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 blue.

A twelve-year-old boy Hmm… what’s his name? I get that maybe you’re not including it as an indicator of his amnesia, but for the purposes of the query, best to identify him. trips and hits his head at school. and When he gets up, he doesn’t recognize anyone or remember his name. Plus, there are ten continents labeled on the whiteboard with super weird names like Peequoik and North Afrigia. What’s the implication here to the larger plot?

Freaking out, he goes to the nurse, who claims this happens all the time and prescribes him amnesia juice. He takes the medication and, sure enough, starts remembering everything. But something’s still off. Every class has a test every single day daily tests that he aces without even studying or getting homework. And Even weirder, he recognizes his family and friends but doesn’t have any memories or emotions tied to them.

Suspicious, he eavesdrops on a couple teachers and discovers he and other Earthlings have been abducted by aliens using them as guinea pigs in an experiment. The extra-terrestrials have stored information in a liquid (the “amnesia juice”) and are testing whether the Earthlings can retain that data after drinking it. Plus, when the experiment’s over, the Earthlings will be fed to alien plants! Now the boy’s got to find a way to get back to Earth this threw me b/c while you said they were abducted, I didn’t quite understand what all that implied and alert it about the experiment before he—and the other abductees—are turned into alien plant food.

I think you need to clarify that the abductees have been put into a simulated environment close to their own, and are no longer actually located on Earth.

You mention him not feeling emotional attachment to family and friends, and while this is interesting, I’m unsure what this has to do with the alien plot. Are they ALL abductees, or are these just robotic stand ins so that he does not realize that he’s in a sim environment? There’s no explanation for that emotional distance in the query as it stands. 

I’m also confused about why aliens would go about performing an experiment that makes humans smarter…

Overall I think this is a cute idea that could work for a chapter book, but all the dots need to be connected.