Query: THE DIM MAN

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Ermo
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Query: THE DIM MAN

Post by Ermo » February 9th, 2011, 1:07 pm

I've made a few changes since I put this up a few months ago. Love any and all feedback. Thanks!

Tim Manning has no soul. Or at least that’s what the latest popular computer application says. Saddled already with a worsening and debilitating heart problem, Tim has no desire to participate in the pop culture phenomenon obsessed with his unique soul score. At first, the successful funeral director ignores the phone calls and blog posts to concentrate on his book – a collection of bizarre obituaries. But when the stress of the media attention sends his heart into a spasm, he plots revenge.

Webster Sparks, owner of the company that sells the application, becomes the target of Tim’s ire. Charmed by success, Webster puts his family life on hold to celebrate his new product on cable news shows until his teenage daughter goes missing. The problem turns Webster's once blissful relationship with his wife combative and leads to a discovery about the creation of his new product that forces Webster to choose between profit and family.

When one of Webster’s employees decides to use the soul tracker to identify and encourage the downtrodden, lazy and apathetic to remove themselves “from the fringe,” it’s Tim that finds himself a target. Every step he takes towards fulfilling his desire to ruin Webster is a step closer to a man that wants him dead.

THE DIM MAN is complete at 70,000-words.

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Falls Apart
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Re: Query: THE DIM MAN

Post by Falls Apart » February 9th, 2011, 3:56 pm

Really good query, and interesting idea. One comment that I'd make, though, would be that it seems a bit confusing. This is just me, but I think there could be a bit more of a transition? After all, you are introducing three seperate plotlines at once. But, again, that's just me. Good luck with your querying!

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Quill
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Re: Query: THE DIM MAN

Post by Quill » February 9th, 2011, 9:10 pm

Ermo wrote: Tim Manning has no soul. Or at least that’s what the latest popular computer application says.
Interesting opening.

I'd omit "Or at least" as it seems to diminish clarity and impact.
Saddled already with a worsening and debilitating heart problem,
I'd jettison either "worsening and" or " and debilitating". One of them is enough.
Tim has no desire to participate in the pop culture phenomenon obsessed with his unique soul score.
Difficult to understand, partly due to the science-fiction element (a new concept) and partly to awkwardness: a phenomenon is an event or effect and neither of these can be obsessed (without personifying them). Consider omitting "phenomenon" and simply go with "...in the pop culture obsession with his unique..." or some such. Even this has problems in that it does personify "pop culture", which is simply a transference of the issue. Better yet would be to clarify by rewriting the sentence to make it clear that people are obsessed or media is obsessed (not a culture or a phenom). Hope that makes sense.
At first, the successful funeral director ignores the phone calls and blog posts to concentrate on his book – a collection of bizarre obituaries.
Concentrate on what -- reading his book? Writing his book? This could stand to be clarified.
But when the stress of the media attention sends his heart into a spasm, he plots revenge.
I get that it's just a figure of speech, but slightly awkward: stress sends his heart into a spasm. Personifying stress, and can a heart be sent into spasm? How about "causes his heart to spasm" or some such.

Also, wouldn't he plot revenge AFTER the spasm? After instead of when? As written it seems he is plotting while (when) in the throes of spasm, which seems unlikely.
Webster Sparks, owner of the company that sells the application, becomes the target of Tim’s ire.
"The application" seems vague, since we are just trying to understand what this program is, and in what sort of a world you have set this story (futuristic? fantasy? another planet?)

Also, "becomes" is rarely a strong verb. Rather it tends to signal passivity: Webster becomes the target rather than Tim makes him the target, or some such.
Charmed by success, Webster puts his family life on hold
This could be sharpened. "on hold" is cliche and doesn't seem to be a natural outcome of being charmed by success. "Charmed by success" doesn't tell us much. Seems like there's got to be a more descriptive word for "charmed" which seems slightly vague and off the mark in meaning. Mesmerized? Swallowed? I guess part of it is that "charmed" tends to have a positive connotation, so it seems to not quite fit when you go on to say that this caused him to put his family on hold.
to celebrate his new product on cable news shows until his teenage daughter goes missing.
What "new product"? The application? Both terms are vague and do not appear necessarily synonymous. Whatever it is that give a soul score and has caused a phenomenon needs, I think, to be made clear, since it is central to your setting. Any way to give a better snapshot of what it is and what it does. It is feeling elusive to me.

And, too much for one sentence: Charmed, he puts family on hold to celebrate until daughter goes missing. Leading to awkwardness: charmed he ignores family to celebrate, and parties until daughter disappears.

