Saturday, February 18, 2017

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.

A mysterious killer is haunting Chicago, and Blair is sure it’s something supernatural. She should know. She’s has She has) been training to be a Guardian her entire life. While people sleep soundly in their beds, Blair stalks the streets, making sure the monsters are having nightmares about her. Not bad. Fix that little grammar flub and I think the last sentence would be better without -ing verbs. For one thing, if the monsters are awake while others are asleep, they can't be *having* nightmares at the same time as they people they stalk. It's a tense thing, and very picky on my part. Change to... to make sure monsters have nightmares about her. See how that brings more immediacy as well? 

When Blair’s new neighbor, Lexi, is attacked by a vampire, Blair rushes in to save her, only to find she’s is Either she is or she's But more importantly who is immune? Lexi, or the vampire? Needs clarified. Also, why would it matter if Lexi is immune? immune to magic. To protect Lexi from the prying eyes of the Guardian Assembly, Blair is caught in her own lies, pride, and selfishness, causing a mission to go horribly wrong. Leaving her ex-boyfriend dead.  Why does Lexi need protected from the Guardians if she's immune to magic? What does that mean in their world? And what are these lies, pride, and selfish acts from Blair? We had no indication that this was her character until now.

The Assembly steps in and puts Blair on probation. She now has to face her worst nightmare:  being normal. No supernatural creatures. No fighting. No magic.

But the killer is still out there. Is the killer connected to what happened with the mission that went wrong or to the attack on Lexi? Because the killer was your hook, then we lose him / her until here at the end of the query. The Assembly doesn’t know what it is and Blair is unable to help. Then it goes after her friends. It no longer matters what the Assembly does or says. Nothing gets to Blair’s people without going through her first.

GUARDIANS OF THE CITY is an urban fantasy novel complete at 95,000 words. It stands alone but has potential to be the first in a series. GUARDIANS OF THE CITY will appeal to fans of Chloe Neill, Illona Andrews, and Kim Harrison.

Not bad, but we definitely need more cohesiveness in this query, otherwise it makes the book sound like a conglomeration of one-off events that aren't related, and therefore raises questions about plot arc and pacing. 1) Lexi 2) boyfriend 3) killer -- how are these things related? And why does Lexi being immune to magic matter at all? Why would magic be used on her at all, if she's the victim? And if Blair is a prideful, selfish liar, why would she protect Lexi in the first place, or anybody else for that matter?

2 comments:

Emily Hornburg said...

Thank you so much! This was really helpful, and I definitely have a better idea of where I should be going with my query. Being brief has never been my forte, so all of this has been a learning experience. You're wonderful! THANK YOU!

Mindy McGinnis said...

You are welcome! Best of luck!