Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Face-Lift 831

Guess the Plot

Mad as a Hatter

1. Desperate to pay for prom, Bobby Phillips takes a job manning a baseball cap kiosk at the mall. He was told never to sell Merlin's Kansas City Monarchs cap, but when tipped $100 by a midget in a tuxedo, Bobby didn't heed the warning. Now, killer butterflies are attacking Missouri…and prom may be canceled.

2. A serial killer is haunting London, leaving a quote from Alice in Wonderland at the scene of each of his murders. Can Officer James stop him before he quotes the Mock Turtle?

3. Dubbed "The Hatter," This plot has been removed due to copyright infringement. For permission please contact the estate of Lewis Carroll.

4. When the body of Johnny Depp, actor beloved for his portrayal of the Mad Hatter in "Alice in Wonderland", is found impaled on a stuffed marlin, homicide detective Zack Martinez knows two things: Depp was too short to get to the fish on his own, and he might want to get his daughter that bunny she wants.

5. Released through a computer error from an asylum for the criminally insane, serial killer "Duncan Punkin" runs for president. His disarming charm soon has him rising in the polls. The occasional disappearance of campaign staff hardly draws notice. Will the American electorate wake up in time?

6. Beginning with studies of mercury poisoning in the hatmaking trade and continuing through asbestos and miner's lung. Who knew industrial disease could be so much fun?

Original Version

Dear EE,

London, 1882.

Seven years ago, Emil Aleric and his sister were kidnapped. Emil survived [by jumping down a rabbit hole]. His sister didn't. So when he hears news of a serial killer rampaging London, [Rampaging through London is what you mean, although serial killers seldom rampage through anything, so maybe it should be ravaging London.] he's convinced that his former abductor is on the move again. [You should give us more information up front so that we understand why he thinks it's the same guy.] The peculiarities of the murders-- a note quoting Alice in Wonderland is found at each scene-- go hand in hand with the name his tormentor fashioned for himself: The Hatter. When his guardian, Officer Corwin James, is put in charge of the case, Emil thinks it must be fate. [If we rearrange the information, something like:

Seven years ago, Emil Aleric and his sister were kidnapped by a man who called himself . . . The Hatter!! Emil survived. His sister didn't. So when he hears news of a serial killer ravaging London and leaving a note quoting Alice in Wonderland at each murder scene, Emil is convinced that his former abductor is on the prowl again. And when his guardian, Officer Corwin James, is put in charge of the case, he thinks it must be fate.

. . . Emil's theory seems logical the moment we hear it.]

Corwin's not to [too] keen on Emil having anything to do with the case, but Emil's extensive knowledge of [Alice in Wonderland and of] the murderer's methods is too invaluable to waste. [Just call it "Invaluable." Or "too valuable to waste."] Yet as the two get closer and closer to tracking the man down, Emil realizes exactly what confronting his past will mean. He can live with the nightmares [about the Jabberwock]. But if he fails to avenge his sister's death, he doesn't know how he'll live with himself-- if he lives at all.

Complete at 51,000 words, MAD AS A HATTER is a YA historical novel written in alternating points of view. Thank you very much for your time and consideration.



Did you look into whether Alice was already being referred to as Alice in Wonderland in 1882, or whether that shortening of the title was the result of later plays/films?

An example of how Emil's extensive knowledge of the killer's methods proves useful would help demonstrate that he's the protagonist, and not just a tool of James.


JB said...

Evil Cheshire Editor!

Dave F. said...

I like this plot and I agree with EE. What makes this novel different than other "psychotic killer on a rampage" stories?

Stephen Prosapio said...

Hmmmm. Interesting concept. I'm partially hooked. A few of the errors in the query make me a bit concerned that the writing might not be as polished as it needs to be. I would DEFINITELY use EE’s opening paragraph pitch.

GTP 5 is hilarious. Duncan Punkin the serial killer President!

_*rachel*_ said...

Not bad at all, if you follow EE's advice here. Not my genre, but I'm interested.

Khazar-khum said...

Are you using elements from "Wonderland" and "Looking-glass" both? Most films, et al, are a mix of the two.

It sounds like it's a clever take on the Jack thee Ripper scenario.

Anonymous said...

Thanks, Stephen. I almost want to write The Tale of Duncan Punkin, but I'd be afraid people might think it was political :). And it would be a hard sell for the middle grades market.

vkw said...

This isn't bad. I don't *think* you have to differentiate this story from all the other psychotic serial killers stories out there, but it would be helpful.

I read a commentary recently from an author who was bemoaning the fact that the reviews for his last book was not as positive as he would like. The major complaint of the critics was the main motivation of the MC was revenge.

He didn't think that was fair and that revenge was a perfectly good explanation for the mayhem the MC causes. He seemed to be quite passionate about this because he went on and on.

I haven't read the book so I don't have an opinion. I will read it soon, however.

Here is my point - revenge does seem a bit shallow. I would be more sympathetic to Emil if his motivation was to prevent the killer from harming more children and/or so his sister can rest in peace and/or so he can move on with his life. (It would be quite frightening to know your would-be killer was still out there).

All these explanations would be okay and perfectly normal. I wonder if it wouldn't be better to wrap the query with something more unique?

I didn't like "confronting his past", that doesn't seem quite right for the situation.


Joe G said...

Random, but I'm intrigued by the phrase "too invaluable". Generally, saying something is invaluable is enough, but if it's TOO invaluable, it almost becomes sinister... like, the monkey's paw was TOO invaluable. Tho' misfortune 'twas all found when asked it wishes most profound, still none could stay their tongue so long as monkey's paw called siren song... It was invaluable... perhaps, TOO invaluable...

I think you could do more to tell the story. Right now it sounds like, "It's a story about a guy who's trying to catch the serial killer who murdered his sister, and the guy leaves Alice in Wonderland clues behind. Oh and this other guy". Maybe you could tell it in a little more of a compelling way?