The problem turns Webster's once blissful relationship with his wife combative
Awkward, personifying "problem" AND "relationship" : "the problem turns his relationship combative". It should be about him and his wife, no? But as written it is only indirectly.
and leads to a discovery about the creation of his new product that forces Webster to choose between profit and family.
Rather vague, and also undramatic, since you already had him putting the family "on hold" to bask in his (monetary) success.
When one of Webster’s employees decides to use the soul tracker to identify and encourage the downtrodden, lazy and apathetic to remove themselves “from the fringe,” it’s Tim that finds himself a target. Every step he takes towards fulfilling his desire to ruin Webster is a step closer to a man that wants him dead.
Too much info. Not clear how Tim and Webster interact in this book. And bringing in one of the employees as well as "downtrodden, lazy, and apathetic" and '"the fringe" seems to complicate matters of conveying your hook in this query immensely.

I suggest simplifying the query by establishing the clear setting, namely the program that ties the two main characters together -- what is it (I like the term "soul tracker"; perhaps you can say a bit more). And then draw the two characters (which you have, rather nicely), and then show them in their inter-dynamic (how do they interact in this story).

I'd leave out the family (except perhaps the daughter if essential to the nutshell description) and employees, and riffraff of society.

Sounds like a great story.

THE DIM MAN is complete at 70,000-words.

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Re: Query: THE DIM MAN

Post by Joel Q » February 10th, 2011, 11:39 am

Ermo,
I don't agree with everything Quill wrote, but he is absolutely correct about needing more clarification in some spots.
QueryShark say's to let your readers make logical connections in the query, I think you just need to find that balance.
JQ
Ermo wrote: Tim Manning has no soul. Or at least that’s what the latest popular computer application says. Saddled already with a worsening and debilitating heart problem, Tim has no desire to participate in the pop culture phenomenon obsessed with his unique soul score. At first, the successful funeral director ignores the phone calls and blog posts to concentrate on his book – a collection of bizarre obituaries. But when the stress of the media attention sends his heart into a spasm, he plots revenge.

Webster Sparks, owner of the company that sells the application, becomes the target of Tim’s ire. Charmed by success, Webster puts his family life on hold to celebrate his new product on cable news shows until his teenage daughter goes missing. The problem turns Webster's once blissful relationship with his wife combative and leads to a discovery about the creation of his new product that forces Webster to choose between profit and family.

When one of Webster’s employees decides to use the soul tracker to identify and encourage the downtrodden, lazy and apathetic to remove themselves “from the fringe,” it’s Tim that finds himself a target. Every step he takes towards fulfilling his desire to ruin Webster is a step closer to a man that wants him dead.

THE DIM MAN is complete at 70,000-words.

Ermo
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Re: Query: THE DIM MAN

Post by Ermo » February 15th, 2011, 2:53 pm

Thank you so much for your constructive feedback Joel, falls apart and Quill. I have updated my query. Please let me know what you think of this version.

Tim Manning has no soul. Or at least that’s what the latest popular computer application says. Saddled already with a debilitating heart problem, Tim has no desire to participate in the pop culture phenomenon obsessed with his unique soul score. At first, the successful funeral director ignores the phone calls and blog posts to concentrate on writing his book – a collection of bizarre obituaries. But when the stress of the media attention causes his heart to spasm, he plots revenge.

Webster Sparks, owner of the company that sells the application, becomes the target of Tim’s ire. Charmed by success, Webster ignores his family to celebrate his new product on cable news shows until his teenage daughter goes missing. The problem turns Webster's once blissful relationship with his wife combative and leads to a discovery about the creation of his new product that forces Webster to choose between profit and family.

Tim devises a plan to discredit Webster’s soul tracker by unmasking the mystery of how it works. The more information he gathers, the more he learns that the true purpose of the application is not commercial. Soon, Tim finds that each step he takes towards exacting revenge on Webster, the closer he gets to a man that wants him dead.

THE DIM MAN is complete at 70,000-words.

glj
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Re: Query: THE DIM MAN

Post by glj » February 15th, 2011, 5:49 pm

This reads pretty well. It has flow and is generally cohesive. However, I feel that you could add a little more explanation and really pique my curiosity. This gets me about halfway there, thinking "hey, this is kinda cool, but then the conflict and antagonist are not really given, so will the author do any better in the full manuscript?"


