Monday, October 05, 2015

Feedback Request

Those crazy American Pawnbrokers are back. Is there no one who can stop them?

Former FBI consultant Flynn Christopher is asked by a friend at the bureau for a favor; let the FBI use Flynn’s Baltimore area pawn shops for a sting involving fake credit cards. Their target is Alexei Antonov a former Russian Colonel.

It’s supposed to be simple, do a meet and greet and leave it to the professionals, but Antonov “Google's” [Googles]  Flynn before the meeting. He learns Flynn is well connected to the American Pawnbrokers Association, [and] just the guy Antonov needs.

Antonov is about to pull off the heist of the century, countless millions in diamonds from a processing and cutting plant deep in the Ural mountains. However he lacks a network to sell the stones, reputable dealers won’t handle diamonds with an unknown history, but he thinks pawnbrokers will. [I'd go with semicolon after "stones" and period after "history."]

They start small, a couple of hundred carats for Flynn and some friends. When the fake network is expanded Antonov is hooked. But Flynn acts like this is a game,provoke Antonov, get him to expose himself so the FBI can follow the money and roll him up. [Either period after "game" and start new sentence with "He" or change "provoke" and "get" to "provoking" and "getting."]

Then the impulsive Flynn makes up [comes up with] a plan on [of] his own own, [colon] make Antonov believe he’s been double crossed.It’s classic Flynn, he can't’ [can't] resist taunting the lion in the cage, but this time the cage door comes open. [Semicolon after "Flynn" and period after "cage."]


Not bad. So, was Antonov ever involved in credit card fraud? Because that still seems like it might be more interesting to the FBI than diamonds stolen from a Ural Mts. mine. 

A sting is a good way to catch someone selling stolen credit card numbers. If a guy has millions in stolen diamonds, can't they just swoop in and arrest him with the goods?


InkAndPixelClub said...

It's finally happened. We're I've forgotten how many drafts into this query and I finally have some inkling of Flynn's personality. This is a significant step in the right direction.

The connection to the stolen credit card scheme still isn't clear, but that could easily be cleaned up by adding "for his latest plan" or something similar to the last sentence of paragraph two.

Like EE, I'm not sure what is being accomplished by setting up and expanding a fake diamond fencing network. I'm also not sure what Flynn hopes to accomplish by making Antonov think he's been double crossed. You need to lay out why the FBI needs a lengthy and complicated sting operation to catch a guy smuggling stolen diamonds and what tricking Antonov is supposed to do aside from make him angry.

Metaphor is not usually a great idea in a query if you don't also explain what happens. I can guess that the cage door coming open means that Antonov goes after Flynn and Flynn isn't as well protected as he thought. But I'd rather know what Antonov does and what Flynn intends to do about it.

One of the purposes of a query is that show off your writing abilities. So a query needs to be thoroughly proofread. You'll want to go through at least once to fix your punctuation errors and stuff like the double "own" in the last paragraph, and a second time to work on your style and sentence structure. You have an awful lot of sentences which mention a thing and then go on to a clause (which should generally be preceded by a color in these cases) that explains what that thing is. One or two is okay, but more than that and the editor might start thinking you don't know how to write with rhythm and variety.

So instead of

"It’s supposed to be simple: do a meet and greet and leave it to the professionals,"


"Flynn is supposed to do a meet and greet with Antonov, then leave it to the professionals."

Rather than

“Then the impulsive Flynn comes up with a plan of his own: make Antonov believe he’s been double crossed.“

go with

"Then the impulsive Flynn comes up with a his own plan ro make Antonov believe he’s been double crossed."

Or if Flynn is able to put the plan into action

"Then the impulsive Flynn tricks Antonov into believing he’s been double crossed."

If Flynn actually carries out the plan, we don't need to know that he also came up with it.

You've got more of Flynn's personality in here. Now you need to focus on why Flynn is doing the things he does, what he hopes to gain, and what he's going to do once everything backfires on him.

Anonymous said...

Congratulations on progress.

The only things I'll add is that I, too, would like a bit more info on story progress. However, this version of the query is already on the long side so you may end up needing to cut something. Since you do nothing with the fake credit cards here, maybe drop that part and start with Antonov and his plan. Then you should have room to tell us what Flynn plans on doing now that Antonov wants to kill him.

Something like.

Start with paragraph 3, rephrasing so we know who's who and what's what. Then "Enter Flynn Christopher, pawn broker well connected to the American Pawn Broker's Association, and, unknown to Antonov, former FBI consultant.

Anonymous said...

I counted 14 punctuation mistakes. You've really got to run your manuscript by a professional proofreader.

Nice work. Kudos for laboring on this thing and persisting through our critiques! I agree it's good that we're finally learning about Flynn's personality -- the impulsive Flynn seems like a bit of a maverick, a guy who thinks he's tougher than he actually is. I'd introduce that note right away so we can read the query with this guy's character in mind. I don't know if I've got the impulsive maverick thing quite right, but it would be something like "The only excitement in Flynn Christopher's life is his memory of the time he served as a casual FBI consultant. When the Bureau asks him to help with another sting, he jumps at the chance to get some action -- maybe even more than the FBI intends." Something at the beginning to lay down a thread we can follow throughout the query.