Monday, September 10, 2012

Pitch Polish #111 (missed entry - added later)


The Consequential Element
Action/Suspense/Thriller
101,000 words

Query:


The Consequential Element, is a completed work of thirty-six chapters and 101,000 words in the action/suspense/thriller genre.

Danni Montgomery, a child survivor of a rebel raid on an African village fifteen years earlier, receives a letter written by her uncle who has mysteriously disappeared somewhere deep within the African Congo. In it, her uncle speaks of a fantastic discovery that will change the fate of the troubled United States from China's imminent takeover. A rare earth element known as Promethium, the missing element needed for the completion of Viper 6 - an unprecedented stealth missile - that will secure the position of world leader for the United States. Now, Danni is leading a team of mercenaries on a journey into the harsh, remote corners of the Congo. A journey where Danni makes a phenomenal discovery of her own. Searching for her uncle and his remarkable find, Danni must face her worst fears - the man who murdered her mother and burned the village - the man who stole the essence her life. But will she choose love over hatred? Or will her desire for revenge prove stronger than she can bear...
First 150 Words:
Chapter 1

"What do you mean, you have to turn me in? Do you know what you're saying?" Roland Dupre sat in the over-stuffed, brown leather chair across from Simpson's desk, his fists clenched at the betrayal of his old friend's words.

Charles Simpson stood staring out the window into the gardens of the U.S. Embassy. The sweet, nutty scent of his Cuban cigar wafted through the air, landing on Roland's taste buds. "This isn't Botswana we're talking about," Simpson said, "It's the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and you crossed the line when you went digging there. The DRC wants what they believe to be rightfully theirs, for the benefit of their country."

Roland sneered. "Come on, Charlie. We've been friends far too long, and seen far too many years of political bullshit for you to think I'd believe that crap. You know as well as I do the rebels have been working with the Chinese on digs like mine, ever since they discovered the element Yttrium a few months back."

8 comments:

Christine Sarmel said...

Love a good thriller! It's fun to see one in the pitches.

In the query portion, there are a lot of countries listed. Which ones are the most important to Dani's story? Maybe take out the ones that aren't critical to who Dani is, what she wants and what's in the way of getting it.

I know what you mean about the cigar scent landing on the taste buds, but it makes me picture Roland with his mouth hanging open:)

The third paragraph of chapter one contains a lot of information which makes it flow a little less smoothly as dialogue. Is there a place to weave some of it in as the story unfolds?

Good luck with your ms. I'm always ready to read the next great thriller.

Melodie Wright said...

I love this premise!
Your query seems to be missing some punctuation and I'm mentioning this bc incorrect puncutation is a red flag to agents. If you can't get it right in a short query, there's a huge chance your entire MS lacks proper punctuation.

I suggest: a colon between "takeover" and "A rare earth"...
And a word is missing between "essence" and "her." Perhaps "the essence of her life?"
And the sentence beginning "A journey where" could be reworked to flow better. Perhaps: It becomes a journey where...

In your excerpt, perhaps avoid telling us why Roland's fists are clenched. We can figure it out.
Otherwise, I'd read on! Good luck!

theemptypen said...

The child survivor of a rebel raid peaks my interest and feels very topical, as does the threat of China. I also like the idea of a revenge story.

I read the query before looking at the genre and expected it to be sci-fi based on Promethium…I had no idea that was a real element. Now that I know it is, I trust that you know your stuff.

On my first read, I thought the uncle was the man who burned the village. On my second read, I don’t think so. I would like some clarity on that. If he is, then choosing love over hate makes some sense. If not, then I wonder if there’s a romantic plot that I’m missing.

For me, it would be easier to read if the query were broken into multiple paragaphs.

“-- the man who stole the essence OF her life” I added the all caps…is this what you meant? I don’t know if I need that phrase at all; murdering one’s mother and burning a village is pretty clearly earth-shattering.

Good luck and thanks for sharing.

theemptypen said...

The child survivor of a rebel raid peaks my interest and feels very topical, as does the threat of China. I also like the idea of a revenge story.

I read the query before looking at the genre and expected it to be sci-fi based on Promethium…I had no idea that was a real element. Now that I know it is, I trust that you know your stuff.

On my first read, I thought the uncle was the man who burned the village. On my second read, I don’t think so. I would like some clarity on that. If he is, then choosing love over hate makes some sense. If not, then I wonder if there’s a romantic plot that I’m missing.

For me, it would be easier to read if the query were broken into multiple paragaphs.

“-- the man who stole the essence OF her life” I added the all caps…is this what you meant? I don’t know if I need that phrase at all; murdering one’s mother and burning a village is pretty clearly earth-shattering.

Good luck and thanks for sharing.

amandakbyrne said...

You've got a lot of interesting elements in this query, and those make me want to read more.

I'd remove the first sentence. You should always include the word count, title, and genre of your work, but you don't need to include that it's complete (it should be, because if it's not, don't query!) or the chapter count. Oh, and remove the comma after the title (grammar Nazi, sorry!)

I love China. I'm obsessed with China. I love that your story details the threat of China as an impending superpower in the world, and that the US has fallen from grace. But the way you've worded these sentences has me lost. We know Danni's a child survivor, and this important (keep it). Do we need to know right away how long ago it happened? Not really. We need to know about her uncle and his discovery (that weapon sounds FASCINATING, BTW) but it's buried.

I'd fix that by starting a new paragraph. End the first paragraph by saying Danni gets a letter from her mysteriously disappeared uncle, and start the new paragraph with the contents of the letter.

Oh, and the third paragraph could be about Danni's journey into the Congo.

I hope this wasn't too harsh. I think this would truly hook some lucky agent, your query just needs to be a little more streamlined.

Wendy Lawrence said...

I love this! I am definitely reading it when it comes out. I love the juxtaposition of the political history and the personal history. I'm assuming this is YA? My only concern with the opening is that it is all about adults. Of course, I'm only seeing 150 words, but I would just consider that--making sure the kids are at the forefront. Good luck!

Jane Ann McLachlan said...

In the query, your characters and brief hints of backstory intrigued me, but I lost interest when you stated your characters' mission - to build a lethal bomb to aim at China. The stakes simply don't sound high enough to warrant this. A 'takeover" is fairly peaceful, if unpleasant. US companies have bought up a lot of Canadian companies - this is a takeover - but we aren't leveling stealth missiles at you. The only justification for bombing another country - if there is one at all - its that they are bombing you. If this is the case, you need to write your query in a way that makes it quite clear, and shows that this is the US' only hope of survival.
The first 2 paragraphs of your 150 words are good. Interesting and well-written. In the third, avoid the word "sneer". Make it obvious from his words what his tone of voice is. Also, never have one character tell another what he already knows. This is obviously intended for the reader and people don't talk that way. (As you know, Tom, we're on our way to Alaska to hunt bears" "Yes, and as you know, Dave, we read the weather report this morning and a storm is brewing exactly where we're going.") Find another way to include the information naturally.

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