Tuesday, December 05, 2006
Guess the Plot
Snake & Freaky John Kick Ass
1. After many close calls and hare-brained escapades as they ride the rails from Boston to Los Angeles, Snake and Freaky John win the National Hobo Poetry contest.
2. Snake and Freaky John are cowboys lost in Death Valley with a bag of gold and one surviving steed: Harold, the talking donkey. Can these three amigos read the map and make it to Reno?
3. Snake & Freaky John Kick Ass . . . at preaching the Gospel! Follow the adventures of Preacher "Freaky John" James and the snake from the Garden of Eden in this collection of updated Bible stories for a new generation.
4. Snake and Freaky John, tech-geeky high school seniors, use their science project time machine to go into the future to steal exam papers, selling the questions to cashed-up students while rote learning the best answers. They graduate top of the class, with enough cash to spend on the wildest post-exam party anyone has ever seen.
5. Snake works in the butterfly-raising business, and Freaky John is trying to get into law school. Together these pot-smoking hippies from Hoboken team up to take on a ring of Manhattan art thieves.
6. Snake is an all time loser who gets nothing but contempt from those around him. Freaky John claims he lost his left leg in a shark attack in Buffalo. A mad struggle for superiority ensues when they both sign up for the National Ass Kicking Championships.
Dear Prospective Literary Agent:
Snake Rivers and Jonathan "Freaky John" Frekenberg are two guys in their mid-thirties who smoke an awful lot of pot. [The name Freaky John Frekenberg is suspiciously close to Fat Freddy Freekowtski, one of the pot-smoking Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers from the underground comics.] Snake lives with his brother, helping out with the family butterfly business in lieu of rent,
[Brother: Rent's due, Snake.
Snake: I'm a little short.
Brother: Again? Okay, how about misting the chrysalises.
Snake: Is that what those were? I ate 'em all. Munchies.]
and Freaky John has spent the last several years trying to get his act together and go back to law school.
[Admissions Officer: We expelled you from law school because you were were constantly high and never showed up for class. Now you stand before me with a plastic bag of marijuana hanging out of your pocket, reeking of smoke, bloodshot eyes--
Freaky John: Excuse me, are you gonna eat that last doughnut?]
They've been friends since kindergarten and still reside in the same neighborhood where they grew up. Freak's neighbor, Margaret Milton, is the assistant director of a prominent gallery in Manhattan, and while they're all good friends, [Nothing improves your standing in the fine art community like maintaining friendships with a couple unemployed stoners.] Margaret has a secret or two up her sleeve.
One night, Snake and Freaky John are kicking back and smoking when they see Margaret on the news. It turns out she's been framed for an art theft at the gallery where she works, and she's lost her job.
[Katie Couric: Turning to national news, Margaret Milton has lost her job in a small Manhattan art gallery.
Viewer: Is it just me, or has the evening news lost its edge since Katie took over as anchor?]
In the course of trying to help her restore her good name and find new employment, the guys find themselves drinking poisoned wine, [I'm happy to do whatever it takes to help a friend find a job, within reason, but drinking poison is asking a bit much.] confronting ex-girlfriends, resisting a cartoonist's attempt at brainwashing, being doused with a fire extinguisher and getting into a screaming match with a psychotic art dealer. Meanwhile, the elderly neighbor Freak cares for is quickly deteriorating into senility, and Snake's supposed to help Margaret get a new job — which would be easier if [he hadn't been poisoned and] Margaret weren't disappearing at odd hours for meetings with a certain undisclosed someone. To top it all off, there are seven crates of stolen "watches" hidden away in the garage at Snake's brother's butterfly farm. [I don't care about the "watches." If you're going to "top it all off," top it off with hot fudge and a cherry, not a piece of melba toast.] Sure, everything's going to hell in a handbasket, but that's the natural state of the universe, man, and Snake and Freaky John are here to kick some ass and save the day.
As you've probably guessed, I'm seeking representation for Snake & Freaky John Kick Ass, a 75,000-word comedic novel set in Manhattan and Hoboken, New Jersey. Enclosed are a one-page synopsis of the manuscript and the first four chapters for your review, as well as a SASE. [Your query letter is longer than your synopsis. Whether it's longer than your first four chapters remains to be seen.]
The characters were developed in a series of flash fictions written over the last two and a half years [Two and a half years? I'm not sure you've grasped the concept of "flash" fiction.] during the course of my previous writing project. Afterward, I liked Snake and Freaky John so much that they got their own novel. [You're aware that they aren't real people, right? Just checking.] As mentioned above, the book's plot involves Snake and Freak [Yes, I believe that's been made clear.] and their involvement in the lives of all the people they care about: family, friends and neighbors alike. When they find out Margaret's in trouble, the guys do their best to help. [Rehashing what's been said previously doesn't help the cause.] On realizing that elderly Mr. Hersch may have Alzheimer's, they try to help him keep his life on track. When Mr. Hersch's daughter reveals her husband's infidelity, they're on hand with caring advice. Snake and Freaky John aren't always effectual (or even coherent), but they give a shit, and that's more than you can say for most people.
While there is (considerable) drug use [by the characters, and especially by the author,] and drug humor, this is not Cheech & Chong. [For it also has drug pathos.] [Suddenly "Cheech" and "Chong" sound like normal names.] Snake and Freaky John live in a world where there are real-life responsibilities and consequences for their actions. They have a lot of fun, but life doesn't always turn out in a satisfactory way. In fact, sometimes life just sucks. Still, with good friends and the right attitude, Snake and Freaky John manage to come out on top. [You're rambling. Go eat a chocolate cake and a bag of corn chips.] Maybe they're not the kind of people you'd want to meet in a dark alley, but they're absolutely the kind of friends you'd want to watch your back.
I look forward to your response.
If there's anything in the last two long paragraphs you feel must be in the query, work it into the earlier paragraphs. Most of it is repetitive or boring or unimportant in the big picture.
A minor character who's always high can add comic relief, but when it's your main characters, I fear it will become tiresome to many readers. I could be wrong, of course.