Funeral directorTim Manning has no soul.--orOr at least that’s what the latest popular computer application says. Great opener! Saddled already The term "saddled" seems too minor for a heart problem. How about "Struggling with . . . and trying to avoid stress,"? with a debilitating heart problem, Tim has no desire to participate in the pop culture phenomenon obsessed with his unique soul score. At first, the successful funeral director he ignores the phone calls and blog posts to concentrate and concentrates on writing his book – a collection of bizarre obituaries. But when the stress of the media attention causes his heart to spasm, he plots revenge.

Webster Sparks, owner of the company that sells the application, becomes the target of Tim’s ire. Charmed by success, "Charmed by" seems a little off. How about "Obsessed with his new success, ..." Webster ignores his family to celebrate his new product on cable news shows. Then untilhis teenage daughter goes missing. The problem turns Webster's once blissful relationship with his wife combative This doesn't seem to have any part in the plot. and leads to a discovery about the creation of his new product that forces Webster to choose between profit and family. I don't understand WHY he has to choose between profit and family. Will his daughter only be returned if he stops selling the computer program? And this conflict seems a little mundane, especially given the nature of the "lack of a soul" problem.

Tim devises a plan plans to discredit Webster’s soul tracker by unmasking the mystery of how it works. The more information he gathers, the more he learns that the true purpose of the application is not commercial. This is somewhat intriguing, but the lack of any further information prevents it from being stronger. This hints at a deeper, darker problem, but you don't develop it any further, leaving me a bit frustrated. Is the grim reaper going digital? Is it the North Koreans? Soon, Tim finds that each step he takes towards exacting revenge on Webster, the closer he gets to a man that wants him dead. The problem with this is that the "man" is a complete drop-in. This adds no tension and seems like a quick and easy way to wrap up the query. Except it does nothing for you. We don't know the stakes for Tim. We don't know the stakes for Webster. We have no idea what choice Tim will have to make.

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Re: Query: THE DIM MAN

Post by Joel Q » February 15th, 2011, 6:30 pm

Ermo wrote: Tim Manning has no soul. Or at least that’s what the latest popular computer application says. Saddled already with a debilitating heart problem, Tim has no desire to participate in the pop culture phenomenon obsessed with his unique soul score. At first, the successful funeral director ignores the phone calls and blog posts to concentrate on writing his book – a collection of bizarre obituaries. But when the stress of the media attention causes his heart to spasm, he plots revenge.

Webster Sparks, owner of the company that sells the application, becomes the target of Tim’s ire. Charmed by success, Webster ignores his family to celebrate his new product on cable news shows until his teenage daughter goes missing. The problem turns Webster's once blissful relationship with his wife combative (you could delete and it won't hurt the query. If it's a major plot point, make it a separate sentence and maybe elaborate a bit.) and leads to a discovery about the creation of his new product that forces Webster to choose between profit and family. ( maybe use "career" instead of profit or something similar)

Tim devises a plan to discredit Webster’s soul tracker by unmasking the mystery of how it works. The more information he (Tim? maybe use funeral director) gathers, the more he learns that the true purpose of the application is not commercial (maybe a hint here). Soon, Tim finds that each step he takes towards exacting revenge on Webster, the closer he gets to a man that wants him dead.
(I'd bring back the missing daughter, tie up that lose end, in this paragraph and a bit more info about the "man." Give us a hint about the man, if I remember the man created the program? Because I read the earlier version, I know the man is not Webster, but that might not be clear to new readers.)

The one thing you don't give us in Tim's story choice, what his options will be when he finds the truth and the man. I think the way it's written you might not need it, but then again you might, depending on the agent.

THE DIM MAN is complete at 70,000-words. (list the genre in this sentence)

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Re: Query: THE DIM MAN

Post by Hillsy » February 15th, 2011, 6:31 pm

Hey Ermo,

This reminds me of a cross between 'Florida roadkill' and 'One of Us'. It's got a good, peppy sort of feel to it and, once you get what is going on, a clever idea backing it up. Tim's character matches the story well as being slighty quirky, which counterpoint's Webster's capitalist motives.

On to the nit-pick
Ermo wrote:
Tim Manning has no soul. Or at least that’s what the latest popular computer application says.
Straight off the bat, fess up! Took me three reads to realize that the 'Soul Score App' actually works!! And that Tim is the ONLY person to have ever scored zero. Such a clear concise concept so underplayed it becomes lost.

Saddled already with a debilitating heart problem, Tim has no desire to participate in the pop culture phenomenon obsessed with his unique soul score. At first, the successful funeral director ignores the phone calls and blog posts to concentrate on writing his book – a collection of bizarre obituaries.

