Wednesday, March 19, 2008
Guess the Plot
1. When Ukrainian heavy metal band Yellow nets just fourteen sales of their newest album, they break up and each members searches for meaning in his own way: one climbs Everest, one drops into a six-month drug haze, one gets a poetry MFA, and one lives with a native tribe in the Amazon.
2. When a gargantuan meteor sails into the solar system, it impacts with the sun, sinking halfway in. The remaining mass just sits there, stuck. Sunlight reaching the earth drops by 80%. Astrounaut Tom Dangerine hasn't failed a mission yet, but can he unplug the sun?!
3. Zach is obsessed with the paintings of the hottest new artist on the New York art scene. Especially the yellow ones. Then he meets Rachel, the artist's girlfriend and becomes even more obsessed with her. When the artist is killed in a Timbuktu sandstorm, will Zach and Rachel find happiness together?
4. Lisa wants nothing to do with sparky Dave the electrician, even when he rewires her house for free. But when every yellow lead in her apartment comes unplugged, is it bad wiring, or Dave's revenge? Either way, she has to mollify him, but in the process, will she end up . . . plugged?
5. A new superhero is born when genetic engineering meets Ariolimax columbianus-- the banana slug. And boy is she peeved about her loss of habitat.
6. Like, hey man, this weed's really good. A semi-autobiographical, maybe-reality based, might-be-a-drug-induced-fantasy of life among the hippies in a Colorado Commune known only as Mellifluous Daffodil with Primrose.
Dear Evil Editor,
Zachary Willis, a 28-year-old contemporary art collector, becomes obsessed with the paintings of an enfant terrible who calls himself FleX. FleX is a painter [Do artists who paint call themselves painters? Seems like they'd want to differentiate between themselves and house painters. Although I had a guy paint my house once who thought he was an artist. He painted the whole house using a palette and a Kolinsky sable artist's brush; no buckets, no rollers . . . in retrospect it was quite clever, as I was paying him by the hour.] more known for singing and playing guitar in an early noise band. [It was FleX and four roosters.] They become friends and Zach also becomes obsessed with FleX’s Haitian girlfriend, Rachel Aufan.
FleX’s art career takes off, largely due to Zach. Zach is responsible for FleX’s meeting with Phil Grey, the art critic, and his art-collecting French wife, Agnés de la Façade. FleX’s paintings double and triple in value [when it's discovered that he's a mentally unstable heroin addict,] while his mental instability and heroin habit undermine everyone’s investment in him. [It's like a Catch-22.]
Phil is laundering cocaine money for the Haitian mafia by buying art in New York and selling it in Europe. [That's two unrelated references to Haiti already. What were the odds?] [Speaking of low odds: You're a respected art critic. A gang of drug-dealing punks known as the Haitian Mafia comes to you with a deal: they'll give you their cocaine profits so you can buy art, take it to Europe, sell it, bring back the money, and give it to them. And you agree to this? Are they holding your lover hostage?] Art is the largest unregulated market in the world, and Phil is cannily starting to flood the downtown art market with hot cash. FleX makes a theatrical disappearance during one of his sold-out openings; Zach and Rachel get caught together later that night in a snowstorm and become lovers. [When I'm caught in a snowstorm I'm more interested in getting shelter than getting laid.] FleX returns, briefly, and then he and Rachel leave together for her family’s empty house in the hills outside of Port-au-Prince, where FleX goes cold turkey.
FleX and Rachel descend into a folie à deux as they run to Paris, and then Timbuktu. Rachel goes to New York alone to pick up money and tells Zach she is pregnant with his child. She returns to FleX. [This has devolved into a list of things that happen. An outline. We need a logical progression with smooth transitions; some cause and effect; less what and more why.] Zach tracks down FleX’s real identity as he attempts to separate Rachel from the sacred monster he has helped to create. [Why "sacred"?] FleX dies in a sandstorm in Timbuktu the night he learns Rachel is pregnant with Zach’s child. Zach rescues Rachel, who dies in childbirth. [It's your typical boy meets girl-boy loses girl-girl's boyfriend dies inTimbuktu sandstorm story.] Willis’s true obsession is Rachel Aufan, and his need for her to choose between the collector and the artist is at the heart of this book. [If that's the heart of the book, focus the whole query on it.]
UNPLUGGED YELLOW (45,811 words) is a love triangle set in NYC, Haiti, Paris and Timbuktu in 1979-80. The same people who bought Danny Moynihan's "Boogie-Woogie" and Siri Hustvedt's "What I loved" would probably buy UNPLUGGED YELLOW. I am Editor-in-Chief at Afterart News, an art newspaper published in Paris, France. The novel is currently being serialized (I retain all rights) in Hearsight Magazine.
If the book is a love triangle, the first order of business is to get rid of the stuff that isn't connected to the lovers, namely the money laundering cocaine art critic Haitian mafia stuff. The only reason to mention Phil the critic is if it was Phil's reviews that resulted in FleX's paintings tripling in value. NY, Paris and Timbuktu are enough settings for the query. Nothing happens in Haiti that we need to know about.
Agnés de la Façade?
That the novel is available free online may make it less desirable to some publishers. That it's 45,000 words will make it undesirable to most publishers. Perhaps the serialization is an abridged version? The mere fact that that it has four major settings leads me to believe there are more than 45,000 words worth of story to be told here.
Focus on the Zach/Rachel story as your main plot, and throw in something about how the book provides a rare look at the contemporary art scene, as that seems to be your thing. Unfortunately, 1979-1980 isn't contemporary, and may be less interesting to those into contemporary art. Is there a reason this can't be set in present day?
The Timbuktu sandstorm sounds a bit wacko, if not Deus ex machina. You might want to just say FleX died, for the purposes of the query.