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.
Eighteen-year-old Serena is the best tarot card reader in Manhattan – and she doesn’t know the first thing about tarot cards. Serena is a Prae Seer, one who sees the future through touch. I love where this is going, it's really interesting. She’s not alone. Manhattan is filled with Seers hiding their abilities in plain sight. But, secrets rarely stay buried for long. I almost think the hook is stronger if you put some white space here, let it do its job. I'd consider moving the last three sentences down into your next para.
Serena knows, and has known since her mother’s dying vision, that exposure is inevitable for herself and for all Seers. They will be exposed exposed / exposure echo, then feared and hated. Why would they be feared and hated? Serena understands that can only lead to one thing: annihilation. Why would they be killed for the powers? That seems really extreme.
Then, the first trace of exposure arrives, on the lips of one of Serena’s high-powered clients, because she let herself feel bad for his spurned wife, because she whispered a warning.
She knows the future is unchangeable. She knows that blood will be on her hands. I'm still not understanding how exposure absolutely and for sure leads to death. Seems like a leap. You need to convince your readers that's the case.
Her only hope is to join an underground organization that believes exposure can result in a better life for Seers. Why? It seems a big jump when she's completely convinced it means death. Under the tutelage of Marlow, the organization's volatile leader, Serena learns there is more to her ability than seeing the future. Serena is seduced by the idea that she can control a person’s future, that she is destined for more than hiding. As she is drawn further into organization’s inner circle and into an impossible relationship with a past Seer whose very touch could cripple her mind, why? Serena discovers that Marlow wants more than Seer equality; he wants Seer supremacy, even at the expense of non-Seer lives. Even at the expensive of Seer lives, if necessary.
With the moment of worldwide exposure ticking closer, Serena must decide how far she is willing to go to fight for her future.
EXPOSED is a young adult, urban fantasy complete at 85,000 words. EXPOSED is a stand alone novel with series potential.
I am a member of SCBWI and a winner of the 2012 Writer's Digest Popular Fiction Awards.
I like the concept, it sounds fun. But the world building isn't evident with in the query. It can be totally awesome in the book, but the query isn't relaying that very well. Do all Seers have the same ability to see the future through touch? Does that mean touching their clients, not the cards? Why would the past Seer's touch cripple her mind? Why is she so utterly convinced (beyond Mother's vision) that exposure = death? You need to get more explanations about her power and why she feels so strongly that exposure is bad into the query.