3rd SR Crapometer #37

Dear Miss Snark,

As a man writing women’s fiction, my goal is to bring a unique voice to the genre while maintaining a strong sense of emotion and observance in my work, Targeting readers of authors such as Jodi Picoult and Elizabeth Berg, A River Without Water, is a 100,000 word novel dealing with abortion. The work does not delve into the legality or morality of the issue as is common in most debates over abortion, but is simply a cause and affect look from contrasting viewpoints.

I'd stop right here. What is a sense of observance? And I think novels that start out talking about issues instead of character and story are focused on the wrong thing. I'll forgive the punctuation errors cause really, stuff happens, but you really really really want to proof read your stuff, particularly for email queries.

Lindsay Green has always run. As a young girl, she ran to feel free. As a teenager, she chased glory in the track world. At seventeen, she slowed long enough for Rusty Hawkins to sweet-talk her into the backseat of his Trans-Am. As an adult, Lindsay has simply been running away.Away from one relationship to another. Away from guilt and responsibility. Away from the abortion she will never forget.

Blue Riggins is a man others envy for his stout physical stature, his confident, firm demeanor, and his wealth. A former rodeo star, turned professional poker player, he knows his entire persona is a bluff. The only real thing in his life vanished when his wife died in childbirth. He has allowed no one to get close to him since, including his young daughter.

Lindsay and Bleu’s paths merge in Idaho and as they travel across the west, back toward her childhood home in Oklahoma they reflect on the past and the future. Many obstacles interfere with their journey -- vast differences in their backgrounds -- well-meaning, but misguided friends and family -- their own inhibitions. Despite the hurdles, they form a tenuous bond on the road, but the turmoil of her homecoming might be more than their fragile relationship can endure.

Thank you for your time. May I send you the complete manuscript for consideration?



An idle mind has no greater enemies than guilt and shame. Staring up at the shadows on the water-stained ceiling, Lindsay Green could attest to that simple truth.

To occupy time, she counted the semis gliding past in the night. The grind of their diesel engines, downshifting on the way into town, drowned out the soft, uneven snores coming from the other bed in the room. But as Wednesday turned into Thursday, the sound of traffic died away, leaving Lindsay with nothing to concentrate on except the shallow breathing of Quin and Tristan.

Lindsay didn’t belong here. Not as the third wheel. She blamed this anxiety on her best friend’s boyfriend. Even asleep, Tristan mocked her. While she lay here wide-awake, unable to shut down her brain, he dozed in a peaceful slumber. Lindsay would give anything for that ability.

The motel’s threadbare curtains did a poor job of blocking the glare of the parking lot’s lone security light making it all the harder to close her eyes and relax.

She excused Quin for sleeping so soundly. After all, her friend had stayed up many a night providing a gentle shoulder. Nor did she go out of her way to goad Lindsay, the way Tristan did.

The hours ticked by. The Kozy-Inn’s thin, plastered walls pressed in on Lindsay. Times like this, the world seemed small, as if no place of comfort existed.

Sliding out of bed, she separated the curtains and scanned the gravel lot. A delicate lacework of frost covered every car window. Nothing stirred. She stared out into the stillness until the cold seeped through the glass and wrapped itself around her skin. She shuddered.

Freezing temperature or not, she needed to escape -- to breathe fresh air.

Fumbling in the shadows, she found the necessary clothes to fight off the Idaho chill. Running here, in these icy conditions, required more motivation than back in Seattle, but after two weeks the higher altitude no longer starved her lungs, and the lack of traffic lent the runs a solitude the city could never provide.

Lindsay eased the door open. Neither of her roommates stirred when a rush of frigid air filled the room. Binding her thick, dark hair into a ponytail, Lindsay set off at a steady pace. The first fifteen or twenty minutes were always the hardest. The road climbed a steady, and sometimes steep, grade nearly the entire three miles to the Targhee National Forest boundary. Today, the cold made her teeth hurt each time she inhaled.

Your opening scene is watching people sleep. Think about that for a second. Even if you have all that boring introspection stuff going on, the very least you could do is put it in Lindsay's head while she's running. This has no enticement to keep reading.


Anonymous said...

I think, author, that you might be going about the query a bit wrong.
As a writer, it's your job to get into character's heads and write about them. There's no need to defend that.

It doesn't seem to me the book is about an abortion. It seems to me the book is about Lindsay Green, and how she dealt with her past.

I'm trying to be as gentle as I can here with this next point, and I don't wish to offend anyone by it, however...
I am sure you didn't intend it, but it almost seems as if there is the implication that a woman, if she's had an abortion, IS the abortion. The abortion was an event in her life. Women are not a uterus.

otto said...

I don't mind taking the time--this is a novel with a lot to come yet--to get into action since it's hinted that something is amiss. What struck me is the number of "ing" verbs that started to bug me. I also agree with anonymous that the query letter doesn't sound like the first page of the story at all.

Writerious said...

"... simply a cause and affect..."

Affect is a verb (usually). Effect is a noun (usually). This should be "cause and effect."

I lost interest at the first paragraph. The whole "man writing women's fiction" thing cam across as slightly patronizing. It probably wasn't intended, but it just didn't sit well with me.

Anonymous said...

A man trying to write about abortion from a woman's point of view? I don't think so, Sparky.

Anonymous said...

You spell it first Blue, then Bleu. Which is it?

Anonymous said...

I like his writing. He can write, just come up with a new story.

Anonymous said...

I like the permise of this one. Yes the query could use some work, and the author might do well to start in Chapter 2 (or wherever the story actually begins), but the writing is good and, unlike many Romance novels, there is actually potential for great conflict between the protagonists.

Anonymous said...

In the query letter I was confused by the connection between Lindsay and Bleu. I don't regularly get in the car with strangers in the middle of Idaho to go on an extended roadtrip. If there was an event that forced the two together, I think that is worthy of mention.

Also, I really liked the tone of your writing and the way the description made me really feel the scenery. But I agree that this scene is kind of a slow place to start. I'd read for a few more pages to see if the pace picked up.