Saturday, March 25, 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.

I am seeking representation for Power Surge, a complete, 78,000 word YA novel that blends elements of contemporary fantasy with missing word? of dark/psychological thriller and literary fiction. (The Darkest Part of the Forest meets Sharp Objects). It takes readers on an action-packed yet emotional adventure as 17-year-old Erin Evanstar, a recovering cutter, is plunged into a reality full of reality full oops, got a repeat in there of monsters that want to eat her.

So, this is a great intro. It's well written with good comp titles that help illustrate the niche for his genre-crossing book. Usually I say to put the hook first, not the specs, but you do a good job here of introducing a complex concept that might have an agent muddling before they get to this bit. I say adjust the little boo-boo's here and keep it.

Half-Elven twins with superpowers, pixies, sharpshooting nuns and bloodthirsty demons populate the stories Erin’s Grandpa loves telling. When Erin stops taking her ADHD meds and antidepressants I would just simplify this as "meds." Also, why did she stop? at the end of her senior year, she starts seeing creatures from Grandpa’s stories. At first, she thinks they’re hallucinations, but José, her best friend and long-time crush, sees them too. As Erin finds herself drawn deeper into the disturbing world of the need the? demon hunting, she is forced to face her inner-demons: she hasn’t fully overcome her cutting addiction and has very little control over her temper. While she struggles to defeat mental illness, her demon stalker, and the ever-present threat of expulsion from high school, Erin discovers that fighting literal demons is quite therapeutic.

I think this is good but it's also very broad. All we have here is a world and a vaguely defined struggle. What's the goal? Who is this demon stalker? Why her? Who is the "bad guy?" What's the main conflict? Why is she hunting the demons in the first place? If she hasn't overcome cutting, why go off the meds?

Erin’s struggles with anxiety, depression and ADHD are drawn from my own experiences. She controls her inner demons by battling literal ones. I write stories. I was the second place winner of Women on Writing’s Winter 2016 Flash Fiction Contest. My short fiction has been published in Helios Quarterly, Secrets of the Goat People, Centropic Oracle,  Dark Magic: Witches, Hackers and Robots, Youth Imagination and Spaceports & Spidersilk. I have a story forthcoming from Ability Maine’s Breath and Shadow.

Good bio with your pub creds, but right now you've almost got more words about yourself in this query than you do about the book. Answer some of the questions that I'm asking. Basically - what makes this book different from any other fantasy wide world demon hunter? The mental illness angle? Cool. So tie them together more concretely. Why is this therapeutic for her? Is she too drawn to it? What's the deal with Jose? Is he worried about her involvement with this? What's his opinion on it? Is her going there with her? You don't have to answer all these questions in a query, but you do need to address some. Right now the query raises more questions than it does pique interest.

2 comments:

Sara Codair said...

Very helpful! Thank you so much!

Mindy McGinnis said...

You're welcome!