.
Mako Nakamura, youngest Captain in Earth’s intergalactic fleet, knows his destiny. He will be General, better yet, he’ll be the youngest and most decorated General in history. However, his recently botched mission threatens that destiny, and now he’ll do anything to prove himself. His only option lies in an off-the-record mission: kidnap the Raejina of Chandra and locate her planet’s power source.
Though Mako succeeds in securing the Raejina, he doesn’t account for her impulsive actions. She sends a distress call to nearby ships, accidentally alerting the Slaver planet this is a previously unmentioned planet with no relation to either of them? to their position. As if crash landing why did the crash? on a hostile planet wasn’t trouble enough, Lila receives a message from the unknown galaxy: their fleet is headed for her home planet and they expect full cooperation. Realizing that they must work together to break free from who?, Mako and Lila make a truce. With his military knowledge and her unprecedented instincts, they manage to evade slavery, and even find enough middle ground to exchange information about each other’s governments. But as unveiled truths reveal deep rooted lies both their leaders fed them, Mako struggles with his grasp on destiny while Lila will have to decide whether to trust the enemy she knows or stand alone against the enemy she doesn’t.
BETWEEN BRIGHT STARS is a YA science-fiction fantasy complete at 80,000 words. It is DEFY THE STARS meets EMPRESS OF A THOUSAND SKIES, and is the first in a planned duology. I have an MFA in creative writing from the Red Earth MFA Program at Oklahoma City University and am an active member of SCBWI. My flash fiction has been published in Mock Orange Magazine.
Overall I think this is a good query, but it might be trying to do a little too much. When querying SF or fantasy it’s easy to overload world building and proper names into the query, which can quickly make it a mire. I’d eliminate mentions of a planet that doesn’t seem to have a connection to either one of them, by simply identifying it as “hostile” and that they have to band together to survive, in the course of which their previous allegiances… from there, you’ve got it.
Not bad at all, just get some of the unnecessary information out, and more necessary information in, such as why the power source of her planet is such a big deal, and how a completely unknown galaxy has the power to cause such a panic