Saturday, February 24, 2018

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.

Liv West knows what it’s like to be left behind. Her mother left her behind when Liv was ten, setting off on the adventure she always wanted out of life. Her favorite sport, baseball, left her behind because she was a girl. And her sister, Lila, left her behind when she took off for Texas three months ago. Good intro, I like it. I will say that it raises the question of why she doesn't play softball.

Now Liv is just trying to make it through her final semester of high school and navigate her rocky relationship with her father. She’s given up her spot as the baseball team’s manager, realizing that those around her would only ever see her as good enough to manage, not play. And she’s almost happy working at the local diner with her best friend—even though she doesn’t have any plans for her future.

But when her old baseball coach—the same one who cut her dreams short so many years ago—asks her to train Aidan, a new recruit, Liv finds herself reluctantly agreeing. Training with Aidan keeps her mind off the heartache that her family has caused her, and she soon throws herself into the sport once again. But now not only is Liv falling for Aidan, she’s also realizing that there might be more to her sister’s abrupt exit than she originally thought. In what way? We need to know more about what this sentence is angling at, as it could be anything from she was in an abusive relationship, to she witnessed something, to she left against her will, all of which provide different tweaks as to what the genre of this book might be.

As new opportunities arise both on and off the field, like what? Liv starts to realize that she just may be able to have the life she’s always wanted. Which is what? But in order to move into the future, Liv has to decide if she wants to keep spending her life waiting on people who are never coming back, or if she’s ready to leave her past behind.

This is well-written and it sounds like a solid concept, but you'll need to be more explicit and what it is Liv wants, what these opportunities are, and what she's coming to understand about her sister's departure. I do think this whole thing begs the question of why she doesn't play softball? Wouldn't it be better to actually play with girls than manage a team for boys? Is there not a team? I'd say this needs clarified since it is a major plot point.

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