TWO SIDES OF TRUTH - Critique away!

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Nessa
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TWO SIDES OF TRUTH - Critique away!

Post by Nessa » January 6th, 2010, 9:28 pm

Scroll down for revision.

So guys I am a very multi-tasking person and I completed another novel. I am hoping that this one is better then what I have written before and has chances of publishing. Here is my query. Also tell me if this is something you would be interested in reading if you saw it on a back cover or something?

Dear Wonderful Agent,

Kirby, torn from her old life was forced to move into the small town of Capingham when her parents were murdered. But murder seems to follow Kirby like an old-school friend, when she ends up witnessing a gruesome murder in the local park.

Following the investigation that unfolds, Kirby discovers that the suspect is a boy named Lucas Wynham. But it does not mean much to Kirby until strange figures start following her at night, and she starts receiving threatening notes and e-mails. Curious to find out more about the boy who may be a murderer Kirby starts going through old archives and questioning anybody who could relate to Lucas. She soon discovers that he was sent away to Juvenile detention centre after murdering a local school girl, but there was no evidence, and prosecutors were unable to sentence him to death.

Kirby starts out on a chase to find evidence to prove Lucas guilty, yet afraid to show the threatening notes to police, because without evidence they cannot hold him. When Kirby sneaks into Lucas’ trailer she discovers a piece of evidence that will put Lucas in the electric chair for sure. She manages to send the information to the cops using her cell phone but before she can get away, she meets with Lucas face to face. At first Kirby is frightened to death, but as he starts talking to her she realizes that Lucas would never murder anyone. And instead of being frightened by Lucas, she begins falling for him. But she had already given the evidence that would prove him a killer to the police and she knows that the police will arrest him. But this time there is evidence to put him into the electric chair.

In a race against time Kirby has to find out the real murderer before it’s too late. She only has a piece of a bloodied checkered shoe lace that links to the real killer. Linking the lace to a local asylum, Kirby finds herself facing Lucas’ psychotic twin brother, the one that Lucas was sent away for, and the one that Lucas is willing to die for. The real murderer.

TWO SIDES OF TRUTH is a 80,000 YA novel of suspense, and mystery. Please let me know if I can send you the full manuscript.

Thank you etc.
Last edited by Nessa on January 7th, 2010, 9:46 am, edited 1 time in total.

Yoshima
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Re: TWO SIDES OF TRUTH - Critique away!

Post by Yoshima » January 6th, 2010, 10:21 pm

Brutal honesty: about mid-way through the second paragraph I would have put the book down and looked for something else. It wasn't until the third paragraph that I was hooked--and by hooked, I mean I have to know what happens NOW or I'm going to go nuts (very, very good thing!!). So, moral of the story: less backstory, more direct conflict. Then you're golden. :) More specific things below. Good luck on querying!

Nessa wrote:So guys I am a very multi-tasking person and I completed another novel. I am hoping that this one is better then what I have written before and has chances of publishing. Here is my query. Also tell me if this is something you would be interested in reading if you saw it on a back cover or something?

Dear Wonderful Agent,

Kirby, torn from her old life was forced to move into the small town of Capingham when her parents were murdered. But murder seems to follow Kirby like an old-school friend, when ends up witnessing a gruesome murder in the local park. (Either take out "torn from her old life" or rephrase. Right now it sounds like she isn't sad at all that her parents are dead, only that she's stuck in a small town...and that's a little strange.)

Following the investigation that unfolds (take out "that unfolds." It's not necessary.), Kirby discovers that the suspect is a boy named Lucas Wynham. But it does not mean much to Kirby until strange figures (Zombies? Teletubbies? What do you mean by strange figures?) start following her at night, and she starts receiving threatening (how so? Are they "we're going to kill you" or "we're watching you" notes? And why is she receiving them now, when she hasn't done any investigating yet?)notes and e-mails. Curious to find out more about the boy who may be a murderer (why? because of the notes?) Kirby starts going through old archives and questioning anybody who could relate to Lucas (like his friends? Maybe "relate" isn't the best word here). She soon discovers that he was sent away to Juvenile detention centre after murdering a local school girl, but there was no evidence, and prosecutors were unable to sentence him to death. (<--this last phrase doesn't sound right. Getting or not getting a sentence implies that there was some sort of arrest, and if there was no evidence he couldn't have gotten arrested (at least that's how I think of it, which may be totally wrong). Maybe "he walked free" or something.)

