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Author Topic: A thriller query again  (Read 1881 times)
paddler
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« on: November 08, 2017, 06:52:59 PM »

Yes, I just went through this with a sci-fi query. I re-read that book and found it doesn't stand alone as much as I would like. It needs some work.

This is the most polished book I have, I just had not been able to find the right angle to write a query on.

Dear Prudence

Justin Thomas thinks a couple of days on a working trip might be fun while supporting his employees. The fun evaporates when he finds a floating body the first day. Local authorities won’t take the body, claiming logistical problems. Justin has to work to get the body taken care of. In return he hears some failings of Putnam County, the location of other job.

Then Vicky, Justin’s employee, is abducted from under his nose. The stories of four missing girls, other floating bodies and a maybe more than just lazy Sheriff of Putnam now have relevance. With an incoming squall, Justin decides to follow the abductor’s trail and hope his friends notice he is missing.

The resultant search finds, among other things, two glass ampoules filled with something nasty that looked like Anthrax spores. When three empty gross cases of ampoules are found, a call goes out for support. With almost everyone chasing automatic weapon shooters through Georgia, only a short Company of National Guard is available.

Those shooters look like a diversion to Justin. He thinks that a sale of those ampoules is imminent and thinks he knows where they are. He also still has to worry for Vicky’s safety. A picture found with the ampoules tells him that the abduction is something more than a simple perversion. Then the report verifies Anthrax and Justin is the only person available with the requisite experience to deal with it somewhat safely.

A TAINT IN PUTNAM is a completed 98,000-word thriller.

Thank you for your time and consideration


and thanks in advance for any comments.
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newtothis22
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« Reply #1 on: November 08, 2017, 09:50:56 PM »

So, I am totally confused in who Justin is and why he is qualified to deal with Anthrax. Maybe add some information on what he does for a living. Why won't the local officials take the body? Technically the coroner should take the body and jurisdiction can be figured out later. Authorities would never walk away from a body leaving the man who found it to deal with it. Start by telling us more about Justin then keep to the main story line. Is Vicky part of that? Or can she be written in as just kidnapped employee. I am no expert by far but I hope that helps.
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mgmystery
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« Reply #2 on: November 09, 2017, 07:43:00 AM »

I agree with Newtothis. Since everything happening seems to be based on his job, it might ground things to introduce Justin as FBI or whatever, and say what kind of work trip they're on. I'd also like to see more specifics throughout. My example might be a little off base (and very clunky) but I hope it helps explain what I mean.  Smiley

Justin Thomas thinks a couple of days on a working trip might be fun while supporting his employees. The fun evaporates when he finds a floating body the first day. Local authorities won’t take the body, claiming logistical problems. Justin has to work to get the body taken care of. In return (On the way home?) he hears some failings (Maybe just state what this is.) of Putnam County, the location of his other job. (Is this job relevant? Is this where he lives?)

Then Vicky, Justin’s employee, is abducted from under his nose. The stories of four missing girls, other floating bodies and a maybe more than just lazy Sheriff of Putnam now have relevance. (Is this the news he heard on the way home? If you put it first, Vicky's disappearance automatically becomes dangerous.)With an incoming squall, (Is the storm the reason Justin's going alone? Maybe word this to show he knows he should get back up, but a storm is coming and it will be too late?) Justin decides to follow the abductor’s trail alone and hope his friends notice he is missing.

The resultant search (This is vague. Maybe show where he finds this and how he has a clue what it is.) finds, among other things, two glass ampoules filled with something nasty (What does it look like? Is he in immediate danger from exposure?)that looked (tense) like Anthrax spores. When three empty gross cases of ampoules are found, a call goes out for support. With almost everyone chasing automatic weapon shooters through Georgia, only a short Company of National Guard is available.

Those shooters look like a diversion to Justin. He thinks that a sale of those ampoules is imminent and thinks he knows where they are. He also still has to worry for Vicky’s safety. A picture found with the ampoules tells him that the Vicky's abduction is something more than a simple perversion. Then But the report verifies Anthrax and Justin is the only person available with the requisite experience to deal with it somewhat safely. If Justin doesn't follow his hunch to find Vicky, she might not survive the wait, but if he leaves the Anthrax for someone with no experience, could be responsible or more deaths than one. 
« Last Edit: November 09, 2017, 07:45:50 AM by mgmystery » Logged
MKWrites_318
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« Reply #3 on: November 09, 2017, 02:30:36 PM »

I have language critiques too; I feel like it needs to be streamlined, but I'm just gonna stick with comments on the clarity for now, since the wording is generally the easiest part once you've got the meat of the query figured out.


