Query: Natural Selection. CLOSED: NO NEED TO COMMENT

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Poisonguy
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Query: Natural Selection. CLOSED: NO NEED TO COMMENT

Post by Poisonguy » March 24th, 2010, 8:15 am

I can't tell up from down and right from left anymore. Help me. I thank you in advance.

In life, Salt Lake City’s district attorney and Dragan Sakic never met. When the DA dies, Dragan comes to know him as one knows a close friend. Some people might say they were brought together by an act of God. Not Dragan. He sees it as a buildup of countless imperceptible changes and, like evolution, inevitable.

Natural Selection is a 100,000-word mystery/thriller that follows Dragan, a fiery ER physician, as he struggles with his decision to become a father. When he is pressured by an evasive cop to look over the DA’s autopsy findings, he notices that three substances—no more than remedies when taken separately—mimic a heart attack when combined.

As he reveals more deaths as elaborate poisonings, Dragan provides an ailing investigation a shot in the arm. In doing so, he unearths a new species of killers: one who uses tiered poisonings unseen before in ingenuity, one who goes to painstaking lengths to disguise his murders as natural deaths. The ensuing investigation saps Dragan’s spare time, time that would have been better spent at home.

Unaware the victims were part of a secret cabal with plans to release anthrax at the Utah-BYU football game, Dragan becomes a target of relentless killers who want to stop him before he can expose the surviving members.

When police find his girlfriend near death in his home, a petri dish with anthrax spores and a toxic plant found there implicates him in the football game attack and the murders he was investigating. Faced with the loss of the woman he loves and framed for crimes he did not commit, Dragan must revisit painful childhood memories if he is to make sense of two seemingly unconnected events and if he is to hunt down the real killers. The days that follow surface old scars and rips them wide open.
Last edited by Poisonguy on March 26th, 2010, 9:38 am, edited 3 times in total.

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Matthew MacNish
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Re: Query: Natural Selection (Mystery/Thriller)

Post by Matthew MacNish » March 24th, 2010, 9:44 am

Poisonguy wrote:I can't tell up from down and right from left anymore. Help me. I thank you in advance.

In life, Dragan Sakic I don't really like this last name, it reminds me of an uncomfortable itch. Wasn't there an NHL player with this last name too? Not a big deal but it popped into my head. never met Salt Lake City’s district attorney. This is also a confusing and somewhat boring opening sentence. Did Dragan die? I realize you clear this up in the next sentence but perhaps try reversing the order or combining the sentences. When the DA dies, Dragan comes to know him as one knows a close friend. Some people might say they were brought together by an act of God. Not Dragan. He sees it as a buildup of countless imperceptible changes and, like evolution, inevitable. If you don't explain this part a little more it will just confuse the reader, as it did me.

Natural Selection is a 100,000-word mystery/thriller This should go at the end. that follows Dragan, a fiery ER physician, as he struggles with his decision to become a father. What? Where did this come from? When he is pressured by an evasive cop to look over the DA’s autopsy findings, he notices that three substances—no more than remedies when taken separately—mimic a heart attack when combined. This is interesting, turn this into the hook and start with this. This is where your story and premise begin anyway.

As he reveals more deaths as elaborate poisonings, Dragan provides an ailing investigation a shot in the arm. In doing so, he unearths a new species of killers: one who uses tiered poisonings unseen before in ingenuity, one who goes to painstaking lengths to disguise his murders as natural deaths. The ensuing investigation saps Dragan’s spare time, time that would have been better spent at home. Unless you can provide more background about the parenting aspect I would leave this out.

Unaware the victims were part of a secret cabal with plans to release anthrax at the Utah-BYU football game, This totally surprised me, coming out of left field (or the away team endzone) as it did, but it sounds kind of cool. As a football fan I may be in the minority here though. Dragan becomes a target of relentless killers who want to stop him before he can expose the surviving members.

When police find his girlfriend near death in his home, a petri dish with anthrax spores and a toxic plant found there implicates him in the football game attack and the murders he was investigating. Faced with the loss of the woman he loves and framed for crimes he did not commit, Dragan must revisit painful childhood memories if he is to make sense of two seemingly unconnected events and if he is to hunt down the real killers. The days that follow surface old scars and rips them wide open. Show don't tell.
I think this is a cool premise and an interesting twist on a mystery. It sounds like a medical thriller in the vein of something Michael Crichton would write. If you get your science/medicine right this could be awesome. The query needs a lot of work though. There are others on this forum that are better at this than me, so hopefully some of them will come along and lend you a hand.

