Saturday, March 2, 2013

The Saturday Slash

Meet my 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.

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!

Over a millennium ago, The Shadow of the Fallen was banished from Ethereal to rot in the caves of Sheol and as centuries passed so grew their strength, numbers, and bitter hearts with time. In my opinion you've got way too many unfamiliar words and concepts knocking around for this to be a hook. I was a Religion major in college, so I get what you're throwing out here, but the vagueness is not going to appeal to someone who doesn't know these terms out the door. Also, as a sentence this hook is a bit rambling. Now with the battle for our world on the horizon, The Shadow seeks a mighty weapon to secure their success, a weapon that myself the first-person, query-as-written-by-MC doesn't really work for me. That might be personal opinion, but I think it's gimmicky and two others have kept guarded. Hidden among the Sewn Mountains in a town called Hermits Hollow, we have raised Nevaeh Night as an ordinary human. Nevaeh knows nothing of the danger that hunts her or has yet to awakened typo- "awaken?" the power she was born with. But I fear the time is quickly approaching. The day has already turned to night and the mountains are tainted by The Shadows mark. Soon The Shadow's collectors will come for her and if they succeed, we will all fall into darkness.

That is why I have acquired a writer that, with your guidance, can prepare mankind. Together, we can avoid the brouhaha of our kind springing out of the ground like determined weeds in a vegetable patch. Which, most weeds are actually dingleberry troll hairs. But humans like uprooting dingleberry troll hairs, don't they? I find it a rather odious task myself. I actually think this bit here is pretty clever, but it does nothing to convey what the story is actually about.

I have chosen a promising candidate that can tell our story. With my approval, she has completed the first novel HEAVEN SPELLED BACKWARDS at 90,000 words. She asked me to include the genre which is NA Fantasy and sends her regards, as do I, for taking time to review this inquiry.

While the second para and specs closing para use the device of 1st-POV-query rather cleverly, the query is not doing it's actual job - telling the agent what about this story makes it unique and awesome. Right now it's got a classic setup - good vs. evil, a hidden Chosen One who will save the world... but that's been done approximately 25,000 times already. Why is yours different and special? As it is, this query isn't doing the job of conveying why this story is better than - or different than - every other query in the slush that has a similar premise.

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