Justin Thomas thinks a couple of days on a working trip might be fun while supporting his employees. The fun evaporates when he finds a floating body the first day. Local authorities won’t take the body, claiming logistical problems. (In what world would this happen? You need to play up the strangeness of this more, because I can't imagine a scenario wherein some lazy sheriff just leaves a body and gets away with it.) Justin has to work to get the body taken care of. (Why would they trust some random who found a body to take care of it? How does he know what to do?) In return he hears some failings of Putnam County, the location of his other job. (Is he in Putnam County now? How is this other job relevant? What is it, and what's his first job? I know nothing about him.)

Then Vicky, Justin’s employee, is abducted from under his nose. ("Under his nose" implies he was there/should have been there. It implies negligence on his part, but there's nothing later to indicate that.) The stories of four missing girls, other floating bodies and a maybe more than just lazy Sheriff of Putnam now have relevance. (Alright, so the body was found in Putnam County? The last sentence of the first paragraph seems really unclear now.) With an incoming squall, Justin decides to follow the abductor’s trail and hope his friends notice he is missing. (Why is he qualified to do this? What will his friends be able to do if there isn't a useful law enforcement officer around?)

The resultant search finds, among other things, two glass ampoules filled with something nasty that looked like Anthrax spores. (How does he know what Anthrax looks like?) When three empty gross cases of ampoules are found, a call goes out for support. With almost everyone chasing automatic weapon shooters through Georgia, (The shooters in Georgia is right out of nowhere. If they're important now, mention them earlier.) only a short Company of National Guard is available. (Justin can handle bodies, track abductors, identify Anthrax, and command units of the National Guard, but I still don't know why.)

Those shooters look like a diversion to Justin. He thinks that a sale of those ampoules is imminent and thinks he knows where they are. He also still has to worry for Vicky’s safety. A picture found with the ampoules tells him that the abduction is something more than a simple perversion. ("Simple perversion" feels like an odd way to describe an abduction to me.) Then the report verifies Anthrax and Justin is the only person available with the requisite experience to deal with it somewhat safely.


I would change the "thens" to "whens" or change up the structure of those sentences entirely. "Then" isn't an exciting word. It doesn't push the query forward.

Best of luck!
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paddler
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« Reply #4 on: November 13, 2017, 06:41:09 PM »

Thank you, gentle commenters. I hope this covers the needs better. I would appreciate any comment.

Dear Prudence

When Justin Thomas needed an environmental company for in situ testing of some inventions he found the offerings lacking. He formed his own company and the regulators welcomed him. It puts his knowledge and experience back in use.

The trip to Putnam County starts with checking a broken algae control device of theirs. The reason is a floating body. The Marine Patrol, who’s jurisdiction is the St. John’s River, is absent because of the search for automatic weapons wielding rowdies terrorizing southern Georgia. The Marine Patrol uses the facilities of Duval County and Justin appeals to the Sheriff there.

The other job in Putnam is the predemolition survey of an old facility behind their landfill. Nothing seems illicit until Vicky, Justin’s employee, is abducted from almost under his nose.  He sees the trail and decides he has to follow it. Any assistance would not arrive until after an approaching squall line washes that trail away.

Justin finds enough to direct a search. A memento box is found. It is guarded by two glass ampules filled with apparent spores. Then three cases for the glass ampoules are found, empty. Shortly, the results of testing the ampoules confirms Anthrax.

Justin corners the Sheriff and explains that he thinks a sale of the rest of those ampoules is imminent. He thinks the Georgia shooters are a diversion. The Sheriff agrees and calls for help. Only a short company of the National Guard is available. The Sheriff asks Justin to help, no other qualified person is available.

A TAINT IN PUTNAM is a completed 99,000-word thriller.

Thanks in advance
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mgmystery
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« Reply #5 on: November 14, 2017, 08:03:38 AM »

This definitely provides more information, but it reads more like a list of facts. I'd like to see this written more like the original version. (I know, not much to ask, right?) The example below needs A LOT of polishing, but I hope it helps!

