Sunday, 17 July 2011

Query querying


Week 3 of the Blogorama is a query contest where advice, suggestions and comments are sought on query letters. Anyone can share their opinion on the following pitch for my WiP Lickety Split. Please feel free to tell me what you think, vague or specific, no need to hold back (I'm sure agents won't).

I've taken onboard people's comments  and this is my second draft:

Colin Brown’s girlfriend cheated on him. Thanks to thin walls, his neighbour knows it too—and offers his condolences on the bus. She did a terrible thing, all the passengers agree.

Good riddance, thinks Colin, and focuses on his career. When an opportunity at work presents itself, he uses all his skills and talents to show he’s the right man for the job. Twenty-four hours later he’s been fired, accused of being involved in a bank robbery, and is prime suspect in his ex-girlfriend’s disappearance.

Five minutes of the police trying to sell him a lottery ticket (first prize: an actual get out of jail free card) makes it clear he'll have to get to the bottom of things himself.

Colin learns who is behind the theft, and what happened to his missing ex, but all the evidence has been carefully arranged to point in his direction, and the only way out is to shift the blame onto someone else. Colin has to decide which is more important: to make sure the wrong person isn’t found guilty, or to just make sure the wrong person isn’t him.

LICKETY SPLIT is a 76,500 word commercial novel with a gritty satirical edge. 



I've reduced it from 250 words to 200 and tried to simplify the plot line. This is still an ongoing process, so any and all responses very much appreciated.

41 comments:

Juliana L. Brandt said...

My first thought is that this sounds like a really interesting book and you have a great MC on your hands.

The query does get a bit confusing though and a tad long. Can you pare it down to the most important part?

It goes from girlfriend cheating, big plan, accused of robbery, becoming the hero...what's the main source of conflict here? Does every sentence transition into the next for clarity?

Lastly, when you say 'put his plan into action' and overnight success' (which I assume refers to his plan) this is very vague. Cut or else make more specific.

Michelle Fayard said...

Hi, Mooderino,

I've put my suggestions in parentheses/all caps:


Colin Brown discovers his girlfriend, Susan, has been cheating on him. Thanks to thin walls, his neighbour knows it too — (NO SPACES AROUND EM DASH)and offers his condolences on the bus to work. She did a terrible thing, all the passengers agree. (HOW AWFUL TO HAVE EVERYONE ON THE BUS KNOW THIS!)

Colin is determined to show Susan just how wrong she is about him (HOW DOES SUSAN BEING WRONG ABOUT COLIN CONNECT TO WHY SHE CHEATED ON HIM?), but before he can put his plan into action, he is fired from his job, accused of being involved in a bank robbery, and suspected of foul play in Susan’s sudden disappearance. So much for becoming an overnight success. (THIS GUY IS A MAGNET FOR BAD LUCK; I SO FEEL FOR HIM.)

He could leave it to the police to get to the bottom of things, but their resources are limited. Five minutes of them trying to sell him a lottery ticket (first prize: an actual get out of jail free card) makes it clear he'll have to find the truth himself. (COULD LEAVE THIS GRAPH OUT, HAVE A SHORTER QUERY AND STILL SAY WHAT NEEDS TO BE SAID.)

Colin has to decide which is more important: to make sure the wrong person isn’t found guilty, or to just make sure the wrong person isn’t him? After all, it isn't his fault if somebody else gets the blame. (WHOA, SO MAYBE HE'S MORE THAN JUST A MAGNET FOR LOUSY LUCK.)

To prove his innocence, our embattled hero is prepared to take the necessary measures. Violent ones, if need be. Not that Colin intends on becoming some kind of deranged machete-wielding maniac. He doesn't even own a machete, he had to borrow one. (COULD LEAVE THIS GRAPH OUT, HAVE A SHORTER QUERY AND STILL SAY WHAT NEEDS TO BE SAID.)