Kirby starts out on a chase to find evidence to prove Lucas guilty, yet afraid to show the threatening notes to police, because without evidence they cannot hold him (that doesn't make much sense as a reason for her not showing the notes, which could be evidence). When Kirby sneaks into Lucas’ trailer she discovers a piece of evidence that will put Lucas in the electric chair for sure. She manages to send the information to the cops using her cell phone but before she can get away, she meets with Lucas face to face. At first Kirby is frightened to death, but as he starts talking to her she realizes that Lucas would never murder anyone. And instead of being frightened by Lucas, she begins falling for him (in one night?). But she had already given the evidence that would prove him a killer to the police and she knows that the police will arrest him. But this time there is evidence to put him into the electric chair.

In a race against time Kirby has to find out the real murderer before it’s too late. She only has a piece of a bloodied checkered shoe lace that links to the real killer. Linking the lace to a local asylum, Kirby finds herself facing Lucas’ psychotic twin brother, the one that Lucas was sent away for, and the one that Lucas is willing to die for. The real murderer. (Honestly, I don't think you need this last paragraph in your query. You had me at the last sentence of the third paragraph, and this just tells me too much about how things might end up. The only thing I would suggest is incorporating the first sentence into the end of your third paragraph. Like: "But this time, there is enough evidence to put him in the electric chair unless Kirby finds the real muderer--fast." I mean, don't use that because it sucks, but I think the idea behind it will add drama to your query.)

TWO SIDES OF TRUTH is a 80,000 YA novel of suspense, and mystery. (is it suspense or mystery? Pick one. Sounds more like mystery to me.) Please let me know if I can send you the full manuscript. (This last sentence sounds like you're begging.)

Thank you etc.

lexcade
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Re: TWO SIDES OF TRUTH - Critique away!

Post by lexcade » January 7th, 2010, 6:07 am

Yoshima wrote:Brutal honesty: about mid-way through the second paragraph I would have put the book down and looked for something else. It wasn't until the third paragraph that I was hooked--and by hooked, I mean I have to know what happens NOW or I'm going to go nuts (very, very good thing!!). So, moral of the story: less backstory, more direct conflict. Then you're golden. :) More specific things below. Good luck on querying!

Nessa wrote:So guys I am a very multi-tasking person and I completed another novel. I am hoping that this one is better then what I have written before and has chances of publishing. Here is my query. Also tell me if this is something you would be interested in reading if you saw it on a back cover or something?

Dear Wonderful Agent,

Kirby, torn from her old life was forced to move into the small town of Capingham when her parents were murdered. But murder seems to follow Kirby like an old-school friend, when ends up witnessing a gruesome murder in the local park. (Either take out "torn from her old life" or rephrase. Right now it sounds like she isn't sad at all that her parents are dead, only that she's stuck in a small town...and that's a little strange.)

Following the investigation that unfolds (take out "that unfolds." It's not necessary.), Kirby discovers that the suspect is a boy named Lucas Wynham. But it does not mean much to Kirby until strange figures (Zombies? Teletubbies? What do you mean by strange figures?) start following her at night, and she starts receiving threatening (how so? Are they "we're going to kill you" or "we're watching you" notes? And why is she receiving them now, when she hasn't done any investigating yet?)notes and e-mails. Curious to find out more about the boy who may be a murderer (why? because of the notes?) Kirby starts going through old archives and questioning anybody who could relate to Lucas (like his friends? Maybe "relate" isn't the best word here). She soon discovers that he was sent away to Juvenile detention centre after murdering a local school girl, but there was no evidence, and prosecutors were unable to sentence him to death. (<--this last phrase doesn't sound right. Getting or not getting a sentence implies that there was some sort of arrest, and if there was no evidence he couldn't have gotten arrested (at least that's how I think of it, which may be totally wrong). Maybe "he walked free" or something.)

