When beloved science professor John Briggs from Northwest Chicago State is murdered the police suspect his colleagues. Biology secretary Hallie Peters, determined to protect her department, in-vestigates on her own. She discovers the victim's history of sexual assault and blackmail, finds the murderer, uncovers unsavory truths about colleagues, is nearly killed, and befriends the homicide detective. This book blends campus mystery with an urban setting for a unique spin on the popular college cozies.
NOTES: TECHNICALLY THIS ISN'T A BLURB BECAUSE IT REVEALS THE ENDING. ALSO, THE FINAL LINE ISN'T NECESSARY. A BLURB WILL INDICATE THE SPIN WITHOUT ACTUALLY DESCRIBING IT.
ALSO, THE BLURB SHOULD FOCUS ON YOUR MC, NOT THE MURDER VICTIM. RE-CAST THIS FOCUSING ON HALLIE.
"We got it!" cried Briggs, his tall, lanky form bursting through the office door.
"The grant?" asked Hallie, the biology department secretary.
NOTE: ASSUMING BRIGGS IS GANKED BY CHAPTER 2 OR 3, THIS FIRST PAGE NEEDS TO BE RECAST FROM HALLIE'S POV. SHE'S THE MC. YOU NEED TO EN-GAGE THE READER WITH HER ASAP.
THUS (AS A QUICK EXAMPLE): THE BIOLOGY DEPARTMENT OF NORTHWESTERN CHICAGO STATE UNIVERSITY WAS IN THE MIDDLE OF ITS ANNUAL MAY CHA-OS. HALLIE PETERS GLARED AT THE "WORLD'S GREATEST ADMIN" NAMEPLATE ON HER DESK AND WONDERED FOR THE UMPTEENTH TIME IF BAGGING GRO-CERIES WOULD BE LESS STRESSFUL.
THAT'S SILLY AND MIGHT HAVE NOTHING TO DO WITH YOUR CHARACTER'S MOTIVATION, BUT IT FOCUSES THE READER IMMEDIATELY ON THE MC.
"The whole thing!"
NOTE: WHILE EXCLAMATION POINTS ARE FROWNED ON IN PROSE, A FEW ARE ACCEPTABLE IN DIALOGUE-A VERY FEW. HAVE THE CHARACTERS' BODY LANGUAGE AND ACTIONS CONVEY THEIR EMOTION. FOR EXAMPLE: BRIGGS CAN APPEAR IN THE DOORWAY AND FLING THE GRANT PAPERS UP LIKE CON-FETTI. IF HE THEN SAYS, "WE GOT IT" WITH A GRIN ON HIS FACE, THE EXCITE-MENT IS CONVEYED BY THE ACTION.
"Wow," said Hallie, surprised and pleased. Dr. John Briggs was a the genetics professor in the Biology Department at Northwestern Chicago State University. "I thought they were going to cut it back."
He shook his head. "It looked that way for a while. Some evaluators on the board felt a commuter university didn't warrant that much sophisticated equipment. But with our recent spate of research grants, we'll...," He tented his fingers and rocked on his heels, enormously satisfied. Hallie smiled.
"Anyway, we need to have a celebration," he continued. "Get some champagne and some munchies. We'll meet in Lab 202 after last class this Thursday afternoon. Make sure everyone shows up! I'm going to let the Dean know." He saluted, winked, and was off.
Hallie smiled again, but she didn't have long to think after he left before a student showed up looking for an application to take the Masters Examination. It was the last requirement for the MS candidates. The student, Jamie Solotkin, had taken it once and not passed; he had two tries left. Jamie was a perfect example of the "C's get degrees" type of student, but he was a hard worker and had a positive attitude. Hallie liked Jamie and really wanted him to pass; if he didn't she was pretty sure he wouldn't be able to pass the final time with all the additional pressure.
NOTE: THERE NEEDS TO BE A COMPELLING REASON TO INTRODUCE A THIRD CHARACTER ON THE FIRST PAGE. DOES THIS STUDENT PLAY A MAJOR ROLE? IF SO, LET US KNOW WITHIN THESE 250 WORDS.
FOR EXAMPLE: "BRIGGS LEFT AND THE DEPARTMENT'S ETERNAL PROBLEM STUDENT APPEARED IN THE DOORWAY WITH HIS SHEEPISH SMILE AND PUPPY-DOG EYES. HALLIE LIKED JAMIE SOLOTKIN, BUT HE HAD ONLY ONE MORE CHANCE TO PASS THE MASTERS CANDIDATE EXAM."
SEE HOW I SHIFTED THE SCENE A BIT TO KEEP THE FOCUS MORE ON HALLIE? BUT AGAIN UNLESS THIS CHARACTER IS A MAJOR PLAYER, KEEP HIM OFF PAGE ONE.
OVERALL, THIS HAS POTENTIAL. THE COLLEGE SETTING ISN'T WIDELY USED, SO THERE'S A NICHE TO FILL. I SUGGEST GIVING US A STRONGER REASON TO ROOT FOR THE MC IN THIS FIRST PAGE. SINCE BRIGGS IS SCUM, DOES HE COME ON TO HER A LOT AND DOES SHE HAVE TO CONTINUALLY REPULSE HIM? THAT COULD HAPPED ON THIS PAGE. OR DOES SHE CARRY A TORCH FOR HIM BUT HE ONLY FLIRTS? OR DOES SHE ALREADY SUSPECT HE'S "OFF"? MAKE HER DO SOME-THING MORE IN CHARACTER HERE TO GET THE READER IN HER COURT. GOOD LUCK!