Thursday, December 13, 2007

Face-Lift 464


Guess the Plot

For a Short Time

1. The graffiti in the bathroom put him over the edge. "For a short time, call Dave" was the ultimate insult. He's got Viagra now, and Dave is out for revenge.

2. Sylvia knew the man of her dreams was out there . . . somewhere. But, unless she wore stilletos, five-foot-nothing Sylvia couldn't see through the crowds to find him. Until one night, when she was out for drinks and saw, scrawled on the ladies room wall, a message she feared was too good to be true: "For a Short Time, Call . . ."

3. After a lifetime being towered over by women, Shorty wants to do something for other short guys. But will the bank approve a small business loan to start an escort service for the vertically challenged?

4. It took Cassie Trent a long time to figure out that there was nothing wrong with a short time. At least not when that short time was five minutes in bed with Brad Pitt. Unfortunately now she's going to have his baby to deal with . . . for a long time.

5. When Keri meets the Quinn cousins, she immediately falls for tall actor Keith and becomes friends with short carpenter Jeremy. Will she learn that big things really do come in small packages before it's too late and she develops a permanent facial disorder?

6. When Rick tells Gabrielle he has only six months to live, she must decide whether to say goodbye now, or whether the eventual sorrow is worth it, to be truly happy . . . For a Short Time.


Original Version

Dear Agent of My Dreams,

She’s back in town... Keri Ferrita, the “Man-Eat-a”...and once again living in her sister’s basement in the Midwest. [If I asked Keri where she lived, would she say Dubuque, Iowa, or the Midwest?] Fickle, lovable, and a little bit self-absorbed after years of living the good life in far away places, thirty-year old Keri need to find out just who she really is. [And what better place to find out who you really are than in a basement in Dubuque?]

After a lifetime of having any man she’s ever wanted, and then growing tired of each one, Keri meets the Quinn cousins, Keith and Jeremy. Keri falls unusually hard for Keith, a handsome actor running from lurid secrets, [After living in LA and New York, she has to go to Dubuque to meet an actor?] and makes the best friend she’s ever had in his cousin Jeremy, the sensitive and talented--but short--cabinetmaker. [Are we talking Billy Barty short (3', 9")? Or just Tom Cruise short (4' 11")?] After a series of heartaches and two stress-induced episodes with the facial disorder Bell’s Palsy, Keri realizes, almost too late, that [short guys aren't necessarily short where it counts.] the best things in life really do come in small packages. [No, no, Big things come in small packages; the best things in life are free.]

[Keri: Doctor, I was out on a date with Keith Quinn, and suddenly I couldn't move my facial muscles on the left side.]

Doctor: Sounds like Bell's Palsy. That wouldn't have happened if you'd been out on a date with Jeremy Quinn.]

This quirky, 80,000-word romance, For a Short Time, is complete and ready to send at your request. I have enclosed a sample. May I send you the manuscript? Thank you for your time.


Notes

This Bell's Palsy thing isn't clear enough. She has it twice, and both times she was with Keith, the guy she's dating? Thus it must be caused by being with Keith? Thus by hooking up with the short guy--who she hasn't fallen for--she can avoid an annoying facial disorder?

She didn't have Bell's Palsy with other tall guys she dated, so what is it about Keith? The fact that she's fallen unusually hard for him? After dating dozens of guys she didn't fall in love with, she finally falls for one, and dumps him for his cousin because her face froze up a couple times?

Researching Bell's Palsy at Wikipedia, I discovered that Ralph Nader, George Clooney and Pierce Brosnan are among the afflicted. I also have concluded that what your character has is not Bell's Palsy. She's been misdiagnosed.

Does Keri's series of heartaches involve Keith, and only Keith? This is pretty brief; you might fill us in a bit on Keith's lurid past and Keri's series of heartaches.

I know you want to make the point that looks aren't everything, but let's be realistic: Jeremy's short.

16 comments:

Mignon said...

You'd think Dave would have made some objection to #1 by now...

December/Stacia said...

But what's the conflict, aside from Jeremy being short? In a romance query you want to focus on the conflict. It can't just be that he's short, there has to be something more to it. I'm sure there is, or you wouldn't have been able to get 80k words out of it.

That's what you need to emphasize. "If Jeremy was just short, Keri could get past it. But he's also the man trying to build a nuclear power plant on the old playground, and Keri's in charge of the No-Nukes group. He can't stand her smug denial of the benefits of nuclear energy and she can't stand his desire to overcompensate by turning the town into a toxic waste dump. But when they touch...it's fission." Something like that. Outline the conflict--that's why we want to read the book, we want to see it resolved. If the conflict is as basic and everyday as a height difference, that's just not really gripping.

pjd said...

Is my problem with this simply that I've never been interested in romance (the genre)?

The query struck me as being more about the message and the cute title than about the actual story. But maybe that's how you sell romance? I'm left with lots of questions, such as:

... why does she go to the Midwest to find out who she really is? Does she miss her roots? Does she need to know her family medical history? Does she have amnesia? Has she already tried everything else and hated it and figured, "Why not the Midwest?"

... what happens in the story?

... why is it "almost too late" when she realizes the best things in life come in small packages?

... can a short, sensitive, talented cabinetmaker in Dubuque really be the best friend of a hot, popular, self-absorbed chick without also being gay?

I'm imagining that Keith's lurid secrets have something to do with the plot, but without more detail in the query I'm left to make up my own story around these three people. I guess what you've described is the situation, not the story. The entire story is described in the one sentence, After a series of heartaches and two stress-induced episodes with the facial disorder Bell's Palsy, Keri realizes, almost too late, that the best things in life really do come in small packages.

Then again, I might have it all wrong since I've never read romance.

verification word: onrapsby
anagram of "by parson" or "orb pansy"?

talpianna said...