LICKETY SPLIT is a 76,500(HYPHEN)word mainstream novel set in a modern urban landscape that is horribly normal and yet wonderfully appalling. It is a fast-paced comedy with a gritty satirical edge. (I LIKE THIS GRAPH!)

I haven't included any personal details (YES, DEFINITELY MENTION WHAT MAKES YOU THE BEST PERSON TO WRITE THIS BOOK.) or agent-specific sucking up (which there will be plenty of) (I'D RECOMMEND KEEPING THE SUCK UP DIALED BACK.).

Michelle

P.S. I hope I'm now showing up as a follower. :)

Emily Rittel-King said...

I agree with Michelle; a few of the paragraphs could be cut out and it would strengthen your overall summary. One more suggestion: the second to last paragraph, I'd leave out "and" which would leave "...that is horribly normal yet wonderfully appealing." I think you have a great story line. I wish you lots of success!

Shannon Lawrence said...

I agree that going from her cheating to him trying to prove how she's wrong about him is a bit muddled. One thing I've heard/read over and over is that a query needs to be brief. Think of it as what might appear on the back of a book for people to scan to see if they're interested. It definitely sounds interesting, though! He sure gets himself into a lot of trouble, and it makes me wonder HOW? Good luck with everything!

Angie Cothran said...

First off I love the humor woven into your query :) It made me smile and laugh a number of times. The story also sounds interesting.

This query is a little long. I’ve heard it needs to be no more than 200 words.

Your first paragraph, while funny, is all backstory. You need to start out with the conflict that propels the story something like:

Colin Brown is having a bad day—fired from his job, accused of being involved in a bank robbery, and suspected in the sudden disappearance of his newly cheating girlfriend Susan. You can write this better and funnier than me, but something like that.

Stick with the bare bones of your story, and I can tell from your query that you can make it funny.

One other thought. Try and make it clear what the consequences are if Colin doesn’t resolve the conflict.

Good Luck.

Patricia Lynne said...

I think you can get rid of the first paragraph, it sounds like that has little to do w/ the rest of the query. You can pop the cheating part at the end of the second paragraph. Instead of '...and suspected of foul play in Susan’s sudden disappearance'. Say 'and suspected of foul play in his cheating ex-girlfriend's sudden disappearance.'
Also agree w/ Michelle on the other paragraphs she suggested to cut. Although, you might want to add something to explain why your embattled hero isn't letting the police deal with it. What are his stakes for clearing his name himself?

LisaAnn said...

Wow, you have gotten some great feedback, and I agree with everyone who has been complimenting you on your humor. Agents always say you should let your voice shine through in your query, and you definitely do that here. Great job!

I'm a huge fan of Michelle Fayard and Angie Cothran's suggestions, and I definitely agree with Angie that your first sentence could be scrambled with some of the later sentences to become more engaging. Your current opener, "Colin Brown discovers his girlfriend, Susan, has been cheating on him," doesn't really compel me to keep reading, and I might be tempted to write off the story before I even get to all those amazing and hilarious parts in the following paragraphs.

Something like Angie's "Colin Brown is having a bad day—fired from his job, accused of being involved in a bank robbery, and suspected in the sudden disappearance of his newly cheating girlfriend Susan," does your story better justice, and it reflects the "meat" of your manuscript better.

I'd love to hear your second draft, but overall, this story sounds hilarious. Congratulations, great job!

Christa said...

There are lots of good things in this. Great voice. Nice humor, and it feels like a lot happens in this story so it will be a fast-paced ride.
"So much for becoming an overnight success" popped out at me as awkward because there was no earlier mention of intentions of being an overnight success, only his desire to prove himself to Susan.
Also, there is almost too much going on in this query and I think you should pull the ONE BIG IDEA out (that he is innocent of a crime he's accused of) and go from there. The other stuff is gravy to that.
The Query Shark says shoot for 250 words total in a query. I'd venture to guess you've got a few more than that.

