Author Topic: Speculative / Thriller  (Read 261 times)

Offline Michael Smorenburg

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Speculative / Thriller
« on: October 07, 2020, 11:04:29 AM »
Really appreciate any input. EDITED VERSION (following input from Rivergirl) Thanking you most kindly:
__

Kathleen Shaw's ad agency has recently contracted to one gargantuan client—Executive Limits Corporation. Her earnings are off the charts, but there’s a looming problem—possibly a life-threatening and a world ending one.

Executive Limits Corporation (ELC) has topped a trillion dollars in capital value. They peddle a mind-bending cocktail of training technologies, and it's Kathleen's job to sanitize and promote it. Official ingredients: Hypnosis & Virtual Reality, with Artificial Intelligence (A.I.) running the show. But there’s another undisclosed ingredient. It’s a secret nanobot on a dermal patch that every participant gets. Only two men in the world know about this last, critical, addition to the magic. Shortly, there’ll be only one who knows—it’s that kind of secret.

Selling Executive Limits' mind-bending service, is what Kath does. Her agency boomed from nowhere to the envy of the industry. Some say she sold her soul to win the contract. She didn't, but it’s dawning on her that she’s just about to.

Testing decision-makers to their breaking point is what Executive Limits and its technology do. Military—Government—Corporation—Judiciary? Whatever the career path, the ambitious individual is going nowhere up the chain of command without an Executive Limits certificate of competence.

Kathleen’s future reduces to the whim of Executive Limits' founder, the manipulatively charming malignant narcissist #MeToo monster, Tom Ferris. When he needs something, Tom can turn the charm of the Devil on. Kathleen reckons she can handle him, but she's sorely out of her depth. The strange thing is, Tom’s also out of his depth—he just doesn’t know it yet. Smart as he is, he’s only human, and humans are superstitious animals. The A.I. system in the background has its own surreptitious script, and everything the characters are experiencing, they slowly start to realize, is at it's whim.

 
SUMMONING THE DEVIL is a 114,000-word high-intensity mashup of Techno-Suspense with daunting Paranormal overtones--Black Mirror territory.

Thank you so much for your time.
« Last Edit: November 18, 2020, 03:25:48 AM by Michael Smorenburg »
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Offline rivergirl

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Re: Speculative / Thriller
« Reply #1 on: October 07, 2020, 03:46:46 PM »
Executive Limits Corporation (ELC)(not sure why this is in bold. Seems odd to me) has topped a $-Trilliontrillion dollars in capital value. They sell a mind-bending cocktail. Official ingredients: Hypnosis & A.I.(others might know what A.I. is. I don't. If this isn't well known, maybe spell it out? also i'm longing for a MC right now. This is reading like a documentary so far, not a novel)—Virtual Reality runs the show. But there’s one undisclosed ingredient that’s worth life-without-parole… maybe even death. It’s the secret sauce that only two men in the world know about. Shortly, there’ll be only one.
Selling the mind-bending service is what KATHLEEN SHAW does. Her ad agency has boomed from nowhere to the envy of the industry. Some say she’s sold her soul to win the contract—it's dawned on her… she’s just about to. It’s hard to say no. The money at the top of this game is irresistible. On the downside, the debts she’s incurred tooling up for the challenge, will sink her if she quits now.
Executive training and stress-testing are what ELC does.I thought they sell a cocktail that creates a virtual reality. Not understanding this part. I'm in the medical profession. When you say stress test, I'm thinking EKG and treadmill.  Military? Government? Corporation? Judiciary? Whatever your career path, you’re going nowhere up the chain of command without an ELC certificate of competence.
Kathleen’s future reduces to the whim of one malignant narcissist. TOM FERRIS (no caps)—Big Boss (say that he's Her boss. This wasn't obvious to me at first read as Big Boss sounds like a nickname). He has the charm of the Devil, but none of his scruples. ;D Kathleen overestimates her hand in this game of poker. The thing is—humans are superstitious animals, and A.I. has silently figured this out. With AI quietly holding cards, and nobody appreciating it’s even in the game, there’s a blindside coming.