Kirby starts out on a chase to find evidence to prove Lucas guilty, yet afraid to show the threatening notes to police, because without evidence they cannot hold him (that doesn't make much sense as a reason for her not showing the notes, which could be evidence). When Kirby sneaks into Lucas’ trailer she discovers a piece of evidence that will put Lucas in the electric chair for sure. She manages to send the information to the cops using her cell phone but before she can get away, she meets with Lucas face to face. At first Kirby is frightened to death, but as he starts talking to her she realizes that Lucas would never murder anyone. And instead of being frightened by Lucas, she begins falling for him (in one night?). But she had already given the evidence that would prove him a killer to the police and she knows that the police will arrest him. But this time there is evidence to put him into the electric chair.

In a race against time Kirby has to find out the real murderer before it’s too late. She only has a piece of a bloodied checkered shoe lace that links to the real killer. Linking the lace to a local asylum, Kirby finds herself facing Lucas’ psychotic twin brother, the one that Lucas was sent away for, and the one that Lucas is willing to die for. The real murderer. (Honestly, I don't think you need this last paragraph in your query. You had me at the last sentence of the third paragraph, and this just tells me too much about how things might end up. The only thing I would suggest is incorporating the first sentence into the end of your third paragraph. Like: "But this time, there is enough evidence to put him in the electric chair unless Kirby finds the real muderer--fast." I mean, don't use that because it sucks, but I think the idea behind it will add drama to your query.)

TWO SIDES OF TRUTH is a 80,000 YA novel of suspense, and mystery. (is it suspense or mystery? Pick one. Sounds more like mystery to me.) Please let me know if I can send you the full manuscript. (This last sentence sounds like you're begging.)

Thank you etc.
i agree with a lot of what Yoshima said about this.

as for the threatening messages she receives, there needs to be more at stake to keep her from going to the cops. those messages can be construed as evidence of SOMETHING, so unless her life is threatened or the life of someone she's bonded with (foster parents, friends from school?). speaking of, where does she even live? is she in foster care, living with relatives, in an orphanage? secondly, do these people care about what she's doing or why she's wandering off? if it's a YA novel, then she may or may not be old enough to live on her own, and that is going to color part of her independent snooping.

overall, though, this does sound pretty interesting. good luck :-)
"Art imitates nature as well as it can, as a pupil follows his master; thus it is sort of a grandchild of God." ~~Dante

Nessa
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Re: TWO SIDES OF TRUTH - Critique away!

Post by Nessa » January 7th, 2010, 9:42 am

thanks guys so much for your great help!
Here is the newer version. I ussed all what you guys suggested. I am honestly not great at queries so I am very thankful for this help.

Dear Wonderful agent,

Kirby was forced to move into the small town of Capingham with her grandma when her parents were murdered. But murder seems to follow Kirby like an old-school friend, when ends up witnessing a gruesome murder in the local park.

Following the investigation, Kirby discovers that the suspect is a boy named Lucas Wynham. But it does not mean much to Kirby until she starts being stalked, and starts receiving strange and threatening notes and e-mails. In fear of her own life and her grandmas, Kirby decides to dig into the past of the boy who may be a murderer because she thinks she may be his next target. Kirby starts going through old archives and questioning anybody who knew Lucas. She soon discovers that he was sent away to Juvenile detention centre after murdering a local school girl, but there was no evidence, and he walked free.

Kirby starts out on a chase to find evidence to prove Lucas guilty, afraid to show the threatening notes to police, because they threatened her grandma’s life. Desperate Kirby sneaks into Lucas’ trailer and stumbles onto a piece of evidence that will put Lucas in the electric chair for sure. She manages to send the information to the cops using her cell phone but before she can get away, she meets with Lucas face to face. At first Kirby is frightened to death, but as he starts talking to her she realizes that Lucas would never murder anyone. After meeting Lucas in the trailer she starts to meet with him secretly and she begins falling for him. But she had already given the evidence that would prove him a killer to the police and she knows that the police will arrest him. But this time there is evidence to put him into the electric chair if Kirby doesn’t find the other side of the truth.

TWO SIDES OF TRUTH is a 80,000 YA novel mystery.

Thank you etc.

Yoshima
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Re: TWO SIDES OF TRUTH - Critique away!

