Friday, May 18, 2012

Face-Lift 1029

Guess the Plot

Don't Date a Bro

1. In the grim darkness of the future, an attempt to carbon-date the last member of the Sigma Epsilon Chi fraternity goes horribly awry, loosing a horde of dread demons upon the world.

2. Number seven in Leon "Ladies' Man" Phelps's advice series: Dating Rules for Straight Bros.

3. Gayree Gayun goes gargantuan when looking for love by way of the newly developed Random Reality Transcendentalizer. That's when he learns, the hard way, that bro isn't a condensed form of the word brother ... in Brontosaurus Land.

4. When Leila realizes after three months of dating Jackson that he's an alcoholic, sexist, belligerant, narcissistic asshole (aka a bro), she decides to dump him. But is her new boyfriend a step up or a step down?

5. This rhyming picture book explains the hazards of incest with cheerful, upbeat color illustrations.

6. When the body of Z-list actor/singer/dancer/model Chad Hunkley (real name:Ralph Snodgrass) turns up in the dumpster outside a gay bar in Northridge, detective Zack Martinez knows two things. One, this kid is a looong way from Oskaloosa, and two, the frat boys at CSUN are getting a little too randy.

Original Version

Dear _________,

Thank you for taking the time to consider my work. Don't Date a Bro; is a 47,000 word young adult novel that follows the sarcastic and slightly awkward Leila Jayne, an acclaimed soccer player and GPA whiz, who realizes after dating her popular baseball player boyfriend for three months that she is dating a Bro. [To aid those unfamiliar with the term "bro," I've spent a few hours on Urban Dictionary and Google compiling traits of a bro: An alpha male idiot. White, 16-25, inarticulate, belligerent, talks about nothing but chicks and beer, drives a jacked up truck that’s plastered with stickers, lives off his rich parents, constantly uses the word "chill" (as a noun, verb or adjective), wears wife beaters or no shirt, constantly smokes weed and drinks and parties with his fellow bros, so sexist you'd think he's exaggerating normal sexist guys to be satirical except he's not being satirical, he's that sexist, thinks women are good for nothing except making sandwiches for bros and providing bros with "dome," which is oral sex; for instance, a bro might brag, "Today I was getting road dome from a chick and her parents gave me a dirty look from the back seat but I told them it was chill."] [Also, dating a guy for three months and then realizing he's a bro is like taking three months to realize you're dating a warthog.] The problem is that she's not exactly the Bro type - she hates parties, likes to read, and enjoys "me" time - but has been faking it to fit in. To add insult to injury, her best friend has abandoned her for spending too much time with her boyfriend Jackson.

When Jackson's not be as interested in her as when they first started dating, [Suddenly you're talking like a bro.] Leila thinks it's because of her Catholic guilt and her desire to not want to have sex with him anymore. [That would do it. Also, I'm guessing she's refusing to make him sandwiches. Or to chill.] It isn't until [a] new senior boy arrives at her Catholic prep school who actually interests her – an atheist, an intellectual, [If this atheist is so intellectual, why can't he find a school that's not affiliated with a religion?] and a self-proclaimed loner – [A self-proclaimed loner is several steps up from a bro, but can't she find a boy who actually wants her around?] that Leila embraces what makes her unique and accepts that she must  break up with her boyfriend. And when they kiss one night, even though she's still dating her Jackson, [Actually, she's dating his Johnson. That's the way it works with bros.] she has to make things right, come clean, [chill,] and ditch the Bro for the guy nobody seems to notice.

Thanks again for considering my novel, and please feel free to contact me if you would like to see more from me.



The whole plot is: girl realizes she's dating a bro, and decides she'd be better off with the new kid in town? Where's the conflict? Dumping a bro is an obvious choice if you have any self-respect. Most women would dump a bro faster than they'd dump a serial killer. In fact, consider making the new kid a known serial killer, so that when Jackson gets dumped for him, it's a bigger blow.

This is all setup. We know Leila Jayne's situation. Now we want to know what she does about it and what goes wrong, and what she does about that. Does Jackson do anything when Leila breaks it off? Besides chill? Give us a reason to care about Leila. If you have an interesting story, show us.


BuffySquirrel said...

It's a cute moment in Truth About Cats and Dogs when the Uma Thurman character realises her boyfriend is a loser. But it's not a moment that's expected to carry the whole film.

Usually tension in these situations comes from the woman being madly in love with the wrong guy and unable to see the attractions of the right guy. Here you have someone who's reached that point when the book starts. So...where's the tension going to come from? How can people root for Leila to spot boyfriend is a bro and choose the bright boy instead if she's already pretty much done that?

Also, if her Catholic guilt didn't stop her having sex with him initially, why should she believe it's turned her off it later? The bro's supposed to be the stupid one.

AlaskaRavenclaw said...

Yeah, I agree. Choosing between a guy who's not right for you and a guy who is? It's like choosing between an ice cream cone and a broken arm. I'll take the ice cream, thanks; next question?

But I'm actually more concerned about the grammatical and punctuation errors. Don't know why EE didn't mention them. Triage?

Evil Editor said...

