Mainstream Novel Query - THE DIM MAN

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Ermo
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Mainstream Novel Query - THE DIM MAN

Post by Ermo » October 25th, 2010, 10:30 am

All advice is welcome - just trying to get better. Thanks!

Dear Agent –

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

Sal, the creator of the soul tracker application, walks the Chicago streets encouraging the downtrodden, lazy and apathetic to remove themselves "from the fringe." Sal targets Tim while Webster suspects Sal is capable of unspeakable evil. Webster, Tim and Sal's lives intertwine as each pursues the other in a storm of conflicting motivations.

THE DIM MAN is a 70,000-word mainstream novel.

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oldhousejunkie
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Re: Mainstream Novel Query - THE DIM MAN

Post by oldhousejunkie » October 25th, 2010, 1:09 pm

OK, first off, it's a good idea to pick one POV for a query. I think romance novel queries are the only ones that can get away with the multiple POV thing. Second thing, while I am getting a good sense of the characters and to some extent their motivations, you don't show us how their lives intertwine. Showing not telling. :-)

I think I might try to write this from Webster's POV, and then bring in Tim and Sal as viewed from Webster's relationships with them. I say Webster because I'm assuming that his daughter's kidnapping is the one of the main conflict. Plus he's the creator of this computer program that seems to be creating the evil lurking on the edges of this query. :-)

Good try! Best of luck to you.
Ermo wrote:All advice is welcome - just trying to get better. Thanks!

Dear Agent –

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

Sal, the creator of the soul tracker application, walks the Chicago streets encouraging the downtrodden, lazy and apathetic to remove themselves "from the fringe." Sal targets Tim while Webster suspects Sal is capable of unspeakable evil. Webster, Tim and Sal's lives intertwine as each pursues the other in a storm of conflicting motivations.

THE DIM MAN is a 70,000-word mainstream novel.

fishfood
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Re: Mainstream Novel Query - THE DIM MAN

Post by fishfood » October 25th, 2010, 9:50 pm

My general rule of thumb when reading queries, is if I have to re-read it to understand what's going on, something needs to change. Take that with a grain of salt because I don't claim to be the brightest bulb in the box either! However, once I figured out what was going on, I really think this is super unique and creative!
Ermo wrote:All advice is welcome - just trying to get better. Thanks!

Dear Agent –

Tim Mann has no soul. (I really like this opening line and the play on the name!) Or at least that’s what the latest popular computer application says. (I don't like this line. I had to re-read this to realize the computer must have analyzed him and said he had no soul...right? Which leads me to wonder...what the heck is society doing with a computer application that identifies if a person has a soul?) 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 (is Tim 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.

Okay, I would clean this up to make sense. Try:Tim Mann has no soul. Or at least that is what the online (if it's online, then it makes sense his score would be public, otherwise can you explain how his score becomes publicized? Was he a volunteer on tv to demonstrate the application?) computer application "Soul Tracker" says. He earned a big fat zero, making him an instant fodder for public fascination once his score is publicized.

As a funeral director, Tim is in good company with the soul-less. He may as well have no heart either--the one he's stuck with is debiliated and only getting worse with each passing day. But when the public's fascination with him sends his weakend heart into a spasm, he plots revenge.

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

Sal, the creator of the soul tracker application, walks the Chicago streets encouraging the downtrodden, lazy and apathetic to remove themselves "from the fringe." Sal targets Tim while Webster suspects Sal is capable of unspeakable evil. Webster, Tim and Sal's lives intertwine as each pursues the other in a storm of conflicting motivations.

I'd really encourage you to stick with one pov. You sort of have "mini queries" within the query with the three separate characters. Though the novel may have equal plot lines that merge into one, for the sake of the query, stick with one pov. The query just has to be enough to get the agent to want to read on, I'd stick with Tim's revenge,how he targets Webster, but doesn't realize he is being targeted as well...

THE DIM MAN is a 70,000-word mainstream novel.

SuCue
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Re: Mainstream Novel Query - THE DIM MAN

Post by SuCue » October 27th, 2010, 2:32 pm

Great idea for a story! I'd read it!

I also had to re-read the query twice to "get" what was going on, and agree about the multiple POV. Great opening line though.

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D.Bond
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Re: Mainstream Novel Query - THE DIM MAN

Post by D.Bond » November 26th, 2010, 3:38 pm

Ermo wrote: Tim Mann has no soul. Good line. It's nice and straight to the point. Or at least that’s what the latest popular computer application says. I think having popular in there kinda catches the reader, it interrupts the flow of the sentence. 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. You need to make it clear that Tim is the funeral director. But when the stress of the media attention sends his heart into a spasm, he plots revenge.

Webster Sparks, owner of the company that created the application, becomes the target of Tim’s ire. Now you have two POV's. Generally not a good thing in queries. Charmed by success, Webster puts his family life on hold to promote his new product on cable news shows until his teenage daughter goes missing. The problem turns Webster's once blissful relationship with his wife tense and combative and leads to a discovery about the creation of his new product that forces Webster to choose between profit and family. Interesting. Now this sounds like it's going to be about Webster.