Post by Yoshima » January 7th, 2010, 10:24 pm

Hope you're not annoyed of me critiquing you again.
Nessa wrote:thanks guys so much for your great help!
Here is the newer version. I ussed all what you guys suggested. I am honestly not great at queries so I am very thankful for this help.

Dear Wonderful agent,

Kirby was forced to move into the small town of Capingham with her grandma when her parents were murdered. But murder seems to follow Kirby like an old-school friend, when (she) ends up witnessing a gruesome murder in the local park. (You know, I think you could add some drama to this sentence. Maybe something like "But murder seems to follow Kirby like an old school friend: the day she arrives, she witnesses a gruesome murder in the local park." That's probably not the case in the book, but you see what I mean? If that idea doesn't really work for you, that's okay too. These are all just suggestions. :) )

Following the investigation, Kirby discovers that the suspect is a boy named Lucas Wynham. (I didn't notice this the first time around...but if she witnessed the murder, shouldn't she already know Lucas did it? Maybe clarify the situation a bit here.) But it does not mean much to Kirby until she starts being stalked, and starts (you said "starts" a little bit ago, so maybe use a different word here just to keep things fresh) receiving strange and threatening notes and e-mails. In fear of her own life and her grandmas (grandma's), Kirby decides to dig into the past of the boy who may be a murderer because she thinks she may be his next target. Kirby starts going through old archives and questioning anybody who knew Lucas. (<---this sentence isn't really necessary; you already said she's digging into his past) She soon discovers that he was sent away to Juvenile detention centre after murdering a local school girl, but there was no evidence (not enough evidence or no evidence at all? if he went to juvi, I would think there's at least a little), and he walked free.

Kirby starts out on a chase to find evidence to prove Lucas guilty, afraid to show the threatening notes to police, because they threatened her grandma’s life. (<---This sentence is clunky. Split it up, maybe? Suggestion: "According to the threatening notes, if Kirby shows them to the police her grandma's life will be in jeopardy. But if she doesn't find evidence to prove Lucas guilty, [whatever her thought process is for finding evidence].") Desperate (comma)Kirby sneaks into Lucas’ trailer and stumbles onto a piece of evidence that will put Lucas in the electric chair for sure. She manages to send the information to the cops using her cell phone but before she can get away, she meets with Lucas face to face (face-to-face). At first Kirby is frightened to death, but as he starts talking to her she realizes that Lucas would never murder anyone. After meeting Lucas in the trailer she starts to meet with him secretly and she begins falling for him. But she had already given the evidence that would prove him a killer to the police and she knows that the police will arrest him. But this time there is evidence to put him into the electric chair if Kirby doesn’t find the other side of the truth. (These last two sentences both start with "but." Rephrase one of them. I think the first one would be your best bet to rephrase.)

TWO SIDES OF TRUTH is a 80,000 YA novel mystery. (mystery novel)

Thank you etc.
It's looking better! You don't have to take every suggestion we give you, either; do what YOU feel will improve your query. And don't worry about feeling insecure about writing a query--we all do. Just keep swimming. :)

Madaboutstories
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Re: TWO SIDES OF TRUTH - Critique away!

Post by Madaboutstories » January 7th, 2010, 10:27 pm

Nessa wrote:thanks guys so much for your great help!
Here is the newer version. I ussed all what you guys suggested. I am honestly not great at queries so I am very thankful for this help.

Dear Wonderful agent,

Kirby was forced to move into the small town of Capingham with her grandma when her parents were murdered. But murder seems to follow Kirby like an old-school friend, when ends up witnessing a gruesome murder in the local park.

Following the investigation, Kirby discovers that the suspect is a boy named Lucas Wynham. But it does not mean much to Kirby until she starts being stalked, and starts receiving strange and threatening notes and e-mails. In fear of her own life and her grandmas, Kirby decides to dig into the past of the boy who may be a murderer because she thinks she may be his next target. Kirby starts going through old archives and questioning anybody who knew Lucas. She soon discovers that he was sent away to Juvenile detention centre after murdering a local school girl, but there was no evidence, and he walked free.

