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.
In the lands of Terra Dira, it is a time of courage and treachery, a world of fear and unrest, it is the age of wolfborn. This isn't much of a hook. To you it resonates, because this is your world. To anyone unassociated it it sounds like a voiceover for a video game.
Nineteen-year-old Shiro Volk is wolfborn. He has the body of a man, but the soul of a wolf. And with the power of the moon, he can transform into a deadly humanoid wolf. So, are you avoiding using the word "werewolf?" I understand that you don't want to be seen as using a trope but at the same time you can't disguise the fact that's basically what this is. Go ahead and embrace it. Long ago, the wolfborn forged an alliance with the kingdom of Starfall, vowing to guard the kingdom from invaders in exchange for having their lives free of persecution. This is all fine, but I don't know much about setting
When Shiro’s father takes in his three orphaned cousins, he assures them the kingdom of Starfall is unlike their former home in Tymeria, where Paladins freely hunt wolfborn and other non-human races. But time has made the wolfborn feared for the same reason they were loved during times of war: They are superior warriors. And beneath the growing cloud of anti-nonhuman sentiment, tensions between the Paladins and the wolfborn are reaching a boiling point.
Amid assassinations, rebellions, betrayals, and internal family conflicts, the fate of Shiro, his family, and his friends hang perilously in the balance, as each is forced to make impossible decisions. Decisions that will affect both their lives and perhaps all of Terra Dira. One thing is certain – survival is impossible without staining hands with blood. Good stinger here.
Told through several alternating viewpoints, WOLFBORN is a New Adult Fantasy novel of 95,000 words with a George R. R. Martin-esque narrative and a unique twist on the werewolf genre. Is it New Adult because of the age of the MC alone, or because of content? NA (in general) means that there is more sexual content than in YA. If that isn't the case, go ahead and age him down and call it YA.
This query is well written but here's the thing - I have no idea what this book is about. Werewolves, a kingdom that used to be a good place to live but now isn't b/c they aren't needed anymore... except, aren't they? If there's assassinations, rebellions, and what sounds like political unrest in general, aren't these super warriors needed for something? I don't understand what the impossible decisions that could affect all of Terra Dira, etc are when I don't have a grip on what the actual plot revolves around other than vague "troubles."