Monday, March 11, 2013
Guess the Plot
Jack and Jill and the Talking Lizard
1. Jack and Jill went up the hill to fetch a pail of water. But Jack fell down and cracked his cranium and now he sees an invisible talking lizard wherever he goes. Crazy bastard. Also, a villainous were-poodle.
2. The true story of what happened that fateful day on the grassy knoll. Spoiler: Jill was pushed.
3. Jill and Jack are gnome twins, eager to explore the world beyond their toadstool. But soon they're caught by the mean old raven who lives in the pines. Also, a talking lizard. Illustrated by the author!
4. Investigative reporter Jack refuses to name his source, "the talking lizard" after he breaks a story about a colony descended from aliens inhabiting a remote island. Jill, CIA assassin, needs to silence Jack before he finds out about the psychic weaponry the aliens are building with the government.
5. Jill and Jack graduate one-two from Boyd Law in Vegas and are hired by Delenio and Lizardo PLLC. Tacito Lizardo (aka Talking Lizard) takes them under his wing. Soon, they realize Delenio and Lizardo are into real estate fraud, money laundering, and the Mafia. They steal evidence for the Feds. But their FBI contact sells them out. They narrowly escape a car bomb and must run for their lives. Also, a plethora of hot sex.
6. Jill is an out of work barista with an unfinished degree in the Theory of Art. Jack spends his time in an inner city middle school classroom, ducking before the rubber band or a stray bullet can hit him in the head. A week after they fall in love, Jill is in a car accident and in a coma and a talking lizard named Fred appears in Jack's bathroom and tells him he must go to Hades to rescue Jill's soul (which looks like a jellyfish).
Dear Evil Editor,
Jill Jenkins is an out of work barista with 100,000 in student loans for her unfinished graduate degree in the Theory of Art from the University of Louisiana. She lives alone with her cat and wonders what the heck she's going to do with herself when she isn't avoiding this question for the thirtieth year by spending hours re-reading Kurt Vonnegut and P.G. Wodehouse while devouring cherry-filled chocolates. The question is answered for her after she falls in love at first sight with the man next door, a thirty-year old middle school teacher named Jack.
Jack, a cautious man who spends most of his time in an inner city middle school classroom trying to make himself heard above a din, a man who has learned to duck before the rubber band or wad of paper can hit him in the head, is new to the experience of "love at first sight" and has doubts. So when a week after meeting and falling in love, Jill is in a car accident and in a coma and a day later a talking lizard, Fred, appears in Jack's bathroom and tells him that he must go to Hades to rescue Jill's soul (it's stored in a jar and looks like a jellyfish), Jack hesitates.
Jill's accident left her in a coma [We know.] and split her spirit into fragments. Jill's body is in hospital, but her two largest spiritual fragments are Shadow Jill and Jill and they can move around. Athena, Jill's fairy godmother, who has been derelict in her duties until now, flips a coin and chooses to rescue Jill over Shadow Jill. Athena uses her retirement money to send Jill to a spiritual boot camp to help Jill to find a profession and learn how to clean. Athena will put a good word in for Jill with the Creator, and try to get Jill her life back if Jill finds herself a profession. Ironically, Jill decides to start a cleaning business and forms a partnership with some cleaning angels. Meanwhile, Shadow Jill, alone, uncomfortable, and semi-transparent is convinced by Fred that to return to life a living person must get her soul back from Hades.
Shadow Jill appears in Jack's apartment a week after the accident and begs Jack to rescue her soul. Jack waffles. Then, an angel appears the day after and persuades Jack to follow his heart, rather than his judgment. Jack, unlikely hero, follows the lizard and Shadow Jill through the inner city entrance to Hades.
Jack successfully battles underground locusts and arrives at the final barrier to Hades, the River Styxx. Charon ferries the three across, but ShadowJill finds herself irresistibly drawn to the waters and dives in. When they arrive on shore, Fred devours Jack's soul, which is vulnerable in the "land of the dead". Fred is really a scheming fallen angel, and uses the energy of Jack's soul to purchase an enormous amount of beer for his Fallen Angel's Beer Pub. Jack's body is left trapped on the shore. This purchase triggers a soul alert, as Fred is on the "Most-wanted Angels" List, and Athena is notified within a few weeks of Jack's unfortunate fate.
Athena tells Jill the sad news about Jack. Athena lets Jill know that Jack was dumb to trust a talking lizard, and that after all, Jill's soul is safely in her (Athena's) cupboard. Athena also tells Jill that Jill can do nothing for Jack and that if Jill leaves the boot camp, she won't be brought back to life. Jill, appalled, acts the part of the hero. Her "true love" for Jack gets her the help of the Angel Dostoevsky, who has the power to re-grow souls and fly into Hades. John is saved, [John?] and Jill is brought back to life by the Creator because she was heroic (and she has a successful cleaning business which the Creator approves of as it brings order into the Universe).
Jack and Jill live happily together with the cat. Jill's cleaning company enables her to pay her student loans, and Jill begins a line of cleaning products for graduate students. Jack continues to teach sixth graders. Athena visits for tea every once in a while.
Jill and Jack and the Talking Lizard is 50,000 words and magical realism.
Thank you for reading this.
Sorry, it's been done.
This is more entertaining than the average synopsis, but if it's a query letter it's way too long. It starts to feel like a list of all the funny parts, except when they come so close together the book sounds like a string of absurdities rather than the respected genre of magic realism.
Usually I complain if a query is all setup, but here I might recommend just going with the first two paragraphs, and maybe tack on a short paragraph that basically says, And that's when things start to really get interesting. Working in the fact that Fred is actually a villain is okay, but the Jill/ShadowJill bit doesn't excite me, and adding Athena and Doestoevsky just gives us more characters to keep track of.
With a James Patterson bestseller and an Adam Sandler bomb, the title Jack and Jill has gotten a lot of play recently. Did you choose those names because it's your favorite nursery rhyme? Seems like it should be Jack in the coma, as he's the one who broke his crown.