Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Face-Lift 207


Guess the Plot

Four Seasons

1. Summer Lindt has led an introspective and self-destructive life since the acrimonious divorce of her parents when she was fifteen. Her journey from a bright and promising child to a cold and bitter old woman is told through the metaphor of the passing seasons.

2. John Johnson is on a mission: he's collected the autographs of three of the Miss Seasons topless calendar models, but if he wants to complete the set he's going to have to track down Miss Winter's kidnapper.

3. Frankie Valli meets his manager over pizza at a luxury hotel to discuss his idea for a new musical based on the life and works of Vivaldi. Relationships are strained and old wounds re-opened as they struggle to come up with inspiration for the show's title.

4. Four women have their friendship tested when one of them has an affair and vanishes during one of the four seasons.

5. In the mid 25th century, weather control is a reality, and all of the continental US has a year-round climate like San Diego's. But a group of meteorological Luddites are lobbying for a return to having something to chat about in grocery store lines.

6. Chef Emeril's latest cookbook shows how to make authentic Southern dishes using only salt, sugar, grease and preservatives.


Original Version

Dear Mr. Evil Editor,

FOUR SEASONS is a novel that explores the different forms of fidelity: romantic relationships, friendship, family and memories of loved ones passed.

Best friends for fifteen years, Katherine, Annabel, Naomi and Stace have a bond of friendship as strong as titanium. But even titanium can corrode. When a scandal develops, the cozy foursome is blown apart. Will they be able to overcome their individual challenges and come together to save one of their own?

Katherine the Predictable longs for a bit of mess in her life. Her friends think she’s talking about not vacuuming six days a week. Little do they know what is about to transpire. Annabel [the Immoral] continuously dates men who won’t commit. [How can she be sure they won't commit before she dates them?] It’s a safe bet. After all, she’s secretly lusting after her ideal man, who just happens to be Katherine’s husband, Mark. [Lusting after your best friend's husband. Titanium.] Naomi [the Silent] stopped talking to her mother when she decided to marry a man twenty years her junior. She thinks her mother is cheating on her recently deceased father. Plus, she’s feeling guilty about being friends with Katherine. [They have a 15-year tatanium-bonded friendship, yet she feels guilty about it? Why?] Naomi’s not a fan, but it’s hard not to be friends with someone who’s saved your life. [Naomi's not a fan of whom? Katherine? And yet the two are part of this 15-year tatanium bonded friendship?] Then there’s Stace [the Seditious], a fair-weather friend who has a habit of magically disappearing when there’s a crisis. [And yet she's a part of this 15-year titanium bonded friendship?] [Let's face it, these women all hate each other. It's a seething hatred that's been festering for fifteen years. At least Katherine had the sense to get out before the killing started.] Her loyalty is often questioned, and this time, her taking off could endanger Katherine’s life. [I don't mind the occasional question or plot point thrown in to generate interest, but there's too much in that paragraph that's either unclear or unanswered. I'm not sure we even need the paragraph; it's raising more questions than it's answering.]

Katherine has an affair and ends it when the lover turns violent. She willingly puts her entire future in jeopardy and strains friendships to breaking point. Soon after she finds out she’s pregnant, Katherine disappears. Her indiscretion rocks Naomi, Bel and Stace and pushes them into confronting issues of fidelity in their own lives. Will Annabel use Katherine’s affair as a stepping-stone to seduce Mark? Can the staunch monogamist Naomi forgive her mother and Katherine? Will Stace jump the friendship boat [The friendship boat? I take it that's like The Love Boat, but for couples who are just friends?] [Is jumping the friendship boat the same as jumping off the friendship boat? Because jumping a train means jumping on.] and flee to Argentina and escape dealing with another crisis? [When you said she disappeared at times of crisis, I didn't think you meant to Argentina. Couldn't she just stop answering her phone?]

The women need to unite and discover if Katherine has disappeared to start a new life, or if there is there a more sinister, underlying motive to her disappearance. [If no one knows where Katherine is, how does anyone know that if Stace goes to Argentina it puts Katherine's life in danger?] Four friends. Four betrayals. Four seasons. [Four seasons? Explain.]

I am pursuing a career in writing fiction full time and have previously worked as a freelance travel writer. I’ve travelled the world and like to weave foreign destinations into my novels. [For instance, from out of nowhere, one of my characters could suddenly up and leave for, oh, Argentina.] Currently I am working on an Adventure/Mystery manuscript.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Sincerely,


Revised Version

Dear Mr. Evil Editor,

FOUR SEASONS is a ?0,000-word novel that explores fidelity in romantic relationships, friendship and family. Katherine, Annabel, Naomi and Stace have a bond of friendship as strong as titanium. But even titanium can corrode. When a scandal develops, the fifteen-year friendship is tested. Can they overcome their individual challenges and come together to save one of their own?

When Katherine has an affair, she puts her future in jeopardy and strains friendships to their breaking point. Her indiscretion rocks her best friends, Naomi, Bel and Stace, pushing them into confronting issues of fidelity in their own lives. Will Annabel use Katherine’s affair as a stepping-stone to seduce Katherine's husband Mark? Can the staunch monogamist Naomi forgive Katherine? Will Stace leave town, as usual, to avoid dealing with another crisis?

And where is Katherine? Soon after learning she was pregnant, she seems to have disappeared. Is she trying to start a new life for herself, or is she the victim of foul play? Four friends. Four betrayals. Four . . . seasons?

In my capacity as a freelance travel writer, I’ve traveled the world and often weave foreign destinations I've visited into my fiction. Thank you for your time and consideration.