I rarely mention every little error I spot, especially if I feel the query will be rewritten to the extent that the sentences they're in will be gone. In this case I noted one problem by saying "Suddenly you're talking like a bro," and another by adding the word "a."

Delete the semicolon after Bro. Put a hyphen after 47,000. Rewrite and resubmit.

BuffySquirrel said...

See, Alaska, for years I too thought this was EE's day job. But apparently he moonlights in publishing. Must take up a lot of his time.

Rachel6 said...

I kinda feel like you summed up your entire story with the title. That's a bad thing.

And hey, does anything happen with the best friend? Maybe the friend introduces her to the new guy, maybe the friend helps her see why she should dump Jackson? You mention her briefly at the end of the first paragraph, and then never again, so I'm a little curious. :)

khazar-khum said...

If there's one thing I'm tired of seeing, it's the "Atheist=Intellectual" meme.

Richard Dawkins, biggest proponent of that, is a mysogynistic jackass; Hawkings is right there with him. That's not a good thing.

Unless, of course, Leila intends to challenge him on it. That would add an interesting dimension to their story, possibly making it deeper.

AlaskaRavenclaw said...

Buffy, reluctant as I am to waste time replying to you: What I was actually thinking was that if the query had these kinds of errors, the manuscript probably did too.

(That's it for May. We'll talk again in June.)

BuffySquirrel said...

Dawkins gives atheists a bad name. I cringe whenever he's mentioned.

However, according to the New Scientist, analytical thinking really does weaken religious belief. So, yanno, la.

Golfball said...

The Bro needs amping up, he needs to become a crazy psycho-stalker after protag dumps him, big fangs and sucking protag's (or protag's new squeeze) life energy are strictly optional.

And then you'll have conflict, you have something going wrong.

BuffySquirrel said...

Ok, hon, I'll pencil you in for July.

Chelsea Pitcher said...

I didn't get atheist=intellectual here, but I think the problem is we're not told why the atheism is relevant. Do Jackson's religious beliefs contribute to his bro-ness? If we understand that, I think we'll better understand why New Boy's atheism is appealing.

Is there a story besides Leila ditching the wrong guy for the right guy? If there is, I'd love to see it come through in the query. There's some interesting stuff here, but I'm definitely getting the vibe that Leila defines herself in terms of who she's dating, which doesn't work for me personally.

I'd love to see the rewrite :)

AA said...

If this was adult literary fiction, I wouldn't consider the premise too thin. I'd assume a lot of soul-searching, flashbacks, and possible experimentation with sexual orientation.

But in a YA fiction, stuff's basically gotta happen. Stuff's not really happening here. I'm assuming stuff does and you've just left it out.

I'm concerned about the quality of writing, even sans typos. For instance: "It isn't until [a] new senior boy arrives at her Catholic prep school who actually interests her – an atheist, an intellectual, and a self-proclaimed loner - that Leila embraces what makes her unique and accepts that she must break up with her boyfriend."

Besides sounding like the start of a joke (An atheist, an intellectual and a self-proclaimed loner walk into a bar...) it's just one blamed awkward sentence.

If you remove the interruption you've now got two phrases that could come out completely: "It isn't until a new senior boy arrives (at her Catholic prep school) (who actually interests her) that Leila embraces what makes her unique and accepts that she must break up with her boyfriend."

...and on top of that you've got that list clause. When you're cobbling together sentences from phrases and clauses you need to sit back, take a deep breath, and ask yourself,"What am I trying to say?" and "What is the most straightforward way of saying that?"

Consider: "The problem is that she's not exactly the Bro type - she hates parties, likes to read, and enjoys 'me' time -" Well, you've lied. The problem isn't "she's not EXACTLY" the bro type. The problem is she's NOT AT ALL the bro type. She is the opposite.

And this: "her desire to not want to have sex with him anymore" is confusing. At first I read it as "her desire not to have sex with him" but that didn't seem right. It doesn't seem right this way, either. It's the "to not want to have" that ruins it. If what you're trying to saying is "She wishes she didn't want to have sex with him anymore," then just say that.

I think you need to clear your mind and stop trying to be writerly. Then rewrite this as if you were describing the plot to a friend. Polish that up a little bit and you'll probably have it.

Dave Fragments said...

I might be closer to kids than others because there are three kids I "listen" to -- boy 17, girl 15, and girl 10 -- and DATING and all that ANGST is not a small thing in their lives.

There is no way this is too thin because each of these kids has dating in their mind. Teens reading about teen angst is a big deal.

Girls getting involved with boys who are not their types or not good for them is definitely the problem. I saw that with these three kids parents and I see it again with the children.

Fix the words of the query because dating and sex is like, about the most important thing, yanno, like, in their life. Except when adults ask, then it's whatever.

AA said...

I have no doubt you're right about teens, Dave. The problem is that this is a story, not real life, and in order for a story to carry an entire book there must be some type of central conflict or important decision.

This is the story I get out of this: Teen is dating wrong guy. Teen realizes this. Luckily, there's a new guy who's perfect for teen. There is no really important obstacle to them getting together, so they do. The end.

I'm assuming there's more to it than that.