Actually, EE, it's GOOD things come in small packages.

What on earth does Jeremy see in Keri? And why is she a "man-eater"? This is not usually a compliment.

I think the story would be more interesting told from Jeremy's PoV. That's what Lawrence Sanders did in a similar case in The Tenth Commandment, and we were rooting for small but splendid hero Joshua Bigg all the way and rejoiced when he found a tall and lovely gal who appreciated. The user-type he was in love with at the beginning of the book reminds me of Keri.

Word verification: tfvon: Tell Father Veronica ordered nightgowns.

Dave F. said...

I know Dave wasn't home until well after dinner. Some of us don't need permission to leave the house, go see a stageplay, and have dinner with the family.

Sarah said...

It's fast, light in tone, quirky, but it has no substance. That's what I get from the query.

'need' should be 'needs' in the first paragraph.

Bell's Palsy usually has some longer term effects, though I suppose it can be brief on occassion. This sounds like something that happened briefly. A friend at work still shows some non-responsiveness in his face and it's been months.

Perhaps, if there isn't more depth to the story, then there is a different angle. Something that makes this book stick out from the rest.

Robin S. said...

Hey. Hey. I just read this.

And I was reading along, and reading along some more, and laughing at stuff like this: "[And what better place to find out who you really are than in a basement in Dubuque?]" and reading some more, thinking about I knew someone who'd had a time with Bell's Palsy, and then I saw this little
EE gem:

"I know you want to make the point that looks aren't everything, but let's be realistic: Jeremy's SHORT."

Hmmmpph. As a five foot tall woman whose daughters grin sometimes when they see her coming and say crap like, "Wow, Mom, sometimes I forget how short you are until I see you somewhere besides home, ha, ha...", I have 2 things to say-

I was happy to see you admit that big things come in small packages, AND, weirdly, I can definitely see why the short guy thing is an issue. I can't help it. Many short women have a thing for tall guys. What can I say.

So - I think this could be a good romantic setup - I don't read romances either, to be honest- but for me, this height thing would be a major hurdle to climb, and thus, a good catalyst for romantic angst.

Robin S. said...

Forgot to say, pjd, you made me grin with your questions, especially:

"... can a short, sensitive, talented cabinetmaker in Dubuque really be the best friend of a hot, popular, self-absorbed chick without also being gay?"

Anonymous said...

Researching Bell's Palsy at Wikipedia, I discovered that Ralph Nader, George Clooney and Pierce Brosnan are among the afflicted.

Hmm. I suspect those wags at Wikipedia were just being ironic...

Evil Editor said...

Ironically, if you Google Bell's palsy and add any of their names you'll find biographies that confirm Wikipedia's claim. Or just go to http://www.bellspalsy.org.uk/main.htm

The disease almost always runs its course within a year, and usually within a few weeks, so no need to shed tears for George, Ralph and Pierce.

~Nancy said...

Robin S. said:
Hmmmpph. As a five foot tall woman whose daughters grin sometimes when they see her coming...

and

Many short women have a thing for tall guys.

That's me, too, on both counts. ::gives Robin a cyber-hug::

As to short guys (this has nothing to do with writing, but I'll "say" it anyway): I remember a guy I went to high school with. He was no taller than me, maybe just a bit shorter.

The funny thing about him was his name. When his name was announced, "Ronald Reagan" (I kid you not), there were a lot of chuckles to be heard when this pipsqueak went up to get his diploma. Not only that, I graduated in June 1980...so guess who was in all of the papers that year? ;-)

Anyway...I agree with the others who said there isn't enough to go on in this query. I think we need some more details, especially about "lurid events."

150 said...

My best advice is to take out that first "short" and replace it with an actual height: "sensitive, talented, four-foot-two cabinet maker." That said, he had BETTER be along the lines of four-foot-two, because if he's a slightly shrimpy five-foot six, I'd pretty much give the protag a slap upside the head and drop the book.

(I say that mostly because your emphasis here is "he's too short for me!", which is insanely shallow rationale for rebuffing a guy. "He's not as cute and charming as his cousin," though, seems perfectly legitimate in my mind, because it's a more thorough and less arbitrary standard, if that makes sense.)

sylvia said...

Hah, as a five foot nothing woman who is named sylvia, I want to know who wrote GTP #2!

:)

wordver: whitl -- as in whittling down? oh no!

Robin S. said...

Wow, EE, you have a horde of amazingly wonderful short woman on here.

(I just asked my husband for a nicer substitute for the word 'short' and the bastard said, "How about height-challenged?", and then Mr. PC started laughing his ass off. His Friday may not go the way he'd originally planned, is all I know.)


And, author, I still say this query has a lot of good stuff in it - it just needs an edit, and, as others who actually know how to write queries have pointed some good directions out, I wish you good luck with your work.

Phoenix said...

I'm honored to be in such esteemed five-foot-nothing company. Interesting how there's little stigma attached to a woman of our stature, but for men even six inches taller than we are ...

From the setup in the query, I initially thought this was going to be chick lit. For a romance, the query doesn't really focus enough on the, well, romance. She falls for Keith, but how does Keith feel about her? Does Jeremy pine after her, or do Jeremy and Keri not even really decide they might be something more than best friends until the last page? Is this a love triangle at any point where Keri can't decide between Jeremy and Keith? What's wrong with Keith in the relationship? Sensitive beta males are great in romantic comedy, but there still has to be a compelling reason for the heroine to choose the beta over the alpha, and the query doesn't even hint at what that reason might be.

I'm liking the voice here, just give us more of the romance. And an indication of the heat element, too: sweet, spicy, etc.

Stephen Prosapio said...

CONGRATULATIONS!!!