if it’s too difficult for grown-ups, write for children

Ask Daphne! About My Query XXXV

killershoesKiller shoes by Chanel for Sara T., whose query we’re taking a look at today. I expect lots of comments — you’ll have a full week before another Daphne post! Ready?

Dear Kate Schafer,

When a Master gives an order to their personal assassin, they’re supposed to obey with no questions asked, but Katana Starr is about to refuse her Master’s word and risk everything to find out one thing—the truth.

Kat remembers every detail of the man standing over her sister’s dead body, and all she can think about is how to find the son of a bitch to make him suffer till his last pitiful breath. There’s just one problem, her Master forbid Kat to go after that man. So Kat does what any reasonable assassin would do. She finds Vic, a local detective that owes her a favor from their questionable and forbidden past, to help her out.

When her sister’s killer misses Kat during a sniper attack, Vic and Kat realize she’s his new target and he’ll stop at nothing until he fills her body with bullets. It takes a sudden turn when the killer, Blake, tells them he has a score to settle with Kat’s Master. Blake knows all about the twisted secrets Kat’s Master has hidden from her, but Kat doesn’t know who to trust—a fellow assassin who might be trying to get their target or the Master she’s thought of like a father who coordinates all of her kills and training.

The three ultimately decide to work together so they can get to Kat’s Master’s manor for the answers they all want. These two assassins should be unstoppable, even without Vic’s help, but Kat’s Master somehow already knows everything they’re up to and is ready to ensure Blake and Kat never realize who—and what—they really are.

And there’s only one way to make sure these three never talk—death.

A Thriller Science Fiction Romance story, WITH HER BLOOD, is complete at 63,000 words. The story moves at a fast pace with action, lies, love, and twists for the characters set in a familiar real world setting with advanced technology and ideas. It has a strong leading female protagonist fighting with her killer instincts and who to trust while dealing with an old love she simply cannot ignore, no matter how hard she tries.

(All my publications/magazine work here.)

A complete manuscript is available upon request. Thank you for your time and consideration. I look forward to hearing from you.

Best Regards,
Sara T.
(Contact Info)

Sara, I think you might have something very cool here, but I’ll admit to having a hard time finding it. I think the main story is about Kat teaming up with her sister’s killer to find out the truth about the man who commands her every move. But before we get there, I have to sift through a lot of mentions of the very generic-sounding “Kat’s Master”. And Vic. I’m not entirely sure how he fits into the story. Is he a love interest? Is he going to be the guy we THINK will be the love interest, until Kat actually falls for her sister’s killer?

Getting down to the nitty-gritty, I’m curious about how long ago Kat’s sister was murdered. Did the inciting event of this story take place last week or ten years ago? You might want to start with the second paragraph, and bring details of the first into it. Something like:

Kat remembers every detail of the man standing over her sister’s dead body, and all she can think about is how to find the son of a bitch. As an assassin, she knows a million ways to make him suffer. There’s just one problem: her Master forbids it. And when a Master gives an order to their personal assassin, they’re supposed to obey with no questions asked.

Given what you tell us about how the Master/assassin relationship normally works, I don’t believe that Kat using Vic to find her sister’s killer is what any “reasonable assassin” would do. What can you tell me about Kat, about her character, that makes this a reasonable decision for her?

Moving on, paragraph three and four takes the story in a surprising new direction: Kat starts working with her sister’s killer to learn more about her Master. Since this seems to be another important turning point in the story, you might even consider starting the query here. Maybe. Otherwise, I’d clean it up:

When Kat suddenly finds herself targeted by her target, she expects it’ll end with bullets. She’s completely thrown when her sister’s killer — a fellow assassin named Blake — reveals he’s got a score to settle with Kat’s Master. Blake knows all about the twisted secrets Kat’s Master has hidden from her, but Kat doesn’t know who to trust—a fellow assassin who might be playing mind games to get to his target or the Master she’s thought of like a father who coordinates all of her kills and training.

When Kat and Blake team up to confront her master, they should be unstoppable. But Kat’s Master somehow already knows everything they’re up to and is ready to ensure Blake and Kat never realize who—and what—they really are.

You might want to play with it more yourself. But I think you want to try to refine the story as much as possible, limiting characters — unless, of course, someone who might otherwise seem unnecessary turns out to be the big bad.

I think I’d also try cutting one of the terms in your description of the book as a “Thriller Science Fiction Romance”. What if you just refer to it as a “thrilling sci fi romance”? Or a “sci fi thriller”? There’s not much about romance in this query. I’d also cut entirely the next two lines. Find a way to show in the query what these lines are otherwise telling.

That’s my opinion. What do you think?

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