The Saturday Slash

Axe2 clip artMeet my Hatchet of Death. 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 me an email.

The first line of a query is your hook, and it really needs to work. You want it to punch your reader 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 intimidated by my blade, 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.

Sixteen-year-old street-rat, ADARA, capitalizing character names is for a synopsis, not a query wants to belong, to be loved. But when her curiosity has her ignoring GUARDIAN, her subconscious (guardian angel) find a better way to explain this than parentheses and following ALASTOR first mention of this character, but we don’t know who he is? A love interest? A friend? An enemy? through the Gates of Hell, she wants nothing more than to get back to the freedom of her lonely streets. LUCIFER I’ll grant you that this one doesn’t need much background 🙂 and other perils of Hell make it a battle to survive until the portals open again. And, the closer she gets to Alastor, the more her dark past rises to the surface to drown her. What’s in her past?

Alastor, condemned to Hell for betraying his family, despises being a demon. Things awaken inside him though when Adara crosses his path. This makes it sound like their first meeting… but she followed him into Hell, which makes me assume she knew him on some level before? She reminds him of his long-lost love, HARPALYCE, who was the catalyst to his downfall. A woman who couldn’t possibly be Adara, because souls of suicides are destroyed and are not reincarnated. Whoever Adara really is, she awakens feelings long forgotten in him.

Together, can they be found in the darkness? Oh no, you were doing pretty well and then you threw in a rhetorical question. Those are bad.

“Found in the Darkness” Here is where you use all caps – your title is a character-driven, YA paranormal romance at 65,000 words that alternates between Adara and Alastor’s POV. It’s written as a stand-alone novel, but could easily continue on as a duo with “Lost in the Light.” I wouldn’t go so far as to name your sequel, simply call it a stand alone with sequel potential. It blends Greek mythology and Christian demonology to create a unique take on Heaven and Hell as well as the complex character, Alastor. Adara is the strong, entertaining heroine who has to overcome her tragic past and frightening future in order to find happiness. 

This concept sounds pretty cool, but your query needs work. Is Alastor a human, or a demon at the beginning? Given the name of his lost love, I would guess he was a demon all along, not a contemporary human. Clarify this, and what Adara’s relationship is to him that she follows him into hell. Was it an accident? Did she know him before hand or is she following a stranger?

Also, you tell us why Alastor went to hell, and his dead love, but Adara’s “dark past” only gets a glancing mention. It sounds like there’s a struggle there, a good subplot to give some solid ground for the romance. Tell us some more about that.

I’d consider dumping the mention of her guardian angel as well. It doesn’t sound like a major enough character to make the query, and it creates some awkward sentence structure.

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