3rd SR Crapometer #27

Dear Miss Snark,

Some people are just born assholes. Fortunately for most, in my novel, The Fatal Nature of Life, the universe offers a multitude of lifetimes for souls to learn how to rise above such faults. (huh?)

These opportunities go completely wasted on Eldridge Peet, however. Over the course of his previous lives, Eldridge has managed to devolve more and more into quite a despicable human being. To top it all off, his generally foul outlook, immoral manner and devious schemes have gotten him murdered on no less than nine occasions. And now it’s beginning to look like his current life will be ending in murder number ten. (Would it be catty to say he's not living his nine lives well?)

The Fatal Nature of Life (I like the title) bounds throughout history chronicling the misadventures of a pathetic loser who, through nearly every fault of his own, just can’t get things right. Along the way, Eldridge’s travails run the gamut from whimsical to terrifying.

My manuscript is approximately 84,000 words in length. I would be glad to send you a hard copy upon your request.

Thank you in advance for your time and consideration, Miss Snark, and I look forward to hearing from you soon.

All the best,

I. M. Redacted

uh...you want me to read about a pathetic asshole? Yanno, I have Fox News for that. And while we're at it, did you want to say anything about the plot? You do have one tucked away in there right?

March 14, 1999

Over the centuries, Eldridge Peet’s various lives were quite unusual in the respect that he’d been murdered on no less than nine occasions, and of late, it was beginning to look like the hands of another would do him in yet again. (me! I wanna!! I'll do it!)

Eldridge was a man that many people would’ve described as handsome, if not for a few minor flaws. His head was slightly larger and more round than it should be, making his protruding ears seem even bigger than they were. His complexion was pale, oily and often marred by pimples. His nose was visibly crooked, as if it were bent on pointing out the angry mole residing under his right eye--which was lazy and set a little higher than the left. His stomach bulged more than it should, causing his shoulders to slouch, and his feet sweated profusely with an odor that was nearly palpable from several feet away much like his halitosis.
(people kill him for this??)

And, just as his flawed appearance went, his personality was such that he would’ve been admired, if not even loved, by the majority of those who knew him, but for a small number of quirks. He tended to lie, but not like most people do, when it came to major things--although he certainly told those falsehoods too. No, Eldridge troubled himself to design fabrications concerning minor, if not completely insignificant, matters. Furthermore, he wasn’t what one would call an accomplished liar, since he was caught in his dishonesty quite regularly.
(you look quite fat in that font..what, you're gonna shoot me for that??)

He was both greedy and cheap. He found fault with both his small number of friends as well as the multitude of people he didn’t know, or did know, but didn’t care for. (He's in publishing, right?) He never remembered to say please or thank you, but he could be counted on to point out when such politeness was due to him. He found great pleasure in the pain of others, and usually went out of his way to share that schadenfreude with them. Lastly, he thought everyone else was beneath him in at least some, if not many ways, and made no effort to conceal that opinion. He did have a few more faults, of course, but they will go unmentioned here because, after all, nobody’s perfect.

Probably one of the more interesting things about Eldridge Peet though, was that over the course of all of his prior lives--as well as the current one that he’d very soon be in danger of losing--he’d not only failed to make any progress towards becoming a better human being, but had in fact, usually gotten a little worse with each reincarnation. Yes, from his first life as a nameless hunter at the cusp of mankind’s beginnings, chasing mostly small game across the African savanna, until his most recent manifestation as a salesman of insurance in a rundown shop in New York City, (I thought he worked in publishing!) Eldridge Peet had slowly evolved into quite a piece of shit.

well just sign me up to read more more more....oh wait, that was a lie wasn't it? ...i"m meellllttiinnnngggg...

Look you can be sardonic as hell and I'm right there with you cheering you on. With a name like Miss Snark how can I possibly not be? But, you gotta give me a reason to read this. A litany of character flaws is for the good Father on Sunday morning in his homily, but in my slush pile it's a non starter.


Anonymous said...

So the entire book is about how despicable this guy is? That would be like sitting down to a rotted-food dinner and continuing to eat! We need contrast; a character we can like, someone having to deal with Eldridge Peet on a daily basis - like a care-giver. As-is it doesn't sound like something I'd read.

Anonymous said...

