Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Face-Lift 1006

Guess the Plot

Band Geeks and Football Freaks

1. ...and 20,000 other lyrics that some conscientious editor omitted from Don McLean's original version of the song "American Pie."

2. Twins Kelly and Shelly make a pact to save themselves for marriage. Then they discover their parents are swingers, and make a new pact. Kelly, a cheerleader, will do the guys on the football squad and Shelly, a majorette, will do the guys in band. The one who does the most by homecoming wins.

3. In a last-ditch attempt to garner publicity for his ailing campaign, Newt Gingrinch takes the advice of his campaign manager’s 12-year old daughter and orders new uniforms for the team.

4. High school has been divided into factions since forever. Now Janie, a vampire, and her best friend Lisa, a soft-spoken mummy, plan to change all that. Hilarity ensues.

5. Quarterback Quinn launches a hazing campaign against tuba-tooting Terrance when the musician begins dating his ex. But Quinn has forgotten one thing: no matter how big he and his teammates are, they are outnumbered. When the brass and drum sections rally to Terrance’s aid, Quinn and his cronies learn they aren’t the only uniforms on the field.

6. Band member Simon develops the ability to see the result of the next football play before it happens. The coach rips him from the band and makes him his assistant. With Simon calling the plays, the team starts winning and he's in the popular crowd. But what about his upcoming music audition? And his geeky friends in band?

Original Version

Dear Evil Editor,

At Wilmington High School’s football home opener, Simon Turner is standing on the sidelines, anxiously waiting to perform at halftime. [Make it the Super Bowl and Tina Turner, and I'm hooked.] After all, aren’t the fans there to see the marching band? Unfortunately, an overthrown pass hits him on the head, knocking him out cold. When he comes to he has a nasty-looking bruise, along with something else – [A lawsuit against the city.] the ability to see the next play of the game before it happens. At first he only uses his talent to make money off of the drumline by betting how many yards the Wildcats will gain (or more often than not, lose) each play. But when Coach “Mad Dog” Miller gets wind of Simon’s new talent, it isn’t long before Simon is ripped from the pep band and transplanted to the sideline to become the football team’s new “student assistant.” If only Simon knew the difference between a quarterback and a wide receiver...

With some intense study sessions, he learns enough about football to help call the plays. To everyone’s surprise, especially Coach Miller’s, the Wildcats actually start winning. But Simon is spending so much time helping the football team [cheat], he hasn’t been practicing for his scholarship audition, and he hasn’t talked to his band friends in weeks. He’s spending every free minute outside of school with the popular crowd, who considers [consider] him Wilmington’s good luck charm and best shot at finally advancing past districts.

When Simon realizes calling the play to win state will result in one of the players suffering a career-ending injury, he’ll have to decide if he wants to lead the Wildcats to victory …or go back to being a band geek. [You've switched the main conflict from popularity vs. his future to popularity vs. some other guy's future. I like it better without this paragraph. This new conflict implies that every single play Simon could possibly call will result in a loss or a career-ending injury. Also, he could turn the decision over to the player who'll be injured and ask if he wants to win that badly. And then the kid says, Hell no, I wanna play college football, but then the coach steps in and says You'll never make it as a college football player, and this may be the only chance we ever have of winning the state championship, even if we are cheating to do it.] [The point is, none of this even comes up if we leave this paragraph out of the query.]

BAND GEEKS AND FOOTBALL FREAKS is a 60,000 word YA novel.

Thank you for your time and consideration.


The query is clear and straightforward, but it's not grabbing me, possibly because the first paragraph is wordy. Here it is with about 50 words deleted:

At Wilmington High’s football home opener, trombonist Simon Turner is on the sidelines waiting to perform at halftime when an overthrown pass hits him on the head, knocking him out cold. When he comes to, he has a nasty-looking bruise – along with the ability to see the next play of the game before it happens!

When Coach “Mad Dog” Miller gets wind of Simon’s new talent, it isn’t long before Simon is ripped from the pep band and transplanted to the sideline as the football team’s new “student assistant.” If only Simon knew the difference between a linebacker and a protractor...

Also, while I know football and band are high school activities, this strikes me as something middle graders would find more entertaining. YA is all sex and murdering each other these days.


150 said...

I'd change the title to avoid inevitable comparisons to Freaks & Geeks, but this sounds solid.

khazar-khum said...

I like the idea. But the name needs to change, because, like 150 says, it's going to get compared to a TV show that died before your readers were born.

kbradley67 said...

Sounds amusing, but it is a bit wordy. EE cut it down nicely. I'd also recommend changing the title. Maybe...Band Geek turned Football Freak, cuz he is kind of a freak now.

BuffySquirrel said...

I don't even see why the MC cares about this, never mind why I should. Wasn't he popular with his band friends? What's so extra shiny about these new friends? Why should I care who wins state?

Evil Editor said...

The cool kids care about football. You want people to think YOU'RE cool.

Anonymous said...

::sighs:: I was in a foul mood tonight and wanted nothing but to come on here and blast someone's query to make myself feel better.. alas, this one is pretty darn good, imho.

I like this story and I liked the title because it was catchy. I agree it's too wordy, I've read it's best to shoot for 250 words. The power or zing of a good pitch is lost in too much wordage.
This is a great storyline but don't explain too much to me. The point of a query is to interest, entice and hook an agent to want to find out more.
While the main plot is good I'd love to see some additional info in place of the extra wordage pertaining to the sub plots, the twists, the conflict that leads from this main plot. It would round out your story and could, I think, push an agent from "eh" to "request pages".

Good luck! I really think you're on the right track!

BuffySquirrel said...

Dude, I'm named after a character in an iconic novel. How much more cool could I BE?

AlaskaRavenclaw said...

This was a good query and has a good storyline. The problem is audience.

If it's YA, then alas, Studies Have Shown the entire male YA novel-reading population of the U.S. could fit comfortably into a standard-issue English classroom.

And while girls can certainly get interested in books with male protags, I'm not sure they can get interested in books with male protags whose goal is to help out the football team.

So I'm thinking you'll find more audience for this if you go middle grade.

However, I don't think that's a huge issue. I've managed to sell agents and editors on middle grade manuscripts I insisted were YA. They don't mind that we don't know any better.

AlaskaRavenclaw said...

BuffySquirrel, I assumed you were named after Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

BuffySquirrel said...

Ah, many have fallen into that error, Alaska.

Alice Witten said...

Author here - Thanks so much EE and minions for the comments/suggestions! They really helped me see what I need to change and where I need to focus to hook an agent. Thanks again!

miles zarathustra said...

Cracking up at EE's summary of YA.

When I was a teenager, I was reading Heinlein, Niven, Bradbury, Clarke &c. but I suppose I was unusual.

Actually, our elementary school had a great collection of early Heinlein, as I recall. (it's now closed, and there is a housing development in its place)

As for the query, I suppose it's a good plot for people who like sports, (not me) so long as they get plenty of home runs.

The thing that bugs me about it is, if this guy can see the future, but he's influencing the future he sees, then which future is he actually seeing? One that never exists?

It's not like the guy who can predict the stock market, and thus makes a ton of money buying google. One isn't likely to alter the stock market results by predicting them.

If I were writing it, this effect of altering the future by seeing the future would play a subtle role in the MC's slowly losing his sanity, grip on reality, or something like that.

Think 'Lathe of Heaven.'