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Sep 9, 2011

Query (Re) Critique #11 - The Final Clue

The Final Clue by Cheryl

To see the original version of this query, check out the original post

Query:

Dear Agent,

FBI agent Gina Russo knows from experience to expect the unexpected.

A tenacious investigator, she thinks clearer and does her best work when she’s alone. But when a series of bizarre poems arrive at her front door following a threatening phone call, the bureau assigns her a partner. Egotistical and self-assured, agent Joey Zicara takes residence in Gina’s home and becomes her shadow. Not only does he disrupt her strict work ethic and challenge her professionalism, she’s more attracted to him than she’s willing to admit.

As the two agents try to unravel the mystery behind the poet's twisted vendetta against Gina, the poems become extremely personal. She attempts to keep her mind on business and her emotions in check.

She needs to stay calm and focused; because experience and instinct have taught her that a threat is often closer to home than we think.

THE FINAL CLUE is a 120,000 word suspense novel, set in New York City.


Redline:

Dear Agent,
FBI agent Gina Russo knows from experience to expect the unexpected. [Expecting the unexpected is very expected. I’d find some other way to say this – also, it’s repetitive if you give us something she knows from experience as the first and last sentence.]
A tenacious investigator, she thinks clearer [This reads clunky] and does her best work when she’s alone. But when a series of bizarre poems arrive at her front door following a threatening phone call [I would drop the phone call bit and say “…a series of bizarre, threatening poems arrive…”], the bureau assigns her a partner. Egotistical and self-assured, agent Joey Zicara takes residence in Gina’s home and becomes her shadow. Not only does he disrupt her strict work ethic and challenge her professionalism, she’s more attracted to him than she’s willing to admit. [I’d ditch the “not only” and make this sentence a list of statements. He disrupts, he challenges, and she’s more attracted to him…]
As the two agents try to unravel the mystery behind the poet's twisted vendetta against Gina, the poems become extremely personal. [This is kind of blah. You tell us they get personal when you need to show us] She attempts to keep her mind on business and her emotions in check. [This sentence does absolutely nothing for you. I’d drop it and replace it with something that gives more insight to the plot.]
She needs to stay calm and focused; because [Cut everything before this] Eexperience and instinct have taught her that a threat is often closer to home than we think.
THE FINAL CLUE is a 120,000 word suspense novel, set in New York City.

Notes:
I know you’re trying to tighten this and you did an amazing job of cutting down, but I think you may have cut too much. Take this, cut out the cliché and the bits that do nothing for your plot or your character and breathe a little more life into the story and I think you should be set.

2 comments:

  1. Amy already gives excellent advice, but I'll just reiterate: the biggest problem for me in this query is lack of specificity. You have a lot of broad statements that are really vague. Get specific and tell us WHAT and HOW.

    I'm also a little bit thrown as to why an agent working a case with another agent would suddenly move in with her, but that's not really a query problem, that's a novel problem.

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  2. I do think this was a good revision. I agree with Amy that it's almost a little too bare bones right now, and could use a little bit more of your plot in there.

    As with what Matthew said, I partially agree, since I would think she would just have officers staking out her home, but the the other part of me loves that forced sexual tension of him living with her, so I'm a little torn by that statement. Since there were two of us who thought it was odd he would move in with her though (at least without knowing the context of the novel), you might just say he was assigned a partner and he is acting as her shadow following her around.

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