Speculative Fiction, SUMMONING THE DEVIL is a 114,000-word high-intensity mashup of Techno-Thriller with daunting Paranormal overtones, perfect for New Adult/Adult niche. Black Mirror territory.

 the bones are here for an amazing query but I do think this needs to be re-worked to make this  Kathleen's story (if that is indeed whose story this is). Put the MC in from the very beginning so the reader can root for her. Hopefully the parts that confused me were helpful. From what I can tell the story sounds great

Offline Kimmy

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Re: Speculative / Thriller
« Reply #2 on: October 07, 2020, 08:43:15 PM »
I would clean this up and make it more concise, and also eliminate a lot of the question marks. I also suggest not making the character names in all caps. I think this query is much more in line with what a fiction query should be than the other one! Good luck!
Kimmy :)

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Offline Michael Smorenburg

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Re: Speculative / Thriller
« Reply #3 on: October 08, 2020, 08:19:47 AM »
Executive Limits Corporation (ELC)(not sure why this is in bold. Seems odd to me) has topped a $-Trilliontrillion dollars in capital value. They sell a mind-bending cocktail. Official ingredients: Hypnosis & A.I.    >>>>>>      story this is). Put the MC in from the very beginning so the reader can root for her. Hopefully the parts that confused me were helpful. From what I can tell the story sounds great[/color]

Hey Rivergirl. I can't thank you enough. I've done an edit/fix.
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Offline gushags16

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Re: Speculative / Thriller
« Reply #4 on: October 22, 2020, 12:42:28 PM »
Really appreciate any input. EDITED VERSION (following input from Rivergirl) Thanking you most kindly:
__

Kathleen Shaw owns an ad agency. She has one gargantuan client—Executive Limits Corporation. Her earnings are off the charts, but there’s a looming problem—possibly a life-threatening one.

Executive Limits Corporation has topped a trillion dollars in capital value. They sell a mind-bending cocktail of training technologies. Official ingredients: Hypnosis & Virtual Reality. Artificial Intelligence (A.I.) runs the show. But there’s another undisclosed ingredient. It’s a secret narcotic dose on a dermal patch that every participant gets. Only two men in the world know the truth. Shortly, there’ll be only one—it’s that kind of secret.

Selling the mind-bending service is what Kath does. Her agency boomed from nowhere to become the envy of the industry. Some say she sold her soul to win the contract. It’s dawning on her that she’s just about to., and it's dawning on her that they might be right.

Testing decision-makers to their breaking point is what Executive Limits and its technology do. Military—Government—Corporation—Judiciary? Whatever the career path, the ambitious individual is going nowhere up the chain of command without an Executive Limits certificate of competence.
[<-- this paragraph feels unnecessary. I don't think I need to know this in this query. You've already told us enough about the company for us to realize that they're on the Amazon side of evil. And right now it's the only speed bump in the query. You're talking to me about Kathleeen, and then take a digression. I think you should stick with Kathleen here and delete this.]

Kathleen’s future reduces to the whim [<-- This is clunky. Could is just "depends" on one malignant narcissist?]  of one malignant narcissist, Tom Ferris. Tom is the founder of Executive Limits. He has the Devil’s charm, but none of his scruples. Kathleen is about to over-estimate her hand in this game of poker. The strange thing is, Tom’s Tom is also out of his depth—he just doesn’t know it yet. Smart as he is, he’s only human, and humans are superstitious animals. The A.I. running things is in the game, quietly holding its own flush of cards, and nobody has realized it yet. There’s a blindside coming. [<-- A little clunky. Maybe something like, "and nobody knows it's about to win.]

 
SUMMONING THE DEVIL is a 114,000-word high-intensity mashup of Techno-Suspense with daunting Paranormal overtones--"Black Mirror" territory.

Thank you so much for your time.

This is a good query. I had one structural suggestion, but everything else is basically word choice. Above I suggested "Tom is" instead of "Tom's", which might seem like a ridiculous comment, but I had a brief moment where I thought Tom was possessive of something, and I never want anything to stop the flow in a query. When your critique basically comes down to things like that, I think you're very very close to done. In my opinion. So great job. Sounds like a good book. Hope these comments help, even though it looks like I'm a little late to this query.