Sincerely,


Notes

There's only one paragraph that has plot details, and half of that one is questions. You're supposed to be telling us what happens in your book, not asking us. Admittedly, the revised version is all questions as well, but I have an excuse: I don't know the answers. You don't need to take out every question, but try to provide more information about what happens.

13 comments:

writtenwyrdd said...

"Even titanium can corrode." WTF?

This didn't strike me as really interesting, as it sounds like it is about a bunch of people I wouldn't care about at all.

You could have a vast amount of interesting stuff planned for in the book, but the query letter doesn't provide enough, and the characters don't seem very individuated, as in, one could replace another pretty much. Could it be you have too many characters in starring roles?

I'm tired so anything else I say will just sound cranky.

Dave said...

I hope this is a desperate housewives for the titanium set. It's a timely plot - cheating, avaricious, gossipy housewives and their intricate and sometimes altogether nonsensical love interests. But you have to describe all those plot twists a little better. I got lost. Don't be afraid of the plot. I am sure that when Amy Tan pitched Joy Luck Club about four old women who play Mah Johhng and discuss their families, it didn't sound exciting. Don't try so hard to make it exciting, get the plot line down and then go back and punch it up.

three picky things:
1) titanium doesn't corrode. At least nothing you have can possibly make it corrode. I know. I had all titanium valves and tubing specially fabricated for use in wet, acidic andhighly abrasive environments at high temperatures. Titanium does fatigue and breaks, however. Maybe you want to use platinum or steel.
2) Vivaldi only wrote one flute concerto and 5000 sickening variations on it. He was the Yanni of his time.
3) G-T-P #6 GASP - it's not just grease, it's PORK FAT and pork fat RULES!

bunnygirl said...

She thinks her mother is cheating on her recently deceased father.

How is it cheating if the guy is dead?

C'mon, EE, you didn't catch this? You're slacking!

Anonymous said...

"Will Stace leave town, as usual, to avoid dealing with another crisis?"

But EE - if Stace always left town, how would they have developed a 15 year friendship?
It doesn't sound all that interesting - I think if Katherine is in danger, you need to reveal exactly what it is, or what they think it is, more clearly.
Also, the titanium thing sucks.

pacatrue said...

My main thought was: with friends like these....

Rei said...

Best friends for fifteen years, Katherine, Annabel, Naomi and Stace have a bond of friendship as strong as titanium. But even titanium can corrode.

I'm not your target market, but this really bugged me. Titanium is actually no stronger than steel; it's just lighter, more corrosion resistant, more temperature resistant, and more biocompatable. Titanium doesn't corrode in normal conditions. An interesting thing about it, however, is when it does corrode, it's very colorful. The depth of the corrosion determines the color. You can get any hue (although you can't adjust the saturation or lightness), and as a consequence, some companies "paint" titanium by selectively corroding it to a desired depth.

What your analogy really needs to compare their friendship to is something like maraging steel. Of course, as previously stated, I'm not your target audience. ;)

Daisy said...

From the Wikipedia entry on Titanium:
"It is a light, strong, lustrous, corrosion-resistant (including resistance to sea water and chlorine) transition metal with a white-silvery-metallic colour."

Copper, maybe? Iron? Skip the corrosion thing? Just a thought.

Anonymous said...

The first paragraph of the query almost killed it for me. All the contradictions (which EE poined out) finished the job.

bunnygirl, children of a deceased parent often feel their surviving parent is "cheating" on the deceased when they move on and start a new relationship. -JTC

acd said...

I canNOT tell you how disappointed I was that this wasn't #2.

How is it cheating if the guy is dead?

What's good enough for Hamlet is good enough for me!

Anonymous said...

Is it "Four Seasons" because it takes place over the course of one year? If so, you might want to say that.
What I really want to know, though, is do we get to go to Argentina in the book? That's where I perked up -- especially if you're mentioning travel writing as a credit. Tell us if and why Argentina comes into it -- because that's the only thing that suggests this might be more than one of those things where women "friends" stab each other in the back in petty ways.

Anonymous said...

Is it "Four Seasons" because it takes place over the course of one year? If so, you might want to say that.

Maybe it's cuz there are four of them and they all represent different seasons--one is winter, one is spring, one is summer, and one is autumn. Or whatever. Sounds like an old Motown band to me.

Steph_J said...

I found myself hung up on the first sentence of FOUR SEASONS. I don’t consider romantic relationships, friendships, families, and memories of loved ones passed to be “forms of fidelity”. I don’t consider them to be forms of ‘loyalty’ either, but this is the word I would choose to draw a correlation. While fidelity and loyalty may be overlapping in definition and interchangeable on many occasions, I believe the word loyalty is more encompassing because it can draw from sentiment. For instance, you wouldn’t use the word ‘fidelity’ to describe your devotion to the memory of the deceased; you would use the word ‘loyalty’. I know I’m nit-picking semantics here.

You properly used the word loyalty in this sentence:

Her loyalty is often questioned, and this time, her taking off could endanger Katherine’s life.

If you substituted fidelity for loyalty in the above sentence it would be confusing since we do usually use the word loyalty to describe a positive attribute of a friendship, not fidelity. My point being, since these two words are not always interchangeable, I’d suggest relying more on the word ‘loyalty’.

From what I can tell from the story so far, none of the four main characters possess the virtue of loyalty. If the story is about how they come to realize that they have a deficiency and work to overcome it, I would be happy to read this book.

Anonymous said...

[Let's face it, these women all hate each other. It's a seething hatred that's been festering for fifteen years. At least Katherine had the sense to get out before the killing started.]

Funniest. Line. Evah.

*applauds EE*