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theWallflower
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Re: Query: Natural Selection (Mystery/Thriller)

Post by theWallflower » March 24th, 2010, 4:26 pm

In life, Salt Lake City's district attorney and Dragan Sakic never met. When the DA dies, Dragan comes to know him as one knows a close friend. Some people might say they were brought together by an act of God. Not Dragan. He sees it as a buildup of countless imperceptible changes and, like evolution, inevitable.
-Who are "some people". And the rest of that sentence is passive.
-By the first sentence, I don't know who the protagonist is. Is it the D.A. or Sakic? I was pictureing some kind of cops and robbers thriller.
-Is the DA a ghost or something?
-The 3rd through 5th sentences have nothing to do with the story. They're meaningless drabble that adds nothing to the plot. I need to know who Sakic is, what sort of guy he is and what he does. Why does Sakic believe this is inevitable?
Natural Selection is a 100,000-word mystery/thriller that follows Dragan, a fiery ER physician, as he struggles with his decision to become a father. When he is pressured by an evasive cop to look over the DA's autopsy findings, he notices that three substances—no more than remedies when taken separately—mimic a heart attack when combined.
-Story title should be in all caps
-This seems more like the first paragraph than the other.
-Why is Dragan struggling to decide to become a father.
-"no more than remedies" seems awkward to me. Remedies for what?
-Can't you just say "he notices a combination of chemicals that mimic a heart attack"
-BTW, it's not really mimicking a heart attack if he's dead (unless he's not dead?) He had an actual heart attack. Heart attack is not a cause of death, not really. Something has to stop the heart, due to blockage or fatigue. It doesn't stop beating on it's own. Any toxicology report would uncover this.
-I'd cut the whole first paragraph, and make this the opener.
As he reveals more deaths as elaborate poisonings, Dragan provides an ailing investigation a shot in the arm. In doing so, he unearths a new species of killers: one who uses tiered poisonings unseen before in ingenuity, one who goes to painstaking lengths to disguise his murders as natural deaths. The ensuing investigation saps Dragan's spare time, time that would have been better spent at home.


-Who's "he"? Dragan?
-Why is the investigation "ailing"? Are there more than one murder that he's come across?
-New "species" of killers? Like mutants or something?
-What is a "tiered" poison?
-"In doing so... deaths" is A) a long sentence B) rife with subject-verb agreement errors C) misleading (species indicates otherworldly creatures)
-Why are the lengths painstaking?
-"time that would have been better spent at home" is passive and seems extraneous. Cut it.
-In fact, that whole sentence says nothing about the plot. In any novel, there is not a lot of downtime for the main characters.
Unaware the victims were part of a secret cabal with plans to release anthrax at the Utah-BYU football game, Dragan becomes a target of relentless killers who want to stop him before he can expose the surviving members.
-Which killers are trying to kill him? The ones who killed the DA or the ones that the DA was part of?
-How do the "relentless killers" attempt to stop him? Give examples
When police find his girlfriend near death in his home, a petri dish with anthrax spores and a toxic plant found there implicates him in the football game attack and the murders he was investigating. Faced with the loss of the woman he loves and framed for crimes he did not commit, Dragan must revisit painful childhood memories if he is to make sense of two seemingly unconnected events and if he is to hunt down the real killers. The days that follow surface old scars and rips them wide open.
-"seemingly" is unnecessary
-The first sentence is very long too
-Painful childhoos memories? Where did that come from?
-Which two unconnected events are you talking about? You've listed a dozen by this point.
-The last sentence tells nothing about the plot

OVERALL:
-Cut up sentences over 20 words in length
-This query is soup. There are a hundred things going on at once and none of them relevant. Why is an ER doctor investigating a series of killers? Isn't that a matter for the police? Why are the killers (whichever of them they are) after him specifically? What did he do to earn their ire?
-You need to describe three things 1. Who is the protagonist? (Dragan Sakic--we know he's an ER doctor, and he's apparently got some issues, but we don't know what they are. However, he wins the award for coolest name). 2. What problem does the protagonist face? (he's being pursued by killers? Because he uncovered some poison? I'm unclear on this) 3. What is he going to do about it? (I don't know. Try not to get dead, apparently)
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lachrymal
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Re: Query: Natural Selection (Mystery/Thriller)

