Friday, April 22, 2011

Face-Lift 897

Guess the Plot


1. After escaping from bondage at a factory in India, Anla is smuggled to America by a missionary. She returns to India with a dangerous plan to free the other children at the factory. Sadly, her plan fails, so she returns to the US and tries to fit in at her high school.

2. The ancient Moche claimed that a giant race of hairy men called Anla lived in the mountains. When a strange skull appears on the market in Lima, anthropologist Meredith Greene is called in for help. Is this really an Anla--or is there something even stranger at play?

3. Justine's life was almost ruined when her date for the prom turned out to be Anla the Terrible in disguise. By day he seems an ordinary nerd. But when the full moon rises, he turns into an investment banker and wrecks the world economy. Can her love tame this fiend and save Detroit from ruin?

4. Twenty years ago Jennifer’s mother died mysteriously. The only clue to what happened was one word she left behind, written in her own blood, “Anla”. Now Jennifer is determined to solve the mystery and find the killer before they get her too.

5. Prompted by the suicide of his morbidly obese, beloved sister, Anla, Dr. Abrahm Akmajim discovers that severe overeating is caused by a virus. He produces a vaccine in Anla's name, intending to see it made cheap and available. But; the diet industry wants to steal it and the junk food industry wants to destroy it. Either way, he's expendable.

6. Servant girl Anla sweeps floors for Quemberly’s most celebrated watchmaker. Forbidden from touching any timekeeping device because of her fairy lineage, Anla always cleans while wearing gloves. One fateful day, however, she accidentally touches a clock and time stops.

Original Version

Dear Evil Editor,

Please consider my 45,000 word young adult novel, Anla, which tells the story of a young Indian girl forced into bondage at a silk-making factory in order to pay her brother's debt.

Anla survives the unbearable conditions at the silk factory and escapes to the home of a nearby missionary. The missionary takes her in and eventually smuggles her out of India and into the United States. Soon Anla’s greatest desire is to become just like the other students at her high school.

When Anla is coerced into speaking before an international human rights committee, she is horrified to learn that their plan is simply to talk to the factory owners. [Not clear why she's horrified. What does she think the committee should do?] She comes up with a dangerous scheme to return to India and save the children still trapped in the factory where she once worked. [If she's willing to do this much, why did she have to be coerced just to speak before the committee?]

Although her plans fail, [You have room to give more info. What were her plans and why did they fail?] and she returns to her home and school bitterly disappointed, Anla ultimately finds that her courage has inspired hundreds of people to join together to fight for the children she was unable to save. [Well, now I feel like I would if I watched Erin Brockovich, and she failed to win the case against Pacific Gas and Electric, but at the end of the movie they ran a crawl saying that two years later some other people took down the company. On the other hand, Karen Silkwood died before her nuclear plant folded. On the other hand, Julia Roberts won an Oscar as Brockovich, and Meryl Streep only got nominated as Silkwood. So if you want the Oscar, I suggest Anla come up with a plan that works. People would rather read the story of whoever succeeds in saving the children than of someone who failed. This is fiction, right? So you could write a story in which Anla succeeds?] [If you insist that Anla fail, at least tell us whether the people she inspires to fight for the children succeed.]

Thank you for your time and consideration,


More information about the book would be helpful. You have seven sentences. Try to make it ten.

We're currently out of fresh queries; this is one of the three remaining five-year-old queries that never appeared on this blog, so the author probably won't see your comments. But other people might find your feedback useful.


alaskaravenclaw said...

A few years ago, I had the bright idea to write a story about a slave who doesn't escape. See, my reasoning was, from 1619 to 1863*, this country was full of slaves who didn't escape. The vast majority of slaves lived and died in slavery, and yet in fiction the slave almost always escapes. So I wrote a nice little novel in which the MC was a slave who didn't escape.

It did not sell.

So I trunked it and wrote a novel where the slave does escape. It sold.

