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Query Shark: #183


MWF Bot:

Dear Query Shark:According to UNICEF, an estimated 2.5 children, the majority of them girls, are sexually exploited in the 12 billion dollar world wide commercial sex industry.  It has been estimated by Stop Child Trafficking Now, SCTNow, that the average predator in the US can make more than $200,000 a year off one young girl.Great! You're querying for a non-fiction book on the problem of sexual exploitation of women.  Oh wait, you're not.Don't begin the query for a novel with a cold burst of information like this.  This isn't your story.  You're also telling (in the least enticing way you could) rather than showing.  I see this a lot with people who write novels to illustrate a problem or make a point.  Don't do it.Danny Charman has retired after a career in the National Football League.  He has started a new career as a lawyer in Dallas.  Actually, all he really wants to do, is work a half day and play golf the other half.  Oh, and of course, he would like to fool around with the ladies as much as possible.  That is, until early one morning, he learns that one of his former teammates has been murdered.  The murder took place at a hunting and fishing lodge in a national forest near a small town north of Dallas.  That afternoon, he learns that another one of his former teammates has been taken into custody.  Immediately, Danny knows something is wrong.  His two former teammates were best of friends, born and raised together in the small town.  One would not have killed the other.This is clunky writing of the worst sort. It's a series of statements, not a paragraph. There is no cadence here; the sentences don't flow readily.Consider this:@font-face {  font-family: "Times New Roman";}p.MsoNormal, li.MsoNormal, div.MsoNormal { margin: 0in 0in 0.0001pt; font-size: 12pt; font-family: "Times New Roman"; }table.MsoNormalTable { font-size: 10pt; font-family: "Times New Roman"; }div.Section1 { page: Section1; }    All Danny Charman really wants to do is work and play golf . Oh, and fool around with the ladies as much as possible. Early one morning he learns one of his former NFL teammates has been murdered at a hunting and fishing lodge. Another former teammate has been taken into custody. Immediately, Danny knows something is wrong.  These guys were best of friends, born and raised together in the small town. One would not have killed the other.That evening, Danny and his young female assistant drive to the town to pay their respects and to start an investigation.   Later that night, with the rain turning into sleet, they are driving on a deserted road in the forest.  Suddenly, a little girl darts out in front of them.  Danny is able to stop the vehicle without hitting her as she runs across the road and into the forest.  He searches and finds her collapsed underneath a tree.  He picks her up.  She is burning up with fever.  She either cannot, or will not talk.  He notices the bruises around her little wrists and ankles.  They take her to the local hospital.  No one there recognizes her.  Evidently, she is not local.You've got the same clunky problem here. Also, you're missing what's at stake for Danny.  Even if he doesn't think his former teammate would have killed his friend, why does he take it on himself to investigate?  There has to be an organic reason for this to happen. By organic I mean a motivation that flows from the plot and characters making choices, not the author deciding this is what has to happen.In order to solve the murder of his former teammate, Danny must first solve the mystery of the little girl.  A mystery that will take him into the underworld of human trafficking and child exploitation. There is no linkage between the two things.  I don't understand what the plot is.  BUTTERFLY SIN, a mystery complete at 110,000 words, is my first novel.  Thank you for your time and consideration.Sincerely,This is a form rejection. It's all set up, and no plot.  The writing is clunky and un-polished.  When I see that in a query, I know I'll see it in the novel.  I'm also EXTREMELY wary of authors who are trying to make a point or teach a lesson, or illuminate a problem in novels.  Story comes first and authors who want to make a point rarely are willing to let the story dominate the points they want to make.  Stories with lessons are called parables, not novels.

Source: #183

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