Thursday, July 31, 2008

Face-Lift 550

Guess the Plot

Monster Hunter Fraternity

1. Okay, it's not really a frat house, it's a tree house, where Jamie and his friends track Bigfoot and werewolf sightings, hoping to prove the existence of monsters. It was all in fun until the moon became full and stayed that way. Now the town's overrun with a mob of terrifying creatures that the boys must defeat . . . if they want to live.

2. When ten-year-old Billy McQuaid sees something strange going on in the abandoned orange groves near his suburban California home, he knows what to do: put together a team of kids who can help him investigate. But Ginny Fillmore wants to come, too, and she has a walkie-talkie set. Can they confront monsters and survive with a girl in the group?

3. Now settled across the US with families, mortgages, and desk jobs more mind-numbingly horrifying than they ever were, Frankenstein, Dracula, the Wolf Man, and the Swamp Thing decide to start a yearly retreat. While sitting on the back of a pickup truck, drinking warm beer and pretending to look for deer, the old friends reminisce about the good old days. But when Bigfoot stumbles across them, they'll have to reawaken the monsters within if they want to get home alive. Or undead, depending.

4. Sean and Brendan, a pair of exchange students, try to join Sigma Xi. Blackballed for being geeks, they seek revenge in a Guinness-fueled killing spree, only to find that Sigma Xi is home to a pack of zombies. Joined by fellow losers, they form their own fraternity, dedicated to destroying the zombies before the Physics Department becomes a brains buffet.

5. In a bid to get lucky, the virgins of Alpha Alpha Alpha adopt a manly-man "monster hunter" theme for Halloween, disguising the House, as well as themselves, in gladiator bondage style, which seems to be very exciting for the two dozen scantily clad whip-snapping Medusa sex-pots who join them. All signs point to a lucky night, until the lads realize those snakes are real.

6. Minimum: a Grendel. That's what it takes to get into the Monster Hunter Fraternity, to bag a monster. Lions are for sissies. Grizzly bears, for a girl scout merit award. Bob Lout really wants into the club. He has a plan to snag a vampire, but can he convince his wife, Bertha, to hang around the Drac Klub in a low-cut dress, offering up a jugular, just so he can get the coolest tie tack ever?

Original Version

Dear Agent,

I am seeking publication of my YA novel MONSTER HUNTER FRATERNITY. It is complete at 70,000 words.

At Monster Hunter Fraternity, a treehouse in Blafford Hills, Ohio, Jamie and his three closest friends research and track sightings of everything from Bigfoot to Werewolves, wanting nothing more than to prove the existence of real monsters. After two years of hunting, however, all they have is a grainy photo of something dark and furry [It's never a good idea to carry your camera in your underwear.] they saw in Black Rock Forrest, [Forest?] a picture mostly obscured by Jaime’s forefinger. [I think that was his middle finger.] [By the way, is Jaime Jamie? Or one of the friends?] But lately, Jamie notices something odd – that recent monster sightings are surrounding Blafford Hills – unaware that his weekend pastime is quickly turning more serious. [If he notices it, I wouldn't call him unaware. Besides, it's more dramatic if you finish the paragraph: His weekend pastime is quickly turning more serious.] [Even more dramatic: His weekend pastime has become a bloodbath rivalling in scope the Massacre at Wounded Knee.]

Jamie can’t figure out what’s attracting the creatures. Is it the new girl in class who looks like a vampire? Or the full moon which never seems to change? Whatever it is, monster sightings soon breach the town’s border – family pets are missing, and frightening noises can be heard throughout the night. [The dash suggests that missing pets and noises are examples of monster sightings. There are three different kinds of evidence, so use a comma.] As the town is overcome by a mob of creatures more terrifying than anything they’ve ever heard of, Jamie and his friends are forced into battle with them. When they discover what these creatures are after, a secret that’s been hidden in Blafford Hills for years, they in turn discover what it means to be true Monster Hunters – because their lives depend on it.



