Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Face-Lift 665

Guess the Plot

Office Magic

1. He's the head of the company's IT department. She's the new girl in the office. He'll do anything to get her fired. She accuses him of plotting against her. If these two bitter enemies are going to take their relationship beyond incessant sex it's going to take a little . . . Office Magic.

2. There is blood, gore and mayhem as the tendrils of old black magic engulf a seemingly normal office environment. The unsuspecting coworkers band together in order to rid their cubicles of the evil influence of their dreaded manager, Mephistopheles McDonald, Jr.

3. Selma Baker has kept her position as head secretary at Consolidated Megaplex Holdings, Inc. despite her unpleasant phone manner and poor typing because she's the only one who can get the office copier to work properly. But when friendly and efficient Tassie Jones fills in during Selma's bunion surgery and the copier doesn't jam once, Selma dusts off her cauldron and spellbooks in order to hang on to her job.

4. During her lunch break Tammy the receptionist uses her connection to the firm's XXiQV8 computer to bring cartoon hero Chet Urskin, aka, Captain Laserhead, to life. After a passionate frolic in the supply closet, these miscreants hijack the XXiQV8 and embark on adventures of the fourth kind.

5. Desperate college dropout Lydia Johnson begins a crummy job as the receptionist at a shoebox factory, and is thrilled when hunky shipping lackey Heath Windsor invites her out for cheeseburgers and reveals his true identity as a wizard sent by the Blue Trinity to protect her from evil secretaries, vampires, and unscrupulous dry-cleaners as she prepares for a royal destiny.

6. Unappreciated secretary Krystal Barnett buys a witchy black dress at a thrift shop and finds a tarnished old ring in the pocket. It is, of course, the fabled Ring of Vibrissa. She embarks on a program to take over the company and soon dominates the entire world of hair products. But then Uthgar the Bald, former owner of the ring, finds her.

Original Version

Office Magic is completed at a bit more than 97,000 words. Manuscript and synopsis are available upon request.

The story has elements of the Contemporary, Mystery, and Fantasy genres. The sex scenes between the main two characters are explicit, [I like a query that puts the most important stuff up front. To hell with the plot; is the sex explicit?] [We need to see five or six unabridged examples before we can advise you.] and throughout the manuscript there are excerpts of a sexual nature from a book that the leading lady is reading. That book is also written by me, but [does not necessarily recount my own sexual experiences, and is] not published. [So what you're saying is, the only scenes in this book that don't involve the main characters having sex are sex scenes from your other book?]

Alexandra-Lexi-Adams has just started working for her step-father, Robert Pedelty. On a slow day at work, she discovers an online romance novel, the heroine of which is her spitting image and carries her childhood nickname, Xandra. Intrigued, she starts reading, and becomes enamoured with the leading man, Rex. The problem is, she soon discovers the site on which the novel is posted is only accessible by her work PC. [She tries to go there from her home computer, but keeps getting the same error message: Server not found. It may no longer exist or may be experiencing heavy traffic or may be reachable only from your work PC.]

Edmund, head of the IT department, is the only person appearing less than happy with Lexi working for the company. He wastes no chance to provoke her, and has told her step-father that she doesn't belong in her current position. [Which is what? If she's not in the IT dept., what does he care? And if she is in the IT dept., why doesn't he just tell her what she's doing wrong? Lexi's stepfather isn't going to fire her; he has to live with Lexi's mother.] He suspects she's slacking off and decides to find out what she does in front of her computer screen all day.

His surprise at what takes up her time is overshadowed by the fact that the novel's leading man shares his face and the name he used years ago, before Lexi's step-father saved him from himself. [What does that mean?] Thinking Lexi is enamored [2nd use of the word enamored, and 2nd spelling as well.] with him and has written the novel, he's forced to come to terms with his feelings for her; feelings he's been denying and hiding out of respect for her stepfather. [Hiding your feelings is one thing; he's been trying to get rid of her.]

Finally giving into his attraction to Lexi, he starts baiting her, [This makes it sound like baiting someone is a good thing.] but when she is convinced he's the one who created the site, she stops reading and accuses him of plotting against her at work. In an effort to win her over, Edmund assumes his Rex persona again, but Lexi has been hurt in the past and, even though she gives into him physically, she isn't willing to share more than her body. [You've been plotting against me at work, you bastard; I refuse to have anything to do with you. Except have frequent sex.]

