Friday, December 2, 2011

#18 Adult Thriller: Shovelface

TITLE: Shovelface
GENRE: Adult Thriller

When 19-year-old Jimmy Madison accidentally kills an L.A. mobster, he hides the evidence and avoids the cops, but the mobster’s vicious son seeks revenge at all costs, forcing Jimmy into a world of violence he wants no part of.

Jimmy Madison didn’t look like a killer.

When mothers saw him jogging along the beach, they’d think, now there’s a nice boy. Why can’t my daughter meet a guy like that? He was tall and lanky, with a cheerful countenance and the kind of wide-eyed innocence you’d associate with a child, although he had a bullet-hole scar in his back. Barely nineteen, he looked like a surfer with long blond hair and deeply tanned face, but he had an air of purpose about him that attracted people even before they discovered he went to the community college at night and worked full-time to help support his family.

Those admiring sidewalk mothers—unaware his father was serving a life term back in Connecticut for murdering a young girl—would figure, correctly, that Jimmy already had a girlfriend. In fact, he was happily engaged to his high school sweetheart, the wedding six months away. He was working hard, saving money.

Killing was just part of his job.

Once you were in the mood, it was easy and fun. Not to mention exciting.

You squeeze the trigger. The recoil from the weapon—a 9 mm Uzi, a Heckler & Koch MP7, or a ridiculously potent multi-barreled auto-feed cannon—throws you backward. The explosion pounds your eardrums. The bright flash lingers on your retina. The projectile sears the gap, leaving a faint trail of pungent smoke and displaced air, and slams into the enemy.

Take a breath, then on to the next one.


  1. I love the premise of this. My only confusion is in the logline you say he wants no part of this violence and then on the first page you say killing is easy and fun. You may need to explain that a bit more. I really liked the "when mothers saw him jogging" part. Good luck!

  2. I was going to say the exact same thing about the logline mismatch with the content of the page. But I also liked the page, so I'd definitely read on.

  3. I noticed the disparity between the logline and the page too, but congratulations on such a succinct logline. Many of the loglines on here are very wordy.

    I'd read on, but I'd also recommend cutting everything after 'Killing was just part of his job.' At the end of the page, I have no idea where Jimmy is and what he's doing. We've just had a long section of you telling us about Jimmy. I liked it for a few paragraphs, but I don't want to just be told about the character, I want to see him in action. If you cut where I suggested, you could perhaps then show Jimmy killing someone. The tension of that scene would make for a great opening page.

    Good luck for the auction.

  4. Ditto all the previous comments. I know, not all that helpful, but they've really summed up the points I was gonna hit. :)

    Oh, wait. Chilling title; perfect for the genre. There, see? I can be helpful.

    Good luck with the auction and your writing!

  5. As an assassin, it stretches belief a bit that he accidently killed someone...but at 19 maybe he's just embarking on this career path...if so, he is already cavalier about the whole thing.

    About your weapons systems: Uzi's are squirrely, but the barrel tends to rise up, and the MP7 actually has minimal recoil. A cannon, well, THAT will throw you back, but the others won't...especially for one who trains with them. (22 years of law enforcement).

    I really liked the description of Jimmy from the outside view, but his personal observation on killing makes him out to be a psychopath with no culpability. It is difficult to view such a character with compassion.

  6. ...Sorry, posted too soon.
    I wish you the best of luck. Congrats on making the cut!

  7. I had similar thoughts as Mick, re: the line about enjoying killing.

    I also saw a disconnect with the mothers seeing him as a nice boy (wide-eyed, innocent) and the surfer boy description. (not that surfer boys aren't nice boys, but I see them as less desirable as boyfriend choices!)

    Also, the first mother comment has them seeing him on the beach. Next paragraph, you call them sidewalk mothers.

    Personally, I'd read on. I love "Dexter" and he's a complex character with evil and good qualities. You might be able to walk this same fine line with your protag.

  8. First off, "Shovelface" is an awesome name for a book.

    When I read this, I know I'm in for some shocks and suspense. This writer is going to bring it. Someone earlier mentioned "Dexter." Yes, I get that vibe too.

    My quibble is I too see a disconnect between a logline saying he kills accidentally and a story of someone who enjoys it. There's too much physical description of what "sidewalk mothers" see in him. You could cut it by one-third, maybe one-half. Finally, the switch from third person to "you"---hmmmm. Why not have Jimmy enjoying the feel of pulling the trigger? Why does it have to switch to "you"? It's a trifle distancing.

  9. I like it.

    I got hung up on "would figure" in the sentence: "Those admiring sidewalk mothers—unaware his father was serving a life term back in Connecticut for murdering a young girl—would figure, correctly, that Jimmy already had a girlfriend." maybe could simplify sentence for smoother reading.

    also didn't expect him to be a purposeful killer (based on logline).

    the You part also was slightly jarring to me, because I couldn't relate to liking the experience of killing someone, (as opposed to the character liking it) but this may be just what you want.

    great job and good luck! I'd read on.

  10. I was very distracted by the disconnect between the logline and the opening. The comments above have already brought up very good points. I just don't see his personality as being as innocent and disconnected from the crime world as the logline makes him sound. He seems smug and proud of the discrepancy between his projected innocence and his actual love of how "easy" "fun" and "exciting" killing is.

    If it came down to a choice between the two, I'd be more interested in reading the story that the logline describes.