All that being said, I'd totally read your book. It sounds awesome.

Suze said...

'After all, it isn't his fault if somebody else gets the blame.'

Your strongest sentence, and most evocative of the story's actual voice, in the letter. It's what stands out coming at it cold. Work that angle. And trim.

Two cents.

Lynda R Young said...

As others have said it needs a trim and tighten, but I love the voice and it does interest me enough to want to know more.

Frankie said...

If I were an agent, I would pass on this one. It comes across competent, but not fresh and interesting. (I feel like your voice doesn't really come through.)

Colin Brown discovers his girlfriend, Susan, has been cheating on him. Thanks to thin walls, his neighbour knows it too — and offers his condolences on the bus to work. She did a terrible thing, all the passengers agree.

I like the bit about the neighbor and the bus, but I think spending a whole paragraph on it is maybe a bit much?

Colin is determined to show Susan just how wrong she is about him, but before he can put his plan into action, he is fired from his job, accused of being involved in a bank robbery, and suspected of foul play in Susan’s sudden disappearance. So much for becoming an overnight success.

I think most of this can be summed up as:

"Colin Smith is determined to win back his cheating girlfriend Susan. If only it would go according to plan."

For me, I think it would be important to know why he wants his cheating girlfriend back.

He could leave it to the police to get to the bottom of things, but their resources are limited. Five minutes of them trying to sell him a lottery ticket (first prize: an actual get out of jail free card) makes it clear he'll have to find the truth himself.

I'd drop the first sentence entirely.

Colin has to decide which is more important: to make sure the wrong person isn’t found guilty, or to just make sure the wrong person isn’t him? After all, it isn't his fault if somebody else gets the blame.

I like this; I think the... moral flexibility... in this makes it interesting.

To prove his innocence, our embattled hero is prepared to take the necessary measures. Violent ones, if need be. Not that Colin intends on becoming some kind of deranged machete-wielding maniac. He doesn't even own a machete, he had to borrow one.

I do NOT like this paragraph at all.

LICKETY SPLIT is a 76,500 word mainstream novel set in a modern urban landscape that is horribly normal and yet wonderfully appalling. It is a fast-paced comedy with a gritty satirical edge.

Too much. Just "LICKETY SPLIT is a 76,500 word mainstream novel." The setting and the fast-paced gritty satirical comedic part should come through in the query.

Jake Henegan said...

I like the story and presentation of the query, but it feels too long. I would make it shorter and take out unnecessary details.

But I think the humorous tone is good, it gives an idea of what the story itself will be like.

Carol Ervin said...

I don't know how this would strike an agent but I love it--I'd buy it from this blurb. Can't wait to read!

mooderino said...

Thanks for all these great comments so far and all the excellent advice. Will take me some time to work through it all but will all be put to good use.

Trying to get to everyone's queries today, if I miss yours please let me know here or on twitter (@mooderino).

Sophia Richardson said...

I like Angie's suggestion to cut the backstory-laden first paragraph and go straight to listing Colin's conflicts, including the Susan angle. As Frankie mentioned, I want to know why he wants Susan back if that's a big motivator, although it seems like that gets dropped in favour of proving his innocence in her disappearance. I love the 'actual get out of jail free card' line, I think it shows the satire you're going for, but you could easily cut the first sentence of that paragraph and skip to the next sentence and replace 'them' with 'the police'. I also like the line about the machete, but unless you want to go into more concrete detail about our man's violent plan of action, I hate to say you should probably leave it out.

Laura Pauling said...

The idea sounds great and I love the stakes. It does seem on the long side. I'd stick to character, goal, conflict, stakes. :)

Lydia K said...

I liked Juliana's comments. It looks like a thrilling story!

magpiewrites said...

Hey Mooderino
Sounds like an awesome story. The humor reminds me of "A Dirty Job" by Christopher Moore. So the humor coming out in the query, with lines like "all the (bus) passengers agree." is a great way to rope us into the voice of the story. Really like it.

