Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Face-Lift 994


Guess the Plot

Suicide Rider

1. Jack decides to honor his dead brother's memory by entering a horse race over a 200-foot cliff, and breaking every bone in his body. Internal conflict ensues.

2. Adrenaline junkie Carrie has a need for speed. When Universal Studios lobbyists win the battle for lax safety regulations, their new 360 mph roller coaster, the Suicide Rider, officially opens for business. And she is the first in line. One year later, what’s left of Carrie recounts the coaster's first and only ride.

3. Extreme surfer Alex Wanton can't find a wave big enough. When word hits that a tsunami is headed toward the beach, Alex has to choose between bored and board. Part two chronicles his trials as the stupidest quadriplegic on planet Earth.

4. Jockey Johnny May is known as the Suicide Rider--he takes the mounts no one else can handle. When he discovers that one trainer's horses are being given an experimental drug, can he get to the authorities in time to keep from being trampled to death?

5. Yama grew up hearing stories of his father, a WWII Kamikaze flier. After watching his mother slowly die of cancer, he decides to become a Kamikaze too, in a beat up, old farm truck on Route 66.

6. When popular stuntman Jeff Jonas is killed during the filming of the latest summer blockbuster, homicide detective Zack Martinez knows two things. One, there wasn't supposed to be a bomb in the Harley, and two, maybe he'd better start looking into more life insurance.



Original Version

TITLE: Suicide Rider

After a decade-long absence, Jackson Sundown Lewis, a Chualpay Indian and successful businessman, returns to his reservation in Eastern Washington for a funeral. [Think The Big Chill, Native American style.] While he’s in town, he reluctantly promises to help his brother train for the Annual Suicide Race – a dangerous horse race down a 225’ cliff [Do the horses get any say in this?] and across a river. The race is a family and tribal tradition. [Another family and tribal tradition is the post-race horsemeat barbecue.]

During the following months, [The following months? Most businesses will give you a few days of funeral leave, but if you phone in the next Monday and say you need a few extra months to talk your brother out of jumping off a cliff on a horse, you're gone.] Jack reignites a romance with his teenage sweetheart, Claire Emerson who has just inherited her family’s ranch outside of Omeche, [Omeche makes me think of Don Ameche, who hosted the Miss America pageant for years, which makes me think of the travesty of justice that occurred when Miss Arkansas finished second to Miss Nebraska in 2011. Thus I recommend putting the ranch outside the town of Omak, which only reminds me of a delicious Big Mac.] near the Chualpay reservation. He soon discovers that Claire is struggling to keep the ranch from being foreclosed upon by a mortgage company in Seattle – his company. Fruitlessly, he tries to help her, even jeopardizing his job in the process. [When you're trying to talk your boss into doing your girlfriend a favor, always bring him an assortment of fruit.] But eventually, in spite of her dislike for competition and lack of confidence, Claire’s only remaining option is to compete in the Suicide Race for the prize money. [I find it hard to believe the prize money in this event will cover more than one mortgage payment . . . unless it's being carried by ESPN and sponsored by Red Man chewing tobacco.]

A week before the race, Jack unwittingly causes his brother’s death. Besieged by guilt and sorrow, Jack must decide whether to remain in Omeche to honor his brother by riding in his brother’s stead [The least I can do after getting you killed is jump off a cliff on a horse.] and compete against the woman he loves or to return to Seattle and salvage what’s left of his hard-earned career.

In the end, Jack stays in Omeche to race. [Screw my career. I'm jumping off a cliff on a horse.] Claire wins the race, the prize money and saves her ranch, proving to herself that she is a strong, independent woman. [Jack finishes last, shames his brother's memory and gets fired, proving to himself that he is a pathetic loser.] [She won the race because she's strong and independent? Doesn't the horse get any credit?] Although Jack fails to win the race, he succeeds in honoring his people and securing Claire’s trust, admiration and love. [He wouldn't have secured her trust, admiration and love if he'd won the race and she'd lost the ranch.] [This is the way this story is supposed to go: Jack wins the race, gives Claire the prize money, and they live happily ever after, Claire having proven to herself that she needs a strong man to be happy.] [Or . . . Claire wins the race but Jack falls off his horse and gets trampled by twenty other horses and Claire loses her ranch because she uses the money to pay Jack's hospital bills and they live happily ever after on the reservation with Claire pushing quadriplegic Jack around in his wheelchair.]


