Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Calling Team Koala!

I've been having a fine old time with the Woman in the Wall. For a disembodied voice she's great fun.

Stats for the past couple of weeks...I'll keep it to Woman in the Wall, because I've ignored the rest and it's getting so dull posting '0' all the time:

Stats for the past fortnight
Planning/structuring WiW: 4750
Editing The Woman in the Wall into a cracking start to a novel: 500 - but they're good words!
Also, research.

Here's the pitch. It's a bit long and I suspect it can be cut at the start in particular, but I'm not worried about that at the moment. I'm interested to know what you think. Would this intrigue you? Would you pick it up? I would, but maybe my taste is weird.

*stop here new version in comments!!!*

"When Jac Thompson's carefully-constructed life of lies as a privately educated middle-class daughter of the manse falls apart, she loses her ice maiden image and her job. Does the world really need Jacqueline-Marie, child of a drug abuser and alcoholic? Jac thinks not. Suffering pneumonia in her isolated cottage in Scotland, she descends into delirium, her only companion the ghostly woman's voice she imagines coming from the walls of the cottage.

She is saved from death by her own neglect by the unexpected reappearance of her father, claiming to be sober and repentant, and ready to help her pick up the pieces. But the woman in the wall is still talking to her and her father's repentance is undone by the discovery of a skeleton in the walls of the cottage – or is it by the discovery of a baby's corpse back on their home estate in Glasgow? Jac's father hides from the police by building himself into the wall of the cottage alongside the skeleton while an increasingly distraught Jac tries to puzzle out the connection between him and the baby. And what about the woman in the wall, who is she and what does she want?"

19 comments:

pjd said...

Sounds very Vincent Price-ish. I personally enjoy stories where there is a supernatural aspect to a mystery's solution, so yeah, this could be very interesting. What I'd like most is if you leave it ambiguous whether the voice is something truly supernatural or a product of her own mind or subconscious... or some hybrid. I like the idea a lot and the gothic flavor of it.

Specific comments on the pitch: I think you should cut down the first paragraph a lot. I didn't connect with it until "Suffering from pneumonia..."

I found the first sentence of the second part awkward because of the two bys. Perhaps restructure to something more like "She is saved from death by self-neglect when her father..." I would also play around with the "or is it by the discovery" section. I'd say he's undone by the discovery of the skeleton in the walls, but the discovery of a second corpse complicates matters.

If this is a pitch meant to be spoken face-to-face, I think it will be difficult to deliver as written.

But the book idea sounds intriguing to me, and I can't wait to hear the voice for myself...

Whirlochre said...

This sounds great and I would be interested — am interested.

The one thing I tripped on was the pneumonia.

The Bad News is introduced well, but this is a little too slapped on with a paintbrush. I wondered at this point whether it was going to be some sort of satire.

'Suffering pneumonia, and with one arm wrenched from its socket...

But that's a minor bug. It sounds workably spooky.

Robin S. said...

This is dark, McK, so I'm interested. And I'm very interested about the "father building himself into the wall" part- wanting to find out if that's literal or figurative.

And then I'm even more interested in finding out about the baby - especially given the dad and daughter discussion about why Jac had been an only child, that I read previously.

The phrase 'suffering pneumonia' stopped me a bit, too, not because that particular illness bothered me as it did Whirl, (I think of pneumonia as an illness that strikes the weakened, whether or not that's true- it's like consumption/TB used to be in its literary usefulness- so it works here for me), but because of the way it was phrased. That's probably simply my American-ness showing through. I guess I don't love 'suffering' there, as it adds to her list of suffering? So, don't mind me on this one.

So yeah, this is really good- but I'd only say the 'suffering' sounded a but like 'piling it on', and you don't need that with what else is happening to Jac.

Aerin said...

Yay for continuing the woman in the wall!

The first sentence of the whole thing tripped me up - just a little - I'm not sure - wordy, and maybe a little trite ("ice maiden"). Then I was fine.

Way to go! Yay for you!!

Sarah Laurenson said...

I'll get back to this tomorrow, McK!

laughingwolf said...

very edgar allan poe-ish... love it!

Conduit said...

I like the overall feel of this, but I must confess the second paragraph feels a bit off for me. It's a little confusing, with the baby, so I think a little tightening and clarification would work wonders.