I actually didn't find the plot line confusing, and though you could trim it a little, I found it tight. The only part I found confusing was the "Not that Colin intends on becoming some kind of deranged machete-wielding maniac. He doesn't even own a machete, he had to borrow one." That line I found a little clunky. Maybe something like: "Colin has no intention of becoming some deranged machete-wielding maniac. He'd have to borrow a machete first."
Good luck!

amy kennedy said...

Your humor really shines through in this. It sounds like a quirky fast paced book -- wonderful. That said, I'd still listen to everyone who said the length needs to be trimmed.

I like Angie's idea of starting w/ Colin Brown is having a bad day...

Good Luck!

kathy stemke said...

Hi, great story and fantastic voice.

I agree that you could remove graph 1 & 3. This would shorten and tighten up the summary.

I like Angie's suggested beginning.

Hope this helps.

kathy

Richard said...

There's nothing in the query that shows me that the story is a comedy or that it's satirical. In fact, there's nothing funny sounding about it, and not much about which to be satirical. Either show it to us or don't mention it.

I agree that the main plot is really pretty hard to decipher.

amber said...

First thing I see: A wrong word in the first graph. 'His' should be 'him.' Otherwise, I think you're on the right track, but there's too much -- too much info about the story, the characters, the subplots, etc. Cut back and use an economy of words. It'll be a better query for it.

Deana said...

Hey Mood,

I too noticed that the his should be him.
As far as the interest and humor..you so nailed it. I do think it is a bit long and gets kind of confusing in the middle. Maybe it really isn't too long just the confusion in the middle made it feel a little long. I think I do get the gist of it and it sounds great!

If you are wanting to submit your final for the contest, have it emailed to me by 12PM ET Tuesday.

Good luck:)
D

mooderino said...

More great suggestions, many thanks.

I can't see where his should be him in the first para - can someone enlighten me?

Pk Hrezo said...

Okay, let me comment on this:

Colin Brown discovers his girlfriend, Susan, has been cheating on him. Thanks to thin walls, his neighbour knows it too — and offers his condolences on the bus to work. She did a terrible thing, all the passengers agree.
(I LIKE THE HUMOR HERE, BUT NOT SURE IT'S GETTING THE POINT OF THE STORY ACROSS.)

Colin is determined to show Susan just how wrong she is about him, but before he can put his plan into action, he is fired from his job, accused of being involved in a bank robbery, and suspected of foul play in Susan’s sudden disappearance. So much for becoming an overnight success. (FIRST SENTENCE CONFUSED ME. WHY IS SHE "WRONG" ABOUT HIM? SHE'S THE ONE WHO CHEATED. AND THE PART ABOUT SUSAN DISAPPEARING SEEMS THROWN IN AS A BTW. THAT'S A BIG PART OF THE PLOT, I SUSPECT AND SHOULD HAVE A BIGGER PART IN THE QUERY.

He could leave it to the police to get to the bottom of things, but their resources are limited. Five minutes of them trying to sell him a lottery ticket (first prize: an actual get out of jail card) (I LIKE THE HUMOR IN THE 2ND PARA BUT FEEL LIKE IT SHOULD BE OMITTED.)

Colin has to decide which is more important: to make sure the wrong person isn’t found guilty, or to just make sure the wrong person isn’t him? After all, it isn't his fault if somebody else gets the blame. (THIS IS A GOOD PARA CUZ IT SHOWS WHAT'S AT STAKE. I'D LEAVE OFF THE LAST SENTENCE THO.)

To prove his innocence, our embattled hero is prepared to take the necessary measures. Violent ones, if need be. Not that Colin intends on becoming some kind of deranged machete-wielding maniac. He doesn't even own a machete, he had to borrow one. (I'D CONSIDER OMITTING THIS PARA ALL TOGETHER. IT'S CUTE, BUT DOESN'T ADD ANYTHING TO THE PREMISE.

