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.

FINDING PROVIDENCE is a completed 97,000 word adult, supernatural thriller following Greer Dixon, an archeology student at Brown who is passionate about finding those who’ve been lost but prefers them a lot more dead than they’ve been lately. This is a personal preference but I like to see the title and word count para at the end of the query. I do think that what you have here for your last lint could work as a hook, but it might need a little scrubbing, as it’s a tad convoluted at the moment. 

As grad assistant on the local cathedral dig, Greer is one step closer to her dream career. She only wishes her mother was alive to see it. Although her fiancé Robert and his parents are pressing her to make wedding plans this summer, Greer is singularly focused on work. What does her mother have to do with the wedding plans? The two things are nestled next to each other in this para, but have no obvious connection.

That’s the plan, up until the moment a student knocks her senseless with his shovel. On accident? On purpose? There could be a plot involved if it’s on purpose, so clarify. The concussion is surely responsible for mad diversions like the ghost she followed home last week. It followed her home? Or she followed it? To her own home? Confusing. But there is nothing imaginary about the smoldering pack of hellhounds chasing her from the church grounds. She’d been working late with her young professor, Adam Walker, who wields a mysterious light, This sounds like he’s constantly wielding it. More like a personality trait, rather than a situational moment rescuing her from the hounds’ jaws.

Carrying an injured Greer to his home, Adam introduces her to his psychically gifted family lol – okay, sorry. I totally misread this and thought it said they were all “physically gifted” who want to guide her budding gift. So this gift – does she have it because of the shovel smack? Clarify. Desperate to put life back to normal, she becomes a reluctant student in the powers of charms, prayers, and angels. Why would becoming q student of the paranormal put her life back to normal? Is she wanting to use these powers to find an end point? Between Adam’s hands-on-training and daily paranormal encounters, Greer finds herself grappling with fundamental beliefs in science, religion, and love.

When they discover the evil haunting Greer is the same creature responsible for her mother’s gruesome death, wait – her mother died gruesomely? That needs to be more obvious, sooner she’s eager for revenge. Yet she can’t stomach putting others in danger, especially Adam who’s risking everything to help her. So she runs, but it’s foolish to run from fate. I would cut these lines because Adam is already risking things by being who he is. The running line verges into synopsis territory. To save herself, Adam, and the victims sure to follow, Greer must embrace a family secret and the truth about herself.

I’m drawn to writing as the owner of an international marketing and communications consultancy, and have been honing my skills via writer’s workshops and conferences.

What you need to do is draw these elements together in a more cohesive and concise query. We hear about the fiance and wedding plans, but then they disappear, and aren’t specifically mentioned in her struggles about love. We don’t know that the mother was murdered from the beginning – only that she died. Likewise, draw the connection to the shovel smack and the genesis of her psychic powers. All of your elements are here, but they are loosely strewn around in the query as it stands.


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