Thursday, April 19, 2012

Mysteries For Danielle Svetcov #16

TITLE: Necessary Action
GENRE: Mystery / Suspense

Two events altered Nicholas Marek’s future: his father’s assassination and seeing the cross hairs settle on ex-girlfriend, Agent Nailah Tengelei.

The line drive punched through a spray of blood sixty feet from where Nicholas Marek hit the baseball. He flung aside the bat and ran to the makeshift pitcher’s mound from where his father delivered the curveball. He reached his father’s side before the twitches stilled in his body. Something had obliterated the top of the senator’s head. Nicholas knew damage of this magnitude did not result from being struck by a ball.

The person Nicholas admired more than any other lay supine in a Wyoming field. The rush of blood out of the head wound lessened to a steady flow. Someone had assassinated United States Senator Ben Marek.

Nicholas dug his fingers into soil dampened by the afternoon rain. He bowed forward and rested his head on his dad’s chest. This time there was no rhythm of heart beat; no strong arm wrapped around his shoulders or deep tones in a voice that for more than twenty-six years provided guidance and instruction.

The father-son relationship they enjoyed ripped apart without warning.

Scents of blood, dirt and manure merged with his father’s cologne. They screwed into his viscera. The stench nauseated him. Nicholas closed his eyes and fought losing the last meal they shared--elk medallions, roasted red potatoes and asparagus--at one of the local ranches near Jackson Hole.


Something thumped his dad’s chest. The way it jerked reminded Nicholas of a hiccup. Air rushed out of the left ribcage.


  1. He sees his father assassinated and has no emotional response? This is the stuff of which post-traumatic stress disorders are made, yet Nicolas shows nothing.

    Need more emotion and more of Nicholas' thoughts to want to read on.

  2. Logline: Is his future altered during the course of this novel or before it starts? Either way, we need to know what he wants TO DO and who is going to stop him from doing it, as well as why he needs to succeed.

    Good luck!

  3. Agree with the above posters.

    Especially about the lack of emotional response - the kid's dad was just shot in front of him. Make it visceral right away, instead of waiting a couple paragraphs.

  4. I would have found a set-up to the shooting to be effective - something - some banter - between father and son, a feeling of happiness that he is reliving some childhood activities with his dad. Then, the reader might be more shocked at what happens. As it is, it happens too fast for me and the emotional impact is lost.

  5. I echo the sentiment that set-up would have been great in this case. If the assassination had come later - maybe at the end of Chapter 1 - you could have really shocked the reader. Happening as it does, in the first line, one of the most dramatic moments of your book is probably buried just because we don't care yet.

  6. Logline: You have the first part of the logline. But, we need to know what he'll do for the rest of the book.

    Show, don't tell. Work in at least a paragraph of happenings, then the shooting. Show us the man's emotions. Let us hear the crowd's reaction, the chaos. Why do I need to know what specifically they ate? Was the "hiccup" another shot? If so, he'd have a different reaction...a self preservation reaction. Good premise for story, but work on your "Show, don't tell" of writing.

  7. I agree with previous comments about the logline. After Nicholas Marek witnesses his father's assination and discovers his ex-girlfriend is now in the assassin's crosshairs, he must ___ or else ___ will happen. Or something like that.

    I felt the beginning was too abrupt. There's blood before I have any clue what's going on, and the first line confused me to no end. I can't even picture what's going on there.

    I agree that most of the narrative feels like telling and we're not getting to experience the immediate emotion of the events. "This time there was no rhythm... no strong arm wrapped around his shoulders..." is something you pine about while you're getting drunk after the funeral--not what you stop to ponder right after someone's been shot in front of you. Panick. Disbelief. Fear. Nausea. Horror... make it very experiential for us. Don't wax sentimental about the father-son relationship until later during a slower moment of the story.

  8. I found the first line extremely confusing. Like other comments above, I had no emotional attachment to either the murder victim or his son, because of how abruptly the story begins. I'm also left wondering where everyone else is during this scene, but recognize that could be a function of space and could be addressed in the following paragraphs. But were they alone? If not, why weren't others clustered around the Senator after he fell?

    The log line did accomplish one thing for me; curiosity if the two events are linked--and why.

  9. I did feel the sorrow from the young man but also I felt detached. I needed at least a sentence or two to care about him and his family, something cute or funny or warm.
    The ball moving through blood I had to read three times, and still I'm not sure I get it. Is this something visible to the naked eye?
    It feels like they are alone at a stadium. When something like this happens it may feel like that but also the sounds are so acute. The crowd? Secret service or other players? His family - mother? Would he think of them seeing this? On TV or in the crowd? Those thoughts seem like they would run through his mind.
    He is not at all afraid of being shot himself. And are we to gather his ex girlfriend will be next?
    The details of the dinner seem like a strange thing to put right after such intense action, it brings me out of it to consider- why is this important? is the guy thinking this? About his dinner? The smells are well done, it grossed me out :)
    Happy Writing and good luck! ~Megan

  10. All writing is subjective, but I must respectively disagree with the feeling the first line is confusing or too abrupt. I found it a very good opening to a thriller, full of action and suspense which I'm assuming this book is with an agent/girlfriend and senator/father. I was brought up by the fact the father-son relationship was ripped apart by the shooting. I think some new way of saying "abruptly ended" is what was meant, IMO. Fun read so far. It takes a lot of courage to take on a thriller. Congrats.

  11. I agree that the incident happened too fast and without any warning to have an impact on the reader. I think a more lingering opening would have worked in this case.

  12. The writing is a bit overwrought. From "ripped apart without warning" to "screwed into his viscera." I know there's a lot of this sort of thing in contemporary thrillers and myseries, but it's not to my liking. I want to understand a soul, then I can understand how a father's death will affect him/her. That comes from developing character and may mean leaving the murder, murder weapon, etc. out of the story for a chapter.