Monday, October 17, 2011
Guess the Plot
The Rule of Three
1. Una has no idea she's one of the last three sirens in the world, a girl whose song can kill. Then she gets drunk and sings the Star Spangled Banner at a party, with disastrous results. Hey, at least she wasn't singing it at Yankee Stadium.
2. Linnie knows all the rules: third time's the charm, three strikes you're out, third date is the big one. When her third date with third baseman Manny Trio lands on the third, will she finally get lucky?
3. This triumvirate thing isn't working out so well for Juli C. but that's nothing a little politicking, backstabbing, and assassination can't fix. Also, a state-of-the-art trebuchet.
4. Nothing comes easily to Arnold Bitterbaum, but he usually does ok on the third attempt. That's fine for learning to scramble eggs, parallel park, and spell "thermodynamic," but when he joins the army, hilarity ensues.
5. Dewy drives himself nuts as an OCD autodidactic who can only function in moves of 3's, 6's and 9's. The discovery of irrational numbers turns him into a multiple personality with ADD. Then he discovers methylphenidate and shifts his focus.
6. Hagoria has three kings, and they're all insane. Can Walt, a plucky blacksmith's apprentice, find a cure for their madness in time to avert a revolution? Or is it a better idea to let the revolution happen? The author's not sure.
7. Three bears; three coins in a fountain; three girls with dragon tattoos. Let’s face it: Bad things come in threes. I’ve already been turned down by 2 editors. But, hey: Third Time’s the Charm! Right?
Dear Evil Editor,
Seventeen-year-old Una Aspinall’s just gotten into college, and she’s more than ready to leave home. Skipping her senior year and going straight to Boddington College via early admittance will give her the freedom that her overbearing single mom won’t.
The first step towards independence is a party at her best friend Kylie’s house. Una’s always been the good girl. That night, vodka, pot, and an outfit of Kylie’s help Una lose her inhibitions. Getting wasted is fun, and the party games are awesome. Una’s first kiss ever happens with her crush Matt during Spin the Cell Phone. She’s so giddy that during Truth or Dare, Una sings the Star Spangled Banner in her underwear. But as she’s singing, Matt drops dead. [It was on the line "O'er the land of the freeeeeeee," right? My TV screen shattered once when Mariah Carey hit that note right before the Super Bowl. Haven't forgiven her yet.]
Una’s estranged father invites her to his family’s Nantucket house for the summer to help her recover. But instead of spending a relaxing summer on the beach, Una learns she’s a siren, [She learns it? By offing a few more people at a beach blanket sing-along?] one of only three in the world, able to breathe underwater and kill with her song. [Can she kill by singing underwater? If so, I recommend including a scene in which she's attacked by guys with spear guns like in the movie Thunderball. She defeats them by launching into a burbling rendition of "Blood in the Water."]
Her stepmother sucks, her dad’s never there, and her half-sister Dylan’s beyond irritating. However, her cousin Stellan is hot, brooding, and a challenge. When they finally get together, Una realizes she could actually get to like her new life. [College is her new life. A couple months at the beach is her vacation.]
Then her stepmother kicks her out for supposedly being a bad influence, [Obviously Stepmom isn't aware that Una can kill her softly with her song.] [If they make this into a musical, "Killing Me Softly" will be the stepmom's swan song.] ["Stepmom's swan song" is a great tongue twister. Say it five times fast.] breaking up Stellan and Una in the process. Una retaliates by telling the whole world that sirens are real. [I don't see how this is retaliation. What does her stepmother care if the world knows sirens are real?]
Now she’s got exactly the kind of attention she doesn’t need. The media is relentless, another siren family claims she belongs to them, and the merciless Board that governs them all needs to make Una pay. [There are three in the entire world, one of whom didn't even know she was one, and there's a Board that governs them? In what way did they govern Una before she knew she was a siren? Are there any sirens on the Board? If not, isn't that like the US congress having no Americans?] [If someone can kill me just by singing, I don't think I want to govern her. My governing would consist of saying things like, "Sure, do whatever you want," and "Una, you're looking lovely today, why don't you go shopping?"]
A young adult fantasy novel, THE RULE OF THREE is complete at 91,000 words. My work has been published in Quarterly West, and this is my first novel. Thank you for your time and consideration.
The main plot line is that Una's a siren. Let's shorten the setup and get Una's Sirenity into paragraph 1.
While visiting her estranged father in Nantucket, seventeen-year-old Una Aspinall learns that she's a siren, able to breathe underwater and kill with her song. Suddenly she has exactly the kind of attention she doesn’t want. The media is relentless, Una's sucky stepmother throws her out, and another siren family claims she belongs to them.
There's your setup. Now add two paragraphs in which you tell us what happens. Include the romantic angle if it's important, assuming readers won't find romance with a cousin yucky.