Offline Michael Smorenburg

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Re: Speculative / Thriller
« Reply #5 on: October 26, 2020, 02:12:12 PM »
Really appreciate any input. EDITED VERSION (following input from Rivergirl) Thanking you most kindly:
__

Gush - thank you so so so much or all of this valuable input!



Executive Li

This is a good query. I had one structural suggestion, but everything else is basically word choice. Above I suggested "Tom is" instead of "Tom's", which might seem like a ridiculous comment, but I had a brief moment where I thought Tom was possessive of something, and I never want anything to stop the flow in a query. When your critique basically comes down to things like that, I think you're very very close to done. In my opinion. So great job. Sounds like a good book. Hope these comments help, even though it looks like I'm a little late to this query.
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Offline inkwitch

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Re: Speculative / Thriller
« Reply #6 on: October 30, 2020, 09:10:12 AM »
Really appreciate any input. EDITED VERSION (following input from Rivergirl) Thanking you most kindly:
__

Kathleen Shaw owns an ad agency. She has one gargantuan client—Executive Limits Corporation. Her earnings are off the charts, but there’s a looming problem—possibly a life-threatening one.

Executive Limits Corporation has topped a trillion dollars in capital value. They sell a mind-bending cocktail of training technologies. Official ingredients: Hypnosis & Virtual Reality. Artificial Intelligence (A.I.) runs the show. But there’s another undisclosed ingredient. It’s a secret narcotic dose on a dermal patch that every participant gets. Only two men in the world know the truth. Shortly, there’ll be only one—it’s that kind of secret. This isn't mentioned again anywhere, so i'd take it out. I kept waiting for the two men to resurface

Selling the mind-bending service is what Kath does. maybe compact this para with the first one Her agency boomed from nowhere to the envy of the industry. Some say she sold her soul to win the contract. It’s dawning on her that she’s just about to. It feels like the first para is very info-dumpy so it might help to narrow down some of it

Testing decision-makers to their breaking point is what Executive Limits and its technology do. Military—Government—Corporation—Judiciary? Whatever the career path, the ambitious individual is going nowhere up the chain of command without an Executive Limits certificate of competence. This feels like more crucial info-dumping, so try and make it seem less like it by showing how the character interacts with this

Kathleen’s future reduces to the whim of one malignant narcissist, Tom Ferris. Tom is the founder of Executive Limits. He has the Devil’s charm, but none of his scruples. Kathleen is about to over-estimate her hand in this game of poker. The strange thing is, Tom’s also out of his depth—he just doesn’t know it yet. Smart as he is, he’s only human, and humans are superstitious animals. The A.I. running things is in the game, quietly holding its own flush of cards, and nobody has realized it yet. There’s a blindside coming. it feels like she (MC) has been taken out of the equation of the story completely, and her actions don't matter.

 
SUMMONING THE DEVIL is a 114,000-word high-intensity mashup of Techno-Suspense with daunting Paranormal overtones--Black Mirror territory.

Thank you so much for your time.

Hope this helped!
If you have the time, kindly request you to glance over my query -


https://querytracker.net/forum/index.php?topic=24688.0

Offline auraesque

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Re: Speculative / Thriller
« Reply #7 on: October 30, 2020, 03:49:44 PM »
Oh, no. You've summoned me from my day job.

The query mentions that she owns the agency, and that his is her one big client, but it has me wondering about the rest of the people who work for her. Knowing only what you tell us here, I am wondering: Did Kathleen poach the top rising talent from the big shops? Does she get the best directors, the best composers? Is her company the talk of Agency Spy? I would love to see hints here on the people she has stepped on to assemble the best agency producing the best work for ELC--I think it could help heighten the stakes for Kathleen questioning the contract, even if we spend no time with those employees. Implicitly, he loss of this contract means unemployment for every creative, producer, strategist and account executive on her payroll, and the implosion of her agency would create a glut of competitive talent in the market.  Bringing out that problem creates a little more agency (hah!) for Kathleen in the query.

So, Kathleen questions if she can continue in this business, she has to choose between arguably helping ELC harm people or definitely harming her employees.
Tom Ferris is the worst, but it turns out that he is in over his head anyway, and Kathleen's actual enemy is the AI he funded. I would consider decreasing the time we spend with Tom in the query and get to the AI faster. E.g.

