Saturday, February 27, 2016

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.

Kinetic: The First Alliance is the story of intergalactic betrayal and revenge that will forever shape the lives of five teens back on Earth as they struggle to find the meaning of their existences and keep their humanity in the process. One by one, they’re forced them to fight a war light years away that they never asked for, or wanted to be a part of. This para isn't bad by any means, but it feels very much like a summation to put at the end of a synopsis rather than to use as the hook for a query. 

In the not (so?) distant future, Alex Carter is a southern since you say she's from Texas you don't need this teen from Houston, Texas I don't think you need this either, since you can probably assume the agent knows where Houston is :) who had dreams of going to college and living a nice, boring existence. However, his life just took watch your tenses. This needs to be "takes" in order to work with the rest of the tense in this sentence. a turn for the chaotic when he is visited by Shyra, a beautiful and deadly alien from a far off world. After revealing Alex can control electricity, and must use his powers to try and save the world.  This needs to be a comma rather than a period, otherwise it's an incomplete sentence. She manipulates his need to protect his grandfather, the only family he has left, and he chooses to leave with her into the night. This is a very vague para - how did Alex not know he could control electricity? Is this shocking for him? How does he feel? How does Shyra manipulate him? Right now you're just narrating what happens. I don't know what Alex is like or how he feels about the situation. 

The curt and brazen alien rips four more kinetics, each with different amazing abilities from their homes and forces them to be soldiers for an upcoming interplanetary battle-royal to the death. So who are they fighting for? Who are they fighting against? Where  does Shyra come in? Is she bad? Is she good? Alex is forced to grow up and become a man and hero in just one year before the evil Zenakuu arrives.

Alex juggles a wide array of emotions for his team and mentor such as love, jealously, brotherhood, and hatred to name a few. Who is he in love with ? Who is he jealous of? Who does he hate? When war finally makes its way to Earth’s doorstep, Alex must choose between either surviving the day, or sacrificing himself to save the lives of his team.  The fate of humanity lies in the hands of a teenager who is only sure that he’s impossibly unsure. This is a great ending line, and definitely sums up how a teenager would feel in this situation. 

 “KINETIC: THE FIRST ALLIANCE” is the first installment in a Sci-fi, Young Adult series as a debut author you have a much better chance of pitching this as a stand-alone with series potential - but only if you can actually make it that way and is 123,000 your word count is very high. You'll need to get this to at least under 100k if you want to get positive responses. Untried, unpublished authors have a tendency to overwrite, and while I don't know if that's actually the case with your book, the word count will make it seem that way to a prospective agent words. It’s pace and theme will appeal to the readers of such books as Pittacus Lore’s “I AM NUMBER FOUR,” and “STEELHEART” by Brandon Sanderson. Good comp titles.

Right now this query doesn't tell me what makes your story any different from all the others similar to it. You've got a beautiful alien girl, a team of unlikely teen heroes with special abilities, and an upcoming invasion of Earth that only they can save it from. That could be any number of YA titles, and I bet they see several queries for novels just like this one in their inbox if not daily, then at least weekly. What makes yours different, better, stronger, faster, more interesting than theirs? Figure that out and get it into the query.

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