12.15.2006

HHCom 16

Persons of Interest’ examines E.M. Forrester's dictum - "If I had to choose between betraying my country and betraying my friend, I hope I would have the guts to betray my country."

The novel follows the lives of four young scientists at Bell Labs from the late 90's through early 2002. Karim is a Princeton-educated Pakistani chemist. Dana is a lesbian laser expert from MIT who plays drums in a punk band called The Downer Cows. Jonathan is our narrator and Bob a mathematician. They all contribute to a Pakistani charity that supports a refugee camp on the Afghan border sponsored by Karim’s wife.

Their mentor Kosta, a Nobel Prize contender in Princeton, dies early in the story. On his deathbed he gives them money in a numbered bank account in Abu Dhabi and a secret method for enriching uranium. The group soon finds that several shady organizations want the secret.

They lose their jobs when the Labs goes broke in the summer of 2001. They meet in France in early September, 2001, to organize their own company. They observe the events of 9/11 on CNN. Returning from France they are detained at the airport in Chicago. The Americans are released after a few days but Karim has simply disappeared.

Our narrator goes to Pakistan to find Karim and they end up at a village on the Afghan border on the night of December 12th. The CIA has arranged a twenty-four hour ceasefire during the battle of Tora Bora. Why?

A hook doesn't explain backstory. It artfully entices you into wanting to know the story.
The only thing that interests me here is your last paragraph.

6 comments:

Rei said...

Everywhere that you write "in the story", you're forcably throwing us out. It's almost like you're deliberately un-hooking us.

McKoala said...

Um... EM Forster.

Anonymous said...

It seems to me that if one is going to quote a famous author, one should have the good sense to spell the author's name correctly. E(dward) M(organ) Forster. (Unless the hook writer means some other person named E. M. Forrester that I've never flipping heard of.)

HawkOwl said...

Yeah, I've already spent ten years with college students. It was tedious then, and it sounds worse now.

Benja Fallenstein said...

I liked the quote at the beginning. That one has me hope for an interesting story. (But only if the query letter goes on to give me an idea of how it relates to the story :-))

The second paragraph doesn't have anything that makes me want to read the story.

The deathbed stuff might work for me, but you'd have to go on and develop your plot from there -- instead, it doesn't seem to have any relation to the rest of the query.

The fourth paragraph has some more or less random events and I don't know why I should care about them :-(

The question at the end is indeed somewhat interesting, but again it seems like just the starting point of a story. It might work for me, if you developed your plot from there.

My advice, for what it's worth, would be to focus on one thing and develop a plot from there...

Mig said...

The Quote has nothing to do with the plot that follows. Better to state the point without the quote, e.g., "In [book title] [character] must choose between betraying his country and betraying his freind." AS I see it the conflict is deciding who to betray, but I get no sense as to which charater is the MC or the focus of this conflicted decision. Then discribe the conflict more specifically by detailing the nature of the betrayal. Then state that this takes place during the battle of Tora Bora, which I agree was the only part that interested me. You can do all that in half the space you're alloted here, but will say more in the process. Cut all the other plot points, character descriptions, and background.