Thursday, April 19, 2012

Mysteries For Danielle Svetcov #12

TITLE: The Interim Solution
GENRE: Mystery

The Interim Solution is about Tom Stinson’s plan to replace his depressed, troublesome wife with a more pleasant woman who is easier to manage. Tom is a member of a storefront cult and he relies on the technically savvy pastor to manage his wife’s removal and to provide a suitable replacement.

They parked around the corner on Kimbark Avenue. Nobody parked on 55th since the city put in the meters, except people too lazy to walk a few steps. Karen usually enjoyed this street. At least once a week, she walked to Ribs ‘n’ Bibs, lunched at the window counter, and then walked to the hardware store.

Karen spent time learning how to fix the fading elements of the house. They had enough tools for basic repairs, but Tom reacted when she suggested they buy more. “Repair isn’t ladylike. I’ve told you to take golf lessons. Why is it so hard for you to follow simple suggestions?” He didn’t know about her accomplishments. Ken from the store loaned her tools for big projects.

Karen wondered if she was starting to slip. That’s the thing about being crazy. You don’t know if you are sliding into the hell of another episode, or if you are just having a bad day. Which this was shaping up to be. She’d accepted Tom’s devotion to this church; it improved his behavior, but brought other challenges. Each day was becoming more difficult. Tom was not what he seemed, but few people saw through the flawless manners, the natty attire, and the sweet good looks that still thrilled. Occasionally.

Karen checked her reflection in a storefront. Her hair was a little wild, maybe a cut next week. Her slacks were too short, and the waist pinched. All from the recent forty pounds she’d gained. It just happened, sitting alone all day.


  1. Logline: This isn't really the right format for a logline. Even if it was, you haven given us a main character we don't like as well as a goal, but we have no reason to want him to meet this goal nor do we have any obstacles to him doing so.

    Good luck!

  2. Logline sounds Stepford Wives-ish.
    Is she crazy? She doesn't act it. Not sure what's happening here...

  3. Log line: Whoa, this dude is crazy. But then I see the story is the perspective of the wife, so I'm grateful there's a sympathetic character. I think your logline should spin how Karen is fearful of her husband's involvement with a cult and how she must fight against his strange behaviour, etc. As the logline it stands, it sounds like the story is from Tom's POV wanting to get rid of his wife, and I don't know if anyone wants to read that. But from Karen's POV that her husband is in a weird cult, that you can work with.

    There are a lot of resources online for crafting pitches/loglines. I'm not wonderful at putting them together, but some basic formulas might help you get started. One I use is this:
    when conflict happens to character they have to overcome conflict to complete quest.

    Best of luck!

  4. Agree, the main character sounds like a jerk. Even so I'd like to read more to figure out what is happening.

  5. Is Tom the main character or is Karen? From the little I've seen of mysteries, it's a hero-ish person solving a murder (or something) and foiling the bad guy at the end... so this doesn't feel like a mystery so much as an unsettling look into a crazy cult member's twisted scheme to off his wife...Does he manage it? If this story is actually from her viewpoint, the logline needs to give us her problem and what she's going to have to do to overcome it.

    As for the narrative, there are several places where sentences seem to jump out at me without relating very well to the narrative before or after it... there's not quite the connection from line to line that there should be... For example:

    Karen spent the time (what time? The time she's at home alone?) learning how to fix the fading elements of the house (what house? The one she lives in? The one she's flipping or going to turn into a rental?)... He didn't know her accomplishments (what accomplishments? Fixing the house? That she's a secret golf pro? Give us some character building here)....

    Karen wondered if she was starting to slip (why? Nothing in her thought process so far has seemed out of the ordinary)... She accepted Tom's devotion to this church (what church? You need to explain these elements in some fashion before or while you're laying down comments about them... like "She had to admit Tom's behavior had been better since he joined the XYZ Church six months ago, but sometimes she felt like she was the only person who saw through the flawless manners and natty attire. Maybe she was just starting to slip, again.")

    Good luck!

  6. I'm not thrilled with the logline, but it does catch my interest. Like another woman would be "easier" to manage- puleeze! We're all difficult and proud of it!

    The intro makes me wonder if Karen is not crazy but only thinks so because of her abusive, brain-washing, cult-member husband. It's very easy to come to believe you're worthless, crazy, stupid, etc. when you are told these things over and over, especially if you have low self esteem and no outside support group to counter-act the damage. I would read on to find out what happens, mainly to get to the part where Karen whacks her hubby with a 2 x 4, clears out the bank accounts and leaves! (She does, right? And runs over the scary cult leader on the way out? Go, Karen!)

  7. Of course we all think the main character is a jerk, we're all women. It would be interesting to read a man's critique of this work.

    Anyway I agree with some of the earlier comments. The logline has a been there/done that feel. Need a new twist.

    If a bookstore browser thinks your main character's an ass, they won't want to buy the book.

  8. This madly dysfunctional family is my creation. Thanks for the thoughtful comments, and good guidance on the logline.

    Holly, I read your logline posts before I tried this (first effort), and your additional feedback is helpful. Editing here I come!

    Yes Tom is a creep, but there's more to him. His poor wife is indeed sick, but not all the time, and her sense of humor appears when she is lucid.

    Several of you caught key hints (thank you!!). “Gaslight” is one of my favorites, and a few of the people who have read my book have mentioned the Stepford Wives.

    I’m grateful for the forum and the feedback.

  9. I think the opening paragraphs of the novel would have made a different and better impression if they had not been preceded by the logline. Reading the opening after the logline, one keeps questioning the viewpoint -- why are we reading from the perspective of the wife when the main thrust of the logline is the husband's appalling intention? This is an example of how having to write a logline can undermine the actual work, unless one really gets it right. Leaving aside the logline, I would be interested in following up what happens to this woman.

  10. I'm not clear on who the main character is- the wife or the husband? The log line talks about the husband and his goal, but the excerpt is in the wife's POV. I felt the log line lacked the necessary elements that identify it as a mystery. What is the conflict? Who's solving the crime?
    I felt like the story should have started with 'Karen wondered if she was starting to slip.' This line has more punch and immediately I'm in Karen's POV. Good luck!

  11. This was definitely creepy and that's a positive. I was confused, however, when the logline suggested it would be a man's narrative, and the sample suggests it'll be a woman's. I also got a little lost in places--just general confusion: who's who; where are we; time elements.

  12. This was the first story that grabbed my attention. I think the log line is punchy and short and comes from an interesting perspective, being the villain?
    When reading the first excerpt I became confused as to who was crazy, both the wife and husband appear to have 'crazy' elements to their personality. I mean who would bop of their sick wife? That to me screams mental illness through and through, more than just depression.
    If you are going to be portraying characters with a mental illness, I think it's important to keep realistic about their particular illness, depression is very different to say bipolar etc etc, and as a reader I felt this lady may have a stronger mental illness than depression as you talk about being 'crazy' and having episodes.
    If I was to read further I may start to understand her more as the character develops.
    Overall, you have captured interest in me, would love to read further to see how it all unravels.
    Best of luck!

  13. I found it confusing as to why the logline and sample were from different points of view. Unless you have a purpose we don't yet understand, I think it would be stronger to keep them from the same POV.

    Also, I wouldn't begin the logline with, "The Interim Solution is about...". Start with "Tom Stinson.." and delve straight into his psychotic plan.:)