Crapometer #4

Fire & Ice: Romantic Comedy


Melanie Sharp has a promising future in the world of art (be specific-is she a curator? an artist? a forger? ) until the past comes back to burn her. A flier for an up coming exhibit (if she's an artist at a gallery it's called "a show"-an exhibit is usually a museum) is found in a house destroyed by fire (the logic of that escapes me) , catapulting her to the top of the list of arson suspects.(thank god no phone messages survived or they’d have even more suspects, right?) When the investigator learns of a prior charge, one she was coerced into taking the rap for, (cause of course, we’ve all done that..taken a fall for someone else) her only way out of prison time is to find the real torch. Like a modern day Nancy Drew, she and her best friend search for clues, only to get caught by the one man who could not only crush her chances at becoming a household name, but cool the love growing in her heart for him.

Knox Manning, an arson investigator with Barton Fire and Rescue is on the job when he discovers an art flier. The name Melanie is his only evidence. At their first meeting, Knox is put-off by the red-haired waif, (waif? how OLD is Melanie??) who resembles one of her paint pallets.(she looks like a shipping pallet? or is she covered in paint like a artist's palette?) When they next meet, her transformation is disturbing, as is the strange humming only he can hear in her presence. (she’s a paint covered refrigerator?)

In the opening scene, Knox is digging around the burned-out house where he discovers a leaflet. Three barely visible words are left on the paper, art exhibit and the name Melanie. (you’re repeating yourself) Knox tucks it away, thinking he'll do an on-line search for local artists. When he finds Melanie Sharp's name, and a prior charge, he assumes he has his arsonist.

Knox is shocked when he first meets the suspect, who's covered in paint. His look of disapproval doesn't go unnoticed either and instantly puts her on the defensive, which only hinders the investigation. (How many times are you going to say the same thing?)

Melanie is thrilled to be having her first art exhibit, her career on track until Knox Manning showed up at her door, with questions pertaining to another fire. Her promotional flier singles her out, along with her previous charge, one she took the blame for. When she and Knox's next meet, Melanie finds herself drawn to him, a man who wants nothing more than to send to Joliet prison. (Ok, I’ve stopped reading cause you’ve taken 389 words to tell me three things: she’s a painter, who was unjustly convicted of arson and he’s an investigator.)

At the city's annual Fire and Ice event, Knox admits to himself that he wants Melanie. With the intention of making love, he searches for her, finding her with Tracy Grainger, the owner of the house destroyed by fire he's been investigating. Knox learns Melanie had been burning the midnight oil with the woman's husband, a man Melanie said she didn't know.

Knox shows up at Melanie art exhibit, tired of fighting his attraction for her. (gotta say that’s about the least romantic way I’ve ever seen desire described in a romance other than “he wants to get in her pants” maybe) He wants her to leave with him, but she's already made plans with the curator of the gallery. They agree to meet later, only Knox is called back to Barton, his sister's husband threatening to take her boys. He leaves a note for Melanie with a waitress at the cafĂ©.

Angry with Knox for not showing up, Melanie mopes around for days. On her answering machine, Knox voices his own anger. Melanie's confused. She needs to talk to him, and calls the firehouse, where she's informed that he's at a club out of town. She arrives at The Leg Up only to be thrust into a tiny costume and forced out onto a stage, the finale for a room full of drunken firefighters. (of course, this happens to me all the time). Knox comes to her aid, and carries her to his truck where on the verge of making love they're interrupted by a call on his radio. Knox needs to go fight a fire, (I thought he was an arson investigator?) but promises to rekindle theirs later.

Knox is on his way to get cleaned up, excited about getting back to Melanie when he encounters his ex-girlfriend, who tells him she's pregnant. With this weighing on him, he knows he can't go to Melanie. He has a child to consider now and besides, it'd make him too much like his philandering father.

When Knox doesn't show up, Melanie drives to the 901 and is shocked when she sees him standing outside with a blonde. Her heart breaks in to (I bet you mean two) when he kisses the woman. She feels used, and is now determined to find out who set the fire so she'll never have to see Knox again. (Cause, yanno, just ignoring him would be too easy) She enlists the help of her friend's ex-fiancé, a private detective, and while searching the remains of the house, they discover an earring, a cheap clip-on that had to have been dropped after the fire was put out. Melanie and her best friend sneak into the Graingers home a day later and luckily find the match. (clever girls that they are). The big question, had the woman planted Melanie's art flier to get even for her seeing her husband, a man who'd lied to Melanie about his marital status?

Knox can't stop thinking about Melanie. He drives to her friend's house, where he knows she's staying and tosses pebbles at an upper window, a 50/50 chance it’s where she's sleeping. Luckily, it is and she agrees to come down. Once alone, they make love, an event that is monumental to the both of them. Now, Knox knows he can't marry his ex, even for the child. (boy Melanie must be a really hot fuck to make him give up his honor and integrity) He loves Melanie and wants her to be his wife. When he confronts his ex about his feelings, she flies off the handle and comes clean, admitting she was never pregnant. (thank god he found out in time--the therapeutic benefits of a hot sex).

With a plan to frame an arsonist, Melanie uses an excuse, “I need to meet with you” ploy, hoping to get Tracy Grainger to confess to setting the fire. When Melanie arrives at their agreed meeting place, she's shocked to find the woman's husband instead. He pledges his love for Melanie, professing to how he set up his wife for them to be together. Melanie can't believe how heartless he is. He's clearly flipped his lid. When he tries to kiss her, she backs away. His eyes glaze over, leaving Melanie to wonder if she was taking her last breath. (or if he’s really one of the Undead) Just in time, Knox, Melanie's best friend and her PI boyfriend show up to save her.

One purpose of a synopsis is to show you are in control of your writing-that I can be confident the novel works. Your misspellings, incorrect diction and out of left field plot points destroy that confidence.

Even in romantic comedies, things have to make sense, if only in the world you’ve created. You don't explain why she "took the rap" for someone else; the idea of the single clue-and one made of paper no less- survived the fire is the stuff of melodrama; and worst of all, the reason for there to be any fires at all is left unexplained.

Even if you had the best written five pages in the history of writing, this synopsis would deter me from reading further.


Anonymous said...

Holy crap! Thanks for critiquing this one all the way through. I now know how _not_ to write a synopsis thanks to this entry.

PS: You rock, Miss Snark!

kathie said...

It's great to see so many writers gracefully accept Miss Snark's critique...shows the writers are actually interested in becoming stronger writers. Impressive, I think.

Anonymous said...

Don't mean to be a snarkette, but I'm sorry, this was the worst, most confusing, insipid synopsis ever! I read garbage submissions every day at my own job, and, sadly, I'm used to it. But I've only read four so far on this site, so I trust there are others that are much, much worse. Also, of course, it's all so subjective. Many editors might love it!

However, I do think this tale [or tail?] redefines the term 'romantic comedy.'

One last word up: Proofread.