Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Face-Lift 1360

Guess the Plot

Killer in Heels

1. Desperate for queries, minions go on a rampage looking for writers. When they find a dive bar populated by the writerly blocked, there will be spilled ink, some of it red. Also, a dog named Killer.

2. When cross-dressing psychopath Bennie Furhlong gets out of prison, ace detective Zack Martinez knows two things: Diamonds aren't just a girl's best friend, and he's not going on any blind dates for a while.

3. The death blow was a puncture wound to the throat. Can Detective Carl Badsfield find the killer in six inch heels? Or will the killer get lost in the annual Fashion Week?

4. Mavis knows she looks good in a flirty pair of red stilettos. She didn't realize that meant a top shoe designer would fall dead at her feet. Accused of murder (and worse: being passé), Mavis is caught between what may be a cursed pair of red shoes and the fashion police. Also, donuts.

5. The world's deadliest assassin, Mina Harper, is used to working alone, but she's assigned by the Company to work with another assassin. Which wouldn't be so bad if her new partner weren't an insufferable know-it-all. Fortunately there are few problems that can't be solved by a loaded 
Springfield PC9111 Pro.

6. It’s Comic-Con for serial killers on at South Pacific Island Resort, with more than a score of them present, using false names. Sunday morning, Murderer-in-Flipflops is found hanging from a royal palm.  On Monday, Slasher-in-Wingtips is found drowned in the Jaccuzzi. Tuesday, Bludgeoner-in-Nikes is found dismembered on the Bar-B-Que grill. Killer-in-Heels must solve the mystery before she is a victim--unless she is the serial killer serial killer.

Original Version

Dear Mr. EE:

Mina Harper has worked alone for nine years. She isn't allowed to know exactly who she works for, but since the age of nineteen, Mina has been the world's deadliest assassin. She has killed over three hundred bad guys, but can't seem to find a [one] good guy to go out with. She fears she'll forever be alone, but solitude isn't so bad, especially [not] with a loaded Springfield PC9111 Pro, and a warm cup of chamomile-hibiscus tea to keep her company.

Her [Mina's] manager Darrington is her only link to company headquarters, and he's taught her almost every skill she knows. And when he tells her she'll have a male partner on the biggest assignment of her life, she isn't sure if her employer is doubting her abilities, or if her targets really are that lethal. Either way, she has to prove herself, or die trying.

Mina's targets, three men at the head of a billion-dollar child trafficking operation with drug dealings on the side, are well-armed, masterfully hidden, and guarded. Mina's partner Jasper, or the world's other [Second-] deadliest assassin, thinks he knows more than she does about everything. Proving her worth [with this albatross around her neck] is going to be a lot harder than she imagined.

KILLER IN HEELS is a 73,000-word novel of suspense sprinkled with a bit of dark humor and romantic comedy. I imagine Mina Harper as Jack Reacher's ultra-feminine, sophisticated counterpart (thus the title).

Thank you for your time and consideration.


I think I'd either refer to the bad guys as a crime syndicate rather than child traffickers, or leave out the humor/romantic comedy aspect. The reader of your query may not trust your ability to successfully combine child trafficking with romantic comedy. Of course it's too late to change the book and make the  bad guys jewel thieves, but once the agent starts reading the book and sees how brilliantly you've brought these seemingly incongruous species together, that will no longer matter.

That said, the idea of two incompatible loner assassins forced to work together has appeal. Maybe the query should focus a bit more on that.


Chicory said...

This is probably nit-picky, but it was only as I reached the end of the query that I realized the protagonist's name was Mina HARPER not Mina HARKER so I was expecting some paranormal element involving vampires. Other `Dracula' fans out there could be less given to careless speed reading, but just in case, you might want to consider changing either her first or last name.

Anonymous said...

If Mina is currently 28, you might want to say that and leave the math to figuring out she was nineteen when she started being an assassin or became the best or w/e, so a tired reader like me doesn't hit the end of the query before they realize this isn't supposed to be YA/NA. How does one get the title of best assassin anyway? Kill everyone else who makes the same claim?

Mister Furkles said...

If Mina kills one bad guy a month, it takes her 25 years to kill 300 of them. Romance at 50 is more like women's fiction. Maybe you want to back off on the 300 bad guys or mention she killed large groups of them with bombs.

Anonymous said...

The whole human trafficking angle really says "Taken" to me more than Jack Reacher, but I'm not much of a Tom Cruise fan.

I find it incongruous that Mina has been killing people for nine years and never stopped to wonder who she is actually working for and how they are choosing her targets. An incredible lack of curiosity or incredible naiveté?

