Monday, January 24, 2011
Guess the Plot
Sins of the Past
1. If having Vlad Tepes as a distant ancestor is wrong, I don't wanna be right.
2. An overzealous pastor stumbles across a time machine and sets out to convert every accursed heathen through history.
3. When a retired teacher of special needs students is murdered, police immediately suspect her former students were seeking revenge for all the past times she made them confess to being naughty, even when they weren't.
4. When the director of the Natural History Museum turns up half submerged in the La Brea Tar Pits, homicide Detective Zack Martinez knows two things: anthropology is a dirty business, and he'd better pick up a stuffed woolly mammoth from the gift shop for the kids.
5. In 2045 the Earth’s climate is wildly unpredictable because of decades of CO2 emissions. Ussiah, a Mennonite priest, can forecast the weather with meticulous accuracy. When a massive hurricane heads toward the US coast, the government asks Ussiah to predict its path, but he refuses to cooperate unless the country repents.
6. During a psychic reading, fashionista Tiffany learns the reason she can’t get a date; she was a heartless supermodel in her past life. To satisfy karma, Tiffany must transform Melvin, the nerdiest boy in high school, into a hunk. But can she do it before prom?
7. Devout youth turn to Father Kevin for confession. He understands their world and knows exactly what penance to prescribe for cyber-bullying or pirate downloads. But he's stymied when a mysterious stranger shows up to confess ox-coveting, regicide, obscene semaphores, and other . . . sins of the past.
8. Millie's mother was hung as a witch. Her aunt has been sheltering her ever since, trying to keep her from the prying eyes of the local law. But Millie can't stop playing with bones, cats and candles. Is she just a curious girl, or is she really her mother's daughter?
9. Jeb congratulates himself on getting away with murder – literally. But when the corpses of his victims rise up and threaten humanity’s future, Jeb must find a way to atone for his . . . Sins of the Past.
Dear Evil Editor,
Teachers are being killed; brutally, systematically. Each murder more horrifying than the last. [I blame video games, rap music and the Internet.]
Detective Harry MacCormick hated working Saturday nights. [I see we've switched from present tense to past already.] All the garbage happened on Saturday nights, from teenagers wrapping their cars around trees, to alcohol fueled couple disputes; at least a dead body wouldn't hurl drunken slurs at him. [That last phrase would make sense if it came after Harry was called to a murder scene.] When he is called to investigate a retired teacher's murder, he hopes to clear the matter up quickly and get back to his loved ones, chips and beer. [Change that last comma to a colon so it's clear that he has no actual loved ones, or at least none he wants to get back to.] But Harry soon discovers that this is only the beginning. [To me, this implies that he's unable to get back to his chips and beer because of additional murders. I doubt the additional murders occur that soon.] [I recommend dumping the first paragraph and the first two sentences of the second. Open with the phone call, and it might go like this:
When he is called to investigate a retired teacher's murder, Detective Harry MacCormick hopes to clear the matter up quickly and get back to his loved ones: chips and beer. But Harry soon discovers that this is only the beginning, as over the next eight hours three more retired teachers are brutally slain, one with safety scissors thrust into her eye, one with colored pencils shoved up her nostrils, another battered to death with a Garfield lunchbox. The media dubs it all the work of the Kindergarten Killer, the Moppet Murderer, the Elementary School Executioner.]
Who has motive for such crimes? Is it one of the former students of the first murdered teacher, who Harry soon discovers were being forced to confess by the teachers and principal to incidents that they didn't do? [People don't "do" incidents.] [I want an example of whatever these children were forced to confess. Timmy, either you confess that you spilled my coffee, or I call in Borgo the Disemboweler.] Or perhaps the janitor, with his checkered past of involvement in sexual abuse scandals? [I told you we should have hired kindly old Mr. Goodfellow as school janitor instead of the guy with past involvement in sexual abuse scandals.] [How many sexual abuse scandals do you get before your past is no longer labeled "checkered"? This guy sounds more like he has a Sorry! past.]
Along with detectives John Defazio, his best friend on the force for ten years, who is about to be a father for the second time with his fiancee, and Jennifer Reed, a detective for only five years, but headstrong and determined to make a name for herself, Harry races against time to stop this madman before he kills again. [The brief tidbits of information about John and Jen are interfering with whatever tension has been built up.] [Also, as this is clearly the same book as our recent New Beginning, it becomes even stranger that Harry never seems to have any down time now that we know there are at least two other detectives in this small town.]
SINS OF THE PAST is a griping tale [The tale is gripping; griping is what Evil Editor has been doing.] of murder, revenge, and suspense that will keep you guessing about the identity of the killer to the end. [Not me; I've already deduced that the murderer is actor Paul Sorvino.] It is complete at 55,000 words. The full manuscript is available upon request.
Thank you for your time and consideration.
Note to EE: The title comes from the first suspects the police have for the murders, the former students of the first murdered teacher, who was a special ed teacher.
[Who do you like for the murder, detective?
Former students is my guess.
But the former students are autistic.
Yeah but their teacher once got them to confess to writing on the walls, so I figure we can get them to confess to this and be done with it.]
She, along with the principal of the school, conspired to blame incidents on the students that they didn't do. And also of one of the other suspects in the murders, the janitor at the school, who was involved in sexual abuse scandals earlier in his life and may have abused some of the students.
I don't see why the police would suspect one of the students of the first murdered teacher, unless that person was also a student of the other murdered teachers. The motive for killing your teacher is not the same as the motive for killing random teachers.
Focus on the case. We don't need to know what happens on Saturday nights or that John's girlfriend is pregnant.