Sunday, January 29, 2012

Face-Lift 985

Guess the Plot

Bibs, Burps, and Bottoms

1. One woman's warning to those young and foolish enough to be considering maternity. Told entirely in limericks.

2. I just had to get my experiences feeding, bathing and entertaining my children from infant stage to toddler stage down on paper. Now I share those experiences with the world.

3. Did you see that CSI episode about the grown men who liked to dress in nappies and be bottle-fed? Well, this is their story in their own words.

4. When the body of hunky film star Jeff McNeal is found wrapped in his adult baby fetish wear, homicide detective Zack Martinez knows two things: nobody in Hollywood is what they seem; and he's got a lot of movies to trash when he gets home.

5. The law firm of Bibs, Burps and Bottoms are legal champions of the diaper-clad, representing those with gripes about mushy peas, chafed butts, and unrequested circumcisions. Eat your heart out Grisham.

6. After mob boss Johnny “Bibs” Bibbiano finds Jesus and confesses—it takes nineteen hours and three shifts of priests—he returns to the pole dance emporiums. He buys beer and lap dances so he can talk to the girls. Only this time, between burps and sighs, he proselytizes and they throw him out.

Original Version

When a baby or toddler is difficult to manage, most new parents console themselves by saying “at least it wasn’t twins”. But imagine having not just one, but two sets of twins, within eighteen months!!! [One exclamation point is sufficient to convey this level of staggering wonderment. Two exclamation points covers quintuplets+. Three is reserved for events like three sets of triplets in eighteen months.]

This is the story of raising my babies from newborns to toddlers.

My manuscript consists of stories from my days looking after four demanding infants. [That's pretty much what the previous sentence said.] It starts as a tale of sheer survival, calling favours from friends and relatives so I was able to have a shower and a coffee away from the newborns [Your main child-care tip is to get other people to take care of the kids?] who screamed for twenty hours per day. [Twenty hours a day!!! What were you doing to those poor kids?] [This is sounding like Mommy Dearest, only from Mommy's POV.]

It includes the indescribable joy of getting all four off to sleep at the same time. [One person's indescribable joy is another person's indescribable horror--my horror of putting all the readers to sleep at the same time.] It’s a celebration of our ingenuity when we designed and constructed a pram so all four could be taken out with only one parent. It includes tales of how I kept them fed, clean and entertained during long rainy days. [In short, it's a testament to my greatness.] [This is reminding me of the query for An American in London. Either you're highlighting the boring parts and saving the good parts for when we read the book, or you don't have any good parts, in which case you need to make some up.]

You might laugh at my supermarket tantrum horror stories. Or share the sheer terror of having one little absconder who bolted whenever my back was turned.

Bibs, Burps and Bottoms is ultimately a story of triumph. I hope to share practical parenting advice and funny tales. [You need to share funny tales in the query if you want us to be convinced the book contains funny tales. Give examples. Possibly you can embellish your experiences to make them more entertaining. For instance, which of the following is more entertaining to read:

1. You might laugh at my supermarket tantrum horror stories.

2. I take the kids to the supermarket instead of going alone while my husband takes them for a walk in the Quatropram™, and they all have tantrums. Everyone is staring at me! Imagine my embarrassment!!!

3. When I tell Billy he can't have a honeydew melon he screams and reaches up and upsets the entire display of melons, which come tumbling down, burying him alive. A nearsighted customer happens by and, thinking Billy's head is a honeydew, grabs it and places it in her cart. I'm about to say something when I realize that raising three kids would be a lot easier than raising four.]

It is 50000 words long. It can be a stand alone story, with series potential. [I don't think I'd call a series of anecdotes mixed with practical parenting advice a stand-alone story. Is there a plot? Check out Shakespeare's Comedy of Errors and the film Big Business for how to build a plot around two sets of twins.] I am simultaneously working on my anecdotes of the twins as school children (including the time we went overseas with them), and stories of the four kids as adolescents.


Here's what this is coming across as: You invite a bunch of complete strangers to your home, and as the evening's entertainment you bring out 25 photo albums that span the years from birth to toddler of your children.

I can pretty much guarantee you'll have a better book if you take the best parts of those three books and combine them into one 50,000-word book. You don't have to throw away the three-volume set; you'll enjoy reading it every few years after the kids are off to college and you're free, free, FREE!

I don't know about including practical parenting advice. When there are a couple billion people around with parenting experience, you may need more credentials than you've mentioned to get people to respect your advice.

Remember, your stories don't have to be 100% true, as long as they're based on true stories. In fact, if you call the book fiction, there doesn't need to be any truth!!!


Khazar-khum said...

With the Kate Gosselin & OctoMom horror shows blazing along, I doubt a mere four kids will seem all that special.

Now, if you took the Erma Bonbeck approach, it could work. But to do that it has to be funny from the outset, not just tell us it's funny. It's the classic show, don't tell.

Anonymous said...

What EE said. It sounds like a personal project. No doubt your friends and family will love it, but it might not be ready for commercial publishers. Since it's a collection of short bits, maybe you can submit the wittiest ones to literary magazines or mom magazines, and get some impressive publication credits. Or blog it. Those seem to be the ways writers of short stories, whether fiction or not, get started these days. Unless they read well enough to get on NPR.

150 said...

Erma Bombeck came to my mind too. If you're really that funny, prove it and make the query funny. If you're not, I'm not sure who would pick this up. A mother of ONE could fill three 50k books with funny and horrifying stories. And there are hundreds of mommy-bloggers out there being hilarious for free.

Anonymous said...

It's a sad fact that other people's kids are rarely as cute and interesting as your own. Anyone with kids probably has stories at least as amusing and entertaining. Anybody without kids, is probably going to think "meh". Anybody with kids on the way is probably reading "What to expect..." and eating coal.

Every Christmas, I get humourous laser printed newsletters from friends and acquaintances who want to regale me with how great their year has been and how exceptionally cute and academically gifted their kids are.


AlaskaRavenclaw said...

My aunt used to write stories about cute things that her toddlers had done. She copied them into blank books and then later, when they were learning to read, she gave them each their very own book with stories about things that they had done. Kind of a cool idea, and one you might want to try.

Family stories are important to pass on. But they may not have widespread appeal.