Notes

Wouldn't it be easier for Jack to lend Claire the money she needs so that neither of them has to jump off a cliff on a horse? She won't even have to pay him back if she marries him.

Why is the race Claire's only option? Can't she sell off some cattle or horses to make her next payment? She was getting along without the ranch before she inherited it; if it's in that much debt, who needs it? Let 'em foreclose. Anyone who's planning to remember me in your will, I don't want anything that's in debt to the tune of half a million dollars.

Claire Emerson sounds like the name of someone whose only horseback riding experience was in dressage. And Jack hasn't been on a horse in ten years. The only good thing about both of them being in the race is that one of them won't finish last.

Is this a romance? What does Claire need Jack for? He should win the race (which she doesn't even enter). Then he gives her the cash. Meanwhile, he's been fired for being gone six months so she gives him a job roping steers. He becomes a rodeo star and makes millions and they live happily ever after. That way each of them contributes to the other's success. In the epilogue they buy the mortgage company and fire Jack's former boss.


18 comments:

150 said...

Your first paragraph hooked me. Everything else made me wonder if the book is kind of a mess. Easy to fix, though. I might come back and take a swing at it later.

Be sure to include word count rounded to the nearest thousand and genre.

150 said...

Uh, unless this is a synopsis and not a query letter, in which case I'm blowin' smoke and not to be trusted.

Khazar-khum said...

Not only is the Suicide Race a real thing, horses really do get killed doing it. Ironically, it's used to promote a local rodeo, and was started by a white man as an hommage of sorts to the old Indian endurance races.

Also, I would think that an employee of the mortgage holder could robo-sign her problems away.

Anonymous said...

The Suicide Race is well-known locally but not all over the world. I wouldn't describe the slope as a cliff. It is a very steep slope, but not really a cliff. Maybe you should mention what the race means and why people do it.

Mary said...

First time to your blog and I LOVE IT!!! As a writer, it's great to see how an editor thinks which will make me a better writer. PLUS, I love the humor!! Well done and I'll be back!

Anonymous said...

EE - You crack me up and you had my husband and daughter laughing hysterically -- especially the part about "at least only one of them will lose the race."

Everyone else - It is a synopsis which I submitted to the PNWA Literary Contest along with the first 20 pages under the Romance category. Although I don't like a lot of what I have read in that genre, I figured if I wrote really well and made it unusual, it might get picked up quicker.

As for Omak v. Omeche, I am not intending to document the Suicide race. It is purely fiction as I have taken liberties with some details such as the amount of prize money, etc.

Also, in the story, Jack drives over each weekend to help his brother. When it is a week before the race, they get in a heated argument and race horses. Jack falls and is pinned under his horse in the river. His brother, Jesse, saves him, but then drowns in the process.

I didn't know how to include all these details in a one-page synopsis.

Rashad Pharaon said...

Definitely agree that Jack should win, they fall in love, torch the ranch, get the insurance money, and move to Hawaii. Problem solved.

Ok ok. Jack should win, give her the money, and start a new life with her.

But then won't they need to race again to cover his court costs over his robo-signing? An idea of for a sequel.

sarahhawthorne said...

I'm surprised to see this is romance. From the synopsis, I thought the crucial relationship of the book was between Jack and his brother since, after all, it's the brother that draws Jack back to the reservation and the brother's death that motivates him to compete in the Suicide Race. The Jack/Claire romance seems more like a subplot that heightens the pressure on Jack, but doesn't really affect the main action of the novel.

AlaskaRavenclaw said...

There's still a Miss America contest? Huh. We live and learn.

"A week before the race, Jack unwittingly causes his brother’s death" is what's known in the journalism business as burying the lead. If I unwittingly caused my brother's death (though it sounds from your comment like you mean "unintentionally") that would probably be much more on my mind than anything else mentioned in your query, including a hawt rancher.