Again your own words are papering over some good ideas. Tim has a weak heart and doesn't want the fame - he's already stressed trying to write and sell his book. This concept is clear and so easily digested it's almost perfect. By not stating up front the fact the App REALLY WORKS, you've had to over embellish with phrases to prop the initial concept up.

But when the stress of the media attention causes his heart to spasm, he plots revenge.
'Heart to spasm' sounds like a Romeo and Juliet moment. "Puts him in hospital" or "Nearly Kills him" is how I'd describe a near heart attack. Sounds daft, but I don't think you realise how tidy this story is. The only thing letting it down is a few turns of phrase and a bit of incorrect emphasis

Webster Sparks, owner of the company that sells the applicationName the App, becomes the target of Tim’s ireHe is the target, you've just told us. Charmed by success, Webster ignores his familyHow? did they say not to air it? to celebrate his new product on cable news shows until his teenage daughter goes missing.
This is probably really easily fixed, but I don't know the timeline. Does his daughter go missing before, during or after he's promoting the App on the news? I can't tell. This is confusing but a real easy fix. Also, is his daughter kidnapped? Because this is how it reads. We've seen so many TV shows we assume someone has abducted his daughter to block the release. If this ISN'T the case. Reword it

The problem turns Webster's once blissful relationship with his wife combative and leads to a discovery about the creation of his new product that forces Webster to choose between profit and family.
Again a slight emphasis problem. It seems that his big problem is the break-up of his marriage, but reading below it's the "discovery" about the App not being commercial. Also by replace "family" with either "Finding his daughter" or "Protecting his marriage" really spells out the stakes involved.

Tim devises a plan to discredit Webster’s soul tracker by unmasking the mystery of how it works. The more information he gathers, the more he learns that the true purpose of the application is not commercial. Soon, Tim finds that each step he takes towards exacting revenge on Webster, the closer he gets to a man that wants him dead.
Ding. Neat finish. Reckon you fix the above and agents wont get this far before requesting pages.
I mean reading it 4 or 5 times I've almost got the plot nailed down in my head. I think with a bit of re-emphasising the right bits and a bit of adjustment with words and you'll get the plot across in 1 read. Add in a dash of voice and style and you're done

Good luck

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Re: Query: THE DIM MAN

Post by Ermo » February 21st, 2011, 12:02 pm

This continues to evolve. Thanks for your help and continued feedback. I've incorporated some suggestions form hillsy, glj and Joel in this latest version. Please let me know what you think.

Tim Manning has no soul. Or at least that’s what the latest popular computer application says. Saddled already with a debilitating heart problem, Tim has no desire to participate in the pop culture phenomenon obsessed with his unique soul score. At first, the successful funeral director ignores the phone calls and blog posts to concentrate on writing his book – a collection of bizarre obituaries. But when the stress of the media attention causes his heart to spasm, he plots revenge.

Webster Sparks, owner of the company that sells the application, becomes the target of Tim’s ire. Charmed by success, Webster ignores his family to celebrate his new product on cable news shows until his teenage daughter goes missing. The problem leads to a discovery about the creation of his new product that forces Webster to choose between profit and family.

Tim plans to discredit Webster’s soul tracker by unmasking the mystery of how it works. The more information Tim gathers, the more he learns that the true purpose of the application is not commercial. A man obsessed with removing the low soul scores from society walks the Chicago streets. With Webster’s daughter at his side, this man makes Tim his next target. Soon, Tim finds that each step he takes towards exacting revenge on Webster, the closer he gets to a man that wants him dead.

THE DIM MAN is complete at 70,000-words.


Note: I want to call it a literary thriller but am worried the word count is too low to fit into literary. Maybe just thriller? Do I need a category?

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GaoYuQing
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Re: Query: THE DIM MAN

Post by GaoYuQing » February 21st, 2011, 12:11 pm

Ermo wrote:This continues to evolve. Thanks for your help and continued feedback. I've incorporated some suggestions form hillsy, glj and Joel in this latest version. Please let me know what you think.

Tim Manning has no soul. Or at least that’s what the latest popular computer application says. Saddled already with a debilitating heart problem, Tim has no desire to participate in the pop culture phenomenon obsessed with his unique soul score. is the pop culture phenominon the obsession with the app or his zero soul point? I'm a little confused.At first, the successful funeral director ignores the phone calls and blog posts to concentrate on writing his book – a collection of bizarre obituaries. But when the stress of the media attention causes his heart to spasm, he plots revenge.

Webster Sparks, owner of the company that sells the application, becomes the target of Tim’s ire. Charmed by success, Webster ignores his family to celebrate his new product on cable news shows until his teenage daughter goes missing. The problem leads to a discovery about the creation of his new product that forces Webster to choose between profit and family.