Edmund won’t give up his pursuit of her, while Lexi’s best friend Angi nudges her his way. Angi is a Wiccan who is too shy to perform spells in public. She may have done something in private however, that was meant to show Lexi the way to her One True Love. [Has Angi even met Edmund?]

Thank you in advance for your consideration,


How is it that Lexi notices that the novel's heroine is her spitting image but doesn't notice that its hero is Edmund's spitting image? Is the novel illustrated, or are the characters just described?

If Angi is responsible for the novel, maybe she should be in the query earlier. I'm sure she appears in the book before the last chapter. Start with Lexi's love life is in the tank when she meets Edmund, the most annoying guy in the world. But her best friend, Wiccan Angi, knows they were meant for each other, so she writes a complete novel in which they have sex all the time and live happily ever after, and puts it online where they'll both see it. Unfortunately, they never read past the part where they have sex all the time.

This is a romance, right? With some witchcraft thrown in? We're more interested in the main genre than in what genres it has elements of. If the sex is ubiquitous you can call it erotica, but there's nothing unusual about a modern romance novel having a few explicit sex scenes. It's pretty much expected. Thus there's no need to open by describing the level of intensity of your sex scenes.

"Stepfather" isn't commonly hyphenated, which you didn't realize until the fourth time you used it.


Dominique said...

I'd recommend dropping the paragraph about the explicit sex. If they request pages, they'll figure it out as they are reading. Also, you can make an effort not to query agents who don't represent works with explicit sex. Either way, it's not something to lead with in the query. Use that space for making more sense of the plot of the book.

You don't need to mention what the book has elements of. The reader should be able to figure that out on their own. You're talking office romance and a hint of magic. I think that narrows it down.

Since the title references magic, you might want to include the Wiccan a bit more. It seemed like you cut her section short, because you ran out of room. However, since the title indicates magic is important to the book, that is not the place to be skimpy on the info.

Anonymous said...

"and throughout the manuscript there are excerpts of a sexual nature from a book that the leading lady is reading. That book is also written by me, but not published."

This is not necessary. Obviously you are the writer who wrote the sex scenes in the book your MC is reading.

Here is a plot problem -

Thinking Lexi is enamored with him and has written the novel, he's forced to come to terms with his feelings for her; feelings he's been denying and hiding out of respect for her stepfather.

Most people who have crushes on others don't try to get them fired. True story - I have a friend who had a secret crush on a co-worker, he finally worked up the nerve to tell her - she got him fired for sexual harassment. (He got his job back 6 months later when she left the company). So - what is my point - Edmund, having discovered Lexi's book can get her fired for sexual harassment (maybe) and reading porn at work. (most definately) Even if her stepfather is the supervisor a good old fashion sexual harassment lawsuit often is thicker than marital blood.

"Finally giving into his attraction to Lexi, he starts baiting her," Do you mean flirting? What does this mean? Do you mean he starts acting like Rex to get her attention?

She becomes convinced he wrote the porn - now she can get him fired for sexual harassment.

She has been hurt before so sex is okay but what? She's not going to marry him or let him move in? Introduce him to her pet snake? I mean come on - even a little sex is going to make someone vulnerable - she couldn't just agree to have lunch with him and make him pay every time - that's better than casual sex.

If the last paragraph is as important to the plot as it seems it is - why is it the last paragraph? So who did write the site? was it Angi or magic?

I agree about the explicit sex part of the book - that will be known purely by the fact you have done your research and know who to send it to. Tell the reader more about the plot instead.

Anyway my too many coppers.


Wes said...

Oh, EE, you've still got it.

"To hell with the plot; is the sex explicit?"

"2nd use of the word enamored, and 2nd spelling as well."

Actually I agree with Mark Twain. I can't respect a person who can only spell a word one way.

Thanks for the chuckle.

Dave F. said...

It sounds like you have a friend or family member that you are worried about reading your sex scenes. My suggestion is put that worry aside.

Edmund and Lexi are going to fall in love or at least have a torrid affair. If they aren't gong to get together (since you seem to say that they are destined to be lovers) unless Lexi's Wiccan friend nudges her, then that's the story.

Lexi meets Edmund. Hates him. Discovers she loves his alter ego Rex. They battle. They have torrid sex and when they are about to break up, Angie steps in and does her magic.

Dave F. said...

