Saturday, May 3, 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.

The Bee is not a superhero. He’s a diversion while Pete and his friends punish the bullies of their middle school. This is definitely interesting, but the hook lacks a punch that makes me see the connection between the two. Even though I know you'll explain this later on, I think you need a catchier hook.

After Bryant the Giant gives the new kid the ultimate wedgie, Pete and his friends create a superhero to teach him a lesson. They use their years of honed RPGing skills and THE ART OF WAR to form the perfect plan. I love the idea at work here. Dressed in bright yellow, the Bee distracts Bryant while the others tie his shoelaces together and peg him with a glue bomb, rendering him immobile. Furthering the illusion all this was done by one superhero and not a bunch of kids, the Bee delivers the victorious wedgie. I guess the big question is who is dressed up as the Bee though? 

Mallory figures out how the Bee works and who’s behind it. She pleads with Pete and his friends to take down her bully. They reluctantly agree, dress her up as the Bee, and go to work. After they execute their plan on her bully, the Bee spirals out of control until the school is bully-free but full of fear. With the entire school wearing yellow and black, only one person can end the fear and oppose the Bee: Pete. OK - so everyone starts impersonating the Bee in order to take down their own bullies, thus the victims become the bullies and now everyone is scared? It sounds like a really fascinating concept, and I love the idea here, but how is Pete the only person who can end the fear? By admitting that the Bee is fake in the first place? It sounds like a great clean MG version of Watchmen, but the query lacks punch. All the info is here but there's not a lot of voice.

THE SECRET POWERS OF THE BEE is a 45,000-word MG contemporary fiction.

4 comments:

Sarah Camardo said...

Thanks Mindy! You could drive a bus through one of the holes I have in that query. Nice catch. You're awesome as always.

And Happy Free Comic Book Day to you!

Derrick Camardo said...

Oops. Blog fail! My wife was logged in.

thomas h cullen said...



I agreed with your first assessment Mindy: whilst catching, the initial hook does invite a bit too much questioning.



Speaking of catching one's attention - you yourself caught my attention with the interesting Watchmen reference.




Another professional critique - well done!



Mindy McGinnis said...

Sure Derrick - I see right through you. You're like, Oh man, query fail.... Uh MY WIFE WROTE THIS :)