Saturday, September 6, 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.

I have completed an 80,200 word fiction manuscript entitled Former Child Star that I hope you would be willing to consider for your list. A lot of this is assumed - an ms should be completed before you query,  and also you need a concrete genre, not just "fiction." Is it YA? MG? contemporary? I think it's best to start out with a good hook, not the vitals.

Suzy Doran was just one of the thousands of children who are plucked out of obscurity and thrust into the spotlight. Decent hook, but I think you need something with more bite. In Former Child Star thirty-five year old Suzy looks back on her Hollywood past as well as the friends she made along the way, the loves found and lost, and that shattering moment when it was all taken away. So is it like a pseudo-fiction-memoir? She never planned on being washed up at sixteen and being “that chick from that show” made high school a whole lot harder. Slightly awkward sentence construction here, I had to re-read to get the gist. Not one to throw in the towel no matter how tough things get you need a comma here Suzy’s able to build herself a life outside of the spotlight. Until Hollywood’s siren call arrives again nineteen years later. Possible sentence fragment here? You need to do a little restructuring with your phrasing. Heeding it would mean walking away from everything she had worked so hard to build. But ignoring it would mean turning her back on what she once loved for good. Awkward phrasing here too, I had to re-read to get the point. 

I graduated from Cedar Crest College in Allentown, PA with a Bachelor's Degree in Fine Arts with a concentration in creative writing. This is good, showing that you have the background for your subject and to write your book.

Overall this is a very vague query and you definitely need to get a genre pinned down. Your protag is 35, but it sounds like high school plays a part in the narrative, so that makes this a little squirmy in genre. We also need the details - why is she washed out? How did she rebuild her life? What happens to call her back? I don't know any of these particulars, just that they happen. Get the data in there and show that you've got an original story, not just the bare bones of one.

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