Saturday, December 7, 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.

After looking through your information on your website it seems you’re interested in Young Adult fiction, so I’m happy to introduce to you THE EMPYREAN my new YA paranormal romance novel. I know a lot of people tell you to start with the "why" of your choice to contact this particular agent, but I personally think it's better to jump in with your hook. A lot of people have a reason to contact this agent- what's different about you from the get go?

When Lily, sheltered a seventeen year old whoops, got a little word transposing going on there, comes home to find her parents brutally murdered, she sets off on a vengeance filled quest hoping to track down those responsible. I think you can cut some of this - who else would she be tracking down on a vengeance filled quest? But the Mortem, a band of Fae mercenaries responsible for innumerable crimes, are hunting her too. Lots of potentially confusing things going on here - is this taking place in contemporary society, or a fantasy land? You introduce the idea of fairies off-hand like it's no big deal, so I feel like Lily must live in a fantasy world where fairies who hunt you are not a big shocker. You need to be more clear about the setting, and also why would the Mortem be hunting her? Because it was their crime and they're covering their tracks? Because she was the intended target in the first place?

With the help of the damaged Air Fairy, damaged how? Physically, mentally, emotionally? Alec, who is both mysterious and swoon-worthy, Lily must battle her way through the Empyrean, the vast land of the Fae where all the mythical creatures that haunt her dreams are real. Interesting concept here, but it again begs the question of where Lily lives the rest of the time.

With a rebellion building in The Empyrean, and the rebels trying to overthrow the tyrannical King and Queen, there is bloodshed and terror at every turn. Lily and Alec invoke the aide of the rebels, though they realize too late that Lily is not their priority.

Lily must defy all odds in a land she is unfamiliar with and unwelcome in if she hopes to succeed in bringing forth justice to both the murderous criminals who stole her only family from her and the wrongful King and Queen who are destroying the very fabric of their lives. Will Alec be the one to help her, save her? No real need for both endings of the question here. Or will he be a vulnerability, a weakness she cannot afford? How can she find space in her shattered heart for the only person left in her life, someone who has lost just as much as her, without letting it be their downfall?

THE EMPYREAN is a standalone, with potential for a series that would delve deeper into the magical world of the Empyrean, the four breeds of the Fae, and the epic rebellion that brings down a wicked monarchy. Complete at 79,000 words, this YA paranormal romance novel is filled with extraordinary world building, a passionate romance with just the right amount of steam, and a young woman’s transition into adulthood. Good wrap-up here - looks like you have planned it well, but you need to work on clarity in the query itself. It sound like there's external and internal conflict at work here, but you've focused mostly on the external for most of the query until you get to the end where you say Alec could be a weakness - what's that about? If the relationship is a key part of the story, you need to bring that out and not just give it a hypothetical question at the end.

Also I think the plot needs clarity for the query - it sounds like our MC just lands squarely into the fairy world without really blinking, which brings me back to the question of the original setting. It also seem like an assumed that she believes the Mortem are responsible for the deaths - why not normal human beings? Are the Fae something she's lived with her whole life? 

I’m a book blogger and previously self-published author. I have 1500 Twitter followers, about 500 followers on my Facebook page, over 300 on my blog, and an active 500+ friends on Goodreads. I'm not sure how much of your social media is going to have pull here - yes it's great that you have it, but you need to catch them with your concept. If they're interested in your book they'll Google you and pull up this information on their own without you including it.

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