I think what you're going for is showing the dry humor that's present in the story, but in this case it may be holding back the actual basis of the story in your query. If you can boil it down to the basics: Who MC is + Conflict + Goal + Stakes and add in just a pinch of that dry humor, you will have a solid query here. You're on the right track, but I'd try it again and let us know what makes this story so unique.

Best of luck, Moody!! ANd thanks for your help with my query. :)

Marcie B said...

Hey Mood ~ Thanks for being a new follower with me. I will be sure to return the favor. :)

You've gotten some great advice here, so I won't go into a lot of restating what these folks have already said. I agree that it seems a bit too long. Also, I love that you've made the choice very clear; that's something I am struggling with.

Good luck!

Laura Barnes said...

Love the voice!! I can feel what the book is going to be like. I especially love your paragraph where you introduce the title.

That being said, it's entirely too long. I get bored. You've gotten great suggestions already so the only thing I'll add is to lose the ? at the end of "Colin has to decide which is more important: to make sure the wrong person isn’t found guilty, or to just make sure the wrong person isn’t him?"

Glad to meet you - I am a new follower!

Nancy Thompson said...

Colin Brown discovers his girlfriend, Susan, has been cheating on him. (All the rest here in this paragraph is unnecessary, I think.)

Colin is determined to show Susan just how wrong she is about him (how is she wrong exactly?), but before he can put his plan into action, he is fired from his job, accused of being involved in a bank robbery, and suspected of foul play in Susan’s sudden disappearance. So much for becoming an overnight success.

(I realize all this stuff might be important, but at this point, it feels irrelevant. What is the story about? His relationship with Susan or the bank robbery? And an overnight success at what? It's too much info that doesn't seem tied together.)

He could leave it to the police to get to the bottom of things, but their resources are limited. Five minutes of them trying to sell him a lottery ticket (first prize: an actual get out of jail free card) makes it clear he'll have to find the truth himself.

(Okay, except for the part about leaving it to the cops to get to the bottom of things, I'm not sure what you are talking about. I'm very confused about the lottery ticket reference.)

Colin has to decide which is more important: to make sure the wrong person isn’t found guilty, or to just make sure the wrong person isn’t him? After all, it isn't his fault if somebody else gets the blame.

(Well, here is the conflict, but I'm still not sure what the problem is. Guilty of what exactly? Susan's disappearance or the bank robbery? Why do the cops even think he's related to either?

To prove his innocence, our embattled hero is prepared to take the necessary measures. Violent ones, if need be. Not that Colin intends on becoming some kind of deranged machete-wielding maniac. He doesn't even own a machete, he had to borrow one.

(This paragraph, while very funny in tone, doesn't say much as to what his choices really are. You can be funny, but keep it brief and be clear.)

LICKETY SPLIT is a 76,500 word mainstream novel set in a modern urban landscape that is horribly normal and yet wonderfully appalling. It is a fast-paced comedy with a gritty satirical edge.

(Be more precise than mainstream. Where is it shelved in the bookstore? I don't think you need all that about the setting. We have a pretty good idea already so you can leave all that filler out. And we can see it's satirical. Your voice is very clear in that respect. It is funny, but it's a little muddled and filled with irrelevant bits.)

Overall, I think you probably have a great and funny story, but the query is all over the place and feels disorganized. I think if you organized those points which you feel are important enough to be in the query, then I could make better sense of how they relate to each other. But just as everyone has drilled into me regarding my query, keep it short and to the point.

Your voice is wonderful and is primarily what held my attention, but I think it just needs some reworking and rearranging to make it all make sense to someone who know s nothing about the story.

Michael Offutt said...

You should post a revised version of this once all of the commentary has been accounted for. I shall reserve any comments I have until then because Everyone here has hit on something.

jamieayres said...

Nice start and you have loads of good advice already:) Best of luck to you!

