I haven’t done much (well, any, really) planning for my novel-in-a-month adventure this year, but I’m really hoping to restore my writing momentum with a good, hard deadline. I’m pulling out an idea for a story that my sweetie and I hashed out. After I make this awful draft, we’ll work together to make a not-awful version. The idea has a lot of potential. Here is the synopsis I tossed together this afternoon:
Step on a Hack
Penn Jetterson is a best-selling author. The thing is, he doesn’t do much of the writing anymore — the publisher assigns writers to churn out novels based on outlines Jetterson jots down between highballs. Lately, the quality of the work has suffered dramatically. For a while he’s been content to simply sit back and rake in the cash, but lately the writers assigned by the publisher to fill out the plots he dreams up have been, well, awful.
The latest stinker, pooped out by one Bennie Hamwich, opens with a couple having a marital spat while in a car, flying through the air after driving off the top of a parking structure during a high-speed shootout. She is doing her makeup. He is lighting a cigarette. The car continues its improbable arc. She tells him she’s having an affair with his partner on the force just as tracer bullets (tracer bullets!? really?) hit the gas tank, exploding the car.
That’s chapter one. Through an improbable (and unfortunate for the reader) series of events, the bickering couple is still alive in chapter two.
The excerpts from those novels would be downright funny — unless it’s your name on the cover of the book. Penn Jetterson needs a way to salvage his name.
Conveniently, the horrible co-authors are being murdered in horrible, improbable ways that only they could have dreamed up. When poor Bennie Hamwich’s body is recovered from the fiery wreckage of a car that slammed into the side of a building (three stories up), with the charred remains of an unknown woman in the passenger seat, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to make a connection between the novel and the method of his demise. (Although it might take a rocket scientist to actually make it happen.)
Sales of Bennie Hamwich’s last piece-of-crap novel skyrocket on the news. Another untalented co-writer is eaten by piranha in the sewers of New York. A third meets his demise in an unlikely incident with a photocopier and a bottle of snake venom.
Who is killing the hacks? Is it Jetterson, trying to clear his name? Or is it the publisher, in a despicable attempt to boost sales? Or is it someone else, revealed at the last moment in a true crime against the mystery genre?
Only time will tell, my friends, only time will tell.
Any connection you might make to this horrible book is strictly coincidence.