Saturday, April 27, 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!

What if you lived in a paradise powered by unlimited solar energy but regular citizens weren’t allowed to use technology? Meh. Generally, it's not the best idea to start off with a rhetorical question. For 16-year-old good girl EVE THOMAS, only capitalize character names in a synopsis - not a query New Eden becomes a pretty version of hell I very much like this phrasing right here when her 10-year old brother shows signs of the genetic mutation that’s been killing local children. Even if there were a cure, the Sacred Dictates forbid medicine that advanced. Wait, confusion here - so cures in general are considered advanced? Or the particular type of cure for this mutation is advanced? You might want to clarify what the mutation is, and why the cure would be forbidden. I don't think you even need this rhetorical question lead in. For one thing, it doesn't feel like it has anything to do with the rest of the para. The mutation is interesting, and the phrasing in your first sentence is good - don't take the punch out of it by preceding with a question.

Having left the barren Ghostlands to work in New Eden for food and shelter, 19-year-old Non-native MANA AQUINO no caps here lives for one thing: to destroy the Bishop who rules Dominion Settlement is New Eden a smaller part of Dominion Settlement? Jamming lots of potentially confusing place names in here. Keep it simple for the purpose of a query and murdered his sister. When a monk working to overthrow the corrupt theocratic government tells Mana about Eve’s photographic memory how does the monk know?, Mana knows the offer he must make: he’ll bring illegal medical treatment to Eve’s brother, if she’ll gather the information he needs to exact revenge.

Though she doesn’t trust him, Mana is Eve’s only hope. Raised in a closed, all-white society that values the natural world above human life, Eve will have to break almost every law she’s ever known—including the ban against contact with Non-natives—to save her brother’s life.

If she accepts Mana’s help, she’ll place her entire family in jeopardy and become entangled in an uprising that could leave New Eden in ruins. If she says no, her brother is as good as dead. This para is pretty much saying the same thing as the previous one, and the first one is better written. Stick with it.

Told by Eve and Mana, THE NEW EDEN CHRONICLES is complete at 118,000 words. A young adult thriller with forbidden romance at its heart, the novel combines the careful world building of Matched with the Romeo and Juliet tension of Under the Never Sky. Nice- good comp titles here. I'm not sure I'd all it a thriller though, or if you want to you should definitely call it an SF-thriller.

Here's the thing - there's a lot going on here. You mention solar power in your first sentence like it's a big fat deal, and then it's never mentioned again. The brother's sickness is a big deal - in fact, is the crux of the matter since this is a Scratch My Back and I'll Scratch Yours situation - so I need to know more about this mutation and why the cure is illegal. Does it have something to do with the solar power? Talk about that. 

And then there's the Mana half of the story - he needs Eve's information to succeed at his goal of vengeance - but why? I mean, if her skill was shooting lasers out of her eyes into people's brains I'd not need it spelled out to me. But her gift is a photographic memory - how does that help a potential assassin? Spell this out for me. Make the connections. Draw the lines.

Overall its sounds like a fun SF concept, but I need the connections of solar power to mutations to forbidden medicine to murderous politics to photographic memories made more clear.

2 comments:

On These Days Driving said...

Mindy, this is so helpful! I have a newer alternative version that focuses on the romance. But will take all of these comments into consideration and post my revision on Agent Query Connect. It is challenging to pull out only the most critical pieces when trying to describe a pretty complex world. I had one agent who liked the query with the rhetorical question but I tend to agree that it's not that helpful. Thanks for the very astute comments. Have a great weekend!

HEATHER LYNNE DAVIS said...

Sorry, that comment was by Heather Davis and not On These Days Driving--that's my husband's blog. Too many windows open on one computer!