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.

Thirteen-year-old Myrdra lives on one of her planet’s thirty-six moons with her father, Grondyl, the moon’s political leader. It’s interesting enough, and lets us in on the genre right away, but it could definitely have more of a hook to it. So, she’s well-versed in all the moons and their histories. Her favorites are the ice-covered one with its two-hundred-million-square-mile Frozen Sea and the landfill moon that used to be a gorgeous, green paradise a millennium ago. Again, interesting enough – but where’s the hook?

Then a wealthy, high-powered politician, Valdor, slanders Grondyl, usurping his position. Myrdra desperately wants to get revenge on Valdor and clear her father’s name. However, Grondyl catches wind behind the political scene that Valdor is an extremely dark-natured man ultimately out to rule the planet and its moons, by whatever means necessary. Therefore, Grondyl strongly advises Myrdra not to interfere with Valdor’s plans, afraid that if she does, Valdor might hire somebody to pick her off. Unfortunately, her mother (and Grondyl’s wife) met a similar fate a few years ago, and to this day nobody knows who killed her or why. Hey… I found your hook. It’s down here, buried.

But then Myrdra remembers something her mother once told her—listen to your heart no matter what. Thus, leaving her with a difficult decision. Will she listen to her father or attempt to clear his name and spread word of Valdor’s depravity, risking her life and potentially others’ in the process? Ending with a rhetorical question isn’t a good idea, but even worse when you can answer it yourself. I mean if she DOES listen to her father and just lie low, there wouldn’t be much of a plot, would there?

Your hook is that mom died mysteriously, possibly at the hands of a questionable political figure who is now smearing Myrdra’s father. There’s a lot more there to gain interest than what your current opening is – general introduction and some environmental world building.

Get your hook out there front and center, then raise the dilemma of listening to her father and keeping herself safe, or risking it all to find out the truth.

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