12.20.2006

HH Com 210 (205)

Once a member of Philadelphia's crime-for-hire organization, Danielle Ryrie has vowed to make some good come of her life. In 1903, she moves to New York City and finds legitimate work in a family-run restaurant, and her employers accept her as their own. When the extortion gang known as the Black Hand targets her new family, Danielle calls on her destructive training to protect both her employers and the business. Soon the opportunity arises to fell the city's criminal hierarchy, and she allows herself to be drawn back into her former lifestyle. At the height of her war against the Black Hand, Danielle realizes her own corruption when she kills a plainclothes cop. (here's your hook) Desperate to regulate her murderous tendencies, she hires the Black Hand's assassin under these terms: if she ever kills again, he must kill her.

destructive training?
arises to fell the city's criminal hierarchy?
regulate her murderous tendencies?

Those are all candidates for Clunk and Graceless the Writing Hall of Ill-Repute.

Start with last sentence because the crux of your story is this woman trying to straighten out her life.

16 comments:

Virginia Miss said...

The protag takes out a conditional hit on herself if she doesn't reform? I haven't run across this before.

Hmm. Maybe that's what I need to do to stop myself from falling off the diet wagon...

Anonymous said...

So, former assassin takes up the call to bring down the syndicate. But she vows to do it without killing anyone? Okay, I like the woman hit man angle, but I'm a little confused as to whether or not she's reluctant to go back to the lifestyle. You say dragged back in, but the Black Hand is obviously evil and it's a good thing to bring them down, so there wouldn't have to be too much dragging. I think I'd like her more if I knew she was all too happy to go get 'em. Okay, maybe not kill them, but rough them up a little.

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Crystal Charee said...

I like it too. It sounds interesting...But wouldn't the Black Hand assassin already be after her, considering she's at war with them?

HawkOwl said...

There is an interesting story in the protagonist who thinks she's the good guy only to realize later she's the bad guy. Musset did a great job of it with Lorenzaccio. Hiring an assassin to babysit her isn't very relatable, though. She could just plead guilty to killing the cop. Isn't that a capital crime in New York? As it is, it sounds like she wants to get away with killing the cop, and not take responsibility herself for controlling the killing thing, and that makes me not like her. Also, the names "Ryrie" and "the Black Hand" make it sound like urban fantasy rather than a personal-growth story.

Anyway, I think it has more potential than the average crime story. Good luck with it.

Wallydrag said...

The Black Hand is also the name of the secret Serbian terrorist organization that assassinated Archduke Franz Ferdinand, triggering World War I.

It might behoove the writer to consider an alternative name for her crime organization.

Anonymous said...

A female tuff is a tough sale. You have to compete with Kill Bill. Good luck with that. -JTC

Rei said...

The Black Hand? Did you mean to make us think of a pre-WWI Serbian nationalist movement?

jb said...

Last sentence rocks!

Anonymous said...

The Black Hand is one of the traditional names of the mafia.
I think this is an excellent idea for a plot, as the basic dilemma, while slightly implausible, is credible enough to be intriguing. However, the bit where she takes out a conditional contract on herself is too unlikely. It might be carried off, but a more realistic, and possibly comic approach suggests itself.

FortyRounder said...

Danielle was not used as a first name for girls until later in the twentieth century.

BernardL said...

It was interesting pulp fiction until the last sentence. She's a cold blooded killer in the process of doing right. An innocent was killed. Bummer. She can't be both a killer, and chest thumping bleeding heart, at the same time. She can, but she would then be a few increments too far on my believability scale. :)

Blunderbuss said...

Ah dear writers, Snark's idea of perfection is plain,
Try not too much to her to explain, it's bothersome to her basic brain.
Nay, no, her knifely narrow lips she sucks and so,
Keep your synopsis,' simple, stupid, and no,
Fear not the spears, and shed no tears for this cruel, crimped cupid.
Lest you too become,
Another hapless head for her hollow hackneyed humdrum.

Eliza said...

Tons of thanks to Miss Snark and the rest of you.

Most of the questions and concerns brought up are addressed in the story. I'm still wondering how much needs to be in the hook or query, and what doesn't, since there's quite a long drive from "Retiring from Crime, I'm Good Now" to "I Suck So Bad I Need a Shock Collar".

Anonymous was right, the Black Hand here is La Mano Nera, the early Mafia.

Again, thanks so much to the commenters for the comments, because I need to see what you're seeing.

Anonymous said...

The beginning of the hook was slow, but I'm glad I finished until the end -- I would read the book based on the last few sentences. Bring that interest in at the beginning and hold, and I'll bring it home from the store.

Anonymous said...

1903... can you make a female assassin work in that historical setting? Are you too limited by societal conventions... i.e. lack of freedom...

You'll have to do a lot of research, I think....