#79 Crapometer


Heartsicle, Pa., is a town built on chocolate and sustained by the candy company, the theme park and Franklin & Paine University. But the proposed construction of an administrative building downtown triggers a fight with the business owners who will have to move and threats against the Doves, the family whose name will adorn it.

The Doves are one of Heartsicle's prominent families, the creators of the long-running "Gastown Gang" comic strip but an auto accident and suspicions of theft have shaken them. As a Heartsicle police detective and friend of the family, Bette Fisher will discover that their troubles were not bad luck. Someone wants to destroy the family.

There’s a lot to be said for starting sentences with the subject. One of the main attractions is that it promotes clarity. Consider: Bette Fisher, a Heartsicle police detective and friend of the Dove family, discovers their troubles are not bad luck. See the difference?

The battle over two of the buildings threatened with demolition -- the Majestic Trans-Lux porn theater and the abandoned "Stonehead Manor," the Victorian turned apartment building -- uncovers their secrets.

The battle over the threatened demolition of the the Majestice Trans Lux porn theatrel and Stonehead Manor the now abandoned Victorian apartment building reveals their secrets.

To Kate Gaddis, the film buff whose father, Ralph, is fighting to save downtown, she discovers that the Majestic was built by her great-grandfather and passed down to Ralph, who sold it. Raised to be an activist, she is disenchanted with politics, but unsure of her future.
She finds direction in a potential relationship with Daniel Frederick, and her link to the theater's past.

Stonehead Manor's proposed demolition triggers an awakening in Professor Philip Dodd. In 1975, Dodd saw the girl he loved, Sandy, killed there by her father, Mervin Oliver. Thinking her father had followed him to her, he blames himself for her death. Dodd re-visits the story behind the killing and understands how it caused him to withdraw from life, love and grieving.

It didn’t cause him to withdraw from life, love and grieving. It caused him to withdraw from life and love, grieving. Or better yet; it cause him to withdraw from life and love.

Meanwhile, the Dove family threatens to implode. Edgar Dove hurt his hand in the wreck, and his son, Marcus, now draws the strip. Edgar's second wife, Elena, tries to hold the family together and keep the business running. The new accountant, Walter Friheit, reconstructing the business records, wants a forensic audit because he suspects embezzlement.

When Bette and her partner, Harry Justus, investigate a burglary at the studio in which computers and CDs were stolen, she wonders if it was just another break-in, or someone wanted to hide something.

On her way to the theater with her husband, Bob, Bette encounters a beaten Marcus. He claims he was mugged, but his wallet, with money, was found nearby.

Edgar, disgusted by the strip's falling readership and his son's inability to replace him, decides to end the strip. Marcus vows to fight his father. But Marcus is shot to death in the studio. On his chest was pinned a Nixon campaign badge.

The murder shakes Bette, who knew Marcus and helped him when he was a teenager, but she discovers that he was not just a son trying to fit in as his father's heir. He was having an affair with his assistant, Nikki. The stolen business records are found in his car. She learns that the Nixon button is vintage, and hears about the Stonehead Manor killing. Investigating Edgar's accident, she proves the car was sabotaged.

At the funeral, Philip Dodd is hung over. Revisiting his past has left him depressed and drinking. Weeping, he runs into Bette and confesses, "I killed her."

Meanwhile, to keep the strip going until it runs out its contract, Edgar begins working with Cornelia, his estranged daughter who had left the family when Marcus got the strip because he was male. She clashes with Edgar over the direction of the strip and her ambitions as an artist.

Bette visits Dodd, who tells her about Stonehead Manor and his need to learn more about what happened. He shows her a yearbook, and she sees a photo showing Edgar and Sandy, who is wearing a Nixon button.

uhhh...they manufactured those campaign buttons by the gazillions. It’s not exactly rare. A Wendal Wilkie button maybe, or a Nixon button in Massachusetts..maybe. Or a Bush button in NYC, definatly, but Nixon won by a landslide in 72.

Harry Justus learns that Nikki, Marcus' assistant, has an abuse order against an ex-boyfriend. He tracks him down and he confesses that he beat up Marcus. An anonymous call tipped him to the affair.

what’s an abuse order? I’d like to order abuse for certain car alarm owners.

As Katie and Daniel investigate the theater's history, they suspect that granddad's hints of "treasure" may be real. They sneak into the theater and discover movie memorabilia from the silent and early talkie eras, including lost films worth a fortune.

Bette questions Edgar. He says he was Sandy's boyfriend, and he gave her a Nixon button similar to one found on Marcus. She learns that Sandy Oliver's dad was released two years ago and requests his mug shot.

Bette tells Dodd that the father hadn't followed him to Sandy's apartment, but that he had paid Ralph Gaddis for the information. Dodd is shocked; he had assumed someone else's guilt all these years, and avoided that part of town because he didn't want to see the house. He
decides to burn the building down.

Bette gets Mervin Oliver's mug shot. It is Walter Friheit, the family's accountant. She calls the house. Walter, Nikki, Edgar and Cornelia were gone. Bette suspects they've gone to Stonehead Manor. At the old murder scene, they discover a double masquerade. Mervin's
surviving daughter had changed her name to Nikki and gotten a job as Marcus' assistant. She was the one who'd taken them hostage. Walter encouraged Marcus to steal because he wanted to ruin the family financially, but Nikki wanted blood.

While Dodd sets the basement afire, Nikki shoots Cornelia. She's restrained. Cornelia survives, the bullet stopped by the thick sketchpad she keeps in her coat. Smelling smoke, they flee down the stairs, but the stair rail to the first floor gives way, and Bette hits the floor.
Harry rescues her, and they escape.

The building project is thwarted. Told of the treasure, the Dove family gets the university to buy the theater, and the Dove-financed film and graphic arts department is founded. Professor Dodd, his hair and eyebrows burned in the fire, takes a sudden leave of absence. Bette
and Harry visit the family as they celebrate the second life of the "Gastown Gang" under Edgar and Cornelia.

You’re awash in events and names here instead of just hitting the highlights. This isn’t an index, it’s just an overview.

You need to crisp up your writing too. Yes, I read the first five pages to see what the novel is like but if I see fat sentences and passive voice in the synopsis, you just raised my suspicions the text will follow suit. Remember, the default answer on queries is NO. You have to really show me something fabu to get me to YES.


otto said...

Just a thought, but wouldn't the "Dove" name cause problems with the Dove Chocolate Ice Cream Bar company? If this gets to publication, that is; but isn't it something writers should avoid? Same with Heartsickle/Hershey, PA. There are too many people out there too ready to cry foul, and it'd be a bummer to have this happen to a novel once it's out. There are too many other names that could be picked.

Kuoio said...

Months after this blog entry, I am reviewing the synopses submitted to the crap-o-meter to help me learn what to do and what not to do.

I found myself reading the first sentence of each paragraph and skipping on to the next, not engaged with the characters in this synopsis.

comment made-fwiw.