Saturday, September 1, 2012

The Saturday Slash

Meet the BBC Hatchet of Death (or, some other colorful description RC Lewis and I come up with at any given moment). 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 us an email.

Art by Lynn Phillips Nelson
We all know the first line of a query is your "hook." I call the last line the "sinker." You want it to punch  them 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.

Also, for my brave Saturday Slash volunteers I will gladly do follow-up slashes (each more kindly than the next) on your query if you post them on the Query Critique board over on AgentQuery Connect. You'll get advice from me, and also people who are smarter than me. If you do post on AQ, be sure to follow the guidelines and let me know you posted so that I can follow up!

And now for the next brave volunteer. For clarity, my comments are in yellow.

Today's query is a bit different, as it's a query for a picture book. I'm not the end-all-be-all of advice when it comes to picture book queries, but I'm happy to tackle it for a friend. Any advice from followers how might know more about this area than me? Definitely hop in!

Travel back in time with this Dragnet-inspired gangster tale about a toddler with a lot of spunk and a big imagination. I really like the idea, I think the visual I'm getting off of this is fantastic. The one thing that's a little confusing is whether or not the book will take the reader back in time (setting wise) or whether the character actually travels back in time, or whether it's a modern tale with the look and feel of the past. Honestly, I think the most basic explanation (and what is most implied with the hook) is the first option, but there is possible room for interpretation here.

Lucky Sharp-tooth was on the loose and gangster detective Moxy Mae’s trusty sidekick Bugaboo Joe was shipwrecked on the wrong side of the baby gate. That's hilarious. Time was ticking. Soon, Bugaboo Joe would become Lucky Sharp-tooth’s favorite new chew toy.  Will Moxy Mae save him in time?

I love the idea, and the voice. I'm getting all kinds of great visuals off of this. Two things stick out - I'd put it in present tense ("is" on the loose, "is" shipwrecked), and the mention of the baby gate brings me back to my question regarding the hook. Now I'm thinking that it's more of a contemporary tale with a 1930's look and feel. I'd definitely get that clarified within the query, but otherwise I think this sounds great. I'd pick it up to look at in a bookstore!

MOXY MAE, GANGSTER DETECTIVE is a 155 word count picture book manuscript, ready for your review.


Kerie Miller said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Charlie Eve Ryan said...

Hi BBC, I was at an illustrator workshop this weekend and I am just reading this now. I'm so glad I survived the BBC hatchet. Thanks for the suggestions, I'll tweak the pitch a tad for clarification, thanks so much!!

Mindy McGinnis said...

Excellent Charlie - I hope I helped!!