3rd SR Crapometer #33

Dear Miss Snark:

Andrew Cavanaugh's parents give him a strange gift: a framed photo of twenty-four anonymous faces. When one of the faces blinks back at him, Andrew's simple curiosity (simple?? that doesn't begin to cover how much curiosity I'd have if pictures became animate!) leads him to discover sinister, corporate secrets. (yawn) But he's just a naive geek with a college degree. Does he have enough to take on The Studio? He finds that he's got to risk everything just trying to do the right thing. You'd be better off to be very specific about what happens.

TITLE is an 84,000-word manuscript of contemporary, commercial fiction. The manuscript blends Coma with The Firm, but without all the legal shenanigans. My first novel, it was a chance for me to explore whether the end justifies the means when fighting homelessness. Also, it was fun to find a twisted place the reality TV phenomenon might go.

I am a naive geek with a college degree, and have been a technical writer for ten years. I found information about you through your blog. Please let me know if I can send a synopsis, sample chapters, or the finished work to your attention. Also, I have just finished the first draft of my second manuscript, which looks at what Sybil might do at a party held in Amityville. Although it is still in its preliminary stages, I would enjoy discussing that project with you too. Thank you for reading my query. You can lose all this in order to give me more specific info on what this novel is about. I like the Sybil line though..I'd probably ask about that if your writing holds up.



This query isn't true suckage, so I'd read the writing.

"Well, Mr. Henderson, it looks like everything is in order, isn't it?"

The pale man in the lab coat bundled the paperwork with a heavy-duty rubber band, and dropped it on the nearby desk. Scott Henderson ran a hand through his long hair.

"Dude, I can't believe how many frickin' things there were to sign. I was practically blind by the time I was done."

"Yes, yes. But I trust you read everything. You know how important that fine print can be." The man chuckled humorlessly.

"No way, man. It would have taken me a week to read all that."


Henderson idly stroked his goatee and shifted on his metal chair. "Well, no, uh, of course I read them. I'm not stupid."

"Yes, well, let's get started. Okay?"

"Cool. Now all my bills will all be paid after this, right? They promised. I've got enough school loans to choke a horse, you know?"

"Yes, of course. We don't see many college graduates here."

"Nah, I didn't graduate. No way. Came close, but missed it by that much," he said, holding his hand up to show a tiny gap between his thumb and finger.

The only door opened and another man in a lab coat entered, pushing a tray with several thin tubes connected to heavy, fluid-filled bags. Off the end of the tray came a light metallic tinkling, like delicate wind chimes, and it took Scott's attention. He gasped.

"Holy shit, what's all that crap?"

"Nothing to worry about. I assure you. It won't take long. After the first one, it's an easy slide for the rest."

Henderson stood. "Yeah, whatever, but no one said anything about-"

"Mr. Henderson, please sit down."

"Dude, there's got to be ten or twenty of them there. Are those all for me?"

"Mr. Henderson, don't worry. Trust me. You'll be fine. More than fine. Trust me." He smiled an empty, fucked-up smile.

Scott Henderson took a step toward the door.

"I don't think so. I want to go."

The man put a heavy hand on Henderson's shoulder, and Henderson jumped back, swinging his arms wildly.

"Let me go, asshole. We're done here. Don't make me mess you up."

Over his shoulder, to the door, the man said quietly, "I need some assistance."

Almost immediately, the door burst open and four men ran into the room with a bead on Henderson. Like a battering ram, they slammed him against the far wall.

"Fuck you guys! Stop it! I've got my rights!"

Each man grabbed an arm or leg and efficiently picked Henderson up. He arched his back like a hysterical toddler, but the men held him firmly at their assigned appendage.

"No, Mr. Henderson. I've got your rights. They're right here." He calmly patted the bundled paperwork. He walked to the metal chair as the men forced Henderson into it.

"Come on. Please. This isn't what I signed up for."

"Oh, but it is. That fine print can be so important, can't it?"

I'd probably keep reading. If the writing got better, I'd probably look at a partial with a synopsis. I don't get much energy here, and the description, while not awash in adjectives and adverbs (a very good sign) doesn't have much zip.


Anonymous said...

Without tags, the opening dialogue was confusing. I lost track of who was talking, even with the Mr. Henderson and "dude" comments.

Anonymous said...

This reads like the hook for a TV movie.

Rewrite it as a script, get an agent in La-La Land to rep it and write another script.

If you still want to go with novels, pick a viewpoint, dress the vague empty that is your set. (WHY is the guy allowing medical crap into his OFFICE for dog's sake??)

I hope this geek isn't your hero as he is too dumb to breathe.

Anonymous said...

I thought it moved pretty quickly, and it held my interest all the way through.

Sarah said...

Hmm... a friend alerted me to this one. Sounds very much like a bad rip-off of a story I wrote ("Dude") during the Absolute Write Idol competition I won last year. If I can find Miss Snark's email address, I'll send the story to see if this qualifies as plagarism.

Saturday Ayres said...

I would also have kept reading, but I tend to like tagless dialogue. Could use some polish, but you have real tension going here. It does feel like you hit the "didn't-read-the-fine-print" angle a mite hard. On the plus side, marvelous choice for opening scene--not really reflected in your query, though. Punch that angle a little more.

Overall, nice work!

Anonymous said...

The manuscript blends Coma with The Firm, but without all the legal shenanigans. The firm without legal shenanigans, then what part of the Firm are you comparing to? Besides, I don't think you need to drop names. Your premise should draw in the agent, so you need to expand on what the guy does when he finds the image blinking and all that.

My first novel, it was a chance for me to explore whether the end justifies the means when fighting homelessness. You can't stick two sentences together with a comma. "My first novel" isn't even a sentence, it doesn't have a verb. Try splitting this in two sentences and cut the odd sentence construction.

Final note, the premise is your selling point. Gift, picture frame, blinking picture. Tell me more about that.

Anonymous said...

I liked this one.

Shannon said...

I found the query letter very confusing. What does corporate drama have to do with homelessness? What do blinking photographs that move have to do with corporate drama? What is The Studio - the company that produced the photos? I think if you made the connections between the first and second paragraph more explicit, the query letter would be more intriguing.

thraesja said...

I was also a bit confused by the voice. The viewpoint seemed to be neutral, not in anyone's head. But then the lab coat guy "smiled an empty, fucked-up smile." Nothing neutral there. It kicked me right out of the action. If you make the POV from Henderson's perspective it might work. As a detached voice it sticks out badly, and means nothing.
Good thing your query indicates the protag is Andrew Cavanaugh. 'Cause I'm hoping Henderson bites it by page three. Although I am curious what is in the bags, and what exactly he just signed his stupid self up for.

David said...

Thank you for the comments. I appreciate all of them (and would love to hear more...yes, even the negative comments). Honest feedback, no matter how blunt, is great (for me, at least).

And Sarah, I don't know you or your work ('Dude' or otherwise), but I do know that I finished my ms over a year ago, and began working on it over two years ago. Plagiarizing something that hasn't been written yet is difficult. If you feel that it is bad writing, please tell me more. I'd appreciate it. If you just feel that my ms is a bad 'rip-off', well, that is frankly impossible.