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Query: Natural Selection (Mystery) Final Revision

Posted: March 29th, 2010, 5:46 am
by Poisonguy
Thanks for clicking on my submission and my appreciations to all that have contributed (I've thoughtfully considered every comment). Find below what I hope will be a sample that requires only a final edit. Again, one sample has the personal stuff in, the other doesn't. For lurkers, just a mention of which sample worked best for you would be useful. Here goes...

Sample One:

Dear agent extraordinaire,

Natural Selection is a 100,000-word mystery that follows Dragan Sakic’s personal struggles as he joins a police investigation into a series of bizarre deaths.

When Dragan, an ER physician, agrees to have a child with his girlfriend, thoughts of his childhood molestation flood his mind and he does what he’s always done. He hides in his protective shell.

Then a rogue cop full of hunches but short of details pressures him to look over the autopsy of Salt Lake City’s district attorney. When he does, he notices three substances camouflaged in the toxicological report—no more than remedies when taken separately—that mimic a heart attack when combined. As he gets pulled deeper into the investigation and learns more about the dead DA, Dragan comes to believe it wasn’t chance that brought him and the victim together. It was a buildup of countless imperceptible changes and, like evolution, inevitable.

Dragan provides an ailing investigation much needed momentum by revealing more poisonings. In doing so, he unearths a new species of killers: one that uses tiered poisonings unseen before in ingenuity, one that goes to painstaking lengths to disguise murders as natural deaths. The ensuing investigation saps Dragan’s spare time, leaving his relationship in shambles.

Though Dragan doesn’t know it, the victims were part of a secret cabal with plans to release a bioweapon at the Utah-BYU football game. Fearing he may lead the police to them, the surviving members send out their henchman to take care of Dragan.

When the police find his girlfriend near death, evidence implicates him in the anthrax attack and the murders he’s investigating. To avenge the woman he loves and clear his name, Dragan is forced to leave his protective shell to track down a radical group of killers and bring a cunning poisoner to justice, both having links to his troubled past. The week that follows surfaces old scars and rips them wide open.

I have more than ten years experience as a banned word in poison information. The full manuscript is available upon request.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Regards,
The guy who wrote the thing


SampleTwo:

Dear agent extraordinaire,

Pressured to look over the autopsy of Salt Lake City’s district attorney by a cop full of hunches but short of details, Dragan Sakic, an ER physician, reluctantly agrees. After a thorough examination, he notices three substances camouflaged in the toxicological report—no more than remedies when taken separately—that mimic a heart attack when combined. As he gets pulled deeper into the investigation and learns more about the dead DA, Dragan comes to believe it wasn’t chance that brought him and the victim together. It was a buildup of countless imperceptible changes and, like evolution, inevitable.

Natural Selection is a 100,000-word mystery that follows Dragan’s personal struggles as he reveals more poisonings. In providing an ailing investigation much needed momentum, he unearths a new species of killers: one that uses tiered poisonings unseen before in ingenuity, one that goes to painstaking lengths to disguise murders as natural deaths.

Though Dragan doesn’t know it, the victims were part of a secret cabal with plans to release a bioweapon at the Utah-BYU football game. Fearing he may lead the police to them, the surviving members send out their henchman to take care of him.

When the police find his girlfriend near death, evidence implicates him in the anthrax attack and the murders he’s investigating. To avenge the woman he loves and clear his name, Dragan is forced to track down a radical group of killers and bring a cunning poisoner to justice, both having links to his troubled past. The week that follows surfaces old scars and rips them wide open.

I have more than ten years experience as a banned word in poison information. The full manuscript is available upon request.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Regards,
The guy who wrote the thing

Re: Query: Natural Selection (Mystery) Final Revision

Posted: March 29th, 2010, 6:45 am
by lachrymal
In my opinion, your query is hugely improved. Really. A lot. I like it. I think I even like sample 1 better now, because you found a way to weave it all together. Great job.

I'm sure others will have more content-oriented comments, so I just have three bits of grammar feedback. If you don't believe me on this stuff (and why would you? I mean, I'm just an anonymous stranger. I understand), I urge you to look these things up. There are many excellent grammar resources on the internet.

1. Remove the comma between "hunches" and "but". Although you do need a comma before independent phrases that begin with conjunctions, you have a dependent phrase here and no comma is necessary.
2.Again, a species is a "that". People are "who", but groups, including teams, organizations, and species would be "that".
3. You still have that subject-disagreement in the final sentence. The subject of your sentence is "days". It is a plural subject. You use one plural verb: "surface", but your second verb, for some reason, is singular: "rips". Believe me, it's not a good way to end a query--you don't want your final sentence to annoy because of a simple grammar mistake. You want it to intrigue.

