Friday, May 05, 2006

Face-Lift 15


Guess the Plot

Next to Die

1. Edith had always admired Princess Diana and volunteered eagerly to stand next to her at the Scrumper Village Dog Show. Turned out this Princess Di was a giant rottweiler, and unpredictable.

2. The nurses at the Sunshine Nursing Home place their bets on which senior is next to... hit the clouds.

3. A stirring memoir of life in the Big House, by thirty six, no, thirty five inmates on Death Row.

4. By decree, the population of Sturbridge must always be 500. Whenever a child is born, the oldest resident is put to death. Thanks to a glut of recent births, the oldest resident is now Charlotte, aged 39. And she's due any day now.

5. After Annie's husband dies, other deaths begin to occur. Could it be vampires or zombies?

6. As Jacinta Englehopper sits for interminable hours in Dr. Kevorkian's waiting room, she reflects on life and love while skimming old copies of Good Housekeeping.


My query is short and sweet, as per Miss Snark and everything else I've ever understood about them. (Most that you've reviewed read like short synopses.) Anyway, here it is:

Original Version

Dear Agent/Publisher:

Next to Die is my completed 80,000 word mystery about the darkness that lurks in even the most close-knit families. [All close-knit families?]

When Allie Sheffield's policeman husband is killed, [In the line of duty? If not, killed how?] she buries herself in the family business. [Which is what?] However, all is not as it appears in her family, and when a mysterious painting turns up and deaths begin to occur, [Deaths simply begin to occur? Must we summon Dr. House every week?] Allie discovers a truth that forces her to question everything she ever thought she knew about herself. [She discovers that she's The Key; I saw this already, on Buffy the Vampire Slayer, season 5] [Wait a minute, you're done? That's your whole plot? Two sentences?

Your earlier implication that Miss Snark would find this short and sweet query thorough enough to actually consider representing the book boggles Evil Editor's mind.

Ah, wait, I just scanned the remainder of the page, where you declare that you are enclosing a short synopsis on a separate sheet of paper! So, you start out by complaining that Evil Editor's queries are like short synopses, but you aren't going to write a query letter that's like a short synopsis, no, you're going to write a query letter and attach a short synopsis. Your short synopsis is on a separate piece of paper! Why, that's completely different.

Don't for a minute think Evil Editor hasn't seen your true motive. You were desperate to get your synopsis off of the query page, because you didn't want Evil Editor to see it, for fear he would tear it to shreds. If I write only a couple sentences about my book, you thought, Evil Editor won't be able to put those nasty blue words all over my query letter. Why does he have to use blue? Why can't he at least make his blue comments tiny, like Miss Snark does with her red ones? I hate Evil Editor!

I’ve had three novels published with Silhouette Desire, one of which [Name it.] won a Waldenbooks award, and I have a proven record of sales.

I’ve enclosed a short synopsis, a SASE and the first two chapters of my manuscript. Thank you for your time and consideration.


Revised Version

Dear Agent/Publisher:

Next to Die is my completed 80,000 word mystery about the darkness that can lurk in even the most close-knit families.

When Allie Sheffield's policeman husband is killed in a freak croquet accident, she buries herself in the family mortuary business. However, all is not as it appears in her family, and when a mysterious painting turns up, a painting that depicts her family members dying in reverse alphabetical order, Allie discovers a truth that freezes her blood: "Allie" is actually her middle name, and her real first name is Yolanda.

I’ve had three novels published with Silhouette Desire, including The Query Came Up Short, which won a Waldenbooks award, and I have a proven record of sales.

I’ve enclosed a short synopsis, a SASE and the first two chapters of my manuscript. Thank you for your time and consideration.

Notes

As always, unless Evil Editor has correctly guessed the specifics of your novel, remember to substitute the true specifics before sending off the query letter.

9 comments:

Cassandra said...

Evil Editor, you're my latest e-crush.

...with extra crush points for the House reference.

Kendall said...

Hahaha...here's hoping your specifics, Evil Editor, turn out to be very close to the real ones. I'm not really into mysteries, but I'd read a book based on your query fake specifics! ;-)

Mad Scientist Matt said...

I am so glad I was not drinking my morning coffee when I read that, as I'd have a horrible time getting it out of my keyboard. The way you filled in the missing details was priceless.

frainstorm said...

Instead of digging for clues, she buries herself in the family mortuary business. I love it!

Slowly, sloooooowwwwwly, I'm being convinced of the error of my ways. I've sent out ultra-short queries, sans synopsis until requested, and have met with a horrible fate. I'm back to the editing board.

Thanks (I think) EE, for shining the light.

John

carolyn said...

Evil Editor,
I have a novel about an evil editor, and he has many fans. One fan, let's call her Carolyn, recommends the blog to her friend, "L". Later, Carolyn is shocked to hear "L" has a mysterious problem where she can't read the blog due to a font color problem--but "L" has the SAME MODEL OF COMPUTER! Carolyn later reads on Miss Snark that somebody else has that problem. Beautiful and intelligent, Carolyn realizes the problem is Evil Editor's computer ITSELF, which would, of course, be evil, too. What Evil Editor doesn't realize--or tries to deny, though he realizes it in his heart-- is that his own computer has come to embrace his scorn toward authors so completely that it is singling out certain author/blog readers for death, hoping to please Evil Editor and make him love him. These readers, you see, try and try again to read the blog, but eventually it hypnotizes them with the strange color scheme and then they wander into traffic. After having sex with a hunky mechanic in a side plot, vixeny raven-haired Carolyn goes to "L's" house and smashes "L's" computer with the mechanic's giant wrench in order to cut off evil computer's access to "L's" very mind. Unfortunately, "L" presses charges and Carolyn goes to jail. But then the hunky mechanic, using only his wrench, busts her out and they go to live in Brazil, which I believe has no extradition treaty.

carolyn said...

In the sequel, handsome and brilliant Evil Editor realizes what has been going on. Knowingly, he DONS SUNGLASSES as he races time to fix his html so that he might not fall prey to the evil machinations of his computer. He is so glad he knew to WEAR SUNGLASSES as he did this.
Tired after a long day of work, he calls for the boy to prepare his sleeping mixture. As he rests, he marvels at the variety jungle foliage he can see through the large hole in the thatched roof of his hut where the angry villagers tried to get in.

BuffySquirrel said...

I find this hexa chart useful.

I noticed that when viewing the previous template in Firefox, the message background did not change from brown until the page had fully loaded. Maybe some readers were too quick with the Stop button!

McKoala said...

Are these people on Mac with Explorer? If so, try Safari. It worked for me. I also posted this on the thread above (with much stroking of EEE - Evil Editor's Ego), sorry to be so tediously repetitive...

Sam said...

Freak croquet accident?
Sounds like foul play to me.