Interesting to know the Suicide Race is a real thing. Now I wonder if women really compete in it. Because I went to this rodeo on the Navajo Reservation one time? And the men's competitions consisted of getting thrown into the dirt at high speed by raging animals which then didn't go away, whereas the women's competition consisted of coming out on a horse and riding really fast around three barrels.

This led me to a perhaps unjustified conclusion that women are smarter than men.

But if women actually participate in this Suicide Race thing, then I'll rescind it.

And yeah, there're a lot of things I'd do about a foreclosure problem before I'd enter the Suicide Race. They include letting the foreclosure happen. It seems too contrived. She needs a better reason. It's an interesting premise but it needs to be believable-- as does the brother's death and-- well, everything. Everything needs to be logical and it needs to hang together.

Anonymous said...

Hopefully this is all told from the horse's point of view and then it will be clear who should really get the credit.

And then, as an added bonus, when they make a movie of it, Sarah Jessica Parker can narrate.

Evil Editor said...

I didn't know how to include all these details in a one-page synopsis.

One way is to get rid of some of the unimportant details. For instance, I don't need to know Lewis has been gone for a decade or that he's in town for a funeral or that his middle name is Sundown. Thus:

Jackson Lewis, a Chualpay Indian and successful businessman, reluctantly agrees to help his brother train for the Annual Suicide Race – a dangerous horse race down a 60 degree incline. The race is a tribal tradition.

This cuts your first paragraph in half. Note that I also took out crossing the river. Horses cross rivers in the movies all the time. It's about as dangerous as squirrels jumping from one tree to another.

You could work in that Jack is training his brother on weekends.

Also, you might to try writing a query focused on the romance. This feels like two separate stories, Jack's and then Claire's.

Rashad Pharaon said...

Maybe she has strong reasons not to let the property go into foreclosure which the author hasn't suggested in the synopsis, but might want to clarify. On a side note, I think a lot of people will also empathize with the foreclosure issue. It's affected so many people.

Wilkins MacQueen said...

I find it hard to believe the prize money is enough to save a ranch. Having said that, could the prize money buy her enough time to either sell the ranch or sell off a portion of it? It takes time to sever a chunk of land however. Could she work out a long term land lease/rental deal that will save the place?

Instead of ending it where you did you could raise the stakes where all is at risk due to an external event/crisis. Then carry on developing the story showing us what these two are really made of under some kind of extraordinary conditions.

I was hoping for a final complication for the pair to struggle with.

Look forward to the revision.

Wilkins MacQueen said...

I find it hard to believe the prize money is enough to save a ranch. Having said that, could the prize money buy her enough time to either sell the ranch or sell off a portion of it? It takes time to sever a chunk of land however. Could she work out a long term land lease/rental deal that will save the place?

Instead of ending it where you did you could raise the stakes where all is at risk due to an external event/crisis. Then carry on developing the story showing us what these two are really made of under some kind of extraordinary conditions.

I was hoping for a final complication for the pair to struggle with.

Look forward to the revision.

Wilkins MacQueen said...

I find it hard to believe the prize money is enough to save a ranch. Having said that, could the prize money buy her enough time to either sell the ranch or sell off a portion of it? It takes time to sever a chunk of land however. Could she work out a long term land lease/rental deal that will save the place?

Instead of ending it where you did you could raise the stakes where all is at risk due to an external event/crisis. Then carry on developing the story showing us what these two are really made of under some kind of extraordinary conditions.

I was hoping for a final complication for the pair to struggle with.

Look forward to the revision.

james said...

Dear EE,

Thanks for not posting everything I say. But then, I guess that's what really good editors do, when they know a scream needs to just fade away. Or, if my screams are only trash, thanks for ignoring them so that I my continue my illusions.

Sincerely,
James

Evil Editor said...

Presumably this is about a fake plot I didn't use. I try to limit it to five fakes. Apparently you're pleased I liked five others better than yours. Of course, it's easier to guess which is the correct plot if one or more of them was written by you.

Stacy Beauregard said...

This is absolutely interesting. I had no idea such horse races existed, or crazy enough people to participate in them. I like.