12.19.2006

HH Com 165

When Finn McKenna's lover walks out on her, she is shattered by the prospect of aging alone. Finn retreats to upstate New York, hoping to piece together her shattered spirit. Instead, she must deal with the return of both Timothy O'Neill, the psychopath who raped her thirty years earlier and Rosemary, the child born of that violation.

When O'Neill resurfaces, Finn can no longer hide from the past. She seeks to exorcise it by speaking publicly about being raped. The media attention results in a message from Rosemary. Though Rosemary acts eager for a relationship, she conceals her feelings about the brutality of her conception, being adopted and her conflict between birth and adoptive mothers. They move cautiously towards a relationship, but Finn's growing love remains clouded by her hatred and fear of Rosemary's father. She meets her ultimate challenge in a confrontation with O'Neill, where her survival may depend on her ability to forgive.

(your hook ends here)
Chapter 1

New Year's Eve made Finn think of endings, not beginnings. When her lover, Dolores, proposed a party, she hated the thought of all that auld acquaintance melancholy permeating their apartment.

Dolores, however, was rarely swayed from a plan. "We never have parties. Why do you object, because it's my idea?"



Some years ago I knew a woman who was active in Right to Life. She too was raped and conceived a child. To her enormous credit she held fast to her beliefs and carried the pregnancy to term, and placed the child with an adoptive family. I'm in awe of her moral courage.

Because of that I'd probably read these pages, but you need to focus on the central part of the book: forgiveness. Start with Finn retreats to upstate NY after her lover leaves her. I'm assuming upstate NY is where the crime occurred. And a rapist doesn't have to be a psychopath to be scary. And why do you have so much time passing? 30 years is a long time. Is there a particular reason Rosemary needs to be 30 years old?

I'd be much more interested in this if there was a reason that Timothy had to be contacted, rather than he just resurfaced. Genetic testing, hereditary illness, kidney transplant. That stuff DOES happen. It would also allow you to explore forgiveness.

You've got an interesting idea here. Don't get wound up in outlandish. The more real your characters, the more we'll identify with them.

16 comments:

Janet Black said...

This is really nit-picky, but I have a friend with a PhD in English, and he says "You are never wrong to use 'toward'." He advises to never use 'towards.'

Ski said...

This is - without a doubt - the finest critique I've ever read on this blog. It is instructive and patient. Miss Snark you have outdone yourself, and you've set the bar really high. Now tell us your secret - is it gin or is it Valium.

Warmest Regards..........Ski

Anonymous said...

jeez, thats got to be the hardest thing in the world to do.

your friend - miss snark-
who was raped and took the child to term and gave it up for adoption.

jeez that poor woman- that must have been so hard

Anonymous said...

"Some years ago I knew a woman who was... raped and conceived a child. ...[S]he held fast to her [Right To Life] beliefs and carried the pregnancy to term....

Because of that I'd probably read these pages, but..."

An important lesson to us all--you never know what will hit a particular agent or editor's hot buttons/reader cookies.

Purely as a hook, this failed. But Miss Snark may ask for pages anyway.

Researching the market--knowing which books/authors the agent represents/has represented--does increase the chances of finding a fit. Maybe that research wouldn't have uncovered this particular button, but it probably wouldn't hurt.

Virginia Miss said...

Author, when you rework this, I suggest you avoid using "shattered" twice in the first two sentences.

You could condense the 2 "When Finn McKenna's lover walks out on her, she retreats to upstate New York, hoping to piece together her shattered spirit."

Anonymous said...

Does the rapist live in a bottle or does he have family and friends who love and respect him or hate and fear him--or some of each flavor? Finn can totally ruin his life after the fact once the genetic testing comes back proving paternity. Even then--do people believe the victim?

This was a crime, so what's the statute of limitations for rape in NY state? Does Finn have relatives who believe her and want the rapist punished? Do they think she's lying, or is it, "Oh, so THAT'S what made her turn lesbian on us, poor thing."

You've got a LOT of facets to this that deserve to be explored.

I'm for giving all rapists the needle after the victim's family has a go at him with cattle prods, but I might read this one if forgiveness is your theme and you do it well enough.

Anonymous said...

I HATE this buzz-word loaded crap.
Grrr. A LESBIAN'S survival depends on forgiving her (male)RAPIST? Or is it Rosemary who must forgive (who, her ADOPTIVE mother?) Miss Snark, a mother doesn't have to be a lesbian, or adoptive to be scary.

Anonymous said...

Lesbian? Who's lesbian?

Dave said...

Stories of forgiveness and redemption are always accepted (As long as the writing is good).
It is in our basic nature to forgive. There is so much literature out there with the plots of sin, forgiveness and redemption.

But, there are also stunning examples of forgiveness out there. One of which happened this summer in a small Amish town.

I'm with Miss Snark, work hard on the idea to make it real. It's worth the effort.

Anonymous said...

This sort of gives it away:

"When her lover, Dolores..."

Anonymous said...

Seems as if we can never have too many lesbians.

Anonymous said...

Bravo, author. I think you've got a great plot. This would be a definite read for me. I can imagine being emotionally involved with several of these characters (not the psychopath).

The Author said...

Dear Miss Snark,

No matter what else I get for Christmas, your critique will surely be the best gift. Your generosity is memorable.

I will carefully consider your remarks and the additional comments. At the moment, it seems the problem in the hook is the failure to adequately address the question, "What happens when a child born of rape finds her birth mother?" To me, that's the heart of the story, with the re-emergence of the rapist raising the stakes, but I will continue to think it through.

Thanks again, everyone.

writtenwyrdd said...

It's a moving and beautiful story idea. The hook needs fleshing out, still, but the basic concept would make me want to read it too.
What I think is missing is explanation of events after "but Finn's growing love remains clouded by her hatred and fear of Rosemary's father." YOu say she meets her "ultimate challenge" but there isn't any emotional charge to that. Just HOW does her survival depend on her ability to forgive? This is really high stakes, and we know forgiveness is hard; but specificity is the key here.

PS: I recognize your story from a class we shared. :)

HawkOwl said...

I think I agree with Miss Snark on this one. Kind of. Not the part about being interested, because I wouldn't read this story anyway, but about keeping it real. Just leave the sensationalism out of it and it will be a very good read for a lot of people.

Anonymous said...

Oh now I see (the lesbian thingy). I stopped reading after Miss Snark wrote "Your hook ends here"!! And Dolores doesn't figure in the hook.