Sunday, April 15, 2007

Face-Lift 316

Guess the Plot

Love Thy Neighbor

1. When Beverly discovers her husband is cheating on her, she's devastated. Then a hunky new neighbor moves in. Following the scripture couldn't get her into trouble . . . could it?

2. When the attractive young couple move in next door, Bob and Ginny find themselves talking over the idea of an open marriage for the first time in 75 years.

3. A tender love story about what can happen when two kindred spirits--both dreamers, both romantics--are placed in adjoining cells.

4. Candi’s website, Love Thy Neighbor, is up for the Amateur Porn Site of the Year award. If she can recover the stolen tape of her three-way with the mayor and Britney Spears, she’s a lock.

5. In The Greatest Story Ever Told II, a vigilante Jesus throttles Judas with his bare hands and then single-handedly infiltrates the impenetrable Samaritan compound to assassinate the whole clan, except for the good one. Featuring brass knuckles combat with Herod the Great.

6. Relationship counselor Duffer J. Lapin explains why cheating can be a positive influence on a marriage, and just where he was last night.

Original Version

Dear Agent,

Love Thy Neighbor is the story of every community. [I live in every community. It's dullsville. I want to read the story of the most fascinating community.] People become close, lives intertwine, and pretty soon secrets are common knowledge. [That whole paragraph is so general, you may as well leave it out.]

All Beverly McGuire wanted was to be loved and to paint. [And then she fell in love with a man who wanted to hang wallpaper.] With Eric Snow, she thought she had both, including terrific sex. [An awkward continuation. To be loved and to paint aren't things you "have." Maybe true love and a career as an artist. Change "including" to "plus," as terrific sex wasn't included originally. Also, it sounds like she can't paint without Eric Snow. Why not? If she's already an artist, she wants love. She has paint.] Seven years later, [We're moving right along here. How much of the book is taken up by those seven years?] married and pregnant with their third child, she has doubts about everything. [Everything?] When Beverly finds Eric literally with his pants down, [twelve years later,] she realizes it’s time to rethink her life plan. She never thought that life plan would include falling in love with a new neighbor, her best friend wanting to marry her dad, [Does Beverly's dad know this? Are they dating? Have they hit the sheets yet? If your best friend becomes your stepmother, do you have to get her a Mother's Day card? Just wondering.] or her next door confidante dying of cancer. With the help of her Severn’s Edge neighbors, Beverly creates a new life for herself and discovers the many types of love that make a family.

Love Thy Neighbor is a completed mainstream fiction novel of approximately 118,000 words. I have included the first five pages for your perusal. I hope you enjoy it and I look forward to hearing from you.



This is pretty brief. I'm guessing the story is Beverly making a new life. There's not enough about that in the query. You could start:
When artist Beverly McGuire discovers her husband of seven years in bed with her mom, she realizes it's time to rethink her life plan. She never thought that plan would include her best friend wanting to marry her dad or her next-door confidante dying of cancer or . . . falling in love all over again.
Then you can tell us all about the new neighbor and Beverly's one-woman show at the trendiest gallery in town and how everything's going great--until Eric Snow comes crawling back begging for a second chance.

That's a pretty long book considering you couldn't think of anything to tell us about what happens in it.

There is an NBA player named Eric Snow. Not as famous as Shaquille O'Neal, of course, and maybe not famous enough for the name to be a distraction, but he's been around long enough that a lot of people have heard of him. Your call.


Anonymous said...

This query is a snooze. Too sketchy. Not enough wit or drama or info about any character to spark interest. The plot sounds like a very slow paced soap opera. How sexy and explicit are your scenes? I'm assuming the title is meant to attract some sort of religious readers, but what distinguishes this novel from a secular story with equivalent mix-n-match connections?

pacatrue said...

Wow! Talk about me misreading. Somehow I thought she was falling in love with her best friend and a neighbor dying of cancer all at once. Then came the sentence with "many types of love and family".... On third reading, I don't know how I got that without skipping words.

I would like to hear more about the new love interest and maybe the best friend as well, unless that's a sub-plot. Right now I know about Eric Snow (he has a nice shot from 18 feet), but does he play any role other than to make the main character miserable so that she can move on? If he's just the setup bad guy, then I vote that he gets one sentence and out in the query. Keep him in the query in a significant way only if her continuing relationship remains important after he waddles in with his pants around his ankles. However, you've named the entire book "love thy neighbor" but the sexy neighbor gets about 5 words devoted to him. Who is this awesome man?

BTW, to some brilliant minion out there, I am completely stealing the name "Duffer J. Lapin" from you. Speak now or wait for Ben Stiller to play the role in 5 years. Ah, if only Peter Sellars were still with us. I have a feeling he'd make a killer Duffer Lapin.

Anonymous said...

Uh, oh. The dreaded "fiction novel". Get thee to Miss Snark, author.

ME said...

If the author is committed to the title, maybe the query could begin with why/how she "loves her neighbor" and then go to the back-story of her marriage and artistic pursuits. It almost seemed like the end of the letter should have been the beginning and the beginning part could be toward the end of the query letter.

blogless_troll said...

Who's Shaquille O'Neal?

Robin S. said...

I agree with pactrue. Duffer Lapin is a great name. Lot sof these GTPs have great names. I really liked Twinkie Tompkins, too, (for a different reason) from an earlier query-slashing.

And the GTP itself is a hoot - "why cheating can be a positive influence on a marriage". Sounds like the open marriage crap taught in university level sociology classes in the 70s. I had one professor who thought that was a REALLY good idea.

Theo Katz said...

Marvelous GTPs, especially #5.

Dave said...

Who's Shaquille O'Neal?

Ryan O'Neal's brother and Kobe Bryant's fay lover.

Rei said...

If you really want it to be 120k words and not seem abnormally long, you could always change the MC to an dwarf, her husband to an orc, and the neighbor to an elf, then move the setting to the Forest of the Winds and have it take place during the reign of Mortos the Malevolent.

Or you could move it to Space Station Alpha, change the MC to a Rigelian...

Anonymous said...

Sounds like an updated Peyton Place.