McKoala said...

Cool bananas. Better keep writing, then, hadn't I?

McKoala said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ello said...

I love it conceptually! It sounds fascinating. But Stuart is right, that second paragraph is way confusing. However, it sounds like it will be a really good freaky read!

McKoala said...

Trying again:

On the surface, Jac Thompson-Evans is a sleek-haired, confident professional. Unfortunately Jac is fake; a persona created by Jacqueline-Marie Thompson, in an attempt to forget her miserable childhood in Glasgow as the only child of a drug abuser and an alcoholic. Sacked when her employer discovers her lies, Jac retreats to her isolated cottage, her only companion the ghostly woman's voice she hears coming from its walls.

Jac is saved from death by her own neglect when her father reappears, claiming to be sober, repentant, and ready to help her pick up the pieces. But the woman in the wall is still talking to her and her father's confidence is undone when his renovations reveal a skeleton in the walls of the cottage. The discovery of a baby's corpse back on their home estate in Glasgow unnerves him even further and he hides from the police by building himself into the wall alongside the skeleton. An increasingly distraught Jac tries to puzzle out the connection between him and the baby. And what about the woman in the wall, who is she and what does she want?

laughingwolf said...

better this time... :)

Sarah Laurenson said...

Reading this new one and trying to look at it as if I didn't read the shorter WIW already...

I like this, but I'm going to examine it with a microscope. So these are mostly nit picky comments. Take what you like and leave the rest - as usual.

First thought was - is Jac a boy or girl? This could be a very different story if she was in drag.

The last Jac in the first paragraph is too close to the Jac starting the second paragraph and I felt like you used Jac a lot when you really didn't. I think you can safely say she in the last sentence of the first paragraph.

Is sleek-haired regional? Makes me think slicked back 50's dude and I think that led me to the whole boy/girl confusion.

Why unfortunately Jac is a fake. Is it unfortunate? To who? How?

Not sure I like 'On the surface'.

Maybe:
Jac Thompson-Evans is a sleek-haired, confident professional with blah blah success. She is also a persona created by Jacqueline-Marie Thompson,

Then there's the matter of what name she should go by - the fake one or her real one once the real one is revealed. Not sure here.

And her father builds himself into the wall? Jac knows this? And this makes Jac distraught and nothing else? She doesn't try to stop him or release him or tell the police where he is? It sounds like he's killing himself and she's doing nothing but wringing her hands.

Take a look at the use of 'only'. It's another word that stuck out for me as being there too many times.


You're almost there. This is really good and the longer story that you hint at here sounds very interesting.

pjd said...

The new version is better, and not just because you took one of my suggestions. :-) I'm still having a little trouble fitting her initial downfall into the story. It feels like you're using a lot of words to describe the starting point. Does the actual story start after her life falls apart (i.e. when her Da shows up), or do you intend to show the downfall and redemption both?

Also, what Sarah said about this: And her father builds himself into the wall? Jac knows this? And this makes Jac distraught and nothing else? She doesn't try to stop him or release him or tell the police where he is? It sounds like he's killing himself and she's doing nothing but wringing her hands.

I had similar problems, but I was willing at the time to give you some leeway in terms of trying to describe a complex situation in few words. But I admit my reaction was the same.

Still, definitely keep writing this. It has potential to be very spooky but also an intriguing mystery/crime/family story.

Robin S. said...

McK- if you're writing a hooky jacket flap- I'd say the first version is more like it- unanswered questions et al, and just rework/fix a few things.

Whirlochre said...

Yes — I've been back to this 2nd version a few times and I'm with Robin. It's not as direct.

McKoala said...

Hooky nightmares! I guess what's important for now is that the idea seems to be there and worth reading. So I think I'll keep writing and hook back up with the hook later on.

Thanks for all your help. Team cheer!

Shanta Everington said...

A bit late on the feedback but yes, it hooked me. And the supernatural element seems to be big right now :)

ChrisEldin said...

I like the first version better, except the nit with the first sentence everyone already mentioned.
Agree with PJD about your story sounding very Vincent Price. I would love to read this. It's original and dark, and enough left to interpretation/imagination (though you have to be careful not to leave it too ambiguous).
Very nice!