Tuesday, January 08, 2013
Guess the Plot
1. Vampire private eye McKinley Quinn is hot on the trail of a circle of illegal blood smugglers when
2. Dear Evil Editor: I want you to sell my new bestselling niovel that will crush Rowlings and Grisham and Mayer and the books by that guy who writes about Frodo. It's not finishde but I tell you ikjts the best book ever!!!!
3. In a desperate effort to win her school's Fall Princess competition, Lauren sells her soul to Esme the Demonic Lunch Lady in return for popularity. Turns out she's too popular, and wants out of the deal, but Esme has already listed the soul at an online auction site. Can Lauren win it back, or will she always be . . . incomplete?
4. A mysterious thief has stolen a single piece from every jigsaw in Tina's Toy Emporium. If Tina can't track down the thief and find the missing pieces, all the jigsaws will remain . . . incomplete.
5. Distracted with boy troubles in her senior year, 18-year-old Taylor Tyson takes an "incomplete" in biology. She can't graduate. She can't go to college. None of that bothers her . . . until she dies and an angel tells her that until she hands in those missing lab reports, she can't pass on to the afterlife.
6. Ever since the carnival fortune teller showed her the picture of her future spouse, Jennie McArny has been looking for him. But based on the picture, he's from the 1800s. Will she ever find this mysterious time traveler, or will she always be . . . incomplete?
Dear [ ]:
Lauren Faustino's life is a living hell, which is why she sells her soul.
Her parents fight all the time. The alpha girl at school torments her. She's an excellent student but a washout in the popularity game, the only high school competition that matters. If Lauren wins Fall Formal Princess, then maybe she'll get some respect, but her chances are slim without a powerful boost. That's why she makes a deal with Esme the demonic lunch lady, who is also a distributor for Brimstone International, Purveyor of Fine Supernatural Products.
Irresistible attractiveness is fun for a while, but Lauren soon discovers the down side. While dodging stalkers, jealous classmates and a hostile Dean of Girls, she also manages to alienate TJ, her one true friend. She tries to return her purchase for a full refund and learns that all sales are final. [It was in the fine print.] Matters go from bad to worse when her soul winds up on iMart, an internet auction site.
[I would edit those three paragraphs into something a bit tighter, perhaps like this:
Lauren's Faustino's life is a living hell. Her parents fight all the time; the alpha girl at school torments her; and she's a washout in the social game, the only high school competition that matters. If Lauren could win Fall Formal Princess, then maybe she'd get some respect, but fat chance of that . . . until she sells her soul to Esme the Demonic Lunch Lady in return for a turbo-boost in popularity.
Irresistible attractiveness is fun for a while, but Lauren soon discovers the downside. While dodging stalkers, jealous classmates and a hostile Dean of Girls, she also manages to alienate TJ, her one true friend. She tries to return her purchase for a full refund, but her soul has already been listed on iMart, an Internet auction site.]
There's also the problem of her dad, a shady businessman who may have conned the whole town. The detectives sniffing around the Faustino house think so. Lauren is determined to crack the case herself, even if the answers destroy her comfortable suburban life. [Is this a subplot or the main story? Is there a connection between the two "plots"? Like maybe Lauren was already trying to clear her father or make amends to the townspeople, but now that she's soulless she couldn't care less that dad's in trouble or that the town got conned?]
Please consider my 83,000-word novel, Incomplete. [Is that the title or the current condition?] It's Faust meets Nancy Drew—with cast of crooks, posers and a savvy little monkey named Dante.
I'm the author of Snake Oil, Hustlers and Hambones: The American Medicine Show (McFarland, 2000) and High School Prom: Marketing, Morals and the American Teen (McFarland, 2012). [Change the word "Prom" to "Porn," and I think you've got a winner.] I'm currently marketing the prom book online and in personal appearances.
I've also written dozens of magazine articles, columns, essays and literary journal pieces. Publications include Health, Prevention, Stage Directions, Eclectica and Ms. Fitness. I wrote several study guides for the Center Theatre Group for use in Los Angeles high schools. I have an MFA in creative writing from Antioch University. [This paragraph isn't needed; one paragraph is sufficient as credits, and the previous one is more impressive.]
I’m querying you, Ms./Mr. [personal note here]. Thank you for your time and attention.
If the main plot is getting her soul back, the query can do without dad. Focus on Lauren's plan to regain her soul, which I assume involves bidding on it, getting outbid, finding whoever bought it, etc.
If the main plot is the mystery, cut back a bit on the soul aspect (without losing the demonic lunch lady, of course) and focus on how dad supposedly conned everyone and on how Lauren plans to clear him.
If you consider both plots "main," show the connection.
You can probably get away with the names "Faustino" and "Dante" because the plot is over the top to begin with, but it seems somewhat gimmicky, and probably isn't adding anything.