Post by lachrymal » March 24th, 2010, 5:51 pm

In life, Salt Lake City’s district attorney and Dragan Sakic never met. When the DA dies, Dragan comes to know him as one knows a close friend. Some people might say they were brought together by an act of God. Not Dragan. He sees it as a buildup of countless imperceptible changes and, like evolution, inevitable.
I must suggest that you delete the entire first paragraph. When I first read it, I was thinking it might be a paranormal. Also--your real query starts below.
Natural Selection is a 100,000-word mystery/thriller that follows Dragan, a fiery ER physician, as he
You can start with that phrase, but then you must lead with something that's crucial to your plot--he uncovers the poisonings, and in doing so, makes himself and his family targets of some very nasty people with wicked good chemistry skills.
struggles with his decision to become a father.
I know this must be very important in the book. However, your novel is a thriller, and it has an intriguing premise--a premise complicated enough to take up the whole query. Including his domestic woes and his childhood traumas may not be possible in a query.
When he is pressured by an evasive cop to look over the DA’s autopsy findings, he notices that three substances—no more than remedies when taken separately—mimic a heart attack when combined.
This sentence is awkward. You could just say "he detects three mundane/benign/some other synonym substances that mimic a heart attack when combined. Is the fact that the cop is evasive actually important? Also, just wondering--this guy is an ER doc. Why would the cops want him to look at the stuff rather than a consulting pathologist?
As he reveals more deaths as elaborate poisonings, Dragan provides an ailing investigation a shot in the arm. In doing so, he unearths a new species of killers: one who uses tiered poisonings unseen before in ingenuity, one who goes to painstaking lengths to disguise his murders as natural deaths. The ensuing investigation saps Dragan’s spare time, time that would have been better spent at home.
I suggest just saying he unearths a series of elaborate poisonings, endearing himself to the authorities. I mean, you don't have to say exactly that, but this could probably be reduced to one sentence as well, and combined with the one above.
Unaware the victims were part of a secret cabal with plans to release anthrax at the Utah-BYU football game, Dragan becomes a target of relentless killers who want to stop him before he can expose the surviving members.
This part is confusing; it sounds like you've got some dead terrorists, and some live terrorists who want to kill Dragan. Am I right about that? Are they different groups? Are they both bad? Are they the same group?

When police find his girlfriend near death in his home--I think you can delete this., they also find evidence that implicates him in both the football game attack and the poisonings.
Again--a suggestion to make it more concise. We don't need to know exactly what evidence.
Faced with the loss of the woman he loves and framed for crimes he did not commit, Dragan must revisit painful childhood memories if he is to make sense of two seemingly unconnected events and if he is to hunt down the real killers. The days that follow surface old scars and rips them wide open.
The last sentence is way too general. You're going to have to be more specific. Or, you could just be more concise--Again, one sentence might get you there. "...commit, Dragan must make sense of two seemingly unconnected events and hunt down the real killers before XYZ horrible apocalyptic thing happens".
Especially because this is a query for a thriller, you need it to be...thrilling. Tight, neat, and clean. Give it another go!

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Matthew MacNish
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Re: Query: Natural Selection (Mystery/Thriller)

Post by Matthew MacNish » March 24th, 2010, 6:27 pm

theWallflower wrote:
However, he wins the award for coolest name.
Man that had me rolling. I just couldn't stop picturing Dragon Sack Itch.

PoisonGuy, please don't think I'm making fun of you at all, it's actually a really cool name that evokes hints of tough, cold hearted Eastern Europeans to me. Your premise is strong and you've gotten some great advice here, how about a revision?

JTB
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Re: Query: Natural Selection (Mystery/Thriller)

Post by JTB » March 25th, 2010, 5:18 am

I'm assuming, it's a query. You need to be to the point, get to the core of the story, the dilemma your MC faces. Wallflowers points are totally right.

I've had a go, hope it helps.

Salt Lake City. Dragan Sakic, an ER physician, unearths a new species of killer. Struggling with decisions to become a father and unaware a secret cabal plans to release anthrax at the Utah-BYU football game, Dragan becomes a target. Then, faced with the loss of the woman he loves and framed for crimes he did not commit, Dragan must revisits painful childhood memories before he can hunt down the real killers.

Natural Selection is a 100,000-word mystery/thriller etc....

It still needs work but is that the core of your story?

Poisonguy
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Re: Query: Natural Selection (Mystery/Thriller)

Post by Poisonguy » March 26th, 2010, 9:29 am

Thank you all for your insight. It was all well received. Your questions and concerns prompted me to do some editing. I haven't incorporated all the suggestions, but I've tried to clarify what needed clarification. Plus, I've streamlined it a bit. If interested, see the new thread I posted.

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