The moral to this anecdote is that while we know real life sucks, and the good guys lose, and the heroine doesn't get the boy, in fiction we want to win.

This plot could work if it focused on Anla's own escape from debt slavery. Or even if Anla was successful in starting a movement in the US (since that's where she lives) to end debt slavery in India.

*a date we could debate

Anonymous said...

She's in the USA because the missionary smuggled her in, so it would be sensible to avoid publicity because of fears about being discovered as an illegal alien and deported back to India.

Fiction in which the main goal of the protagonist is not achieved is theoretically possible but that would be contrary to the purpose of reading fiction, so it is rarely popular.

vkw said...

Anla should have applied for asylum. I think she has a good case.

Phoenix Sullivan said...

It's been awhile since we had a group of GTPs so plausibly plausible. Well, except for the investment banker, but that's the one I really want to read.

My quibbles with this query start in the first paragraph where we're told the story is about a girl in bondage. It sets us up to think we'll learn of the horrors of the factory first-hand and her struggle to get out. Yet she's rescued in the very next sentence. And, of course, the brother's debt becomes a loose end as it's never mentioned again.

I seem to see a lot of queries that posit something in the first paragraph that isn't followed through on in the rest of the query.

alaskaravenclaw said...

Now that she's here, she can probably pay off the brother's debt with what an American kid spends on a trip to the mall.

alaskaravenclaw said...

Our asylum laws are not among the world's finest. But it's fairly common for a deal to be cut for asylum in exchange for testimony. That would work in this story if the U.S. govt were the ones who needed her testimony.

Otherwise, her case would be way stronger if she were one of the trafficked girls from the last query. Or if her debt slavery had been in a country with which the US had less friendly relations than we have with India. Or if she were to try next door: Canada has much more liberal asylum policies.

batgirl said...

EE gets to the heart of it (with a delicately wielded chainsaw) by pointing out the lack of connection between Anla's taking action and the later mass movement. It reads as if Anla tries, fails, then goes back to trying to be a normal N American kid. Then to her surprise, other people take up the cause.
I think in the book there's probably a direct connection and Anla is involved in inspiring others. So that should be made clear.

Jo-Ann said...

I really like the premise, this is the type of thing I like to read. It's good to see an MC from a developing country who's not portrayed as being grateful to white people for showing them the way - at least, it reads that way from the query.

Since this is one of the 5 year-old plots, does anybody know whether the novel ever made it?

Alaska - I would have read your story about the reality of the slavery experience. I think if we ignore the fact that most slaves lived and died in harsh conditions, we minimise the true courage, sacrifice and vision of those who were able to change their circumstances. Then again, I'm trying to write (based on a true story) about an Indigenous Australian who was the only survivor of a mass murder by early settlers who offered her family strychinine-laced porridge; and her subsequent life without support of her tribe - gee, that's bestseller material, that is! (when I'm not writing about talking cats, that is!).

arhooley said...

does anybody know whether the novel ever made it?

Not that Google or Amazon indicate.

I favor the idea of making testimony before an NGO inconclusive or ineffective. Rent Blood Diamond and see how unconvincing it is, despite the opposite intent.

That said, I hope the story is all about fascinating Anla, and plunges us into a contemplation of superhuman effort, failure, and other universal topics.

Ink and Pixel Club said...

I'd leave off the fact that Anla's plan ultimately fails, not to try to trick readers of the query into thinking that it succeeds, but to create more suspense. Hint at the fact that what Anla's actions inspire others to do is more important than whether her plan works or not by describing the book as something like "a story of how one person's courage can inspire those around her and change the world."

In addition to fleshing out the plan and (if you cover it) why it fails, I'd like to know more about what Anla is feeling during these events. It sounds like she goes from being someone who just wants to keep her head down and avoid being pulled back into the life she was leading before to someone who is willing take huge risks to help others. But I don't really understand why she changes.