population declined query

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epullins
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population declined query

Post by epullins » January 25th, 2012, 5:44 pm

So this is the final draft of a much revised query. I was working with someone on another forum who has been critiquing my query. It has gone through drastic transformations and this is what I have come too. I am still lacking a hook because I was trying to get my synopsis where I wanted it. So I would like to have some feedback. Thanks

A sudden chain of tragedies strikes the nation: New Orleans, an unmanned helicopter crashes into a low class neighborhood; Boston, most residents of an inner-city housing authority building dies of carbon monoxide poisoning; Detroit, a suburban building topples to the ground, killing dozens of citizens.

Darrell Porter, a statistician for the US Census Bureau, unexpectedly stumbles upon a drastic discrepancy between his figures and the recent national census as he checks his results for errors. Alarmed with the differences he decides to look into it further. He realizes there is something more sinister occurring than a mere mistake in data, but the government documents proving the falsified reports mysteriously vanish from his laptop. He shares with his fiancée, his startling findings and the plane she boarded, while returning from vacation, then goes down. He suspects she was deliberately targeted and believes this is the first of many strikes to come issued by the government. As he continues to uncover this unbelievable, multi-agency government scandal he realizes the recent disasters were intentional. Darrell is faced with a vital decision: he can take the damning evidence to the FBI and hope they are not a part of the heinous operation, or he can forget it all and disappear. Either way time is running out for him.

Jaligard
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Re: population declined query

Post by Jaligard » January 26th, 2012, 7:13 pm

epullins wrote:A sudden chain of tragedies strikes the nation: New Orleans, an unmanned helicopter crashes into a low class neighborhood; Boston, most residents of an inner-city housing authority building dies of carbon monoxide poisoning; Detroit, a suburban building topples to the ground, killing dozens of citizens.

Darrell Porter, a statistician for the US Census Bureau, unexpectedly stumbles upon a drastic discrepancy between his figures and the recent national census as he checks his results for errors. Alarmed with the differences he decides to look into it further.
I generally recommend starting off with the main character. Exceptions can be made, of course. (When it works, it works.)

Yours isn't working for me.

You build up these catastrophic events, then cut to Darrell Porter, census auditor, and he's auditing the census. Numbers are off. The horror! Then there's a huge conspiracy and they kill his wife over false numbers? I cannot imagine why—and I have a damned good imagination. Certainly, you will need to show us a) why anyone would do fake census data and b) why it's worth killing to cover up. Also, what does that have to do with killing poor people?

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wilderness
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Re: population declined query

Post by wilderness » February 14th, 2012, 12:50 am

epullins wrote: A sudden chain of tragedies strikes the nation: New Orleans, an unmanned helicopter crashes into a low class neighborhood; Boston, most residents of an inner-city housing authority building dies of carbon monoxide poisoning; Detroit, a suburban building topples to the ground, killing dozens of citizens.
This feels more like a movie trailer but I'm not sure it works for a book query. I think you should start with your main character.

Formatting tip: Break up the second paragraph into multiple paragraphs for better readability.

Darrell Porter, a statistician for the US Census Bureau, unexpectedly stumbles upon a drastic discrepancy between his figures and the recent national census as he checks his results for errors. Removing some unnecessary clauses for a cleaner sentence.


Alarmed with the differences he decides to look into it further. Obviously. He realizes there is something more sinister occurring than a mere mistake in data, but the government documents proving the falsified reports mysteriously vanish from his laptop. How does he realize it is more than than a mistake?

He shares with his fiancée,(no comma here) his startling findings and the plane she boarded, while returning from vacation, then goes down. Lots of problems with this sentence. It feels awkward: it should be "he shares his findings with his fiancee." You also have two different tenses: "shares", "boarded". I would break it into multiple sentences and clarify the order of events. I assume he shared his findings before she got on the plane.


He suspects she was deliberately targeted (obvious) and believes this is the first of many strikes to come issued by the government. What clues does he have to point to the government?

As he continues to uncover this unbelievable, multi-agency government scandal(comma needed here) he realizes the recent disasters were intentional. Darrell is faced with a vital decision: he can take the damning evidence to the FBI and hope they are not a part of the heinous operation, or he can forget it all and disappear. Either way time is running out for him. Not sure that last sentence makes sense; if he can disappear then time would not run out for him.

I think this would be improved if you started with Darrell and gave him some personality. Right now we don't know anything about him but his job. Does he have personality quirks? Why is he the type of person who would uncover this conspiracy? What makes him the hero, and will we believe that he is the type of person who can take on the government? Also, it would be great if you could tie the conspiracy to some of his personal goals and ambitions. The goal is to differentiate the story from other conspiracy stories. Hope that helps!


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