Saturday, November 15, 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.

For N, there are rules that keep the world straight, rules to explain what’s normal, and rules of riding shotgun in Triss’ car. When you break a rule, you get thrown away, and all N wants is to stay with Triss. This is definitely interesting. I'm unsure of exactly what's going on, but intrigued enough to keep reading.

That’s far more important than a corpse in the trunk. Oh, nice. Cool.

N’s not sure which rules got broken, but six weeks ago there was a party, there was a game, and there was a bet. It was supposed to be fun. Something to kill the boredom, but people aren’t like cards or poker chips. They have baggage. They get angry. They want revenge. I'm getting a feeling here like N is autistic, or something to that effect. If that's not correct you might need to revisit. Also I have no idea if N is male or female, and maybe that is on purpose.

When Triss’ betting partner, Jackson, ends up on the wrong side of dead, the laws that hold N’s world together collapse like a wet deck of cards. When you use the term "betting partner" it makes it sound like playing cards might be something that happens a lot, like this is part of their routine, etc. If this is a one night thing that just kind of came together you might want to rephrase. Also I think it might help to clarify what game specifically they're playing, if it's something you can put a common name to, like poker.

The driver is supposed to hold all power and responsibility, but something’s off with Triss. Last night when Jackson died, she was fine. Bagging the corpse and loading it into the trunk, she was fine. But today, she’s not fine. Somewhere between her broken down car, dealing with her crazy divorced parents, and figuring out what to do with the corpse, Triss has slipped out of control.

And there are no rules for that.

Really, the body in the trunk isn’t important, but it still has to be dumped. Fast. I was definitely tracking until this line. It makes me wonder how a body in the trunk could NOT be important? Unless this is a further indication of the unreliable narrator - but honestly I think you've established that and this line feels off.

With Triss not in control, N finally has to stop riding shotgun, take the wheel, and figure out what rules will keep them safe, but more importantly, what will keep them together. Nice, I like this a LOT.

THE RULES OF RIDING SHOTGUN is a 65,000 word YA Contemporary with a non-linear timeline, similar to Justine Larbalestier’s LIAR. The quiet, complex, internal tension of the story may appeal to readers of Laurie Halse Anderson’s SPEAK.

Good comp titles. I think this is well done and highly interesting. The tweaks I mention above are just phrasing tweaks. Also I'm unsure if this is a friend relationship or possibly romantic, which again might be on purpose. Overall this is very well done.

4 comments:

1000th.monkey said...

...and here I had strapped on my full body armour this morning in preparation of a thorough thrashing with your hatchet, and possible other hidden weapons.

(why do I assume you carry hidden weapons?)

Thank you so much for taking the time to do this! Since this was a rough, re-written query, your comments are very helpful in letting me know that this is headed in the right direction... now, time to clean it up :)

Mindy McGinnis said...

It's always best to assume hidden weapons.

You did a great job with this... there's a lot of mystery and intrigue going on, and it does make me want to know more about what is up with the narrator. Just be sure that the tone of the query is consistent with what the novel actually delivers.

1000th.monkey said...

...ah yes, which is what I'm concerned about... does this still read 'fast-paced, car chases and excitement'?

1000th.monkey said...

Oh, and you were bang on with the things you were wondering about the narrator... :)