Tim plans to discredit Webster’s soul tracker by unmasking the mystery of how it works. The more information Tim gathers, the more he learns that the true purpose of the application is not commercial. A man obsessed with removing the low soul scores from society walks the Chicago streets. With Webster’s daughter at his side, this man makes Tim his next target. Soon, Tim finds that each step he takes towards exacting revenge on Webster, the closer he gets to a man that wants him dead.

THE DIM MAN is complete at 70,000-words.
Note: I want to call it a literary thriller but am worried the word count is too low to fit into literary. Maybe just thriller? Do I need a category?
The one thing that jumps out of me, eclipsing any other analysis I'd try and make is the massive understatement when Webster's daughter's dissapearance is referred to as a "problem." Maybe it's a parental knee-jerk.
Aside from that and the one comment I included it seems pretty tight to me. Funny thing is, I can totally see this sort of app being created.
As far as catagory goes, I think word could would be less relevant than the nature of the story itself. Which catagory do the themes fit in best, and damn the WC. :)

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Re: Query: THE DIM MAN

Post by Ermo » February 21st, 2011, 1:07 pm

Excellent point Gao on the word "problem." That had been bothering me and now I know why. I'll wait to post revisions after a little more feedback, should it come. Thanks!

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Re: Query: THE DIM MAN

Post by glj » February 21st, 2011, 3:15 pm

Ermo, I like what you have done, especially the last paragraph. The change gives me just enough information to really pique my curiosity. Well done.


Tim Manning has no soul. Or at least that’s what the latest popular computer application says. Saddled already with a debilitating heart problem, Tim has no desire to participate in the pop culture phenomenon obsessed with his unique soul score. At first, the successful funeral director ignores the phone calls and blog posts to concentrate on writing his book – a collection of bizarre obituaries. But when the stress of the media attention causes his heart to spasm, he plots revenge.

Webster Sparks, owner of the company that sells the application, becomes the target of Tim’s ire. Charmed by success, Webster ignores his family to celebrate his new product on cable news shows until his teenage daughter goes missing. The problem leads to a discovery about the creation of his new product, that forces forcing Webster to choose between profit and family.

Tim plans to discredit Webster’s soul tracker by unmasking the mystery of how it works. The more information Tim gathers, the more he learns that the true purpose of the application is not commercial. Seems to need a transition here. A man obsessed with removing the low soul scores from society walks the Chicago streets. Very nice! This gives the plot the zing that it needed, and makes the danger to Tim very clear. With Webster’s daughter at his side, this man makes Tim his next target. Soon, Tim finds that each step he takes towards exacting revenge on Webster, the closer he gets to a man that wants him dead. Ah, yes, in order to solve one problem, Tim must approach another problem. Look out, Tim!

THE DIM MAN is complete at 70,000-words.

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Re: Query: THE DIM MAN

Post by littlebird » February 25th, 2011, 5:29 pm

Wow! This has really come a long way in a VERY short period of time.

There is still one thing that hangs me up every time I read it...unique soul score. Is there any way to move that into the previous sentence?

Other than that, it's great!

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Re: Query: THE DIM MAN

Post by Ermo » February 28th, 2011, 11:36 am

thanks littlebird and glj. Great suggestions. I feel like this is in great shape.

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Re: Query: THE DIM MAN

Post by misstante » February 28th, 2011, 12:21 pm

Tim Manning has no soul. Or at least that’s what the latest popular computer application says. (Battling?) a worsening and debilitating heart problem, Tim has no desire to participate in the pop culture phenomenon obsessed with his unique soul score. At first, the successful funeral director ignores the phone calls and blog posts to concentrate on his book – a collection of bizarre obituaries. But when the stress of the media attention (stops his heart?), he plots revenge.

Webster Sparks, owner of the company that sells the application, becomes the target of Tim’s ire. (Driven or obsessed?) by success, Webster ignores his family in order to promote his new product on cable news shows. then his teenage daughter goes missing. The problem turns Webster's once blissful relationship with his wife combative and leads to a discovery about his new product that forces Webster to choose between profit and family. (this sentence was a little hard for me to follow -?

When one of Webster’s employees decides to use the soul tracker to identify the downtrodden, lazy and apathetic and remove them “from the fringe,” Tim finds himself a target. Every step he takes towards fulfilling his desire to ruin Webster is a step closer to a man that wants him dead.

THE DIM MAN is complete at 70,000-words.Ermo

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