When Justin Thomas needs to inspect a problem with one of the tools for his environmental company, he takes advantage of the opportunity to create a fun working trip for his employees. The fun evaporates when they discover a floating body is the reason for the malfunction. Justin contacts the marine patrol to remove the body from the river but all officers are working on an emergent case to search for automatic weapons wielding rowdies terrorizing southern Georgia. He's forced to appeal to the local sheriff instead. It will be days before the crime scene is cleared from the river, so Justin returns to Putnam County to take care of a predemolition survey. As the perfect end to his nightmare business trip, Justin learns this isn't the first floating body near Putnam County and four local girls are missing.

The survey seems clean until Vicky, Justin’s employee, is abducted from almost under his nose.  He sees the trail (This could be a bit more descriptive)and decides he has to follow it. Vicky's life could be in danger and any assistance would not arrive until after an approaching squall line washes that trail away. Justin finds enough to direct a search. A memento box is found. It is guarded by two glass ampules filled with apparent spores. Then three cases for the glass ampoules are found, empty. Those shooters look like a diversion to Justin. He corners the Sheriff and explains that he thinks a sale of the rest of those ampoules is imminent.The Sheriff agrees, and puts out a call for support.

A picture found with the ampoules tells him Vicky's abduction is isn't a coincedence. But the report verifies Anthrax and Justin is the only person available with the requisite experience to deal with it somewhat safely. If Justin doesn't follow his hunch to find Vicky, she might not survive the wait, but if he leaves the Anthrax for someone with no experience, could be responsible or more deaths than one. 

 
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paddler
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« Reply #6 on: November 14, 2017, 09:08:06 PM »

Thank you MGMystery. I hope this is closer

Dear Prudence

Justin Thomas appeases friends and old clients by putting his knowledge and experience back on the board by opening an environmental company.

When half of his field team is sidelined, he fills in. The fun he was trying to maintain for Vicky, his employee, falls apart when they find that their algae control device has collected a body. The St. John’s River, though, is the Marine Patrol’s jurisdiction and they are searching for automatic weapons users in Georgia. The Duval County Sheriff is their second and needs boat assistance. Justin agrees to help and hears stories of the underbelly of Putnam.

The predemolition survey of an old facility seems an easy job. Then Vicky is abducted from almost under Justin’s nose. Any help would not arrive until after an approaching squall line washes out the trail her abductor’s ATV left. Justin sees no other choice but to follow.

Justin directs a search by the Sheriff. They find a memento box guarded by two glass ampoules filled with some kind of spore. There is also a photo that makes Justin fear even more for Vicky’s long-term safety. Then three empty cases for those ampoules are found and test results confirm Anthrax.

Justin realizes that a sale of those ampoules as weapons is imminent. He explains and the Sheriff agrees and puts in a call for reinforcements. Only a short company of National Guard is available. Justin accedes to be being coopted to the search. It will keep him close to Vicky’s abductor.
 
A TAINT IN PUTNAM is a completed 99,000-word thriller.

Thanks in advance for any comments
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MKWrites_318
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« Reply #7 on: November 15, 2017, 03:09:53 PM »

All my example sentences are just loose suggestions for how I'd rework things. You obviously need to retain your voice in your own query. Smiley

Justin Thomas appeases friends and old clients by putting his knowledge and experience back on the board by opening an environmental company. This is where I would be more specific. Exactly what sort of environmental work do they do? What precisely is his background/wheelhouse? Without that crucial information, his involvement in everything after seems unrealistic.

When half of his field team is sidelined, he fills in. The fun he was trying to maintain for Vicky, his employee, (Is Vicky the only other person working with him on this job? If not, why is she specifically needing things to be fun? If so, I'd explain that.) falls apart when they find that their algae control device has collected a body. The St. John’s River, though, is the Marine Patrol’s jurisdiction and they are searching for automatic weapons users in Georgia. I know why they're doing this from another version of the query, but it's not clear in this one. The Duval County Sheriff is their second and needs boat assistance. Justin agrees to help and hears stories of the underbelly of Putnam. You need to explain what Putnam is. You haven't mentioned it until this paragraph.

