The Saturday Slash


Don't be afraid to ask for help with the most critical first step of your writing journey - the query.

I’ve been blogging since 2011 and have critiqued over 200 queries here on the blog using my Hatchet of Death. 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 me an email.

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The Fall of the House of Erie is a contemporary fantasy aimed at young adults. A teenage witch hunter investigates a murder, discovers her best friend is a witch, and uncovers a plot to ruin a prominent magical family. It is complete at 62,000 words and has series potential. I know there is advice out there that says to put the title, genre, and word count first, but I have always felt like it's best to start with your hook. Everyone has a title, genre, and word count. What have you got that sets you apart? Your hook.

Sixteen year-old Jordyn Mielzynski longs for a typical summer following in the footsteps of the legendary Van Helsing as a Vatican monster hunter. Is it supposed to be tongue in cheek that you're using the word typical here? Instead, she has to survive summer school. Why is she in summer school? Isn't that typically a punishment? What did she do? Until the police ask Jordyn’s adoptive father to investigate the drowning of two boys in the city park during a summer heat wave. I'd combine these two previous sentences into one, for flow. When the Lex Legati, the wizard police, show up, it confirms her suspicions. These aren’t ordinary deaths. Then, Ted Erie, the only witness, runs away, becoming the prime suspect. Unfortunately, Ted is the younger brother of Jordyn’s best friend, Stephanie. Who Jordyn didn’t know was a witch. Getting a bit murky here. You don't need all the names -- When the only witness (who happens to be her best friend's brother) disappears, he becomes the main suspect. To make matters worse... then do the best-friend-is-a-witch-reveal). Now, Jordyn’s caught in-between helping Stephanie save her brother and bringing a murderer to justice. Unfortunately, justice doesn’t have best friends. Love the last line here.

Couple of things - is Jordyn operating in an official capacity? Is she a junior witch hunter of some sort? Is she trying to earn a badge? It also raises questions about how good she is at this if she doesn't know her BFF is a witch. More importantly - how does it make her feel? There's no real allusion above to whether she feels betrayed or foolish, or anything like that, just that she's torn between helping her friend and bringing the murderer to justice. Just a touch more emotion on how that reveal affects her would be good.

Overall, you get murky once you start throwing too many character names in, and you need a little more info on Jordyn's offical / unofficial involvement. Is she being encouraged to do this investigation? Or is she operating under the radar?

I studied at Wittenberg University, majoring in creative writing. The short story I wrote for my grandfather about his time in a POW camp during WWII is in the Library of Congress alongside his interview about the experience as part of the Veterans History Project. I currently write two weekly blogs.

Decent bio. If you have good traffic / followers on the blogs you should mention that. Also, what are their topics? Are they relevant to what you're querying? If the answer to both these questions is no, I wouldn't bother mentioning them.