Saturday, August 19, 2006
Guess the Plot
Way Off Track
1. Janice's novel seems to practically write itself. But the plot is worrisome, and her regency romance comes back time and time again to the flesh-eating zombies scene.
2. Mindy is in love with Rock, but he has eyes only for the pool boy next door. Still, Mindy pursues Rock relentlessly, and it falls to her best friend, Louella, to gently steer her on a different course.
3. David and Bobbie have odd ways of coping with the death of their son Jamie. David has an affair with the driver of the SUV that killed Jamie, and Bobbie risks death in the cockpit of a formula race car. They're both . . . way off track.
4. An enterprising bookie struggles to bring the excitement of "betting on the horses" to rural Saskatchewan, and corrupts an entire town in the process.
5. Nine-time Iditarod winner Brad Craddock gets his biggest challenge yet from Jo Gombatz. Only when they're both lost in a snowstorm and forced together for warmth does Brad begin to guess her feelings for him - and her dark secret.
6. Twelve-year-old Lester Phipps loves his electric train set. But a freak storm sends him into another dimension where The Engineer rules, and Lester must meet his freight schedules--or die.
Dear Evil Editor,
As David and Bobbie Stair haul the broken remnants of their lives onto the lawn for a yard sale, they witness a car crash that kills their sixteen-year-old son Jamie. The tragedy knocks the Stairs out of their shared twenty-year suburban stupor [and they immediately decide they'll shut down the yard sale at two o'clock instead of three.] [Great idea for a book: The obsessed main character has been searching years for the one item that will complete his collection. He's tried antique stores, conventions, Ebay, now he's reduced to visiting yard sales every weekend, searching through the junk in people's attics, until finally he spots it! The Missing Piece. (That's the title.) As he's about to make his purchase, the people conducting the yard sale witness the death of their child. Now our hero is thinking, Should I leave and contact them after a respectful period of mourning? What if they just decide to trash everything? Dare I steal it? From here there are many ways to go. If it's literary fiction, he steals the item, but is wracked with guilt, unsatisfied with his completed collection, and commits suicide. If it's psychological horror, he steals the item, and it takes on a life of its own, tormenting him until he commits suicide. If it's standard horror, he steals the item, but the child returns as a vengeful zombie and eats his flesh. If it's fantasy, he tells the couple that in return for the item he will introduce them to a necromancer who can return their child to them.] as each embarks on clandestine, sometimes perilous endeavors. Cynical David slips into an unlikely affair with the driver of the SUV that killed Jamie. Control-freak Bobbie discovers a passion for speed and begins a covert tryst with a racetrack, facing death in the cockpit of a formula race car. Their pudgy daughter Pauline begins a surreptitious career baking cakes, guarding her secret as desperately as her parents guard their own. [If my parents find out I'm a baker, I'm a dead woman.] Woven into these tempts with fate are jovial carnival freaks, an unknown stalker, a crag-faced teen with a crush, a giant 25-year-old virgin, and a one-legged man who analyzes car crashes for a living. [The whole thing is starting to sound like a car crash. Maybe we should leave out the freaks and the giant.] [While it's a rare book that wouldn't be improved by weaving in some jovial carnival freaks, it's not essential that we get them into the query letter.]
“Way Off Track” is a literary novel, at 90,000 words.
An excerpt from this novel was published in the anthology “Building Bridges Between Writers and Readers.” I have published humorous culinary articles for San Francisco newspapers, [Including, "Hollowed-out Brussels Sprouts Filled with Jalapeno Paste--a Great April Fools Day Gag," and "Noodles--Funny Name for a Funny Food."] and was the recipient of the California Writers Club awards for young adult fiction and for poetry. I am a member of the 5 Monkeys Writing Group, [Which consists of me, Magilla, Cheetah, Curious George, and Evil Monkey, from Family Guy. We sit around all day typing, hoping one day to produce the complete works of Shakespeare. Except for Evil Monkey, who runs back and forth hitting everyone's "Q."] based in the Bay Area, and have helped run the San Francisco Writers Conference with agents Elizabeth Pomada and Michael Larsen. [Pomada and Larsen? They've requested three partials from Evil Editor, and never a full. They obviously have no sense of humor.] I am working steadily on my next novel, entitled “Missing Women.” [It's a modern telling of Little Women, but without any women.]
Thank you for your consideration.
Despite all the blue, it reads well. I'm not sure we need the baking daughter. And while mentioning things like the carnival freaks etc. is often a good way to arouse curiosity, it's possible this one has aroused enough already, namely, How could this guy have an affair with that woman, and is it really that easy to get a ride in a formula race car?
What's missing is a sense of where the book is going. Are we interested in whether they split up or stay together? Is it about whether they remain knocked out of their stupor or fall back into it? Do David and his new girlfriend cheer Bobbie to victory in the Indy 500? Is there a mystery involving the car crash, solved by the one-legged man? Basically, all we have is a death and the reactions of two or three people to it. I'd like to know something else that happens.