Saturday, June 10, 2006

Face-Lift 58


Guess the Plot

The Wog Manual

1. What’s a wog? Max doesn’t know, but with the mysterious Wog Manual, he’s suddenly in business. It may save his factory--or destroy the world!

2. Len struggles to overcome ridicule of his speech impediment as he earns a living—and respect—as a log-cutter in the harsh Canadian wilderness.

3. Sabiha and Brian want to be more than just friends, but Sabiha's mother would prefer she date Edo, the hunky Muslim Bosnian apprentice hairdresser.

4. A young boy comes of age when confronted by his father’s past as a writer of installation instructions for Pakistani VCR’s.

5. He’s part fish, and she can’t swim. When interspecies romances are as tricky as this, sometimes you need a manual.

6. William Wog strikes it rich with his manual on leaf blowers. Apparently, money does grow on trees.


Original Version

Dear Evil Editor

The Wog Manual is a 90,000 word young adult novel. Set in Australia in 1994 the main character is Sabiha Cengic, a fifteen-year-old girl of a Bosnian-Muslim background.

The Bosnian community considers Sabiha and her Mum white trash because of her Mum’s manic depression and man-chasing ways. [Also, the three cars parked on their front lawn, two of them on cinder blocks.] Her grandfather and aunt come to Australia as refugees during the Balkan War and Sabiha has the chance for the one thing she’s desired, respectability. But when her Mum gets engaged to a former university professor who claims his wife and children died in the war, her claim to respectability starts to unravel.

[Sabiha's "friend": Your mum suffers from depression. You . . . wog.

Sabiha: My aunt and grandfather just arrived from Bosnia.

Sabiha's "friend": Ah. Suddenly I have new-found respect for you.

Sabiha: Also, my mum is marrying a university professor.

Sabiha's "friend": Wog! ]

The one place where she could drop the wog tag [Which, one assumes, is the "white trash" tag?] and pretend to be a normal girl [So she isn't a normal girl?] was in school. [Which is probably the only important place anyway.] When her best friends’ parents discover they went to a male stripper show Sabiha is identified as the instigator and they’re not allowed to see each other. [Kids are allowed in strip shows?] [Chippendale's Junior. Fourteen-year-old boys stripping down to the partial monte. It's an Aussie thing.]

After being bullied she’s forced to change schools and the only thing she has going for her is that she’s popular for the first time in her life with girls using her to be close to her spunky cousin Adnan. And she is making some new friends, if you count Jessie James the school oddball who’s pastime is making lists of people he will kill [Given the choice, any kid would rather be friends with a serial killer than be bullied.] and his best friend Brian O’Connor who wears foundation and denies that he’s gay. [He's gay all right. Not because he wears foundation, but because he denies it. Okay, also because he wears foundation.]

As if she doesn’t have enough on her plate she’s involved in a love triangle. Or is that a love quadrangle? She and Brian are tempted to cross the line from best friends to something more, Jessie’s strength and dependability tempts her, while Edo, the hunky Bosnian apprentice hairdresser, [He's gay too.] wins her mother’s vote. After all he’s Bosnian, he’s Muslim, he’s available. What more could a girl want? [When your mum has the wog label, you don't want the boyfriend she favors--odds are you'll be sharing him with mum.]

I have been published in a variety of genres in short fiction including the 2004 and 2005 Best Australian Stories published by Black Inc and edited by 2001 Miles Franklin Winner, Frank Moorhouse. Both stories have received special review mentions. Australian Book Review called my short story Siege “a powerful and moving story of family dissolution and the suffering, deprivation and terror of war,” and the Bulletin said “Amra Pajalic’s Bosnian Diary is a masterpiece of broken elegy.” You can view all my publication achievements with links on my webpage amrapajalic.blogspot.com.

The Wog Manual is complete and ready for submission. Enclosed are the first five pages, 1000 word synopsis and SSAE for your response. Thank you for your time and attention.


Revised Version
[Not much changed other than eliminating the paragraph about the aunt, grandfather, mum's marriage, as it didn't explain why Sabiha's respect level would be affected.]

Dear Evil Editor,

The Wog Manual is a 90,000 word young adult novel set in Australia in 1994. The main character is Sabiha Cengic, a fifteen-year-old girl of a Bosnian-Muslim background.

The Bosnian community considers Sabiha and her Mum white trash because of her Mum’s manic depression and man-chasing ways. The one place where Sabiha can drop the wog tag is in school. But when her best friends’ parents discover they went to a male stripper show, Sabiha is identified as the instigator and they’re not allowed to see each other.

Taunted and bullied, Sabiha eventually changes schools, and for the first time in her life she’s popular, with girls using her to be close to her spunky cousin Adnan. And she is making some new friends, if you count Jessie James the school oddball whose pastime is making lists of people he will kill and his best friend Brian O’Connor who wears foundation and denies that he’s gay.

