Wednesday, December 08, 2010
Guess the Plot
1. In the woodwind section of the New York Philharmonic, Dan is infatuated with first flautist Steve, and the masterful technique with which he wields his impressive instrument. Unfortunately, all Dan has is a piccolo.
2. The new boy at school, Hiro Yotosan, plays the flute and is from Japan. He'd like to ask out some of the girls . . . but he plays the flute. Can he talk the handsome football captain, Jock, into loving his kind of music?
3. An unfortunate piercing incident leaves Zeke's nether region horribly disfigured - or so he thinks. While seeking comfort and oblivion in the embrace of a lady of the night, Zeke discovers a unique use for "Little Zeke," and embarks on a quest to have his unusual instrument accepted in mainstream orchestral circles.
4. When Mala's environmentalist friend becomes the latest in a line of people murdered for trying to expose polluting practices at the mine, only one thing keeps her from falling into a state of depression: flute music.
5. Stoners Ralph and Earl go on a quest for dope and bring back finger paints, which is not pleasing to their girlfriends. Their second attempt results in the discovery of flute music, another unappreciated advance in the technology of man. Will these lovable losers ever get laid?
6. France, 1689. Young Charles Le Tour has been playing the flute with Master Le Normand since he was six. He's sixteen, writing his own compositions. With a Royal visit due in their town, can he convince M. Le Normand to let him play his own work for the King--or will he have to play the same Te Deums as everyone else?
Dear Evil Editor,
Sixteen-year-old Mala's decision to take up cudgels on behalf of the environment gets the attention of the local mine owner. People who get his attention usually end up dead. [My research reveals that taking up cudgels is a British and Australian idiom. In the US, readers may assume Mala plans to use her cudgels for bludgeoning.] [I was going to declare "cudgel bludgeon" a great tongue twister, but personal experimentation reveals that it's not as tough as you'd think to say it five times fast. Thus I'll instead recommend "ski sash."]
When Mala's mother gets a job at the Calvert Mining Company, it's a chance at a new life, a chance to leave behind their old town and its bitter memories. [Their idea of a fresh start in life is to move to a mining town where people regularly and mysteriously end up dead? Maybe you should tell us what their life used to be like.]
A short time after they move into the new town, a fiery accident kills an EPA agent. Police close the case as a DUI. But Mala's environmentalist friend convinces her that her mother's boss, Mr. Calvert, murdered the agent to hide the fact that the mine failed to use proper safeguards to prevent pollution. Mala is torn between helping her friend get evidence and fear her mother would lose her job [working for a serial killer]. Then her friend's body is found in the mines, next to a stack of explosives. Police close that case as an accident too - that her friend, in the process of trying to blow up the mines, fell and hit her head. The police chief happens to be Mr. Calvert's close friend.
[Police chief: We found her in the mine; looks like she fell and hit her head.
Medical Examiner: Actually, it looks more like she was bludgeoned with a cudgel.
Police chief (glaring): Perhaps you didn't hear me?
ME: What was I thinking? I don't even know what a cudgel is.]
Bitter and angry, Mala takes on Aiyana's cause, [If you're going to name this character, name her when you introduce her. Then you won't have to keep calling her "friend."] determined to bring down the powerful mine owner. Brad, a junior in her school, offers to help. While warm feelings stir between them, a cold reality faces them. Mr. Calvert is not about to let a couple of teenagers stop him [Stop him . . . from not using proper safeguards? How about shut down the mine?] - and murder comes easy to him by now.
My YA novel FLUTE MUSIC, complete at 54,000 words, is available for your review.
[Note (not part of query): I decided on that title because Mala meets her friend through their love for flute music. When her friend dies, the flute keeps her from going into depression and focused on her goal.] [I don't care who died; no one can stay sad for long with Jethro Tull's "Bourée" on the iPod.]
Few are aware that Jethro Tull's song "Bungle in the Jungle" was originally titled "Bludgeoned with a Cudgel."
I don't think the first paragraph is needed. Presumably Mom and Mala are unaware that Calvert murders everyone who gets his attention, so we don't need to know it up front. The murders will seem more shocking if we don't know they occur on a daily basis.
Possibly you could try opening with Aiyana's death, then mention the other murders and put more time into the Mala/Brad part of the novel, which I assume is the main plot. Much of what's here (moving to town, EPA guy's "accident") is just setting up the situation.