Sunday, September 20, 2009

#132-REVISION

Revision:

THE DEVIL ORDERS TAKEOUT is a romp, the tragicomic story of New York attorney Grayson Boldt. After the violent death of his wife and older son, he New York attorney Grayson Boldt strikes a deal with a mob boss to take revenge on the killer and protect his younger son.

Sliding deeper into the mobster's shady business, Grayson draws a the line at sending an innocent man to prison. For punishment the mob boss plans to kill Grayson's only surviving son himself.

And the mob boss sounds psychotic. Psychotics aren't all that interesting because they're one-dimensioinal

Desperate, Grayson tells him the boy is a gifted golfer who could win him money. The mobster, a notorious sports better with a secret motive, agrees to a reprieve providing the boy wins the Masters before his twenty-first birthday. Grayson uses his wealth and cunning to keep his prodigy son focused on golf, while the mob boss wagers a fortune against him.

You've got a jarring mix of tone here. It's also clear from your use of "romp" and "tragicomic" that you're not sure what it is either. Threatening to kill someone's son isn't a romp unless it's some sort of weird Princess Bride-like send up. I don't get the sense that's what you're doing.

I have studied creative writing for fifteen years and used my storytelling experience garnered as a Hollywood film editor and script doctor to write this first of a series novel.

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

Sincerely,


Still a form rejection.
But I still like the title.


---------------------
ORIGINAL

THE DEVIL ORDERS TAKEOUT is a 107,000 word tragicomic novel with a unique voice, driving plot, resolute women, and offbeat/quirky characters that will long be remembered.

This is telling, not showing. It's the sign of weak writing in a novel; it's worse in a query.

New York attorney Grayson Boldt, who after the violent death of his wife and older son, strikes a deal with a mob boss to take revenge on the killer and protect his younger son. Sliding deeper into the mobster's shady business, Grayson crosses him and must pay with his remaining son’s life unless the boy wins the Masters golf tournament before his twenty-first birthday. Grayson uses his wealth and cunning to keep his son focused on golf but learns the mob boss is wagering his entire fortune on the son losing the fateful tournament.

I've stopped reading right here because I just don't believe any of this could happen. I've believed a lot of impossible things (Jeff Somers entire post apocalyptic New York just for starters, and pretty much all of Alice in Wonderland) but this just doesn't make sense to me.

Why on earth would anyone risk his surviving son's life by hoping he'll win the Masters? This doesn't make emotional sense to me.

And the mob boss wagering an entire fortune? On a golf game? I don't believe that either.

You can create amazing worlds and situations but you have to construct it in a way that the reader will believe it. This doesn't do that for me.


I have studied creative writing for fifteen years and used my storytelling experience garnered as a Hollywood film editor and script doctor to write this first of a series novel.

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


Form rejection.
I like the title.

17 comments:

TLH said...

I might also mention that I got no sense of the quirky characters here. I love quirky; where was it?

~Tara

revolutionsheep said...

It's odd that "resolute women" are a selling point, yet every character mentioned is male.

BuffySquirrel said...

Nice point revolutionsheep.

The sentence beginning New York attorney is inchoate; it doesn't have the necessary verb. Not very promising for the novel.

Julie Weathers said...

I agree with the form rejection, but I'm confused about, "The sentence beginning New York attorney is inchoate; it doesn't have the necessary verb. Not very promising for the novel."

It seems to me "strikes" as in "strikes a deal" is a verb. The clause before it could easily be removed or moved to the end of the sentence.

K. Andrew Smith said...

Julie,

The way I see it, the problem with that sentence is the "who." I don't know the actual terms, but the "who" makes what follows it a description of the subject of the sentence, not the sentence itself.

Removing the "who" would fix the sentence:

"New York attorney Grayson Boldt, after the violent death of his wife and older son, strikes a deal with a mob boss to take revenge on the killer and protect his younger son."

myimaginaryblog said...

To me the title sounds way too derivative of "The Devil Wears Prada."

Tintin said...

Exactly what I was thinking, myimaginaryblog.

kikipotamus said...

K. Andrew Smith is bang on. The word who is superfluous, sticks out like a sore thumb and tells us that this writer doesn't know grammar...a turn off.

I agree with QS that the title is catchy but the plot completely unbelievable with the set-up provided.

Marian said...

The fact that the son has to win the golf tournament before his 21st birthday takes away a lot of the suspense for me (unless the son is 20 years and eleven months old).

Couldn't the protagonist uses "wealth and cunning" to plot against the mob boss, rather than just making his son continue to play golf? It's sort of like Tiger Woods meets the Godfather, which may be quirky, but it doesn't work for me.

Mimzy said...

While you may reveal it in your writing, how does winning the Masters correlate with the son's safety? Is there some sort of bet? Why would they bet on the son winning the Masters of all things? Plus, why would the mob boss wager his entire fortune on the son loosing? It doesn't seem practical.

In betting, you guess who's going to win, not lose. So while the mob boss may be trying to make the son lose, how is he making sure that the person he bets on wins? All of the people who compete in the Masters are skilled enough to win it, not just the son and whoever the rival are.

Liesl said...

I like the title too but it kind of reminds me of THE DEVIL WEARS PRADA. It might confuse readers as to what this book actually is.

Jude Hardin said...

Goodfellas meets Caddyshack. Hmm. Well, it might work as a story concept, but your plotline (as stated here) is too farfetched--even for a "tragicomedy." I like over-the-top situations, but Query Shark is spot-on about them having to be believable. You lose us when the hero and the villain sound as though they're TSTL. Better to make them both clever, and worthy adversaries.

JS said...

Plus, why would the mob boss wager his entire fortune on the son losing?

That's the only part of this that makes sense to me: the youngest person ever to win the Masters was Tiger Woods, and he was over twenty-one, so betting against Grayson Boldt's son is where the smart money would be.

See, if Boldt's son is a better golfer than Tiger Woods, that's a heckton more interesting than all the other stuff, and I'd lead with that: "Grayson Boldt's son is the greatest golfer ever. Better than Tiger Woods, even. But now he has to top Tiger's achievements or die, thanks to a golf-crazy mob boss..." blah blah blah.

You can't just bury the fact that one of your characters is the best golfer of all time in the middle of the setup.

_*Rachel*_ said...

More plot, and make it sound plausible if you can.

K. A. Smith has it right about the "who."

Aimless Writer said...

I too was wary of the fact that he would align with the mob instead of cops. I could see him going renegade and doing it himself.
I didn't get the tie in to the masters either. Maybe you need to make it clearer. You might have a great book here and we're just not seeing it.

Phebe Lemert said...

Haha this is very funny, if you know what I mean. From many other queries, this is probably the most halarious. Seriously, a mob boss wagering his WHOLE fortune on the Master's is crazy. Unreal. Difficult to understand. And revolutionsheep, I saw what you said. >.<

astrologybites said...

This didn't work for me. I like golf. I think it's challenging, frustrating and fun, but a ticking time bomb, it's not. I couldn't agree more with Madam Shark: it's not at all believable. I also didn't pick up on the quirky. If the novel is quirky / offbeat, that voice should have come through in the query.