Thursday, July 10, 2008
Guess the Plot
Peyton and Isabelle
1. When their mother wearies of the 10-year-olds’ constant bickering, she sends Peyton and Isabelle away for a summer of “tough love”: three months aboard a 30-foot ketch with their eccentric aunt and uncle. Nothing but excruciating boredom looms on the horizon, until a freak squall leaves the boat dismasted and the adults disabled. Can the twins learn to cooperate? Also, an uncharacteristically aggressive pod of whales.
2. Fresh from their California wedding, brides Peyton and Isabelle arrive in Bunkyville, Kansas, to tend to Peyton’s ailing mother. Conservative locals are agog at the groom-less newlyweds. Soon a local sheriff and self-described hunk is convinced Isabelle is The One he’s been waiting for all his life, and sets out to convince her of same. Comic mayhem ensues.
3. Peyton and Isabelle
Went to Sea
In his beautiful sailing boat
They took all the money
From her murdered hubby
And left cops a suicide note
When cops come a'calling
With questions they're trawling
Will their alibi still float?
4. When painting prodigy Isabelle and football player Peyton accidentally start a fire on the fourth of July that kills four people, Isabelle believes they should turn themselves in, but Peyton guilts her into silence. Over the next two decades, Peyton finds himself haunted, not by the people he killed, but by Isabelle and her macabre paintings of burning, screaming people.
5. Peyton and Isabelle have kept their affair secret from their spouses and the nosy neighbors. But when Peyton’s brother (Isabelle’s husband) catches them in the act, Isabelle shoots him dead. Now Peyton and Isabelle are Out in the Country, On the Road to Sham-ba-la ,driving through a Canadian wilderness colder than a Three Dog Night, holding tight to the One thing they know for sure: Eli’s (not) Coming.
6. When Peyton, a pug, gets separated from his family in Hollywood, he worries about how he'll ever get home. That's when he meets Isabelle, a Latina tabby with a heart of gold and plenty of fire. Can they find his home--and will Isabelle be allowed to stay with him?
Peyton Ryder grows up coal-dust poor in the mountains of West Virginia, hunting, trapping and running wild in the woods. The summer he turns fourteen, he and his mother hitch a ride out of their dead-end hollow in her boyfriend's Dodge, hoping to find a better life in Boston.
Mad at the world for depriving him of wealth and a father, Peyton decides to climb out of poverty and never look back. When he wrangles himself a football scholarship to a private school, [With a name like Peyton Ryder, he was destined to attend a private prep school in Boston. Call it the second law of inevitability.] he works hard and fights anybody who gets in his way. To his surprise, he falls in love with a fellow scholarship student, a strangely innocent painting prodigy named Isabelle Woods. [I'm in love with Isabelle Woods, even though I know nothing about her except that she's a strangely innocent painting prodigy. And fictional . . . I gotta get a life.] [What does strangely innocent mean? Is it strange that she, in particular, is innocent? Or is there something about her particular innocence that's strange?]
When Isabelle and Peyton accidentally start a fire on the fourth of July after graduation—a fire that grows out of control and causes the death of four people—their relationship shatters. Isabelle believes they should turn themselves in, but intent on preserving his worldly ambitions, Peyton guilts her into silence. Over the next two decades, Peyton finds himself haunted less by the people he and Isabelle accidentally killed, and more by Isabelle, [and her macabre paintings of burning screaming people. Hey, I had to put it in the query or I couldn't have used it in the Guess the Plot.] who floats in and out of his life, unable to let him or her despair go.
PEYTON AND ISABELLE is a fast-paced literary novel [An oxymoron if ever I've heard one.] of 107,000 words, following the journey of a fearless boy as he becomes a successful, but constrained man, who in one moment, on the verge of adulthood, has to decide how much he is willing to give up in order to make something of himself.
Well-written, though you haven't made Peyton seem sympathetic. As the fire was an accident, I could see him as a sympathetic character who makes one bad decision, but because he's described as mad at the world, because he "wrangles" a scholarship, rather than earns it, because he fights anyone in his way, I don't care enough about him to feel sorry for him.
Two of the three plot paragraphs are background. We don't need to know about the hunting and trapping and the boyfriend's Dodge. Give a bit of background and get to the story. They start a fire that kills some people. Peyton talks Isabelle into keeping mum. And?
Don't use "mum" in your query.
What about the next two decades? Does Peyton realize his worldly ambitions, becoming rich and successful despite being haunted? Does his bad decision destroy him? Does he blame Isabelle for his ruined life? Do they finally come clean: Officer, remember the big July 4th fire that killed all those people twenty years ago? We're strangely guilty.