Thursday, April 19, 2012

Mysteries For Danielle Svetcov #3

TITLE: A Rip in Time
GENRE: Mystery/Romantic Historical Time Travel

Modern America's CSI meets Victorian England's JACK THE RIPPER. Rachael and Alex time travel to 1888 to identify the Ripper and risk becoming become Jack's next victims.

Whitechapel District, London, England
August 7, 1888

Martha Tabram rubbed her aching temples. The pain wasn't from cheap gin. Too many years patronizing the Ten Bells Tavern had increased her tolerance. Besides, she needed drink to file off the sharp edges of her hopeless existence.

Afternoon rains had set a chill to the air and the night's shadows deepened. She trudged, head down, hugging the building's soot encrusted brick wall.

Three lads staggered toward her along the stone pavement. The young men were likely on a weekend bender and locals by the looks of their worn clothes.

Martha's heartbeat quickened as her mind flashed back to her friend, Emma Smith. Four months ago, young men, thugs from the Old Nichols Street Gang, had robbed, assaulted, and killed poor Emma.
Now, these lads elbowed each other, pointed at Martha, and leered. Their bodies soaked the air with cheap whiskey. They descended upon her. One boy whooped and grabbed her skirt, but she broke free and ran. The cruel trio swaggered on their way, howling at their prank.

One yelled back, "Old cow."

She stopped and clutched her chest. Dirty sods! Men like that should hang, their boot heels swinging like bells in the Thames' foul breeze. Emma's death was horrible, but Martha's gut told her worse was on the way for penniless Londoners. East End women would suffer more than the usual amount of violence. And greater numbers of murders.

If she stayed sober, stayed aware, she might stay alive. Martha paused and pressed her lips together. What had she to live for? Her husband left years ago and her grown children had abandoned her too. She waved her hand to swat away the thoughts. The squalid life present gave her the right to drink away the past.

Death was a constant companion in Whitechapel. The thought sent a shiver slithering down to coil in her stomach.


  1. Logline: The first line is just a comparison and doesn't belong in a logline. The second is better although it doesn't really tell us why Rachael and Alex need to do this (and, as written, sounds like a bit of a suicide mission!)

    Good luck!

  2. Logline:

    You've got info we don't need (modern america's; victorian london's) taking up space. I was thinking of something like: Modern forensic technology finally identifies Jack the Ripper (why was his name capitalized in the logline? I don't think that's necessary), and Rachel and Alex -- agents of (whatever they are) -- travel to 1888 to help Scotland Yard stop him. But he's more clever than they realize, and they risk becoming his next victims. (Okay, that last sentence was full of cliches, and I'm sure you can do better.)


    Again, you have information you don't need that slows down the pacing. Does the name of the gang matter? They aren't the main bad guys, are they?

    Whooping and grabbing her skirt doesn't feel like much of an attack, after that build up, so it almost feels like a letdown.

    The word "assaulted" jumped out as not fitting the time period. I'm not certain how that attack would be described, but assaulted feels like a modern word.

    I'm worried about Martha and I have a bad feeling about her fate, so I'd read a bit more.

  3. I'm crap at log lines, so I'll leave the critique of yours to those better suited.

    That being said, the time travel aspect of your work intrigued me, and was hoping to see at least a vague reference to it in the first 250 words.

    I found your main character unsympathetic - she doesn't care about her own life, and you've not written why she has gone back in time (I'm assuming that it's because her friend was killed, but it's not been written), so I find I don't care about her either.

    I would be more inclined to read on if there were some redeeming quality of your heroine. Whatever is driving her through those first few pages will drive me to continue reading.

    I hope you find this helpful! Best of luck

  4. I'm a big fan of Victorian era mysteries and especially anything to do with Jack the Ripper. The challenge is to find a new twist on it and it seems the time travel aspect might be one. I would have to see it in action to know if it grabs me. I think you have painted a vivid scene of hopelessness. I did think the wanting to hang the boys who accosted her was a tiny bit harsh. I would watch one thing - the word "weekend" I think has a modern ring to it. I'm not sure an 1888 person would think in those terms when one day is like the last with no promise od a better tomorrow. I think the "assault" in a sexual connotation is also a fairly modern turn of phrase. I think assault in those days would have meant a physical batetring. But, I would definitely read on to see where you take this.

  5. Logline: Agree that the comparison X meets Y line doesn't anything that an actual mention of the modern CSI duo and catching Jack wouldn't do better.


    Even though you start with 1888, I still pictured this scene as modern--so I'm not sure the setting description is screaming Victorian to me.

    (Minor nit: hopeless doesn't seem like a word that would have sharp edges... I'd go for something harsher... like bleak or bitter or grim.)

    So, this isn't the main female protag, right? (That's Rachael) This is one of Jack's victims. If she's just about to die, I'd rather get to that (I'm extremely bloodthirsty, today, it seems) than stall with this fake threat of the hoodlums and the story about Emma.

    Also, the little pyschic bit of foreshadowing on Martha's part struck me as odd. It's like a character who couldn't possibly know what was going to happen is foreshadowing things for the reader's benefit.

    But time traveling to use modern science to convict Jack the Ripper sounds really intriguing.

  6. Good scene-setting. I think you capture a place and time well. I agree with the word "weekend" - not in common usage back then. You refer to the ones who tease her as "boys" and "lads" but then call them men when she wants them dead. I also found that a step too far given that all they did was drunkenly make a nuisance of themselves. Hardly worth forfeiting your life over. The fact that she thinks it merits death makes me think oh wow, Really?? Sounds like a good premise however and I would be curious.

  7. I agree that wanting to kill the boys for touching her skirt was too much for me. I stopped after that.

  8. What are the aching temples from if not the gin, then? There's something not quite right about Martha's storytelling authority and her vulnerability here. It confused me. I do like the overall set up, though. Please cut "shiver slithering..."

  9. Love the title. And I love time travel, and I love Jack the Ripper. I'm hooked! Your first 250 didn't do it for me though. The prose was smooth enough, but I agree with pretty much everything Heather said. She seems pretty depressed, which is okay, I guess, but you seem to be building up a character for someone that will presumably be mincemeat soon. Having her go back to her kids (if it's historically accurate) or be excited for something coming up will make her murder that more outrageous. I found her prophecy about more murders kind of ridiculous. (As Heather pointed out.)
    I'd cut those kids and talk of Emma completely. Make this woman a real character with a couple significant details and then slash her! Grab the readers attention, don't dither about creating mood.
    Overall, I loved the concept and the writing was pretty good. I'd be anxious to get to the meat of the story. I know it's hard with only 250 words. I'd read on for sure.
    Good luck.

  10. I like the title, the concept and I see signs of strong writing here. I'm never moved by loglines that are comparisons. They feel like they're trying to trade on someone else's successful work, and here, it doesn't make sense in combination with the second line.

    I think there's a little too much time spent on the build up to death (I assume we'll soon see Martha's demise). Martha seems altogether too introspective for her character and situation. Shouldn't she be looking out hard for her next john? How else is she going to eat?

    The final lines feel like overkill, particularly the slithering coil. I would clarify the cause of the headache (you did start with it) and focus the rest.

    I did like it and would read on, just to see how it was different from all the other Jack the Ripper stories.