Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Face-Lift 332

Guess the Plot

Ladies First

1. As the cruise ship goes down and the lifeboats are boarded, a misogynist assassin suddenly wonders if he still agrees with his lifelong motto.

2. The ladies of the garden club couldn't have cared less when the poor people of East Aurora started disappearing--until they suddenly found themselves without their gardeners and manicurists.

3. Nobody, no sirree nobody, ever said the words "Ladies first" like I did when I yanked Coldwater Kate in front of that bullet meant for me, Bootstrap Billy. Of course, things got pretty ugly after that.

4. All his life, Frank Morton has been a rude, boorish jerk. But when the hijackers on his flight home from Thailand start executing passengers to get their demands met, Frank suddenly remembers his manners.

5. Lt. Hastings has impeccable manners, but his insistence on 'Ladies First' will come back to haunt him when he orders his squad to clear the mine field. Can the Southern gentleman get his bars back?

6. Pamela Purse, intergalactic pirate fighter, insisted that her all-male crew put "ladies first." When her ship is boarded by man-eating Djoorin who plan to feast on the crew, they are only too happy to obey her rule.

Original Version

Dear Agent,

Seven people have disappeared from their beds in East Aurora, and Monica, Effie, and Tabitha are appalled: the candlelight vigils interrupt their beauty sleep, the rallies outside the police station make them late for charity functions, and Effie's gardener (father to one of the missing) completely abandons her primroses. A week before she is to host the East Aurora Annual Garden Party, no less! [I know how she feels. Just last week my butler and sommelier gave notice just an hour before I was hosting a wine tasting. Fortunately, one of my guests was able to figure out how to operate a corkscrew, thus saving the day.]

The missing people -- blue-collar and low on East Aurora's long socioeconomic ladder -- don't have the sweet, photogenic faces the media adore, and the police aren't doing much more than shrugging and handing out missing person forms. None of this matters to Monica, Effie, and Tabitha, of course: as long as they have their manicurists, their club, and their Wednesday liquid luncheon -- a twenty-year tradition -- they will magnanimously overlook the myriad ways these missing people have inconvenienced them and made their lives virtually unbearable. Really, now; these people were poor. It's the least they can do. [I, too, would give up my luncheons and manicures and the club; just don't ask me to do without my weekly scalp massage with Jimmy.]

But then Tabitha's husband comes under investigation by a D.A. trying to change the news cycle, Effie's nail girl hotfoots it back to Taiwan, and a clue to the whereabouts of the seven missing people is placed in Monica's lap by her own perennially sleazy spouse. In response, the ladies do what they always do in the face of adversity: they try to pass the buck. No one pays attention to their anonymous letter to the police, however,

[Dear police:

Regarding the seven missing people: I have reason to believe my perennially sleazy spouse is responsible.


and things begin looking dire. Tabitha's accounts are frozen and she's close to financial ruin, it seems that Monica may have married a kidnapper and murderer, and Effie's nail beds and side garden are disasters. It's time for these ladies, however reluctant, to solve this mystery themselves and get the heat off Tabitha's husband -- or those Wednesday lunches are history.

Ladies First is a 65,000-word satirical novel. With your permission, I would be thrilled to send you a partial manuscript.



This was one of our better queries. Good job. I would drop this sentence from paragraph 2: Really, now; these people were poor. It makes the next sentence harder to understand. Besides, it's already been said.

I'm not sure I'd say they pass the buck. It's not clear that they ever had the buck. You could try dumping the middle of paragraph 3 and combining the front with the back, something like:

But then Tabitha's husband comes under investigation by the D.A., and her accounts are frozen. A clue to the whereabouts of the seven missing people is placed in Monica's lap by her husband, suggesting that he may be a kidnapper and murderer. And Effie's gardener and manicurist disappear, endangering both her rose beds and her nail beds. Now the ladies are left with no choice: they must solve the mystery themselves, or their Wednesday lunches will soon be history.

Clearly you've felt no need to hint at the reason these people are vanishing, or at a possible connection among the disappearances. Is it unimportant? You don't even refer to the book as a mystery. May we assume that the ladies see the light in the end? Or that their solution to the mystery is brilliant? If they merely stumble upon the solution, and remain self-absorbed, some will find it a less-than-rewarding read.


pacatrue said...

Ditto to EE's notes. I'm not sure the book is for me, but that's unimportant. I really only read dinosaur zombie eunuch books anyway. I think you are pitching the story you wrote quite well, and it makes me want to take a glance at the writing to see what you've done with the idea. My only negative thought in reading was what EE said about dropping the lines about being poor and it's the least they could do. Seem a bit overstated for the wry humor you have going, and the point has already been made.

Tell us how the partial requests go. And, is it a series?

Anonymous said...

This sounds like fun. If it's the sharp-toothed farce the query promises, I would enjoy reading it. (It's reminiscent of The Devil in the Junior League / Lee, which I liked.)

I agree with EE's recommendations. Also, if you're short on space, you could cut from the second paragraph the word "sweet" and change the second sentence to "their traditional Wednesday liquid luncheon." But those are itty bitty things in a good query.


Anonymous said...

A good query - it explains the story succinctly and makes me believe that you have a clear understanding of the story and how your characters fit in it.

It would be a book I'd read if I knew that somewhere there was a crack in the characters' self-absorption. A spark of humanity. If not, they could easily sound cartoonish and your satire like jealousy.

Dave said...

This is going to work as a novel. It reminds me of the Banger Sisters (movie) with all it's poking fun at pretentiosness. (sic)

i feel sic said...

It reminds me of the Banger Sisters (movie) with all it's (sic) poking fun at pretentiosness. (sic)

Wonderwood said...

Nice work, author. You received a "Good job" from the Evil One. No small task. Work with his suggestions and query the right agents and I've no doubt you'll be sending out manuscripts in short order.

foggidawn said...

Nice Shel Silverstein reference, GTP#6.

Anonymous said...

Thanks, foggidawn! I was wondering if anyone would catch that.

Robin S. said...

This sounds like a fun read.

Sincere congrats on achieving a
"good job" from EE on your query.

writtenwyrdd said...

If the tone of the book matched your letter, I'd love to read it. I assume that the characters have redeeming qualities even while you are poking fun at their egocentrism?

Crystal Charee said...

I agree with all the comments. Pretty good query. I'd like to know what happens after the anonymous note doesn't work, but I guess that's the idea. I can't say this is really my genre, but the idea is intriguing. I'd definitely read a page or two to see if I liked the story.