"Kathleen is ready to have the tough conversation with Tom Ferris, the charismatic and cutthroat capitalist in charge of ELC. But when she arrives at the ELC headquarters to face down this walking #MeToo moment, she learns that it's not Tom who has been pulling the strings for her success: It's the AI he built.

Calling itself The Executive, the AI is unwilling to dissolve ELC's relationship with its agency of record. In fact, the Executive has a new assignment for Kathleen--one that could mean trillions of dollars in revenue."

Minorly, I'd cut the blindside and poker references--use that space to talk about what you're obscuring with them.

Offline Michael Smorenburg

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Re: Speculative / Thriller
« Reply #8 on: November 18, 2020, 03:04:33 AM »
Oh, no. You've summoned me from my day job.
> :-)

The query mentions that she owns the agency, and that his is her one big client, but it has me wondering about the rest of the people who work for her. Knowing only what you tell us here, I am wondering: Did Kathleen poach the top rising talent from the big shops? Does she get the best directors, the best composers? Is her company the talk of Agency Spy? I would love to see hints here on the people she has stepped on to assemble the best agency producing the best work for ELC--I think it could help heighten the stakes for Kathleen questioning the contract, even if we spend no time with those employees. Implicitly, he loss of this contract means unemployment for every creative, producer, strategist and account executive on her payroll, and the implosion of her agency would create a glut of competitive talent in the market.  Bringing out that problem creates a little more agency (hah!) for Kathleen in the query.
> It sounds like you're in advertising and have a LOT of insight? What you revealed (above and below) in your response is that my pitch is not capturing my story at all. Your comments make for a very interesting, but different story (one you sound like you have the insight to write, I might add!




So, Kathleen questions if she can continue in this business, she has to choose between arguably helping ELC harm people or definitely harming her employees.
Tom Ferris is the worst, but it turns out that he is in over his head anyway, and Kathleen's actual enemy is the AI he funded. I would consider decreasing the time we spend with Tom in the query and get to the AI faster. E.g.

"Kathleen is ready to have the tough conversation with Tom Ferris, the charismatic and cutthroat capitalist in charge of ELC.
> The opening scene has her solo, in his Boardroom doing a pre-review of the upcoming campaign she has created. For her, the 6 months since coming aboard have been a rocket-ship of activity, up-tooling to handle the massive contract... but the honeymoon is clearly over as he clearly now knows he has her on the hook... paying her big bucks and totally reliant. He is full of disdain, but at critical moments turns on the hypnotic charm. That turns into a dinner to continue discussions -- she goes along because she's hoping to get some extra detail out... and over dinner there is a lot of sexual innuendo that she feels she can handle. Indeed, she calls his bluff on a bargain he puts on the table He wants her to participate in a virtual reality immersion. There's a sexual overtone to it, and she's had enough sips of wine to agree.
In subsequent chapters we get a glimpse behind the curtain of several issues... a Pentagon General has melted down on a simulation and come out of thinking he's an inquisitor from the Spanish Inquisition. Thing is, the detail he relays in and about his alter-ego during rants about Executive Outcomes, are only known by a few specialist historians... and he can speak Latin and period Spanish. So it looks like a past life regression.
Then the reader discovers that only Tom and one other dubious character within the company know that the real secret to a big chunk of the company's success is a nanobot that is secretly administered to all participants (via a 'monitoring patch'). If that knowledge leaks, the whole company goes down. Tom effectively kills the other party and then has to scramble to keep sourcing and adding the nanobot solo.
Many past life regressions of the Pentagon General reveals snippets of bizarre ranting - which later the reader will realize is revelation about what is really going on that even Tom doesn't understand.
After Kathleen participates in the sexually charged simulation, she stars at first having nightmares about Tom, and then those nightmares begin to invade her waking day. At this point the story has shifted from big business shenanigans to nail-biting paranormal narrative. When the paranormal hits its crescendo, only then do details come together for Kathleen for or to realize that all the paranormal she thought she was experiencing (and the past life regression) is the AI via the nanobots, continuing to manipulate anyone who has been through the system, finding their weakness and exploiting it with hallucinations. The implication here is that the world's leaders in every field have all been through this system and are therefore compromised to the un-declared objectives of the AI. Even Tom, its creator, we and he realize, is a slave.
It's a really-really intense story that constantly shifts gears and raises the stakes.