The predemolition survey of an old facility seems an easy job. I'd convey that this is a new job and not an extension of the last one. Then Vicky is abducted from almost under Justin’s nose. Any help would not won't arrive until after an approaching squall line washes out the trail her abductor’s ATV left. Justin sees no other choice but to follow. This feels like the actual plot catalyst. If it is, I think I'd get here faster, and focus more of my energy on this.

Justin directs a search by the Sheriff. That sentence took me two reads to understand. Maybe try: "Justin aids the sheriff in the search." They find a memento box guarded by two glass ampoules filled with some kind of spore. There is also a photo that makes Justin fear even more for Vicky’s long-term safety. Too vague here too. I'd connect it with the last sentence: "...along with a photo of ________, which fills Justin with dread for Vicky's life." Then three empty cases for those ampoules are found and test results confirm Anthrax.

Justin realizes that a sale of those ampoules as weapons is imminent. He explains and the Sheriff agrees and puts in a call for reinforcements. Only a short company of National Guard is available. Justin accedes to be being coopted to the search. It will keep him close to Vicky’s abductor. This last paragraph is flat. You need to end with stakes, something that makes them want to read more.

I think I'd pair it down quite a bit.

Ex:

Justin Thomas, a (insert credentials and job description here), and his partner/coworker Vicky went to Putnam County to repair/check an algae control device in the St. John's river. What they found was a body.

It's the Marine Patrol's jurisdiction, but they and every other resource in Georgia are off hunting down a bunch of gun-totting rowdies terrorizing the Southern half of the state. The Duval County sheriff takes up the task and enlists Justin and his boat to aid in the process. He learns this body isn't the first to be found in Putnam, and four girls have recently gone missing. When the gruesome business is ended, he thinks he's heard the last of it, until Vicky is abducted.

The search for her takes a surprising turn when a memento box is found. Within is a photo of ________ that fills Justin with new dread for Vicky's life, and two ampoules filled with a sort of spore. Three empty cases are discovered as well, cases that once contained identical ampoules. Tests on the spores confirm their worst fears: Anthrax.

With the sale of a catastrophic amount of Anthrax on the horizon and Vicky still missing, Justin will do all he can to ensure no more bodies are found.
(Or something way better than that. lol)

Obviously that's in my voice and speedily drafted, and I don't know your story as well as you do. But you seem to struggle with exactly my problem of figuring out where to focus when all the information feels important, so I tried to streamline it from what I know about it. Smiley  I hope my notes are clear. Best of luck!
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mgmystery
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« Reply #8 on: November 16, 2017, 08:12:22 AM »

I like MK's setup! You can add specific details where you need them and I think it tells what you need to say without giving away too much.
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paddler
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« Reply #9 on: November 16, 2017, 10:13:37 PM »

Thank you MK and MG.

It looks so simple but yet it seems so wordy when I touch it. I hope some commenters can help me out.

Dear Prudence

Justin Thomas built respected credentials working in and owning a company dealing in environmental and hazardous waste issues. He takes this trip because Putnam County is far from home and he doesn’t want an employee in the field alone. His presence is worthless when Vicky Volker, his employee, is abducted from almost under his nose.
The abduction happened so fast and was done so proficiently that it is over before Justin realizes it happens. The events of the other day come back to him. The finding of a freshly murdered body floating in a river and that the Marine Patrol, whose jurisdiction includes the St. John’s River, has been called away to help search the edge of Georgia for some automatic weapons shooters is more than a coincidence.
Justin catches a glimpse of a laboring ATV going away. He also sees a rapidly approaching squall line. It will get to him before any help could and wash away any trail. He follows the ATV.
A memento box is found during the search. Among the contents are an old picture of a woman that could be Vicky’s twin. Two glass ampoules filled with what might be spores are set as booby traps. Test results confirm Anthrax. Then three empty cases of identical ampoules are found. Justin convinces the Sheriff that a sale of weapons of terrorism is imminent. Only a short company of the Guard is available so Justin is recruited to deal with the ampoules when found. Justin agrees because it is also the road to making Vicky safe.
A TAINT IN PUTNAM is a completed 99,00-word thriller
Thank you for your time and consideration

Thanks in advance again
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mgmystery
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« Reply #10 on: November 17, 2017, 08:31:55 AM »

I can see the problem. There is so much going on that it's hard to fit into a query. For me, the new version puts things out of order and lowers the tension. I've tried to explain some things below. It's wordy & colorful, I hope it makes sense.