Hyphenated compound adjectives! I feel soothed.

Anonymous said...

The query is well-written, so I predict agents will pick or pass based on story premise - as the comments already show.

I think the most important thing to sort out in your query is that you are accurately representing the way your character is in the book. At the moment, there is a disconnect. On the one hand, you compare her to Jack Reacher, who is tough, confident and independent. On the other hand, she's all worked up about her worth relative to men. But after 300 assassinations (almost one every 10 days), Harper doesn't have to prove her worth. She already has. It defies belief she wouldn't already know it.

Given the way Harper buys into/internalizes very traditional thinking about women and their relationship to men, I think you would have better luck pitching this as a romance rather than as suspense (assuming the same is true in the book). It's possible suspense agents will not want a character who defines herself in relation to others, while romance agents may expect it.

Wilkins MacQueen said...

Hey Author,

Age her up to 34 - 38. 19? Sorry, please give me a break. Reacher/Cruze - need another break here. Can you please use your imagination/writing ability to create the character and not refer to/lean on the R/C thing?

Sorry, but leaning on known movie characters kills this for me. Really sorry but that comparison smacks of lazy. Now I am very, very sorry, but why would I read this and just not flick on a Reacher movie?

Don't mean to hurt feelings, now I am really, really sorry. A no for me. Can you please make me want read this story instead of leaking Tom into it?

Wrong age, movie comparison - planting Tom's face in the query isn't impressive for me.

Sorry, really sorry. I believe you can do this better, letting the reader imagine looks and not borrowing a "face" or name. Let me be part of the query as I imagine what he looks/acts like. I don't like being hit in the face with a mackerel - as I felt with the Tom thing.

The premise - I saw no humor in this. Show me please, don't tell me.

Good luck, rethink, not there yet. IMHO.

Wilkins MacQueen said...

"...she isn't sure if her employer is doubting her abilities, or if her targets really are that lethal. Either way, she has to prove herself, or die trying."

Really, really sorry but at 19 with so many kills does this make sense? If in the kill world, you do not hire someone you doubt. In in that world you want the job done.

Too many holes, for me to leap frog over.

I think you should think of the story line. Is this humorous, romantic or a shoot 'em up? With trafficking?


Sorry, I know you (as all do) worked hard but the query kind of rolls over and splays out. I truly don't get it. If I were (Heaven forbid) an agent or some sort of elevated judge choosing, we'd be having too many meetings/discussions to get this baby on the road. And much as I'd like to I can not put my idea of the face over Tom's. Too strong an imagine to overcome - for me.

Wish you well. Not there yet from what I read.

Mister Furkles said...


Jack Reacher is the MC of Lee Child's novels. I read them and refused to see the movies because Tom Cruise is truly awful casting. Reacher is about 6'5" and very adult. Two things Cruise can't manage.

And Mina is 28 having spent nine years killing 300 'evil' people. Well, that is just too many people to kill one-by-one. Even Ted Bundy killed at a pace of one every eight weeks. So, you're right here. Three hundred in nine years is about one a week with some holidays and vacation.

But these a easy things to fix in the query.

CavalierdeNuit said...

Thank you EE for critiquing my query. Thanks everyone for the feedback. I really appreciate it. I love the fake plots.

The novel is written, but there's lots of editing that needs to be done. I know where to go with it now. Not in the romance direction. I abhor romance. So I'll focus more on how Mina and Jasper have to work together without the romantic comedy.

Chicory, I'm the Dracula fan, but I'll change her name to something like Mina Baskerville. I want her name to have a dark edge. Some people might squawk at a name that's too close to one of Stoker's characters.

Mister Furkles, thanks for clearing up the Jack Reacher reference. I am referring to Lee Child's character and not Cruise. Also, the 300 bad guys include the bodyguards her targets have had. She's killed about 72 targets, but when you figure in the pawns getting in her way, it equals to 300 or so. I can take the total down to 200 if it would make more sense.

Mina does not compare herself to men. She is a straight, lonely woman looking for love when she's not killing (her job), like many people are. I figured this gender issue might come up, so here's where I stand:

Mina is human and doubts herself like we all do sometimes. She knows there might be someone younger and/or better ready to take her place. She does not compare herself to men. The majority of pros in her field are men. She would feel the same need to prove herself if the majority of her coworkers were women. In reality, hired assassins are typically male. In books and movies, hired assassins are typically male. Mina has to prove her worth in the field of hired assassins as a whole. Has nothing to do with gender.

I find it strange how Jack Reacher is allowed to have women to love along the way, but no one would encourage Lee Child to write a Jack Reacher romance novel.