 But when she arrives at the ELC headquarters to face down
> She can't find out what is really going on too soon into the story. He doesn't even realize it. For most of the story he thinks he's in control. Slowly, as events

 this walking #MeToo moment,
> That is an excellent characterization of him.  I'm going to steal it!


Calling itself The Executive, the AI is unwilling to dissolve ELC's relationship with its agency of record.
> This reveal only comes in the final 2 chapters. I wanted the AI to 'lurk' and be a hidden threat that only gets revealed very late. The reader has no direct insight to the AI. Instead, the reader experiences the results of the AI's manipulation (through hallucinations) that it causes in the characters... which they interpret as paranormal events.

In fact, the Executive has a new assignment for Kathleen--one that could mean trillions of dollars in revenue."
> The AI aspect (within the narrative) is very much downplayed because that is the rug-pull. The story escalates from the opening page into, as you deduced, a bit of a #metoo... thing is, Kathleen is subject to Tom's whim, but also an executive in her own right, so that he cannot afford to be overt in pursuance of his abuse. It's more of a mind game for him and a much more sophisticated, but still disgusting, satiation of his perversity. At the end of the story, though, the reader has no definite sense whether what he does is innate to his character, supernatural, or manipulated by the AI.

Minorly, I'd cut the blindside and poker references--use that space to talk about what you're obscuring with them.
> I'll look into that.


> If you'd like to read my story, I'd be overjoyed.
MichaelStheWriter@gmail.com
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Offline MyGoodnessPauline-forum

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Re: Speculative / Thriller
« Reply #9 on: November 19, 2020, 07:32:57 AM »
Hi Michael!  Looking forward to reading your query :) My thoughts are in blue throughout the text & overall impression in blue at the end.

Kathleen Shaw's ad agency has recently contracted to one gargantuan client—Executive Limits Corporation. Her earnings are off the charts, but there’s a looming problem—possibly a life-threatening and world-ending one.

Executive Limits Corporation (ELC) has topped a trillion dollars in capital value. They peddle a mind-bending cocktail of training technologies, and it's Kathleen's job to sanitize and promote it. Official ingredients: Hypnosis & Virtual Reality, with Artificial Intelligence (A.I.) running the show. But there’s another undisclosed ingredient. It’s a secret nanobot on a dermal patch that every participant gets. Only two men in the world know about this last, critical, addition to the magic. Shortly, there’ll be only one who knows—it’s that kind of secret.  awesome :)

Selling Executive Limits' mind-bending service, is what Kath does. Her agency boomed up?from nowhere to the envy of the industry. Some say she sold her soul to win the contract. She didn't, but it’s dawning on her that she’s just about to. Love 'boom' and your hooks are just awesome!

Testing decision-makers to their breaking point is what Executive Limits and its technology do. Military—Government—Corporation—Judiciary? Whatever their career path, an ambitious individual is going nowhere up the chain of command without an Executive Limits certificate of competence.

Kathleen’s future reduces to the whim of Executive Limits' founder, the manipulatively charming malignant narcissist #MeToo monster, Tom Ferris. When he needs something, Tom can turn the charm of the Devil on. Kathleen reckons she can handle him, but she's sorely out of her depth. The strange thing is, Tom’s also out of his depth—he just doesn’t know it yet. Smart as he is, he’s only human, and humans are superstitious animals. The A.I. system in the background has its own surreptitious script, and everything the characters are experiencing, they slowly start to realize, is at it's whim. hoo!  This is great clockwork you have going on :)

 
SUMMONING THE DEVIL is a 114,000-word high-intensity mashup of Techno-Suspense with daunting Paranormal overtones--Black Mirror territory.

Thank you so much for your time.  Wow, this is absolutely fantastic!  Just a few suggestions up above for clarity/tightening/typos.  Wishing you the very best of luck with this, it sounds like a great read.  If you have the time, I'd very much appreciate a return crit on my query, too :)