I don't see the YA crowd wanting to read about four kids in a tree house talking about wolfmen. Maybe an actual college fraternity on a campus overrun by monsters. As it is, I'd put your audience in the 9 to 13 range, which makes this middle grade. Title: The Monster Hunters Club. As a middle grade book, I'd say it's a good query.

Is there a reason these kids, rather than adults with guns, are forced into battle with these creatures? I'm not saying there has to be a good explanation (especially if it's for a younger crowd), but if there is one, you might work it in. I assume it isn't the old story that none of the adults believe the creatures exist so it's up to the kids; when the town is being overcome by a mob of terrifying monsters, someone's bound to notice.

Geezer 1: Our town's been destroyed. Half the people are dead with their throats ripped out.
Geezer 2: My grandson says it's a mob of monsters.
Geezer 1: Cute. Got any pictures of him?


150 said...

I know it's inherent in the game, but I always get disappointed when the actual plot is the most disinteresting one. I'd totally read GTP #3 if, say, Alan Moore wrote it.

If this had a generally funny tone and the first monster sighting happened in the first chapter, I'd pick this up. Your query seems in pretty good shape. Good luck.

Beth said...

After two years of hunting, however, all they have is a grainy photo of something dark and furry [It's never a good idea to carry your camera in your underwear.]

Snort. Tears. Helpless laughter. This one caught me completely off guard. Serious beverage alert here, folks.

Dave F. said...

I want to point out to the author an ethnicity opportunity: Jaime -- Jamie

Jaime is Spanish. It's pronounced either with a "j" or an "h".
Jamie is a diminutive for James and that kid could be any old white kid in New York State. (Why NY? The Black Rock Forest is in Cornwall NY)

This is an easy way to make the character slightly different from the expected.

Kiersten said...

I'm beginning to think I should quit pursuing my current projects and just write my fake plots. People always like them much more than what I'm actually doing.

Also, this is a great query, author. I always daydream that I'll put one up and EE won't find anything to criticize. I know, my daydreams are both boring and wildly unrealistic.

BuffySquirrel said...

Getting really tired of the sexism in the GTPs, y'all :).

(wonder if my broadband will let me post THAT!)

talpianna said...

Perhaps the kids are the only ones to be able to see the monsters because they are the only ones who ate the odd plant/touched the strange meteorite or some such.

author said...

Thanks to everyone who commented.

No excuse for the typos but luckily I haven't sent this out yet.

I chose the word fraternity in the title because the four boys want to establish that their group will not allow girls to join.

The adults can see the monsters too, and though I didn't mean to suggest that the kids would be doing the fighting alone, in the end the kids will "save the day."

Thanks EE and minions.

Jeb said...

Definitely juv, not YA. Rule of thumb is that kids like to read about kids up to 2 years older than themselves, but not generally younger than themselves. Also, the themes are too light for current YA paranormal stuff (wearing my ex-YA/Juvenile judge for Canadian Crime Writing Awards hat here - three of this year's shortlist had strong, scary paranormal, but the kids were older than yours).

Still, a cute plot that could be a lot of fun to read.

Follow EE's as-usual brilliant edits and please do post the opening here when you've recovered from this potentially harrowing experience.

Robin S. said...

This sounds really fun - every kid loves secret clubs and magic stuff happening, and this set up and set of circumstances sounds really interesting. I'd read it.

Kate said...

I just want to know one thing. How many kids are we talking about here? If I was the wolf man and I saw 30 screaming brats coming at me, I might look for another town to ravish. Tiny bones in my teeth = not fun.

Jeb said...

so right, Kate... not to mention all those shrill little voice wailing in agony and terror right in your ears, right up to the very moment when you finally get to rip their little throats out.

JB Keyser said...

He could just twitch the age to at least senior year kids. It would get some people to actually read, but then again he might've put cheerleaders. Freshman in college would be a good idea though. I did like #3, it was interesting. I don't think I would read the original plot. And I'm in the ages of YA.

batgirl said...

This sounds like fun, though definitely middle grade rather than young adult. If my son were still in that age range I'd probably consider it for him, since we were fans of the Fifth Grade Monster series, and of the film Monster Squad, which has a similar plot (treehouse gang discovers and fights real monsters).