As if Sabiha doesn’t have enough on her plate, she’s involved in a love triangle. Or is that a love quadrangle? She and Brian are tempted to cross the line from best friends to something more, Jessie’s strength and dependability tempts her, while Edo, the hunky Bosnian apprentice hairdresser, wins her mother’s vote. After all he’s Bosnian, he’s Muslim, he’s available. What more could a girl want?

I have been published in a variety of genres etc. etc.

The Wog Manual is complete and ready for submission. Enclosed are the first five pages, 1000 word synopsis and SSAE for your response. Thank you for your time and attention.


Notes

Have things changed so much that this couldn't happen in 2006? If not, perhaps updating it to current times would make it more appealing to today's YA Bosnian/Muslim/Australian market.

Does the book move toward a climax? Is it the coming-of-age story of Sabiha? Is it the struggles of a wog family to overcome bias? Is it just a series of vignettes? Tell us the focus of the book. The plot summary leaves us wondering where we're going.

11 comments:

BuffySquirrel said...

The Wog Manual is a 90,000 word young adult novel. Set in Australia in 1994 the main character is Sabiha Cengic, a fifteen-year-old girl of a Bosnian-Muslim background.

I think this would work better split up differently:

The Wog Manual is a 90,000 word young adult novel set in Australia in 1994. The main character is ...

Also, 90k seems long for YA.

Evil Editor said...

Thanks Buff. What would EE do without his eagle-eyed minions watching his back (or should I say, pouncing at every opportunity?

BuffySquirrel said...

Twelve Step Program. Any day now.

The Rentable Writer said...

buffysquirrel: You're right, it does sound better that way. And here's a scary thought: Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix is categorized as YA/Fantasy. It's a beast of a book at 255,000 words. (One time, someone chucked it at me, and I caught it. It ended up spraining my wrist.) I think the standard "novel" is 90,000.

I like the plot to Wog, it's really unique. I don't know where it's going, but still.... The query really isn't bad.

BuffySquirrel said...

Hmm, yeah, a real doorstep of a book. Then again, Phoenix isn't typical of the YA market.

From what I've read, it might be easier to get a first YA novel published if it was shorter than 90k--maybe in the 50/70k area. But there are always exceptions, and I know YA writers who hope that the Potter phenomenon will encourage publishers to buy longer YA books.

Anonymous said...

I read:

"When her best friends’ parents discover they went to a male stripper show ... " and I say to myself -- why is it Sabiha's problem if her friend's parents like stripper shows? Well, if Sabiha's mum found out, maybe that would put a crimp in Sabiha's seeing her friends ...

Anyway, the noun most immediately preceeding the pronoun "they" is parents, yes? Doesn't that mean the *parents* went to the show? At best, I find this sentence hard to deconstruct.

Also, when Sabiha is considering making it with 3 guys, I begin to wonder if her mum's reputation as a man chaser is well deserved & if Sabiha is following in her footsteps.

And of course, what's the point? Cinderella goes to the ball and gets to choose her prince? :-) Or am I being really critical ... guess those parent's blaming Sabiha for messing with their tickets to the soccer match gets to me. ;-)

Brenda Bradshaw said...

What's the worst thing about pneumonia slamming you into the hospital for a few days? NO INTERNET and thus, NO EE!

Glad to have things to read and catch up on. Life feels better already.

A. M. said...

If I wasn't told she's Muslim, I would have never guessed. I'm guessing it's vital.

Why is she bullied?
The man-chasing mother is also Muslim but nobody cares much about her man-chasing ways?

While she enjoys her Western ways, she then turns and fully expects her daughter to marry a - Muslim?

What's clear is that Mum's fiancé Professor Humbert's family will show up at his doorstep any minute. Huh.

Dhewco said...

Well, the line about 14 yo Chippendale's Jr is not far off. There used to be a group called Chippendiddies that featured young boys doing the things that the older version did. (I assume, never saw more than a few pictures and one of the morning news shows) I know they were shirtless at least.

David

watsawog said...

I must be a bad Australian. I always thought the term Wog referred to Italians and Greeks. As in the movie, "The Wog Boy". And I would have thought that school would be the worst place, not the one place she wasn't bullied. Also, why does she think a guy who is making death lists is dependable?
This may well be a great story, but I found the query confusing, and couldn't really see where the story was going.

Amra Pajalic said...

Thanks guys. If you think this query is bad you should hear me try to talk about it. Imagine Alison Hannigan in American Pie "And then, and then, and then." Obviously I have to get some serious help with readers who critique my novel.

I'm also struggling with the whole genre definition thing and need people to read it and help me. I think it's a bit too full-on for young adult (although I guess the stripper show was a clue) so I'll just have to call it a "novel."

I'm re-reading this whole query and cringing. Live and learn (as long as you don't die of embarassment first).