Tuesday, February 02, 2010
Guess the Plot
Accidents and Incidents
1. Harry, the sole bed-wetter of 6th grade, is sick of his "problem" and the students who mock him for it. Then one day he's found, wet-panted, at the scene of his worst enemy's dismemberment. Now it's up to homicide detective Eddie Jackson to figure out which came first: the accident or the incident.
2. Andy (a.k.a. Crimson Fury) quickly learns the difference between the accidents his nemesis causes and the incidents that lead to him to becoming the hero he is today in this story of superheroes, villains, and the boring alter egos everyone is trying to avoid.
3. Or is that Incidents and Accidents? After two years of arguing with her twin brother Kyle about the title of their joint memoir, Priska Brooks is hit by a falling piano. Accident? Priska thinks not. Once her bodycast is off, Kyle's in deep doo-doo. Sibling rivalry at it's best.
4. The memoirs of Des Moines' top medical examiner aren't exactly thrilling reading, so editor Kelso Tompkins decides to enhance the story to make it salable. Now the old doctor is a national hero, and Tompkins is still an underpaid, overworked editor. Maybe it's time the old doctor made his final house call.
5. The first incident was followed nine months later by the accident: Leslie. Now Leslie's in high school, and she's fallen for Cain, which is sure to lead to an incident when Leslie's boyfriend and Cain's girlfriend accidentally find out.
6. Accident: running over a squirrel. Incident: running over your boss. Accident: dropping your coffee at Starbucks. Incident: dropping your pants at Starbucks. Alexander's life alternates between accidents and incidents until he's ready to shoot himself . . . or get eaten by a shark.
Dear Evil Editor:
When circumstances bring seventeen-year-old Leslie together with a mysterious stranger and members of the high school elite, she discovers she's not the only one haunted by a painful past.
Leslie was an accident, abandoned by her father before she was born and at odds with her mother ever since. [Ever since what?] Now, with a boyfriend who treats her as an afterthought, her life feels like even more of a mistake. But staying with Keith means keeping her seat at the popular table, and winning the attention of Cain, the school heartthrob, [Who would name their kid after one of the most notorious murderers ever? Okay, maybe someone who had narrowed it down to Cain, Hitler, and Borgo the Disemboweler, but that's about it.] who also happens to be Keith's best friend. As her feelings for Cain grow stronger, Leslie is torn between denying them and giving in, betraying not only Keith but Meredith, Cain's girlfriend whose perfect life isn't as perfect as it seems. [Is it really betrayal to dump a guy when you're dating him only because he sits at the popular table?]
And then there's Dennis, [Who would name their kid after Dennis "the Menace" Mitchell, among the most notoriously evil characters of fiction? Only someone who had narrowed it down to Dennis, Hannibal Lecter, and The Joker.] the loner whose dark past overshadows Leslie's own. As their paths continue to cross, Leslie wonders what Dennis is trying to escape. But can he trust her enough to share his secret, or will he let it destroy him? [Is Dennis the mysterious stranger? If so, that's not clear; being a loner doesn't make you a stranger. If not, why is the mysterious stranger, who is the most intriguing character, mentioned up front and never again?]
Everyone seems to have something to hide--including Leslie. As her fate becomes entangled with the lives of those around her, love and friendship hang in the balance, and she must risk her heart to find where she belongs. [At the social outcasts table.]
I earned an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Alaska Fairbanks and have had poetry published in several literary journals. As a teacher and librarian, I have also worked with teenagers for the last twelve years and believe I know that audience well enough to write for them.
Accidents and Incidents is complete at 80,000 words. I have enclosed an SASE for your response and would love to send you the rest of the novel. Thank you for taking the time to review my work, and I look forward to hearing from you.
Right now it sounds like literary fiction for teens. If Dennis or the mysterious stranger is a vampire, that needs to be in the query. Alaska would be a good place for a vampire, as the nights last 23 hours. If there's no vampire, do you have a good explanation for why not?
This is mostly a list of your characters and a bit of vague information about each of them. Focus on Leslie. Does she go after Cain? If so, how? What are the repercussions? If not, is the whole book high school students talking and thinking, or is there a major event you can build the query around?
Do you need Dennis and Meredith in the query? Meredith's life isn't perfect and Dennis has a secret? So vague it doesn't interest me; either be specific or don't bring it up. Which is more interesting? Dennis's secret, or the fact that he has a secret? If the latter, you need to give him a better secret. Your goal is to get me to want to read your book, which you do by making me think the story is fascinating, not by keeping your own secrets.