Part two, thanks to clicking the wrong button.

Lexi meets Edmund. Hates him. Discovers she loves his alter ego Rex. They battle. They have torrid sex and when they are about to break up, Angie steps in and does her magic.

This is Taming of the Shrew or Kiss me Kate or any one of a dozen stories about lovers who start out fighting and end up happily married. Good plot.

A few questions:
Are Lexi and Angie friends before she meets Edmund?
Is Lexi aware of Angie's magic?
Does Edmund recognize Lexi as the girl in the novel?

The query needs to be about these three people and how they go from strangers to happily married and Witch-of-Honor at the altar.

Sarah from Hawthorne said...

This seems like an interesting idea, but there's a lot of plot jumps. Seeing as your entire story hangs on Edmund hating Lexi's guts, you really need to give us some idea why he's going out of his way to get her fired.

And I'm not sure where magic comes in. Other than the fact that Angi knows the names of Lexi and Edmund's alter egos, there's nothing that terribly mystical going on here.

Sotia said...

EE: Once I stopped banging my head on the desk and mumbling, "What was I thinking?" I realized I have to thank you. Being the one who wrote this, I glossed over parts of the plot that--to me--seemed self-explanatory without realizing they really aren't that way for readers. OK, maybe I'll bang my head on the desk once more. Also, the first part of a query was because a specific e-publisher was asking for queries to include the level of sex description. I have no clue as to why I left that in the version I sent you, or why I spelled things different ways. It's not something I do usually. Thank you for your notes. I will revise the query and get back to you with something--hopefully--more decent.

Dominique: You're absolutely right, thank you.

Anonymous: In my silliness, I didn't explain something right. Edmund doesn't want to get her fired; he doesn't believe she's utilized to the extent of her abilities in her current position, but Lexi hears part of what he's told her stepdad and gets the whole thing wrong. When she realizes he knows about the novel and believes he's written it, she's afraid to do something about it, since she's been reading it for so long. As for the sex part, she's at a point in life when she's convinced meaningless sex is all she can get and all she can handle. I have to find a way to better phrase that and include it to the query. Oh, and the site was created by magic, through a vague spell Angi cast.

Wes: Tehehehe. I gots respect :D

Dave: Actually, all of my family and friends know what I've written/I'm writing (The family doesn't ask to read that way). The first part of the query was for a specific e-publisher that wanted to know how explicit the sex scenes were. I shouldn't have put it in this version.

I love your summary of the story. It's actually pretty accurate (with the exception that Angi has stepped in before Lexi and Edmund even met) and way better worded than mine :)

Thank you all very much,


Sotia said...

Dave (part II):
Lexi and Angi have been friends since school.
Lexi is aware that Angi is a wiccan, but doesn't believe she can actually do spells.
Edmund recognizes Lexi as the girl in the novel.

Edmund doesn't hate Lexi's guts; he has issues with her because he believes she's underutilized and that she's enjoying slacking off. I know I totally skipped that. It's the problem with being too close to something: you take things as self-explanatory, just because they're clear in your head.

I should mention Angi sooner. She's the one who cast the spell that created the site, even though she doesn't know it from the start (it's not a plot hole, I swear).

Wes said...

You've got a great attitude and a great grasp of how to whip this into shape. The minions are pulling for you.

Dave F. said...

I'm glad to see that the comments are making you focus on the good stuff in the story. As for the agents who you want to know about the content, "Contains explicit sex" is sufficient explanation. It's like a smoker's warning.

~Aimee States said...

I was banging my head on the desk, too. More kudos on the great attitude. The problems have been pointed out so I'll just slither out of here...

Anonymous said...

Too much office politics & not enuf magic, in my humble opinion. In particular I don't know why the protagonist isn't more powerful. she does Too much reading & not enuf taking action for my taste. See the gtps for more urban fantasy kickass type office magic protagonist chicks & their wildly impossible plots. This sounds like maybe you are trying to be too realistic. Or maybe you aimed it at some specific niche of the romance market, which I just don't know because it's not my genre.

Anonymous said...

You don't tell us much about Angi, but if the book is called "Office Magic" then you really need to have Angi work at the office, 'cause that's where the magic should happen.

4. To attack or torment, especially with persistent insults, criticism, or ridicule.
5. To tease.

Any guy who is still doing this to attract you never got out of Grade 10. Drop him and run.