Kirby starts out on a chase to find evidence to prove Lucas guilty, afraid to show the threatening notes to police, because they threatened her grandma’s life. Desperate Kirby sneaks into Lucas’ trailer and stumbles onto a piece of evidence that will put Lucas in the electric chair for sure. She manages to send the information to the cops using her cell phone but before she can get away, she meets with Lucas face to face. At first Kirby is frightened to death, but as he starts talking to her she realizes that Lucas would never murder anyone. After meeting Lucas in the trailer she starts to meet with him secretly and she begins falling for him. But she had already given the evidence that would prove him a killer to the police and she knows that the police will arrest him. But this time there is evidence to put him into the electric chair if Kirby doesn’t find the other side of the truth.

TWO SIDES OF TRUTH is a 80,000 YA novel mystery.

Thank you etc.

Here's my take on your story:
Kirby moves to a small town, to heal and move on after the death of her parents. Unfortunately, she witnesses a murder in the local park and the suspect is a man who has murdered before and has since been released from juvy hall .When Kirby starts to receivethreatening messeges, she believes she is the next intended victim. So she tries to thwart him by looking for evidence in his trailer, but he catches her there moments after she provides her findings to the police on her cell. Man (Lucas) charms Kirby into believing he is innocent and she sets out to find the real killer before the cops come to arrest him]
To read a story is to breathe life into society-real or imagined, yet the imagined comes out of the truth.

Laura Hyatt

Krista G.
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Re: TWO SIDES OF TRUTH - Critique away!

Post by Krista G. » January 8th, 2010, 1:29 am

Yoshima's line-by-line critique of your most recent draft (I didn't read the previous one, actually) is strong - I just wanted to slap my "Amen!" on it:)

One small thing did jump out at me in the first paragraph: Your phrase "But murder seems to follow Kirby like an old-school friend" didn't work for me because, honestly, my old-school friends don't follow me, so I'm not sure what you mean.

Finally, on a broader note, all the details were a little overwhelming. Maybe sum your story up in caveman speak (Kirby sees murder. Kirby meets Lucas. Kirby thinks he murderer. Kirby falls in love with murderer, and so on) and flesh it out from there. We don't need to know all the little ins and outs of the plot, just the main story arc.

Hope that makes sense. I think me use caveman speak rest of day (which will be easy, seeing as how it's 10:30 :) ).
Author of THE REGENERATED MAN (G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers, Winter 2015)
Represented by Kate Schafer Testerman of kt literary
www.motherwrite.blogspot.com

hartjohnson
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Re: TWO SIDES OF TRUTH - Critique away!

Post by hartjohnson » January 8th, 2010, 1:24 pm

Nessa wrote:thanks guys so much for your great help!
Here is the newer version. I ussed all what you guys suggested. I am honestly not great at queries so I am very thankful for this help.

Dear Wonderful agent,

Kirby was forced to move into the small town of Capingham with her grandma when her parents were murdered. But murder seems to follow Kirby like an old-school friend, when ends up witnessing a gruesome murder in the local park. (I agree with the former suggestion to beef up the phrase here. Give it its own sentence and add more to what/how she witnesses)

Following the investigation, Kirby discovers that the suspect is a boy named Lucas Wynham. But it does not mean much to Kirby until she realizes she is being stalked, and begins receiving strange and threatening notes and e-mails. In fear for her own life and her grandma's, Kirby decides to dig into the past of the boy who may be a murderer because she thinks she may be his next target. Kirby starts going through old archives and questioning anybody who knows Lucas. She soon discovers that he was sent away to Juvenile detention centre after murdering a local school girl, but there was no evidence, and he walked free.

[Kirby starts out on a chase to find evidence to prove Lucas guilty, afraid to show the threatening notes to police, because they threatened her grandma’s life.] (awk)Desperate, Kirby sneaks into Lucas’ trailer and stumbles onto a piece of evidence she is sure will put Lucas in the electric chair. She manages to send the information to the cops using her cell phone but before she can get away, she meets with Lucas face to face. At first Kirby is [frightened to death] (cliches sound amateurish except in dialog), but as he starts talking to her she realizes that Lucas would never murder anyone. After meeting Lucas in the trailer she starts to meet with him secretly and she begins falling for him. But she had already given the evidence that would prove him a killer to the police and she knows that the police will arrest him. But this time there is evidence to put him into the electric chair if Kirby doesn’t find the other side of the truth.

