Thursday, April 19, 2012

Mysteries For Danielle Svetcov #6

TITLE: The Seven Day Bad Date
GENRE: Mystery

Ali Mallick never thought dating could be dangerous; that is, until she meets up with her long- distance boyfriend for a road trip and he ends up dead. With no alibi and committed to a psychiatric ward, Ali must battle more than her personal demons to discover the truth and clear her name.

Safe safe safe safe safe. I have to get safe. It is the only thought that cycles through my brain as I drive through the night; through the rain. Safe. Safe. The staccato words blend into the sound of my windshield wipers, working against the torrential weather of the Pacific Northwest. The rain is unrelenting - or are those tears? I can't distinguish the blurry liquid in front of my eyes. I wish fervently for calm but my brain is too panicked, unable to process - unable to shut down.


"Just get here,” She says, and even through my own panic, the fear in her voice registers, “You'll be safe here. Put the coordinates in your TomTom and get to the ferry. The next boat to Winslow is at 9:12pm. You can make it. You'll be safe here. For God’s sake, just get to that ferry."

I negotiate the massive road construction that renders my GPS useless. Each time the automated male voice of my TomTom adjusts my route I feel the claw of anxiety tighten further around my throat. I have to get to that ferry. I have to get to my sister's house on Bainbridge Island. I have to get through the construction in downtown Seattle. I have to get safe. I turn blindly onto yet another unlit street - just my luck that the sidewalks have been ripped up and there are no street signs visible. The next corner takes me by surprise and I take it a little too quickly.


  1. Logline: "he ends up dead" needs to be more specific so that we understand how this relates to her being a suspect and being stuck in a psych ward (which you don't go to unless they think you have a psyciatric problem!) Also, battling person demons is a little vague for an obstacle. What are the demons and why are they going to prevent her from meeting her goal?

    Good luck!

  2. I think I would like this more if I hadn't read the logline. As it is, I'm assuming her boyfriend is already dead and she needs her sister's help with the aftermath. If that's true, I think I'd like it better if we got to experience the death along with her.

    But if I'm wrong about what she's trying to get safe from, I really like what you've written. I can feel her panic. But maybe once she's worried through the first paragraph, you can show her facing an obstacle -- road construction or getting pulled over for speeding and being afraid she'll get arrested -- instead of just worrying more while she drives.

    Note: I wonder if the reference to TomTom will date the manuscript. Maybe a more generic "GPS" would work better?

  3. For the logline, I'd like more specifics about what happened to make her boyfriend dead, and I'd like to know more about her personal demons, and how she plans to do any of these things from inside the psyche ward.

    But I did get a real sense of tension from the exerpt--the ever sinking feeling of having to be somewhere at a certain time and getting delayed... and here, her life depends on it.

    I would mention the sister earlier. I thought the first "She" was a voice in her head. And I would switch the order of the things she has to do so they're, well, in order (straight or reverse, doesn't matter, but) sister's house, ferry, Seattle... or Seattle, ferry, house.

    Is she about to have a car wreck? If not, I like Abbe's idea of involving a cop--maybe not actually pulling her over if that will delay her too much for your purpose, but just to make her think maybe she's getting pulled over?

  4. I think your logline is almost there, and you can probably ditch the cliche sounding first part about not thinking dating dangerous; what you say after it is what's good.

    I think trimming it and adding some more detail on the boyfriend will clarify:

    When Ali Mallick meets up with her long-distance boyfriend for a road trip, he ends up dead [explanation]. With no alibi, she's committed to a psychiatric ward, and must battle her personal demons to discover the truth and clear her name.

    I like the urgency of the scene.

  5. The logline definitely grabbed me. But the opening felt too... generic? The first line threw me because I read it twice making sure I'd read "safe" the correct number of times. LOL - probably the only person that happened to. I agree with the above comments on the TomTom. For some reason it says to me: old person. Totally thrown by the "she says". Is the MC on the phone with someone? I guess I'm just not a fan of a frantic MC opening when we don't have a clue what all the drama is for. If you could give me just a hint, I'd be more hooked.

  6. Here is a case where I think the logline and excerpt work against one another. After reading the log, I kind of wanted to go into the circumstances of how this date ended up with a dead body. Was she also threatened? Was she suspected and chose to flee? I assume the latter which is where the story begins. But I feel let down because I think it passes over what might have been the better place to start. But, that is just my preference and the fact that I care shows me that your writing worked. Good luck.

  7. I don't know what a TomTom is. Does that mean I'm too old, too young, too stupid?

    Or have such a good sense of direction I don't rely on unreliable electronic devices?

    I didn't like the logline at all, probably because it just didn't personally appeal to me. But I DO like the writing. I feel her anxiety as she attempts to navigate the soggy city streets of Seattle- confusing even on a good day.

    I wasn't sure who "She" was, and that tripped me until I figured it was her sister. Maybe it was the tense- "She says". That made me think someone was in the car with the MC. But I guess it was something the sister said earlier on the phone.

    This isn't up my alley at all, but I'd read on anyway!

  8. I agree with Happy Dolphin. The log line and excerpt aren't coordinated so I ended up trying to fill in the blanks the excerpt created. Maybe if I'd read them in opposite order I would have been able to focus on the writing instead of trying to make sense of it. Also I wasn't clear on how the boyfriend ends up dead and why she's the suspect.
    You've created a great deal of tension, which was really engaging. I would have liked to know something about the person and her circumstances so I could root for her. I'd read on to see where the scene was going.
    Good luck!

  9. I like the urgency of having to be safe. Maybe too many "safe"'s to start a story. I also think the story of the date gone bad is more interesting but I sense we might get the rehash of that in the next 250 so I would stick with it.

  10. Hmmmm. The first bit of the logline suggests a lite mystery, and the second half suggests someting quite heavy and psychological. The writing is mostly of the heavy variety, which I prefer. And except for a few purple-prose missteps ("staccato"; "torrential" "fervently" "panic"), I was able to ride out the storm and actually feel the desperate nature of this moment. Again, we want to feel the above words, not see them on the page.

  11. Although the sample doesn't start where I expect it to, I have no problem with it because I'm guessing here that her boyfriend is already dead and she's trying to escape. I think you do a good job of dropping us into her fear and tension. I feel her desperation and that's good writing, however it's achieved.

    I'm not comfortable with the repetition of the word safe, especially since it doesn't seem natural to use if you're trying to escape. But it didn't really bother me to the point of throwing me out the story.

    I would read on.

  12. What on earth does dfd mean?