Sunday, February 25, 2007
Guess the Plot
Like Running in Dreams
1. You know how in a dream, when you really have to get somewhere and you try to run, and it's like slogging through neck-deep molasses? Reading this book is, yeah, kinda like that.
2. Scantily clad Screaming Mimi clings to the ankle of handsome Thor Jones as he battles the Terrible Thing From The Deep with his Cosmic Zap Gun and a Magic Chopstick. It looks like The End for our sexy duo, but wait! What's in that Golden Bubble descending from the clouds? Could it be Wizard Squeezle with a bottle of his patented Disappear-Me Juice?
3. Renae Hayes is running as hard as she possibly can, but her legs won’t move her forward. A faceless man is closing in. But who is he? The guy who's been making obscene phone calls? The peg-legged oil rigger? The Bulgarian? No! Not . . . the Bulgarian! Anyone but the Bulgarian! Please, let it all be a dream!
4. I'm running, running, trying to get away, and now there's a dead end with a big wall and I'm trapped, but I leap into the air and push off the top of the wall and they'll never catch me now . . . but I've jumped too high!! I'm six stories up and now I'm fallllliiinnnggg!!!! Help!! I'm gonna diiiiiiiiiiiiiiieeeeeeee!!!
5. Mildewe Crubbs needs to shed 150 pounds, but the treadmill at the gym is placed smack in the window facing a Cheesecake Factory. Running in nightmares is more like it.
6. Hordes of imps pursue Ellie across the land of Nod as she flees with their bewitched centipede, stolen just as Wizard Tweedle unleashed a curse of Tee-De-Umms. Meanwhile Prince Bartok is sailing toward Zoology Bay, hoping to steal the centipede for himself, unaware the oysters are steaming because of an undersea volcano that will soon blow them all to Mars unless someone tall dark and handsome marries the terrifying Queen Sunshine.
Dear Agent Who I Have Researched As Thoroughly As Could Be Done Without Stalking You (no time for quite this level of due diligence, so sorry), With Your Gender Correctly Noted (using Mr. or Ms., which should cover it just fine - unless you’ve had yourself a little merry little sex change recently), Whose Name is Absolutely Spelled Correctly (unless you’ve had a name change or name spelling change which hasn’t yet shown up when Googling you or checking your website, if I am lucky enough that you both --- A: have a website, and B: keep said website updated), and Whose Query Guidelines Have Been Noted Forthwith So That This Query Could Be Individualized From Here to Eternity: [Even Evil Editor never tosses a query into the recycling pile before he finishes reading the salutation. Don't give him an excuse to start.]
I am seeking representation for Like Running in Dreams, a coming-of-age novel, complete at 75,000 words.
It is the early 1970s, and Renae Hayes, born in the late 1950s, is a late boomer longing for a way out of the narrow world she lives in. Her way out will be a circuitous route, winding around two defining moments in her life. One, Renae has not talked about; the other, she has worked hard not to remember. [Thus, out of respect for her, I will not mention them in this query.]
Renae’s family moves away from her father’s Depression-Era Irish immigrant neighborhood, and from the small coal-mining town of her mother’s youth. [Is this one move or two? Is dad's neighborhood in mom's town? If so, isn't it their neighborhood? Not that I actually care where they used to live, but I don't want to be confused in the first plot sentence.] Renae’s father brings with him a high intelligence and an unpredictable temperament that is not often cool enough to count on. [Which explains why he always keeps an abacus in the refrigerator.] Renae’s mother brings with her a beautiful face and a strong predilection for pretending, in the face of all things ugly, that nothing is ever wrong. Renae and her brother Charlie learn to live under the control of a closed, contorted family – what passes on the outside world as a warm, loving home contains a long-lived underlying secret system of emotional abuse and betrayal. Renae and Charlie form a closed system of their own, become comrades-in-arms at a very young age, taking care of each other as best they can. [I'm guessing this is the story of Renae, and that we don't need to know about her parents and brother until we're reading the book. And if we do need to know about them, it needs to be more specific. This is all pretty general.]
Entering adulthood, Renae is emotionally addicted to the art of the cut and run, collecting and discarding the men she becomes involved with; Charlie has problems of his own. They are both masters at the art of pretending nothing is wrong. [Too much about people pretending nothing's wrong, and not enough about what is wrong.]
Cut and run is a really good game to spend time with in the aimless 1970s – along the way, Renae meets the Gonad Looking for Trouble, Obscene Phone Call Guy, Too-Blue-to-Be-True Horny Fairy Guy, and shares a summer with a rock-hard lifeguard and a Bulgarian named Valeri. She spends a long, long weekend [Three years.] in New Orleans with a rod-legged oil rigger, [Rod-legged oil rigger: good tongue twister. Say it five times fast.] [I think you'll find "peg-legged oil rigger" a much more compelling character, and easier to say really fast. (He has a pegleg because he fell off the oil rig and a herd of sharks ate his lower leg.)] frequents discotheques in Germany with Saarland Harald, [Who? Should I have heard of Saarland Harald? Sounds like a German newspaper.] and scopes out a field of pot dreams [What does that mean?] in Daniel Boone National Park with the Ski-Boat Guy. It seems that Renae is traveling down a pointless path, mirroring the drift of the decade.
Underneath all of the pretending, Renae sees her life moving nowhere. [I see this query moving nowhere. Are we going to get to the two defining moments? Instead of listing eight guys Renae had sex with, list the three funniest sounding ones (being sure to include the Bulgarian, of course, but don't reveal his name; call him a mysterious Bulgarian) and elaborate on one of them, so we get some idea what these relationships were like.] She remembers the feeling of running in place. In the recurring dream of her childhood, she is running and running as hard as she possibly can to round the corner of the dark mossy place outside the house she grew up in. A faceless man is running up behind her; she hears his breathing as he closes in. She is terrified of being caught; her legs won’t move her forward. [In Evil Editor's recurring dream, a flock of man-eating salmon are chasing me as I wheel myself backwards up a spiral staircase in the Empire State Building in a wheelchair.] [Although tonight I think I'll start having a new recurring dream about a mysterious Bulgarian.] This is the story of Renae, who has kept herself from falling apart but doesn't have a roadmap pointing the way to putting herself truly together. Drawing the map herself, she turns to face the past and learns much more than she expected.
I would be happy to send a copy of the manuscript for your review. I have included a SASE.
Thank you for your time and consideration.
It's not specific enough. The only specificity is the names she gives her men. I want to know what happens in the book. What's the plot?
It may be Renae's memoir, but it's got to be tied together by Renae's quest. She suffered emotional abuse growing up, then she was unable to trust or commit to men, and then . . . the defining events of her life happened? She realized she wanted x and did y, and now she's gonna be okay? "She turns to face the past and learns much more than she expected," is too vague. What are x and y? Until I know that, I'm more interested in the mysterious Bulgarian's story than in Renae's.