Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Face-Lift 971

Guess the Plot

Christina RIP

1. Hopeful writer Christina Brown considers herself a Rowling in potentia, and that's how she signs her query letters: "Christina, RIP". But it's not working. So she comes up with a new plan: she'll deliver her queries in person, as Strip-o-Grams. Law enforcement ensues.

2. You work your whole life to get ahead, to make a home for you and your family, to have something decent for a change...and then the miserable whore goes and sleeps with half the neighborhood because she's 'lonely'. Well, "Mr. There-For-You" wasn't, when I had the gun, was he? Enjoy your dirt nap, bitch.

3. Though a host of YA novels have convinced Christina that after her suicide her life will really get interesting, and everyone will be sorry they were mean to her, that turns out not to be the case. Instead, she's doomed to an eternity haunting the school lunch room listening to the Mean Girls say mean things about her.

4. Christina, RIP. Has a problem. No matter how she manages her diet, she can't stop farting, RIIIIP. Nobody will sit next to her in class, RI-RI-RIIIIP; and she's a pariah in the lunch room, rip. Just when it seems it can't, POOT, get any worse for Christina, RIP. She gets invited to the cute quarterback's firework party, RIIIIP, KA-BOOOM!

5. Being dead hasn't brought Christina peace, so she takes possession of her cousin Tiffany's body. Tiff always hated Christie, so she'll do anything to drive her back out. Conflict ensues. Also, an evil witch.

6. At the funeral of their classmate Christina, several students reflect on what they could have done to prevent her suicide. Pretty much all of them had a hand in it. They agree to get together later that night for a party.

Original Version

I am offering my novel, CHRISTINA RIP for your consideration.

Christie’s life took a turn for the strange after she died. She can see and hear people, but nobody is aware of her presence. [I believe the technical term for her condition is "ghost."] Her best friend blames herself for Christie’s demise, [Technical term: "murderer."] but Christie herself has no memory of what happened. [I'm starting to wonder why the title isn't Christie: RIP.]

Her nerdy spirit guide is no help, dispensing confusing information about what she needs to do to pass to the “next level”. [The levels after death include ghost, zombie and vampire. Possibly you go ghost-zombie-ghost, as your spirit wouldn't know you were going to become a zombie till after you were a ghost (you go back to ghost when someone shoots you in the face or cuts off your head). With vampire, the spirit knows you'll be a vampire because it saw a vampire bite your neck, so the first ghost level is set aside until someone manages to drive a wooden stake through your heart. Eventually everyone's a ghost and the next level, according to the Doctor Strange saga (see Marvel Premiere #8-10, 1973, in which The Ancient One dies) is becoming one with eternity.] Maybe the joke about not wanting to be ‘seen dead’ with a geek like him wasn’t such a good idea after all. Seems there’s a family curse, involving her evil witch Nonna. [Her evil witch? What does that mean?] And if Christie doesn’t want to fade to nothing for eternity, she needs to lift the curse.

But she is experiencing increasingly longer periods of nothingness, and figures that unless she can undo the curse pronto, she will fade away forever. [You just said that in the previous sentence.]

So when her cousin Tiffany organises a séance, Christie takes this opportunity to possess her. [Ghosts can possess people only during seances? Convenient that Tiffany is staging one.] But even back inside a body, answers still aren’t that easy to find. [No need to say "still" when you've already said "even." Also, "that" can go.] Christie needs to ease her bestie’s guilt, and undo the family curse, all the while struggling to keep control of Tiffany’s body. Tiffany hated her while she was alive, and hates her more now she’s taken over her, so will do anything to drive Christie out. [Terrible sentence. Better to drop it than to fix it.]

Christina, RIP is a 70,000 word YA paranormal with comedy elements.


Why is Tiffany organizing a seance? Surely not to talk to someone she hated.

This needs a major organizational overhaul. The setup:

Christie doesn't remember how she came to be dead. All she knows is that her best friend blames herself, and that a family curse is preventing her spirit from moving on to the next level. According to her nerdy spirit guide, she will fade to nothingness if she can't lift the curse.

The conflict:

Breaking the curse and easing her friend's guilt will be easier in human form, so Christie takes possession of her cousin Tiffany's body. Tiffany hated Christie when she was alive, and she's none-too-happy about this new arrangement. She'll do anything short of killing herself to drive Christie out.

The wrap-up:

Wherein you tell us how Christie plans to deal with her problem, what goes wrong, etc.


150 said...

Wow, I kind of really like the query for this too. EE's right, but at least you seem to have a story going on. It's amazing how many queries come through here without one.

vkw said...

I think this is an interesting query. I'm a bit tired of family curses and evil witches.

But, there is a story here.

I'm looking foward to the rewrite.


Khazar-khum said...

Maybe Tiffany should be a guest at the seance instead of the organizer. She could be convinced to attend because she is young, dumb & guilt-ridden, and also wants some kind of closure.

chekurtab said...

I can see Christie's problem. It's bad enough to be a ghost, let alone - cursed ghost. Who is this Nanna and what is she doing in the query? What's Tiffany's role besides of being a body donor? By the way, I would be pissed too if someone occupied my body.

ruso said...

You can TOTALLY hold a seance for someone you hated. Tiffany probably wanted one last opportunity to show Christie the bird in that YA appropriate attitude of "Neener neener neener." Then she got possessed like a bitch slap. Serves her right, I guess.

BuffySquirrel said...

I imagine some teenagers only need to be told not to hold a seance, and voila!

Jo-Ann said...

Author here - Thanks to all those who jumped in! I've taken it on board and I'm drafting a new query.

About the seance - Tiffany and Christina were cousins, and Tiffany and her mother were quick to claim Christie's only valuable piece of jewellery, because it's "what Christie would have wanted."

When Christie's friends challenged Tiff on this, Tiff suggested a seance, thinking she could rig it to make it look like it had Christie's blessing. Tiff got more than she bargained for.

But I do try to get the readers' sympathy for Tiffany - after all, her mother is a life-coach who texts Tiff motivational psychobabble quotes on a daily basis. Christie happily sabotages all of the over-achieving Tiffany's goals.

no-bull-steve said...

What they all said!

BuffySquirrel said...

Now it sounds like Freaky Friday, only with ghosts.

Evil Editor said...

This new info sounds more interesting than some of the old. It's easier to see the comedy elements, anyway.

Jo-Ann said...

@ Buffy - not quite Freaky Friday, as that involved a swap.

I thought of this as more of an Odd Couple thing, who share a body, rather than an apartment. For example, Christie (who has conscious control over Tiffany's body), missed all the sensual pleasures when she was a ghost, and takes every opportunity to stuff luscious rich food down. Tiffany, who can sometimes exert some control over the body, locks the elbows straight whenever Christie tries to load a handful of chocolate in. Tiffany's also not averse to punching herself/ Christie in the nose when Christie really oversteps the line (involving luscious young men). And, yes, a psychiatric evaluation is part of the story.

I wasn't too sure how much detail to include about this in the query, as the possession comprises about a third of the narrative.