Friday, December 3, 2010

Query 34: Redux

Shadow of Turning

Dear [Name of Agent]:

A favor for a friend lands Latina lawyer Gianne Noble in the middle of a double murder trial and a media frenzy, with the paparazzi poised to make or break her career. Her legendary client, fallen Tejano music star Benny Benavides, would choose death row over letting his daughter–or his lawyer–learn the family secret that would clear him. Then Gianne's pursuit of the truth uncovers the tie between the victims and the daughter's long-dead mother.

Gianne's client begs her to shield his child. If she stands silent by his side, she'll lose–with cameras rolling–both the case and a reputation for rescuing the innocent. Benny will be executed. An orphaned girl, believing her father a murderer, will remain sheltered forever from a far more savage truth, unaware he sacrificed his life to protect her.

Gianne must turn away from her own client–betray him–to set him free. She also must shatter his daughter's life with knowledge no child should ever hear, for the victims' blood also flows through her veins. And Gianne knows that the girl will learn worse, unimaginably worse, the legacy of evil borne by a depraved killer who stalked her through Benny's concerts, watching, waiting....

Gianne's client is willing to die by his choice. She has to live with hers.

Set in the scenic Texas Hill Country, SHADOW OF TURNING, a 95,000-word suspense novel, is based on an actual case pulled from the files of an FBI profiler. My education in literature and law took root in my native Texas but was cultivated at Oxford. Here are [agent's requirements] of SHADOW OF TURNING for your consideration. Thank you for your time.

Comments

I think this is almost there! It may well garner requests (and I hope it does!) as is, but I do have a couple of suggestions.

The first is a subtle change. In P1, we get effect before cause when the second sentence tells us Benny has a family secret he'd choose to keep over death row. But it's in the next sentence that Gianne discovers that secret. To keep the query more in G's POV, you could switch the order.

The second suggestion is around P3. For me, it teases, but not concretely enough. It raises questions about a killer who stalked her and seems to be trying to create suspense around that when in fact it's something that happened in the past and, from the rest of the query, I'm assuming that the stalker is dead and the daughter is no longer in physical danger from him/her. It feels kind of like a cheat.

This is one time when I would suggest trimming that third paragraph. Silence would speak more than the tease that's there, I think. So maybe something simple like:

But to maintain her reputation and set Benny free, she must betray her client and destroy a young girl's innocence.

Her client is willing to die by his choice. She has to live with hers.

I love those last two sentences!

13 comments:

rkollman said...

Phoenix, thanks so much! As you can see, one subtle change necessitates another...and another...etc.! Do you mind one more pass to tell me what you think?


A favor for a friend lands Latina lawyer Gianne Noble in the middle of a double murder trial and a media frenzy, with the paparazzi poised to make or break her career. Then Gianne's pursuit of the truth uncovers the tie between the victims and her legendary client's long-dead wife. But fallen Tejano music star Benny Benavides would choose death row over letting his daughter learn the family secret that would clear him.

He begs Gianne to shield his little girl from knowledge no child–no one–should ever hear. If Gianne stands silent by his side, she'll lose–with cameras rolling–both the case and a hard-won reputation for rescuing the innocent. Benny will be executed. An orphaned girl, believing her father a murderer, will remain sheltered forever from a far more savage truth, unaware he sacrificed his life to protect her.

Or, to save Benny's life (and preserve her own reputation), Gianne must turn away from her own client, betray him. Destroy a young girl's innocence.

Her client is willing to die by his choice. She has to live with hers.

Etc.


You are an invaluable resource. I cannot thank you enough.

Lauren K said...

I think this is a huge improvement over the original. It sounds like a really interesting story.

In the second to last paragraph of the revised version, do you think the first word should be changed from "Or" to "But"?

Good luck

rkollman said...

Thanks, Lauren! I have my e-pals at QueryTracker to thank. I've been haggling back and forth with the But-Or thing. Anybody else have an opinion?

AA said...

I would leave off But and Or. Just start the sentence with To.

It's like saying, "To get ---, then I have to do this. To get --------, then I have to do something else."

rkollman said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
rkollman said...

Great idea, AA! Thanks. I've been thinking the "If..." construct of the paragraph describing the first choice dictated a "prefix" word to introduce the second, but perhaps it doesn't. It does read cleaner without it. Any other opinions?

03 December, 2010 21:37

Phoenix said...

Ha! I went back and forth on how to intro that bit in my suggestion, too :o)

I wound up suggesting the "but" and the "maintaining her rep" because of the original "if" condition. Setting Benny free is another conditional. But the "if" phrase is a few sentences back. I didn't think a conjunction by itself helped the reader remember what the condition was, which is why I added the reminder of the "maintaining her rep". I would still go with the "but" to clue the reader that you're about to intro the second condition. If you go with AA's suggestion, then delete the conditional "if" in the paragraph before, but you'll still want to make it clear there's a choice involved.

I would lose the parens in that paragraph and tie the sentence frags together more smoothly. I LOVE frags, but I think the way you've positioned the frag and the comma splicy thing before*, they draw attention to themselves without delivering the punch they could.

I like how you revised P1!

In P2, I would delete "--no one--". It interrupts the rhythm and the thought. "no child" is strong enough here, I think.

Good luck with this! I think you should get lots of requests!

*Yes, it's not a comma splice and there's some technical term for it, but it's not quite 6 in the morning and I haven't had enough coffee yet to remember it -- or care ;o).

rkollman said...

Thanks, Phoenix. You're an inspiration (decaf or not!).

Phoenix said...

With me, you always know you've got a really good query going when I start debating conjunctions and such. Unlike some other editor types, I start talking grammar only when I'm backed into a corner with nothing else to say. *insert warding sign*

rkollman said...

LOL! Down to pickin' nits. This is it, I think, on P2 and P3:

He begs Gianne to shield his little girl from knowledge no child should ever hear. If Gianne stands silent by his side, she'll lose–with cameras rolling–both the case and a hard-won reputation for rescuing the innocent. Benny will be executed. An orphaned girl, believing her father a murderer, will remain sheltered forever from a far more savage truth, unaware he sacrificed his life to protect her.

But to save Benny's life and preserve her reputation, Gianne must turn away from her own client--betray him--and destroy a young girl's innocence.

[insert burnt offering icon]

Phoenix said...

By Jove, pad it with a nice bribe and I think you've got it!

rkollman said...

I've read on the blogs they've all gone to Pay-Pal now.

Thanks again. And again....

(laughing - noticed my captcha is "cohells" just as I was wondering why the two of us were doing this at 0-dark thirty on a Saturday morning....)

Anonymous said...

I got the tingles when i read the query> smooth satisfying not unlike a cup of coffee on a bright morning, eye opening and a pleasue to savor.
Enjoyed your dialogue between sips of my cold instant beverage. I drink caffeine chilled for some reason. The query cranked me much more than my beverage. Thank you both for a great start to my day.
Bibi