Saturday, March 8, 2014

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.

Wayden’s head is way crowded, hosting the consciousness of an annoying wizard. The wizard is always pestering Wayden with statements like ‘Don’t waste a valuable opportunity to study.’ Wayden’s brother is too somber as well with statements like ‘I can’t play Wayden, a vision is coming, I can taste it.’ How do you taste a vision anyway? It’s not like the succulent apple crumble the maids are keeping for themselves. There's good voice here but I don't have a grasp of the MC's age or any idea on setting. The mention of maids, wizards and visions makes me think high fantasy, but it could also be a historical setting with a magical edge. I don't have a lot to go on in that sense.

Neither Wayden nor his twin understand the watercolor prophecy of their mother meaning she painted it? clutching a red flower until their manor is destroyed and a red blossom blooms on their mother’s lily-white dress. Is she dead? How was it destroyed? What does that blossom actually mean?

Seven years later, now fifteen year-old Wayden meets other soul hosts. So his wizard-voice is a soul? Wayden learns the leader of the kingdom created the soul hosts, and is planning to try the ritual again, this time sacrificing hundreds of innocents. Wayden and his friends need to stop him, but they are surrounded by enemies, those around them, and those they keep tucked deep inside. I like this phrase here at the end about enemies tucked deep inside, but other than that I don't have a clear picture at all about what's going on here. What does their mother's dress and blossom have to do with anything? Where have they been for 7 years and how were they surviving? What is their situation now? What happened to the twin brother who isn't mentioned at all in the last para? Is being a soul host bad, or good? Why would the leader need to sacrifice hundreds in order for the ritual to work? What does the leader have to gain in the first place by using soul hosts?

All of the questions above are ones that you know the answers to. You need to re-read your query as if you were a stranger to the entire concept of your own story and you'll be able to see all of the holes that your brain auto-fills because you already know the answers. Motivation is key in any query, and right now I'm not clear on what the motivation is for the villain, or for our MC. 

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