Saturday, November 10, 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
http://femboost.tumblr.com/
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 this color. Because nobody liked the yellow :)

The Beckoning is a deep and low I feel like "deep" and "low" are pretty much saying the same thing here. Plus "low" has an almost-echo going on with "bellow" bellow that is often regarded with disgust by those who hear it as it lures the unsuspecting from where they shall never return. Not a bad hook. I'm definitely interested in what The Beckoning is and what it means, however I think the last phrase you have here doesn't technically make sense. I've re-read it a couple times and I want it to say "someplace" they never return, or "somewhere." 

On a planet similar to ours and in an era which has long passed on this earth so it's *not* our planet, but one similar? And do you mean it's long passed on "our" earth... like it's a Stone Age thing?, Aziza hears this Beckoning. As it calls to her very soul, We already get from the hook that it's not something you can resist, so I'd chop the first part of this sentence and blend what's left with the one before. it compels her to leave her beloved Valley.

Although leaving the Valley is not as easy as Aziza tells herself. Did she really tell herself it would be easy if she loves it?

She is sacrificing her family, her friends, the acceptance of her people and most of all her marriage to follow a sound, I think this comma is misplaced, I'd put it after "marriage" which fills an unknown technically the void can't be unknown since she's aware of it void in her life. Every step Aziza takes to fulfill the Beckoning is a step she takes away from what she loves most and is a step closer to finding out the truth about not only herself but her family as well. I like the parallel "step" thing you're doing here, but I'd use "toward" instead of closer.

A guardian is sent from a distant land to guide Aziza and ensure her survival in the wilderness of her world. He is the Barer of the Beckoning, as the horn he presses to his lips sets the bellow free. Great mention here, but what's the purpose? Is he just a dude with a horn? If the horn calls to her soul, is the horn magical, or is he magical? This is the only mention of him here in the query, what's his purpose? Is  there a romance here?

Unbeknownst to Aziza, an army is gathering. The merciless Strace leads this army and his quest is to dominate the world. The prophecy of an Oracle reveals there is only one who can destroy Strace... insert a space hereAziza. If she does not, shadows and ashes will be left of all that she loves.

To her relief she will not fight Strace alone and I'd start with a new sentence here. with the ingress of a voice, which speaks to her in her dreams, she will prepare for a war foretold of long ago that will echo through the ages. What good is the voice to her? Does it give her power? Wisdom? Strength? 

I think you've got an interesting premise here, but there needs to be some background laid in order for the agent to have any idea how they'd pitch this. Right now I'm reading it as a CLAN OF THE CAVE BEAR with magical elements. Be a little more clear about the where / when. If the planet has a name, use it. If the era has a name (real or imagined) use that, or find a way to give a few more hints about setting within the query. Right now it's decent - we've got wilderness and horn bearers, so I'm guessing we're at a rather primitive stage here. But there's also large armies and a desire to dominate the world, which hints at a later time (I'm speaking in terms of *our* ages here, so that might not apply to your fictional world, but the images I'm drawing on are the same ones an agent will too, so you need to make sure you're clear on setting).

I need more on this MC and what's going on here. At first it feels like this is some kind of individualized self-awakening story, but then it becomes a grand scheme with the world and fates of thousands at stake. I think that transition needs to happen a little more easily within the query. It feels very micro, then goes macro on me. 

And tell me about this Horn Bearer dude. It seems like he should be a big deal but he just gets a couple lines. Is he along for the ride? Does he fight by her side? Do they fall in love? And how is MC supposed to fight evil with just a voice? Does she get an army too? Is it just her people at stake or has the Bearer led her to another tribe (his?) that need her help?

You've got a decent premise here, but you need to be more clear about what you're selling. Good luck!

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