Saturday, November 16, 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.

If you're looking for query advice, but are slightly intimidated by my claws, blade, or just my rolling googly-eyes, 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 green.

Sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me. For you and I, that’s a fact. For Evyn Elliot, it couldn’t be further from the truth. Fantastic hook. Dead on.

Evyn has Cognadjivisibilitis (CAV for short), and it’s never been a major problem- until now. Really? I get that puberty would bring new and more horrific issues, but it seems like it would be a problem before this. The disease causes the names people call her, both positive and negative, to appear on her body and stick like mini tattoos. And even worse than being forced to wear the awkward tattoos she never wanted, the negative words cause physical pain. Isn’t sixth grade painful enough as it is? This is a fascinating concept and the idea of entering middle school with this condition is terrifying. However, this para needs a little re-arranging. I'd scratch the idea of it not being an issue previously (not relevant to your story), explain the disease first, and get rid of your echoes - tattoo, pain.

Thanks to a psychotic teacher, a backstabbing best friend and a big dumb guy she unfortunately kind of loves, Evyn’s self-confidence is seriously shaken for the first time in her life, and the names she calls herself are just as dangerous as the ones she’s called by others. Bit of a run-on here, but I love the voice. But what if she could change? With the help of some mysterious notes, Evyn takes the plunge to become someone else, someone normal. I'm curious how this would be accomplished... a little more detail here. But just as she starts to succeed, she learns that the writer of the mystery notes may not really have her best interest at heart.

Complete at 45,000 words, STICKS AND STONES is a stand-alone upper Middle Grade novel with series potential. This novel will appeal to readers of R.J. Palacio’s Wonder, Lauren Myracle’s The Winnie Years series and Wendy Mass’s A Mango Shaped Space. Great comp titles, well done!

I live in Chicago and work as a K-8 Library Media Specialist. This my first novel. Librarian solidarity! Great bio para here that shows you know your audience and your market.

You've got a fantastic concept and a query with voice, along with a strong reason for you to be the person to write it and dead-on comp titles. You just need a little scraping off of some echoes and some slight re-arranging and you are ready to go!


Matt Sinclair said...

I can't help but comment on the second line in the query: it's not "For you and I," it should be "For you and me." Me is an object of the preposition "for." Otherwise, yes, a hooky hook.

Mindy McGinnis said...

Thank you Matt! (I admittedly am not the best at catching grammar!)