Your story sounds great, and you really massively improved your query.

Re: Query: Natural Selection (Mystery) Final Revision

Posted: March 29th, 2010, 8:02 am
by Poisonguy
Thanks lacrymal. Lots. I had changed the "who"s to "that"s but changed them back at the last minute. The first time I wrote this particular sentence, I used "that." Then, a while back, I had it critiqued somewhere else and several people commented it was odd to refer to a human killer as a "that" and suggested changing to "who" (an editor was part of that chorus). So, it's been "who" for as long as I remember and it's felt right. Until you pointed it out. I find the "who" more personal--it denotes a human--but I see the error of my ways. I'll change it back to "that." Or I'll just abandoned the whole species and evolution thing (as if!).

Consider the comma gone.

You explain the bit about rip versus rips well, but when it's written correctly it just doesn't come off the tongue well at all--it's like my lips glue shut after rip and I can't pry them apart to say "them wide open." Know what I mean? Does it read smoothly to you with rip instead of rips?

Re: Query: Natural Selection (Mystery) Final Revision

Posted: March 29th, 2010, 9:57 am
by JustineDell
Poisonguy wrote:Thanks lacrymal. Lots. I had changed the "who"s to "that"s but changed them back at the last minute. The first time I wrote this particular sentence, I used "that." Then, a while back, I had it critiqued somewhere else and several people commented it was odd to refer to a human killer as a "that" and suggested changing to "who" (an editor was part of that chorus). So, it's been "who" for as long as I remember and it's felt right. Until you pointed it out. I find the "who" more personal--it denotes a human--but I see the error of my ways. I'll change it back to "that." Or I'll just abandoned the whole species and evolution thing (as if!).

Consider the comma gone.

You explain the bit about rip versus rips well, but when it's written correctly it just doesn't come off the tongue well at all--it's like my lips glue shut after rip and I can't pry them apart to say "them wide open." Know what I mean? Does it read smoothly to you with rip instead of rips?
I like the first one as well. Sorry I didn't get a chance to see the orginal.

And, I know what you mean. I read it outloud too and it was awkward to me as rip instead of rips. Trust me when I say, lacrymal knows what he/she is talking about. I think grammar may be his/her second language ;-) You can obviously keep it how you want or rearrange it to have more hook?

Either way, good job. This sounds really interesting.

~JD

Re: Query: Natural Selection (Mystery) Final Revision

Posted: March 29th, 2010, 11:54 am
by kenpochick
I like the first one better although the having a child and molestation part still feels a little awkward where it is. I wonder if it would be better placed later on? Otherwise, good job. It's much better. I know what you mean about it sounding too technical with scientific details (nothing like lab reports to kill any creative language). Maybe a couple of lines at the end to mention your background. I know this is fiction but it could show that you have a background to draw fom to have the MS make sense. Just a suggestion though.

Re: Query: Natural Selection (Mystery) Final Revision

Posted: March 29th, 2010, 1:01 pm
by mrpluckey
I like the second one a lot better, but there are a couple of things that I think could help improve it. In the first paragraph the word luck doesn't fit for me. Luck is usually a good thing, and it doesn't sound like what he's thrown into is good. Coincidence, chance, even bad luck. Also the sentence- As he gets pulled deeper..and gets to know more, sounds weak. As he is pulled deeper..and learns more? Other than that I think it looks good. Good Luck!

Re: Query: Natural Selection (Mystery) Final Revision

Posted: March 29th, 2010, 2:36 pm
by lachrymal
Looks like you fixed your problem by changing your plural subject ("days") to the singular ("week"). And you changed both your verbs to match! Bravo.

Sometimes I marvel how little things like that make so much difference. Also--sometimes something is grammatically correct and STILL reads awkwardly, and that would probably be a sign that the sentence structure or word choice should be changed.

Best of luck to you!

Re: Query: Natural Selection (Mystery) Final Revision

Posted: March 30th, 2010, 3:57 am
by Poisonguy
As you can see, Justine, I heeded Lacrymal's advice (by making rips fit!). :-)

Kenpochick, I've added the scientific qualifications (that's all I have that is relevant. I'm a first time author).

MrPluckey, great polishing suggestions. I've incorporated them. I used "chance" as it slides nicely into the natural selection theme, although I doubt anyone will really notice.

I'll leave this post up a bit longer in case I get a few more gems of advice. Thank you to all.