3rd SR Crapometer #20

Dear Miss Snark,

You are the best writing/agent/publishing teacher online. Your knowledge and sharp wit has kept me coming back to your informative blog daily. I know this is called sucking up, but everything I’ve said is true.

I’m published in the mystery/thriller genres by a small publisher and have established some name recognition with readers. I feel I’ve paid my dues and am ready to advance my writing career. I understand in order to move to a larger publishing house I will need the help of a business partner who loves my work and believes she can sell it.

So I’m seeking representation for my completed traditional mystery of approximately 80,000 words. In xxxxx xxxxxx, my protagonist’s thrilling first Jet Ski ride leaves her wet and heartbroken when she gets a glimpse of the decomposed body washed ashore the small island along the Susquehanna River. She recognizes the young girl (she's decomposed and recognizable??) from the missing person photo she ran in the local newspaper she publishes. Circumstances surrounding the girl’s tragic death will soon have her deep in the investigation. Uncovering the truth puts her back on a Jet Ski trying to outrun a killer who wants to permanently silence her before she reaches shore and exposes the truth. (shades of The Bulgari Connection by Fay Weldon)

I’ve enclosed the first page of the manuscript, per your crapometer instructions. I’d like the opportunity to send a partial or the full manuscript.

Thank you for your time and consideration. I hope to hear from you soon.



Chapter One

My screams ricocheted (screams do not ricochet..they echo) off the banks of the Susquehanna while Betsy shouted for me to hold on. I could barely hear her above the roar of the Jet Ski and the water pounding against its underbelly.

“My fingers are going to break off if I squeeze you any tighter,” I yelled, trying to relax the death grip I had around her tiny waist. (you're saying things twice here)

She opened the throttle and steered into the next incoming wave, throwing us into a spin. I lost my grip and flew off the back, shrieking at the top of my lungs. (death grips aren't what they used to be I guess)

Betsy circled and pulled up alongside my withering body. “You okay?” she asked.

I coughed up a mouthful of nasty tasting river water and tried to focus on her but the sun half blinded me. I continued to paddle my arms and legs in doggie style. “Now I know why you made me put on this bulky life jacket. I’d have drowned without it.” (yes I speak in complete sentences when I'm hacking spewing drowning AND annoyed)

She sat like a queen on that damn machine and put a hand on her hip.(good balancing trick) “Kay, it’s the law. You have to wear one.” Then she snickered. “If you’ll drop your legs down you’ll see you won’t drown.”

“Huh?” I stopped paddling like a maniac and my feet settled on a rocky bottom. My head and shoulders were still above water.

I grinned. “People have been known to drown in a few inches of water, especially when they get the wind knocked out of them.” I slouched my way to the Jet Ski and grasped her held out hand.

At that moment, two speed boats roared by creating a rush of waves, smacking me in the middle before I could get my leg up. I dropped her hand. “I’ll wait until the water calms.”

I began searching the river to make sure no more boats were in sight.

“Hey, get up here,” Betsy commanded.

I managed to board. But before I could get seated properly, she moved forward. I grabbed her waist and we took off toward the miniature island a few hundred feet ahead.

I squinted against the sun’s glare off the water and spotted blue lights flashing atop two boats wedged between other water craft lining the shore. “Uh oh, looks like an accident.”

“We’re going to find out.”

How wet and cold is she?
Is the sun out?
If the water is nasty what does it really taste like?

This is a pass probably cause I look for stuff that really makes me feel I'm there in the middle of the action.

Also, the cover letter didn't give me a much about the plot or a compelling hook to read on.


Anonymous said...

The writing is good but it's a bit too obvious on every point, and as Miss Snark points out, it isn't very vivid. Also, is this where your story starts? You're wasting time discussing the Jetskiing; get us over to that dead body! :-) That's where the story really starts, right?

Good luck with it, Author. I see promise of an engaging story here; you just need to work a bit harder on the writing itself.

Bernita said...

This is a non-event.
Who cares if she falls off?
Get us to the body.

Ms Molly said...

Betsy circled and pulled up alongside my withering body. “You okay?” she asked.

Her body is... withering? From touching the water? Is she made of paper?

JJ said...

Well, at least here are sample pages that start with action. And the writing needs polish, but not heavy equipment. It's better than average. That said, yeah, after reading the query I was disappointed to find out she was screaming over speed and not over a corpse. Ditto the others - give us the body (and resolve the query issues MS so aptly pointed out).

Anonymous said...

How I would have loved Vaudeville:

"My husband ran off with a secretary from the Susquehanna Hat Company, and EVERY time I hear the name Susquehanna I have to..." (A violent attack on the straight man takes place at this point.)

Susquehanna is just a funny name to me, though terrible things can happen in a place with a funny name.

Not too bad, but the dialogue needs to sound (as in read this stuff outloud while walking around a room real fast) more natural.

BuffySquirrel said...

Going by the way Jet Skis are ridden around here, it was probably one of those that killed the girl while she was innocently swimming in the shallows.

McKoala said...

The first para of the query is beautifully expressed!

~Nancy said...

This started with some nice action. The jet ski angle is fine. However, the dialogue just didn't do it for me; if she's waterlogged, I'd think her sentences would be much shorter, clipped.

Definitely "echoed" instead of "richocheted." My guess is you're trying to use other words to spice up your story a bit. I don't think it's necessary, esp. when the word you've used here doesn't fit the action.

I hope that last bit doesn't discourage you. I think you've got a good idea that needs to be fleshed out a bit more.

Oh, and to the poster upthread - that was a comedy bit done by Abbott and Costello ("Susequehanna! Do you know what they do there? They have little girls, little girls, working on the hats!" He punched the middle of a straw boater, leaving Costello flustered, to say the least. ;-))

Good luck, author!


Anonymous said...

I definitely thought this one was decent writing. I was happy it started off with some action, but I think the action died out as soon as she fell off the jet ski. I know I'm a water weenie, and if I fell off the jetski I would have been back on that jet ski as fast as possible, not standing around having a conversation - ESPECIALLY if the water was cold. The panicking when she was wearing a life vest and could have just stood up was definitely funny though!