Monday, November 30, 2015

Feedback Request

At the risk of wearing out my welcome I'm hoping you'll give one more look at a re-write of my query for ONE WAY TO TUCSON (title of the moment) [Most recently seen here.]

Former two-tour Marine MP Trevor Hayworth is now a substitute mailman. One day, while he’s delivering, a young woman begs him to help her escape [From ?] —but warns against calling the police. He returns at night, breaks in, and stun-guns her captor. [Starting with the next sentence, the word "trafficking" (or "traffickers") appears seven times in seven sentences. For some reason I get sick of reading it.] The girl, Alita, tells Hayworth the man is a boss in an international sex trafficking ring and Hayworth can’t call the police because ranking officers are clients of the traffickers. While Hayworth processes the mess they’re in, two trafficking couriers arrive for a money pick up. When the fight is over the couriers are tied up, the trafficking boss is dead, and the mess has metastasized. [That's a pretty long setup paragraph. Removing a few unnecessary words might help:

Former Marine MP Trevor Hayworth hears a woman calling out to him from a nearby house, begging for rescue. He pulls out his cell phone, but she warns against calling the police. Hayworth breaks in and subdues her captor. The girl, Alita, says the man runs an international sex trafficking ring with ranking police officers among his clients. As Hayworth processes this mess, two couriers arrive for a money pick up. When the dust clears, the couriers are tied up, the boss is dead, and the mess has metastasized.]

Later, Hayworth and Alita are in his pickup, racing out of San Diego for Tucson, where the girl’s family supposedly lives. With them is a list of names and numbers of trafficking honchos from around the world—and their clients. [When you said "With them" I wasn't sure you didn't mean with the girl's family.] Chasing them east on Route 10 are trafficking thugs, corrupt cops, and a twisted newspaper reporter who moonlights as a hitman.

Between shootouts and hospital visits Hayworth tries to get the trafficking info to the right people. He realizes it’s unlikely they’ll make it to Tucson, and if they do he has a bad feeling the welcoming committee won’t be Alita’s family. [If the immediate goal is to get the info to the right people, I'm not sure we need Tucson. Unless the right people are in Tucson. You could combine the last two paragraphs into something like:

Hayworth and Alita race out of San Diego carrying a list of names and numbers of trafficking honchos from around the world—and their clients. Chasing them east on Route 10 are thugs, corrupt cops, and a twisted newspaper reporter who moonlights as a hitman. If they can make it to Tucson unscathed, they can turn the list over to the FBI, reunite Alita with her family, and live happily ever after.]


If someone asked me to rescue her from a house, I'm not sure I'd assume I could handle it by myself. There could be a gang of guys holding her captive. I'd probably bring along a few of my ex-marine buddies.

I would expect a house containing the boss in an international sex trafficking ring to also contain a few of his underlings and more than one woman in need of rescue.

Once they're far from San Diego, all they have to do is drive about 110 miles per hour. They should eventually attract some state troopers who aren't clients of the sex traffickers.

In checking a map to see how long they have to drive (about 6 hours) I discover most of the trip from San Diego to Tucson is on Interstate 8. Interstate 10 runs from LA to Phoenix, then south to Tucson, and they would merge into 10 between Tucson and Phoenix. Most of the "chasing" would probably be on I-8. (Assuming when you say "Route 10" you mean the Interstate.)


Anonymous said...

Like in EE's re-write, simplify and be more specific about goals.

Who are they trying to get the list to? The FBI is a good bet, so why don't they just call the FBI's number or stop in briefly at a public library and use their web page?
There are similar ways to contact the CIA, secret service, etc.
I'd also expect a former marine to have friends or back-up of some kind he could pass info off to. I realize this wouldn't preclude him being chased, but I need a better explanation as to why they haven't succeeded in getting the list to anyone within a day or two, and in this day of internet connectable cell phones, within an hour or two.

"between shootouts and hospital visits..." is confusing. Shootouts I understand. Hospitals aren't generally mobile, and last we saw, the characters need to be. Are you saying they're bandaging themselves up in emergency rooms and then taking off again? Most hospitals are required to do a bunch of legal stuff with shooting victims. Going around it will have more law enforcement getting involved, other hospitals being notified, etc.

A better ending might be something along the lines of "news of them keeps traveling faster then they are. If their enemies have figured out where they're going, the welcoming committee won't be Alita's family"

InkAndPixelClub said...

I can only speak for myself, but I'm fine with commenting for as long as you need query advice.

I'd definitely try a first paragraph that's closer to EE's revision. Maybe even add in Alita's captor attacking her after she calls for help so Trevor has a reason to intervene immediately. Like EE pointed out, the longer it takes Trevor to act, the less sense it makes that he's so underprepared. If he runs in to stop what he thinks is a domestic dispute turning violent and then learns that the woman is the victim of a sex trafficking ring that the cops are in on, it makes more sense that he's on his own and not at all ready for what he's walking into.

Not loving the two uses of passive voice in paragraph two. And I don't feel like knowing they're all heading east on Route 10 is essential, which could solve EE's concerns about where most of the drive actually takes place. And I'm still not sure why Alita's family "supposedly" lives in Tuscon. Does Trevor not believe Alita? Is she not sure if her family is still there?

It might help your query if you stuck with what Trevor knows and experiences in order. Does Trevor know when they start for Tuscon that the thugs, crooked cops, and reporter/hitman are all after them? If not, maybe mention when Trevor and Alita first encounter them and what happens instead of listing them all at once.

Who are the right people and how far away are they? Is Trevor looking for a partilcular person with the authority to shut down the sex traffickers nag ring, someone who will believe his word over the crooked cops? Or are they just looking for the nearest non-crooked police officers?

Mister Furkles said...

You can even trim EE setup some. But mostly you need to be specific about what they encounter after leaving town. “Chasing them...are...thugs” and “Between shootouts and hospital visits” are just too vague. And I suspect you are hiding something about the main plot. Don't hint at things that may be Hayworth's suspicions. Expose the major plot points except the ending.