My goodness gracious,
Even Lucifer, damned to hell for all eternity is more noble and worthy of consideration than Eldridge Peet.

If this is a satire on Piers Plowman, then you need to work on the humor a little more. There is a wryness here, but not enough to interest a reader in a couple hundred pages.

Anonymous said...

The style worked better in the query than it did in the excerpt. The excerpt consisted of a bunch of telling and backstory, and no plot to draw the reader in.

Author, where does the story start? Does Eldridge ever wind up with a problem to solve? If there's no plot, then I wouldn't read on, even if Eldridge turned out to be an enormously appealing antihero (and I can't tell if he is, because I, the reader, didn't get a chance to meet him here). The main character has to do something, not just have stuff happen to him.

Anonymous said...

He's thought of as handsome, then follows a list of icky flaws--wtf? Lists of lots of other blechy stuff abound. Telling not showing.

This is your protag?

I'm going back to my Ian Fleming.

You--writer--go read A Confederacy of Dunces and take notes.

Stacia said...

I actually thought rhe query made the book sound fun, but the writing was all tell. I didn't get past the beginning of the second paragraph before I started skimming.

Anonymous said...

This is the only first page I've managed to read all the way through without dying of boredom first. I would have liked to have seen more description of plot in the query though.

I like the idea for the book and I like the author's writing voice.

Anonymous said...

Author, you piqued my interest in the query. I was excited to start reading, but the first two paragraphs read more like a book report than a book and I pretty much threw in the towel after the third.

Fun premise, and maybe it gets good again later on, but the opening just doesn't convince me to stay with it.

Kristen King, Inkthinker said...

I don't love the title. It's too "Death: The High Cost of Living" for me. :/


Anonymous said...

I loved the title. I also like the premise. Most of us evolve slowly to be better people, but Eldridge evolves into quite a piece of shit. Your set up needs work.
I agree with the others that you need someone that the reader will sympathize with.
Personally, I'd like to hear that Eldridge get repeatedly murdered by the same person/spirit. Someone who is becoming a better spirit throughout his or her reincarnations, but who because Eldridge gets worse along the way finds him/herself snapping and killing him each and every time. Like a Red Queen struggle between the improving tolerance of the murderer, and the increasing irritation that is Eldridge.
I don't know if your spirits eventually break their reincarnating to "ascend" to some higher plane of existence, but I think a great comedy could come out of a soul repeatedly being sent back to Earth because they just can't resist throttling a bastard.

Ski said...

Man...I loved this! I really enjoyed the time it took to hear every creepy detail about this guy. It's like standing in a pile of manure knowing that somewhere under there has to live a horse. I'd keep reading cuz the style caught me almost immediately. It's different and wry and worth the time it takes to giggle through the beginning. I don't need an atomic bomb going off in the first two sentences to get my blood pumping. Sometimes it's better to hear it ticking for a time before the explosion goes off. Of course if this didn't get better in the next twenty pages I'd put it away, but I'd bet that it does. Who ever wrote this is clever but they don't put clever on their business card. S/he is the type that quietly cracked me up in school, stole away into the hall and left me the one to get into trouble. They have grown up, but I recognize the personality. I wish you good luck with this, and I guess it just proves that there's a seat for every ass. This one suits mine just fine. Man...I'd love to read the whole thing.


HawkOwl said...

Still, there's gotta be something really gratifying in sending a business letter that starts with "some people are just assholes."

Anonymous said...

Author here.

Thanks to all the Snarklings for their feedback, both positive and not so. Obviously the query needs work! Not to quibble, but to try and shed some light....

The novel has numerous positive characters, revealed as EP lives throughout history. These other likeable characters include his current wife who finds herself in peril due to EP's wonderful ways. It becomes EP's challenge to save her (and redeem himself) and so he is more of an anti-hero than I managed to convey in the query. As far as plot and conflict...each of EP's previous lives has it's own conflict and resolution and the whole are tied together to hinder or help him through his current life's dilemma. He remembers (through dreams, intuition, deja vu, etc....) some details of those other lives and those snippets are the keys, or locks, to his success or failure in surviving and saving his sweet and much put upon wife in the here and now.

Hope that rambling helps.

Huge, huge, thank you to Miss Snark for providing her time and professional savvy to all our efforts!