Friday, December 29, 2006
Guess the Plot
Enter the Parrot
1. They say actors should avoid appearing on stage with animals. So when playwright Quentin Unmantt learns that Valeria Starre, Quentin’s ex-wife, has landed the ingénue role in his new Broadway play, he hurriedly adds a character and a new stage direction for each of her scenes.
2. Medium Madame Ming is deep in a tricky séance in San Francisco when a huge earthquake hits. The spirits are lost and upset. One moves into the plumbing. One reanimates the dead cat. But there's trouble when Stalin's ghost and Madame Ming both decide to . . . enter the parrot.
3. A professional stunt double is hired to take the place of a martial-artist hit man for the mafia, which also means taking out the hit man's targets. He begins soliciting advice from the mafia boss's hooker.
4. A martial arts legend sends his granddaughter deep into the seedy underbelly of Chinatown to search for his missing bird, a parrot who thinks he's John Wayne.
5. Jane Finch knows her new play will be a hit, but it requires a parrot to fly in and blab clues about the murder of Mrs. Crow to Detective Robin. She tried a trained live bird, a puppet on wires, and a holographic CGI character projected on mist. All failed. Her last hope is Tommy "the Midget" Jones, in a feathered suit. Will the show go on?
6. Wei Chin never wanted to study with the notorious Pai Mei, but when his own father is disgraced for failing to master Pai Mei's deadly art, Chin is thrown into virtual slavery in his father's place. His only hope of freedom is to learn the sole counter to the master's Tiger Claw technique . . . the dreaded Angry Parrot.
Dear Evil Editor,
One girl. One parrot. One ancient kung fu mystery. Meet Jade, the White girl in the Wong family.
On the surface, Jade fits in perfectly. But just below the surface lurks the fragrance of ginger, ginseng and a secret kung fu society. [The fragrances of ginger and ginseng I can tolerate. But the time I rented my garage to a secret kung fu society, the stench was so bad I had the place sandblasted and fumigated, and then I had to burn it to the ground. That's one of three groups I'll never rent my garage to again, the other two being the Institute of Filipino Cryptographers, and the Moose (no, not the fraternal organization, an actual herd of moose--I must have been out of my mind).]
When her grandfather asks Jade to find his missing bird, things take a turn for the bizarre. Soon, Jade is diving deep into the seedy underbelly of Chinatown and keeping secrets from her best friends and her cute eco mentor Cedric, the president of EASY-Stud (the Ecological-American Society of Young Students), aka the hottest guy in school. [Going to Chinatown and keeping secrets don't strike me as examples of things turning "bizarre." That's more of a "things get interesting" list.] [The organization name is too contrived. No organization would have that name. Try something like American Society of Students for Ecological Scholarship.]
There are a lot of questions Jade wants answered. Is grandpa really a martial arts legend? What's the deal with Asiaphile teachers? Is it wrong to wear chopsticks in your hair? [Hey, if western women can wear forks and spoons in their hair, why not?] Can you like Hello Kitty and still be cool enough to sit near the A crowd during lunch time? [No. You have to eat under the bleachers in the gym while wearing a hood.] When will her nerd cousin understand that there's a fine line between being chivalrous and downright stupid? When will Jade herself learn the same? [The other questions were amusing or intriguing; these last two could use some background if you're going to ask them. I suggest dumping them; you have enough questions, and I'd like a few answers.]
And how can you choose between a boy who is yum cha (yummy & charming)and one who's dim sum (dimpled & sumptuous) [and one who is wel rep (wealthy but repugnant)] while hunting for a missing parrot who thinks he's John Wayne? [Now listen, and listen tight, pilgrim. Out here, a bird settles his own problems. And right now, I want a cracker.]
ENTER THE PARROT is a Young Adult novel, complete at 65,000 words, set in California. It's intended as the first book in a series, [Is the parrot in all the books in the series? I think a parrot detective would be a great idea.
Officer: Well, the killer has to be the nephew, the daughter, or the butler. They were the only ones here. But there's no evidence against any of them, so there's nothing we can do.
Hercule Parrot: Squawk! I'm gonna enjoy pulling the trigger and watching you die, Uncle Paul. Squawk.]
but stands well on its own.
I am enclosing a synopsis and the first three chapters of ENTER THE PARROT for your consideration and will gladly send you the full manuscript if you are interested.
I have enclosed an SASE for correspondence only. If you prefer, you can send me an email. Should the manuscript be unsuitable for you at this point in time, feel free to dispose of it.
Thanks very much for your time and consideration.
Try to cut those last five sentences to two or three.
The tone is good, but outside of a missing bird, there's no plot. Now that I've had you cut a few things, you have room to address a few of my questions: Is there reason to steal the parrot, beyond it's value? Are there clues that send Jade to Chinatown? Is there a bad guy? Does her cute eco-mentor have any interest in her? Is it just a coincidence that eco-mentor is an anagram for erect romeo?