Sal, the creator of the soul tracker application, And character three. Let's try to keep it down to one. Figure out who the main character is and write it from their perspective. Also, Sal creates the application and Webster owns the company that owns the application (aka: Webster owns the application)? That took me a few tries to get. walks the Chicago streets encouraging the downtrodden, lazy and apathetic to remove themselves "from the fringe." Sal targets Tim while Webster suspects Sal is capable of unspeakable evil. Webster, Tim and Sal's lives intertwine as each pursues the other in a storm of conflicting motivations. What are the stakes? :(

THE DIM MAN is a 70,000-word mainstream novel.
All in all it looks really good. You just need to stick with one MC for the query, even if your novel has three POV's. Good luck!

priya g.
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Re: Mainstream Novel Query - THE DIM MAN

Post by priya g. » November 27th, 2010, 3:26 am

Ermo wrote:All advice is welcome - just trying to get better. Thanks!

Dear Agent –

Tim Mann has no soul. Or at least that’s what the latest popular computer application says. Saddled already with a worsening and debilitating heart problem, HOW ABOUT YOU SIMPLY STATE THE PROBLEM? THAT WAY, WE KNOW THE GRAVITY OF THE SITUATION 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. THIS LAST SENTENCE SEEMS TO BE THROWN IN WITH THE PARAGRAPH.

Webster Sparks, owner of the company that created the application, becomes the target of Tim’s ire. Charmed by success, Webster puts his family life on hold to promote his new product on cable news shows until his teenage daughter goes missing. The problem turns Webster's once blissful relationship with his wife tense and combative and leads to a discovery about the creation of his new product that forces Webster to choose between profit and family. THIS LAST SENTENCE IS VAGUE, AND THOUGH YOU ARE TRYING TO SUM IT ALL UP, IT SEEMS TOO WIDE. TRY TYING IN THE FAMILY AND HIS RELATIONS WITH THEM IN THE BEGINNING AND HOW THEY DETERIORATE SOMEWHERE AT THE END.

Sal, the creator of the soul tracker application, NOW I AM LOST. THERE IS AN APPLICATION, A FUNERAL DIRECTOR AND A "PRODUCT" BY WEBSTER. MAYBE I AM JUST SLOW, BUT THIS IS JUMPING TO ALOT OF THINGS. TRY BRINGING THEM TOGETHER WITHOUT STRAINING THE READER. walks the Chicago streets encouraging the downtrodden, lazy and apathetic to remove themselves "from the fringe." Sal targets Tim while Webster suspects Sal is capable of unspeakable evil. Webster, Tim and Sal's lives intertwine as each pursues the other in a storm of conflicting motivations.

THE DIM MAN is a 70,000-word mainstream novel.
Overall, the voice is good, but the problem seems to be too many details that are left mid air. Waiting for the next version!

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Inglory
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Re: Mainstream Novel Query - THE DIM MAN

Post by Inglory » November 27th, 2010, 9:14 am

Hi Ermo,

I was really confused by the first paragraph, and am still not entirely sure I understand the plot, so I'm going to summarise the story as I understand it:

Tim Mann, a successful funeral director, has been told by a computer program that he has no soul [how? and why would he believe it? Also: I thought this was mainstream, but it sounds like sci-fi to me]. He's already sick with a physical heart condition, so this is the last thing he wants to hear. So at first he ignores the virtual diagnosis and goes back to writing his book - a collection of bizarre obituaries [unless this detail is fundamental to the plot, I'd leave it out].

But Tim is continually hassled by messages via phone and the internet [again, why? and why doesn't he just block them?] about the absence of his soul, so he decides to wreak revenge on the program's owner, Webster Sparks.

Webster is so busy promoting his soul-detection program that he only realises how much he's neglected his family when his teenager daughter goes missing, kidnapped by Mann [you don't say this, but it's the only logical conclusion that ties the two first paragraphs together]. This somehow [it's very difficult to see how - and I don't think the problems with the wife make sense here, as you've already implied them at the start of the paragraph] leads to a discovery about his program. And as a consequence [this section is too nebulous: surely he's already chosen his job (i.e. profit) over his family] he has to chose definitively between his job and his family.

Sal [surname?], the soul-detection program [whatever you call this program, it should stay constant - maybe even give it a name e.g. Soulware]'s creator approaches homeless people and encourages them to ??? [here I really have no idea. Kill themselves?] On his travels he finds Tim Mann [where? why?]. Webster thinks Sal is capable [capable, or guilty, of? I have no idea what he's doing, or how it's related to the program and his missing daughter]. Somehow [I don't think you can leave this out because it's really hard to imagine], the lives of Sal, Tim, and Webster become intertwined due to conflicting motivations [which? Motivations are the very essence of a story. You can't just hint at them].

Additional points to consider:

1. Try writing your story in really simple prose. I think style is getting in the way of meaning here.
2. Try writing the query from one person's perspective, even if the novel isn't related like that. Then you can get in some motivations and build some atmosphere. At the moment you're trying to do too much (which is natural when you're boiling 70,000 words down to a couple of hundred) and it's weakening your query.

Hope this helps. Look forward to seeing the revision.

Faye

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SSB
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Re: Mainstream Novel Query - THE DIM MAN

Post by SSB » December 8th, 2010, 5:05 pm

I was confused by this and stopped reading:
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.

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J. T. SHEA
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Re: Mainstream Novel Query - THE DIM MAN

Post by J. T. SHEA » December 10th, 2010, 7:34 pm

I like the names, Ermo. Both of the novel and of the funeral director.

I take it the soul score computer application is not a magical soul detector, but rather made a metaphorical assessment based on a questionnaire Tim completed? And that Sal is encouraging suicide rather than self-improvement? If so, you might spell it out more.

I don't have a problem with the three POVs.

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