Saturday Slash

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.

The night Landon learns his father is missing in Afghanistan, a mysterious girl named Azara appears on his doorstep to warn him that he’s in danger, too. He’s not sure what to make of her unbelievable story about the Aether, the world between worlds, but when terrifying creatures from his nightmares pursue them, he flees with her to a magical ship—the Aether Wasp. Not bad, it will need to be clear what connection there is to his father and the Aethar in the next para. 

Once aboard, Landon discovers an interdimensional evil known as the White One holds his father captive in the hopes of gaining control of (missing “an?”) ancient relic, but the White One isn’t Landon’s only concern. Why is his father imperative to this particular relic? Before he can save his father, he’ll first have to survive life aboard the Wasp. The ship’s captain rules with an iron fist, sea beasts threaten, and treacherous pirates fill the Aether. He’ll need all the help he can get, especially from Azara, even as their relationship gets… complicated.

But when he and Azara finally they convince the Aether Wasp’s captain (I would name the Captain in the above para, to avoid convolution here) to invade the White One’s fortress, the problems mount long before they even start the voyage. To Landon’s dismay, Landon learns that only one man knows how to find it the fortress—Azara’s charming ex-flame. What’s more, a scheming necromancer has his own designs, a powerful magic gemstone that might be the key to defeating the White One isn’t all it seems to be, and he and Azara’s blossoming romance winds up on the rocks. This sentence is alluding to subplots, which is a good thing to include in summation like this, however, since there are two subplots here (necromancer / gemstone) and both references are very vague, it instead comes off sounding a bit… soupy.  The romance ending up on the rocks is a given – of course it does – so I would pick one subplot to elaborate on, and my personal choice would be the gemstone, as the necromancer would require adding another name to the query.

Ultimately, Landon will discover that defeating the White One won’t be just a contest of guns and swords—and that the battle inside isn’t over just because the sounds of combat fade. Not bad, but the phrasing here is a little convoluted. Unpack this a little bit. Also, you make it sound like there’s going to be plenty of internal issues for Landon as well, but I don’t know what those might be, other than feelings for Azara. Is there something going on with the father subplot? If so, elaborate on that instead of the necromancer or gemstone.

THE AETHER WASP is a young adult fantasy novel, part adventure and part coming-of-age story, complete at 100,000 words with trilogy potential. Readers have described THE AETHER WASP as A DARKER SHADE OF MAGIC meets TREASURE ISLAND.

I am a member of the Military Writers Guild, and my short fiction has been published in The Petigru Review, placed second in the Hub City Emrys Prize, and won Line of Advance’s 2016 Darron L. Wright Award.

Great bio! I would definitely suggest shaving your word count down. A six figure word count is going to be a turn off for a debut title, even if you do get some leeway for the fantasy genre. Definitely get it under 90k, but aim for 85k as the sweet spot. 

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