Charmaine Clancy said...

Have to disagree with a previous post - I think it sound hilarious. Love the cheating girlfriend, nosey neighbour and sympathetic bus travellers. I really enjoy this in its entirety, but if it makes your finished query go over a page (forbidden) you could shrink the second para - forget trying to win Susan but summarise Colin's bad luck, and, if need be, you could lose the para about the police.
I'd buy this book.

mooderino said...

Thanks again for all this, all opinions are useful to me to see what's working for what kind of reader.

I would just point out to the people who mentioned the length that this is 250 words, which is an acceptable length for a pitch. Not sure why everyone thinks it's too long. The font size?

Am working on a rewrite as we speak (well, not literally).

Lori M. Lee said...

She did a terrible thing, all the passengers agree.

LOL. Great humor there.

Colin is determined to show Susan just how wrong she is about him - When did we find out what Susan thinks of him? And why is he determined to show her she's wrong when she cheated on him? Why doesn't he just leave her?

So much for becoming an overnight success. - Again, all we know about this guy is that his girlfriend cheated on him, so this line means nothing b/c we don't know what kind of overnight success he wants or that he wanted it at all.

Five minutes of them trying to sell him a lottery ticket (first prize: an actual get out of jail free card) makes it clear he'll have to find the truth himself.

More LOL. I'd read this book for the humor alone.

I would cut this line b/c the one before it is stronger: After all, it isn't his fault if somebody else gets the blame.

I'd also cut the whole paragraph following. It's fun and humorous but doesn't offer anything else into the plot.

Sounds like a really fun book. I'd read it :)

Helena said...

Hi Mood,

The overnight success bit came out of nowhere.

What Angie said - Colin Brown is having a bad day—fired from his job, accused of being involved in a bank robbery, and suspected in the sudden disappearance of his newly cheating girlfriend Susan - is good and snappy and just needs finishing off.

'our embattled hero' - *shudders*

'that is horribly normal and yet wonderfully appalling' - I don't think you've pulled this off, that you're trying to write something clever comes through too strongly. I think it would be better (maybe) if you had two words which were interchangeable [e.g horribly normal yet normally horrid - although not those words!]

'Colin has to decide which is more important: to make sure the wrong person isn’t found guilty, or to just make sure the wrong person isn’t him? After all, it isn't his fault if somebody else gets the blame.' - I think the last sentence could do with being axed (or macheted). You're writing in this para is snappy, but then you over explain and it sags and slows again.

Maybe the 'too long' comments are more about the parts that sag compared to the really snappy, witty aspects, so it slows down the reader and makesit feel longer than it is.

The bit about the bus passengers is funny, though I'd start with something like Angie's idea, then mention the neighbour and bus in the next bit.

I wouldn't say the police's resources are limited, more like their intelligence, but put that in an ambiguous way that would look onbious to the reader but that said police would not be sure if you were being rude or not.

Overall, I think you need to go through it sentence by sentence and weed out or change any sentence that does not highlight the wit of the book. Some of the sentences are quite bland and I think it could be this that makes it a bit off key.

Good luck!

H (gorsewine)

Helena said...

obvious not onbious!

mooderino said...

This blogfest has been really great so far, more feedback than I could have hoped for. Have now changed the pitch quite a lot (I think) while trying to keep the voice and tone that I think best reflects my writing. Please let me know how the changes strike you, good or bad.

Helena said...

Second draft is great from 'twenty-four hours later', though I would change 'being involved in...' to 'accused of robbing a bank' (it's much more succinct).

However, the agent isn't going to come in at that point, they're going to read that Colin's girlfriend cheated, his neighbour blabbed and he's got a promotion - it just isn't as dramatic as the latter part of your pitch nor as interesting.

I wonder if starting off with something like - 'Colin Brown's life was trundling along as mundanely as it always had, then he discovered his girlfriend had cheated on him, his neighbour almost speared him with a crossbow and [blah blah blah something else quite dramatic]. He thought his luck had changed when he was promoted at work, but twenty-four hours later.... (etc.)

alexia said...

