Author Topic: The House On The Cul-De-Sac (Revised)  (Read 63 times)

Offline nnewbie2

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The House On The Cul-De-Sac (Revised)
« on: August 02, 2020, 10:55:38 AM »
Hello,

I'm looking for feedback on my locked room mystery novel.

<Updated based on suggestions.>

Ria is a single mother living in Texas. When a deadly hurricane is forecast to hit Houston, her sister Seema invites her to ride out the storm at her house.

Ria would rather face rising flood waters than Seema’s sleazy husband, Vipul who had harassed her with lewd text messages. But after her apartment is listed under mandatory evacuation, Ria bundles her son and her fears to arrive at Seema’s large two-story house.

Ria learns that Vipul’s extended family is also taking refuge at Seema’s house. While the hurricane rages through the city, Ria skirts Vipul’s furtive glances and wrestles with the guilt of keeping his behavior a secret from her sister.

Vipul makes a pass at Ria, leading to an ugly confrontation witnessed by everyone.

Things get worse when mere hours later, Ria finds Vipul in the study, his throat slit. All eyes turn to Ria and she realizes she has gone from main witness to prime suspect.

The cops occupied with rescuing folks trapped in flooded areas, cannot come till the waters recede in the morning. Ria has one night to find the real murderer before she goes down for a crime she didn’t commit.

« Last Edit: August 02, 2020, 01:44:42 PM by nnewbie2 »

Offline csc

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Re: The House On The Cul-De-Sac
« Reply #1 on: August 02, 2020, 12:15:05 PM »
My general impression is that it is clearly written. I have no problem following what is going on and who the characters are. I would, suggest that you rephrase some of the wording to create more suspense, mystery, and intrigue. At the moment, it seems more like a synopsis than a query, that is intended to hook the reader.

RIA is a single mother living in Texas. When a deadly hurricane is forecast to make landfall, she scrambles to stock up on supplies. SEEMA, her married sister invites her to ride out the storm at her place. The last thing Ria needs is an encounter with Seema's sleazy husband, VIPUL, but when Ria's apartment is listed under mandatory evacuation, she has no choice but to accept the offer.

The stock up supplies is not needed here. Make the first paragraph more impactful. Focus on the 'deadly hurricane', and the 'sleazy husband' of Seema's. Those the things that will hook the reader. "A deadly hurricane is coming. Ria would rather stay at her apartment, except that it is listed under mandatory evacuation. Scrambling for a place to go, she has no choice but to stay with her sister and that sleazy husband of hers" or something like that.

On arrival, Ria learns that Vipul’s extended family is also taking refuge at Seema’s house, twice the size of Ria’s studio apartment.
With the hurricane raging through Houston, everyone hunkers down for the night.
Vipul makes a pass at Ria, leading to an ugly confrontation witnessed by everyone.

Show us how Ria feels. 'Trapped with ?? other people, constantly having to evade Vipul's suggestive glances..."

Hours later, when Ria discovers Vipul’s dead body in his study, the family closes ranks against Ria. Someone used her presence as an opportunity to commit a crime and Ria has till daybreak to find the real murderer.

Again, instead of make it a chronological sequence of events, hit the reader with a surprising twist. Don't interpret for the reader. Let them infer on their own that "someone has used her presence as an opportunity..." You could start with. "Only this isn't the worst thing that Ria has to deal with. When Vipul's dead body is found sprawled...all eyes turn to Ria..." Make it sound like she is in deep trouble and that things are going to get really awful. Let the reader wonder how she is going to get out of this mess.

Hope this helps. Thank you for the opportunity. Happy writing.

Offline msluna

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Re: The House On The Cul-De-Sac
« Reply #2 on: August 02, 2020, 01:21:52 PM »
I would suggest not capitalizing your character names.  That threw me off and I thought it was the name of your novel at first.

Quote
On arrival, Ria learns that Vipul’s extended family is also taking refuge at Seema’s house, twice the size of Ria’s studio apartment.

I would recommend rewording this sentence.  Do we need to know the size of the house?  I don't think that's important. 

Like CSC suggested, I would also recommend focusing more on the murder and the mystery.  Perhaps even start with the murder, and then go into the situations around it after.

Please have a look at my query as well if you get a chance. :-)

Offline nnewbie2

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Re: The House On The Cul-De-Sac
« Reply #3 on: August 02, 2020, 01:25:18 PM »
Thank you for your comments. I had a feeling the language was stilted, but your suggestions are super helpful. Thank you!
« Last Edit: August 03, 2020, 08:58:29 AM by nnewbie2 »

Offline Munley

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Re: The House On The Cul-De-Sac (Revised)
« Reply #4 on: Today at 02:53:47 PM »
You have an interesting plot and nicely contrasted characters here that promise a dramatic story.

The main problem I see with the query is that almost half of the space is devoted to time BEFORE Ria gets to her sister's house, and this section is more thoughts than unfolding action with rising tension. Trimming that down would grant you more space to up the drama in the second half, which is much stronger but does go limp in places with unnecessary explanations, such as "things getting worse" when Ria finds that creep's body. It's obvious that things are worse, so you don't need to point that out. And the query switches the attention from what Ria's doing to what the cops are doing instead of showing up right away. Better to keep the focus on Ria's predicament.

Others have made some good suggestions on where you could add dramatic tension that would make the reader (agent) want to know the outcome, although having Ria become a suspect in the murder would be plenty for most to want to read on, I think.

So here is my suggestion for an opening with the extra stuff cut out. (Re-word as you see fit, of course.)

===============
Ria is a single mother living in Texas. When an evacuation order is announced for Houston, Ria and her little boy are invited to ride out the hurricane at her sister Seema's, an offer that comes with an alarming hitch---sharing the same house with Seema's sleazy husband, Vipul. Vipul has been secretly sending Ria lewd text messages.

Rather than take her son to a crowded public shelter, Ria takes him her sister's house, where Vipul's relatives also pile in. Ria skirts Vipul’s furtive glances and wrestles with the guilt of keeping his behavior a secret from her sister. Vipul makes a pass [too vague. What exactly does Vipul do in front of everybody?] at Ria, leading to an ugly confrontation witnessed by everyone. Things get worse when mere Hours later, Ria finds Vipul in the study, his throat slit. All eyes turn to Ria, and she realizes she has gone from main witness to the prime suspect.

The cops, occupied with rescuing folks trapped in flooded areas, cannot come till the waters recede in the morning. [This last sentence us completely irrelevant for a query, but probably fine in the book. And the next sentence doesn't make sense. Why only one night? And what does it mean to "go down" for a crime? Be convicted? Convictions take time too. I'm sure you know this, but I think you need more precise word choices here.] Ria has one night to find the real murderer before she goes down for a crime she didn’t commit.

« Last Edit: Today at 02:57:40 PM by Munley »