TWO SIDES OF TRUTH is a 80,000 YA novel mystery.

Thank you etc.
I think the STORY sounds interesting, but the language to me sounds... how do I say this without being discouraging or discriminatory... young. I'm not saying young people don't write well- because many do, and I REALLY love seeing young people writing because it bodes well for later writing skill. There is though, a greater dependence on cliches, less sophisticated use of punctuation (commas and such to control the cadence of the wording), starting sentences with conjunctions (but). This flows almost more like the casual language used in speaking, rather than the language we are used to seeing in writing, though I WOULD read it out loud to add those commas and see where sentence length and such should be altered. Also, look at a few of the writing rule lists.

I think it's fabulous that the story sounds so great, but I worry a little bit that the writing of that needs a similar clean up? If you are in first person of a young person, that might be fine, but if you aren't, you may want to look.

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Dankrubis
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Re: TWO SIDES OF TRUTH - Critique away!

Post by Dankrubis » January 8th, 2010, 6:07 pm

I'll give this a shot.

Dear Wonderful agent,

Kirby was forced to move into the small town of Capingham with her grandma when her parents were murdered. See how this sentence can be read in two different ways? You should split it up into two sentences, starting with the murder. Plus, it's in passive voice. Try switching to active. But murder seems to follow Kirby like an old-school friend, I agree with Krista, dunno about old-school friends and following. Plus, and I'm actually not positive on this, I'm not so sure about the comma. when she ends up witnessing a gruesome murder in the local park.

Following the investigation, Is it imperative that Kirby finds out this info after the investigation? If something can be cut that doesn't add to the storytelling at all, you should probably cut it. Kirby discovers that the suspect is a boy named Lucas Wynham. But it does not mean much to Kirby okay, the main character's name is bothering me for two reasons. The only Kirby I know is a 3 ft diameter ball of pink fluff that can float. Plus, that ball of pink fluff is a dude. I'm just sayin', it's throwin' me two ways from Sunday. until she starts being stalked, and starts I did this (hell, I still do) but it's very bad. Stop using the word 'start' before verbs. Just say 'she received.' Try to only use start when you're character is at the racetrack.receiving strange and threatening notes and e-mails. In fear of her own life and her grandmas, Kirby decides to dig how about just digs into the past? into the past of the boy who may be a murderer because she thinks she may be his next target.This last part is real pronoun heavy. Maybe put a period after murder and follow it with "She doesn't want to be his next target." Ugh, I hate rewriting people's sentences. Regardless, it needs to be reworded. Kirby starts! going through old archives and questioning anybody who knew Lucas. She soon discovers that he was sent away to Juvenile detention centre after murdering a local school girl, but there was no evidence, and he walked free.

Kirby starts! out on a chase to find evidence to prove Lucas guilty, afraid to show the threatening notes to police, because they threatened her grandma’s life. Whoa whoa whoa, the police threatened to murder grandma? Oh wait, the notes did. Now I'm no English major, but I think pronouns refer to the nearest previous noun (corresponding with gender) before them. Here, 'they' refers to police, not notes, since police is closer. Just say 'notes' again. Desperate Kirby sneaks into Lucas’ trailer and stumbles onto a piece of evidence that will put Lucas in the electric chair for sure. I'm curious as to what this evidence is. Would it make any sense in the query? Is it a bloody glove? She manages to send the information to the cops using her cell phone but before she can get away, she meets with Lucas face to face. At first Kirby is frightened to death, but as he starts! talking to her she realizes that Lucas would never murder anyone. After meeting Lucas in the trailer she starts! to meet with him secretly and she begins begin- start, spelled different. falling for him. But she had already given the evidence that would prove him a killer to the police and she knows that the police will arrest him. But this time there is evidence to put him into the electric chairOkay, now the electric chair business is bothering me. Unless this story is set in the 50's or not in the US, then I don't think an electric chair would be used. I think even Texas is doing injections. But I could be totally wrong on that one... if Kirby doesn’t find the other side of the truth.

I'd like to offer a suggestion in way of a book - The Elements of Style by Strunk and White. It's an incredible book and will improve your prose ten-fold.

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