Justin Thomas built respected credentials working in and owning a company dealing in environmental and hazardous waste issues. (His profession is definitely necessary bit this lacks a hook.) He takes this trip (This wording won't make sense to anyone who hasn't read earlier versions of the query.)because Putnam County is far from home and he doesn’t want an employee in the field alone. His presence is worthless when Vicky Volker, his employee, is abducted from almost under his nose. (Good sentence!)

Suggestion for opening: When Justin Thomas accompanies his employee Vicky Volker on a routine repair job for his environmental waste company, it’s only because Putnam County is so far from home. He didn’t expect to find a body floating in the St. John’s river—or to learn it’s not the first body found recently in Putnam.

The abduction happened so fast and was done so proficiently that it is over before Justin realizes it happens. (Another good sentence!)The events of the other day come back to him. The finding of a freshly murdered body (I think the body is your hook.) floating in a river and that the Marine Patrol, whose jurisdiction includes the St. John’s River, has been called away to help search the edge of Georgia for some automatic weapons shooters is more than a coincidence.

Justin catches a glimpse of a laboring ATV going away. He also sees a rapidly approaching squall line. It will get to him before any help could and wash away any trail. He follows the ATV. (I wonder if you can omit the details of Vicky's abduction and just say she was taken?)

A memento box is found during the search. Among the contents are an old picture of a woman that could be Vicky’s twin. (Nice detail!)Two glass ampoules filled with what might be spores are set as booby traps. (good detail!)Test results confirm Anthrax. Then three empty cases of identical ampoules are found. Justin convinces the Sheriff that a sale of weapons of terrorism is imminent. Only a short company of the Guard is available (We no longer have an explanation for this. I'm not sure if you can skip it since the gun runners are an intentional diversion. so Justin is recruited to deal with the ampoules when found. Justin agrees because it is also the road to making Vicky safe. (This last sentence really lowers the stakes. We want to know that Justin cares about saving lives and there's a ticking clock on Vicky's life.)
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paddler
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« Reply #11 on: November 17, 2017, 01:07:58 PM »

Thanks MG. It is my own fault for constructing a complicated plot. I'll spend the weekend masticating your ideas. Great insights, thanks.
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newtothis22
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« Reply #12 on: November 17, 2017, 04:27:03 PM »

You are much closer with that last version. With MG's advice it won't be much longer.   wink2
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Munley
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« Reply #13 on: November 19, 2017, 02:26:25 PM »

Been reading over the various versions and replies. I'll wait to see what comes out of your weekend efforts and comment after your next version.

Sounds like a good story that's hard to write a fitting query for. Keep going!
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paddler
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« Reply #14 on: November 19, 2017, 05:19:35 PM »

Thanks for the support, I needed it to cut out things I thought I needed.

Dear Prudence
Justin Thomas is an expert on dealing with hazardous waste issues, not bodies. Justin and his employee, Vicky Volker are blindsided by the freshly murdered body clogging one of their prototype algae control devices. The St. John’s River is the jurisdiction of the Marine Patrol and they are away on a mission. The locals haven’t the cash flow to duplicate services. The Duval County Sheriff will take the body if he can get boat help and Justin has one.

Justin is on this trip because he doesn’t like his employees to step alone onto unknown worksites like the facility in Putnam County, their second job of the trip.  His presence is worthless, though, when Vicky is abducted from almost under his nose. The abduction happens so quickly and proficiently that it is over before he realizes it was happening.

The first evidence found is a memento box. Among the items found is an old photo of a woman that could be Vicky’s twin. There is also a booby trap, two glass ampoules filled with possible spores.

Then three empty boxes for those same ampoules are found. The test results of the first ampoules confirm Anthrax. Justin and the Sheriff both see weapons, weapons that metal detectors can’t see, and only need to be broken to activate them. What can’t be discounted is the possibility of the sale of the ampoules is on the horizon. The lack of possible support is ominous and there is an urgent feeling that time is of the essence.

A TAINT IN PUTNAM is a completed 99,00-word thriller
Thank you for your time and consideration

Thanks in advance for any comment.
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