Tuesday, July 10, 2007
Guess the Plot
1. The Garlia Elves call warlock Jarak Blackfist a vengeful tyrant. Indignant and outraged at their slander, he destroys their race, razes their cities to the ground, and salts their lands, figuring that'll teach 'em.
2. Never drive a kid who gets carsick on the Big Sur right after a spaghetti lunch. If the grass really is greener, it's covered in toxic fertilizers. Lots of tequila does not necessarily help you forget him, or the STD he gave you. Someone is keeping track of the porn sites you visit. Bombing Baghdad is not necessarily the best way to establish stability in the Middle East.
3. Medieval woodcutter Eldrid Svenson learned everything the hard way. If he didn't accidentally offend some belligerent tyrant, he was trying to appease a dragon or an elf. And when his parents insist he choose a bride and settle down, he sails toward Greenland in pursuit of the beautiful mermaid Marina Nox.
4. After perusing a catalog from The Pleasure Chest, high school hygiene teacher Myra Boodle comes up with a daring plan to tutor the football team in the only subject they seem interested in. Will they all graduate? Or will they deliberately fail so they can come back for more of Myra's . . . Lessons?
5. Thirteen-year-old Aurora is dragged from her bed and taken to a government re-education center where she is force-fed propaganda and ordered to denounce her parents and commit murder. It's convert or die in the America of the (not so distant?) future.
6. The last thing Gregory Bickens wants to do is take piano lessons with old Miss Chamberlain down the street. Her methods of correction of rhythmic mistakes are legendary. But he soon learns they're nothing compared to what happens when he forgets his lesson book.
It's hard to remember, but Aurora is sure she used to be a normal teenage girl. She knew her parents weren't happy with the way the country is being run, but what thirteen-year old cares about things like that? Not Aurora - not until government agents drag her from her bed in the middle of the night. [If her parents weren't happy with the government before . . . ]
They bring her to a reeducation center, where she is thrown into a room with five other teenagers. [I don't know about Aurora, but that would be it for me. I'll tell you anything, I'll do anything; just let me out of here!] None of them seem quite sane - and they all warn Aurora about their counselor, Aubrey, and her mind games.
Aurora and the others are force-fed propaganda, and made to admit terrible things about themselves and their former lives... whether they're true or not. On some days, it's easy; she only has to denounce her parents for Aubrey to be happy with her.
[Aubrey: How much do you like your parents?
Aurora: It's a terrible thing to hate your mother. But I didn't always hate her. When I was a child, I only kind of disliked her.
Aubrey: Here, have a cookie.]
Some days are much harder - like when Aubrey wants her to kill one of her companions.
[Aubrey: How much do you like Chelsea over there?
Aurora: She's my best friend in the world.
Aubrey: Let me put it this way: how much do you want this cookie?]
And as soon as she figures out what Aubrey wants from her, it changes again. She watches as the others are killed or converted, and can't help but wonder whether she's next.
At first she searches for a way to escape, but every day freedom seems more unlikely. Soon it's all she can do just to survive. And eventually she must face the hardest choice she's ever had to make: the choice between physical survival and the survival of her identity.
LESSONS is a 150,000-word dark literary novel. Set in a near-future totalitarian America, it explores the psychological effects of brainwashing while chronicling Aurora's struggles to stay sane and stay alive. [Any chance you could explore and chronicle in half as many words? I'm not sure I could remain sane through 150,000 words about the brainwashing of a thirteen-year-old.] I have enclosed the first five pages for your consideration. I look forward to hearing from you.
Better title: The Manchurian Teenybopper.
I'm sure this is fascinating, especially if you've made yourself an expert on brainwashing, but does anything happen? An escape attempt? A raid by the good guys? A friendship Aurora relies on to keep her sane? If it's all:
Day 247. They threw a new kid in with us today. Hopefully he'll get with the program, but most likely they'll make me kill him. Oh well, whatever's best for the country. Tell you one thing, I'm not killing anyone for less than a whole package of Pepperidge Farm Brussels cookies. Last kid I kiilled I got one oatmeal. One! Guess I'll play some solitaire.
Day 248. Today Aubrey put me in front of a TV and made me wear 3-D glasses and watch a movie. I couldn't follow the plot, it was like it was in super-fast motion, and they didn't even have any popcorn. Oh well, whatever's best for the country. This place would be more fun if there was a Gap. Guess I'll play some solitaire.
. . . then it's going to be a tough sell. You haven't done enough to convince me it isn't all like that.