I think this is pretty darn good as is. A few minor suggestions: I'd consider having your first sentence start where the action really heats up. Something like: "Colin Brown's girlfriend may have cheated on him, so loudly that the neighbors heard everything, but that doesn't mean he's the one that abducted her, and he certainly isn't the one who robbed that bank."

I'd remove the job stuff, it isn't necessary in your query. I really, really like the last sentence about guilty people!

Fiona Faith Maddock said...

I can't comment on the Query letter. I hate doing them. I simply wanted to say that Lickety Split sounds like a GREAT read. You got me at 'She did a terrible thing, all the passengers agree'. I wish I was a publisher 'cos I CAN'T WAIT to read it. Put me down for the first copy, and sign it for me and I'll buy it for my friends for Christmas, too. Good luck with the query.

Michael Offutt said...

Okay here are my thoughts for a "generic" template-type letter which is what I suspect you want. Keep in mind that as you query, you should plow through everything you can find about the submission requirements. Example: On some sites, I've noticed that they have specific things they want on a query...a paragraph about you for example. So I would be prepared to modify your query if you stumble across an agent that you want to troll.

"Colin Brown’s girlfriend cheated on him. Thanks to thin walls, his neighbour knows it too—and offers his condolences on the bus. She did a terrible thing, all the passengers agree."

Okay... neighbour is the British spelling of this word. Not a big deal but if you're querying agents in the U.S.A. and your market is the U.S.A., you may want to use U.S.A. language. I would also get rid of the dash...it isn't needed. Second question...why is it important that all the passengers agree? I would strike this out.

Good riddance, thinks Colin, and focuses on his career.

I don't think that the voice in "Good riddance," thinks Colin...is working. I would suggest "Colin closes that chapter of his life and focuses on his career." Then you go on to say:

When an opportunity at work presents itself, he uses all his skills and talents to show he’s the right man for the job.

This line is kinda ho-hum and rather boring. Suggestion: "An opportunity for advancement presents itself and he does everything within his power to seize it."

Twenty-four hours later he’s been fired, accused of being involved in a bank robbery, and is prime suspect in his ex-girlfriend’s disappearance.

Use asyndeton here for effect: "In a turn of events, he is fired, he is accused of bank robbery, he is suspected of murdering his ex.

Five minutes of the police trying to sell him a lottery ticket (first prize: an actual get out of jail free card) makes it clear he'll have to get to the bottom of things himself.

This sentence is confusing and includes a hokey Monopoly reference. Just attach a sentence like this to the former paragraph... "Soon, it becomes clear that no one will help him. He will have to find answers on his own and fast or his whole life is destroyed."

Colin learns who is behind the theft, and what happened to his missing ex, but all the evidence has been carefully arranged to point in his direction, and the only way out is to shift the blame onto someone else. Colin has to decide which is more important: to make sure the wrong person isn’t found guilty, or to just make sure the wrong person isn’t him.

I would reword this to make more exciting. Possible suggestion: "Colin discovers the real thief, the fate of his ex, and that he's been setup as a patsy. The only solution is to destroy an innocent life and he isn't sure if he wants to take that step."

LICKETY SPLIT is a 76,500 word commercial novel with a gritty satirical edge.

K.Victoria Smith said...

Re: Version 2. Is girlfriend just missing or dead. What is really at stake for Colin? Raise the stakes if needed and convey that. Is anyone beside the police interested in him? Is he on the run or just casually investigating?

I guess what I'm saying is that, while you have a good voice, the reason that a reader would be drawn to the story does not seem to come through.

Someone once told me that Mark Twain advised that you chase your character up a tree and then throw rocks at them. I haven't been able to verify the quote but it's good advise anyway. Need to bring out the tree and the rocks in your query.

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