Wednesday, August 28, 2013
Guess the Plot
Please Laugh at My Funeral
1. Oh, I will. Believe me, I will.
2. Two years into clown college, Balletina still can't fashion a balloon poodle. Desperate to ace Sight Gags 101, she plans the biggest prank ever. Unfortunately, she tapped the hydrogen tank, instead of helium. Also, angels.
3. Steve plans to kill himself, but to give the people who attend his funeral some hilarious stories to tell about him, he puts off his suicide for a month and does crazy stuff involving homeless guys and penguins.
4. After decades of failure, would-be comedian Eddy Marsh has taken his own life. Five comedians are invited to the wake - only to discover that Eddy has left a few last practical jokes. Deadly jokes.
5. When Crenshaw Comedy Club regular Mickey Mass is found dead holding a suicide note that reads "Please laugh at my funeral," homicide detective Zack Martinez knows two things. One, Mickey wouldn't have killed himself right before filming his HBO special. And two, he would never have signed his suicide note "Bonzo The Clown."
6. Manfred is immortal, bloodthirsty, and unashamed, but he wants humans to know he has a soul too. He forms a folk band with a clever name (Please Laugh at my Funeral), but how can he resist biting his adorable bandmates?
7. John is dying. Not in the figurative way that living creatures are dying, but with a brain tumor. Considered the most morose man in the world, John's tumor has tickled his funny bone. After leaving his jobs at the sewer plant and the crematory he started a career in standup comedy. Now, he has one last gig before he slays everyone at the funeral parlor. They will die laughing.
Steve is going to kill himself in 30 days. [There has to be a faster way.]
“Please Laugh at my Funeral” is a modern fiction, complete at 51,000 words, [If you put this at the beginning or the end instead of right after you've gotten my attention, you won't have to worry that I'll forget all about ... Whatshisname.] where each chapter is one day in Steve’s life as he desperately tries to ‘feel alive’ before he ends it all. [Usually it's people who desperately want to not feel alive who kill themselves.]
To do this he breaks into the penguin enclosure at the zoo, [That won't make him feel alive; it'll make him feel like an idiot, especially when his friends read the news report.] tries drugs for the first time, [It's better the 2nd time.] blackmails his former boss, [He should kill his former boss. If you're gonna kill yourself, you don't need money. You need the satisfaction of taking someone with you.] sleeps in a homeless commune, [Sleeping with Penelope Cruz would be more life-affirming.] explores religion, [Preferably not one that says eternity in a burning lake is the penalty for suicide.] love, death [He explores death?] and more. [Basically, he's put off his bucket list so long that he has to cram it all into one month, but in his case it's not because his doctor gave him one month to live; it's because he gave it to himself.] [In any case, the key word is "list." Lists are boring, and the longer the list the more boring it gets. This list seems to be a three-word summary of each chapter. Perhaps something like: "To do this he becomes a thrill-seeker (he skydives on meth), a criminal (he kidnaps a penguin and kills a homeless guy), and finally . . . a philosopher." . . .would satisfy your need to list stuff while more quickly moving us along to day 30, when something actually happens.]
It all starts to catch up to him as the police begin searching for him and a cult like group called ‘Live with Steve’ start obsessing over his plan. [This cult is the most interesting part of the story. Get rid of the police and expand on the cult (in the book too, if necessary). How do they know about his "plan." Is he blogging his way through the month? Are they eagerly anticipating his death or trying to stop him? Does he meet with them? Are they in most of the chapters or just the last few?]
I have written for magazines, newspapers and have written full time for broadcasting companies (including both television and radio.) [I wouldn't call that a biography, but the good news is it was quick.]
Some Publishing Credits: [What's with this sudden trend of labeling the parts of a query letter? I half-expect the next query to start Salutation: Dear Agent,]
Peace River Broadcasting
[If you have credits that are relevant (published fiction), stick with those. And limit your list to two or three items. Also, listing vertically doesn't make the query seem longer. It just highlights the white space to the right of the list.]
Is Steve killing himself in 30 days even if his attempt to "feel alive" succeeds? If so, why? If not, then he could change his mind after day 1? For instance, if he goes on the Spiderman ride at Islands of Adventure on day 1, he could develop a renewed will to live. Or if he goes on It's a Small World at Disney World he could off himself before the ride ends. What I'm saying is, Is his goal to find a reason to live or is it to feel alive as much as possible in the 30 days before he kills himself?
Is calling this "a modern fiction" a way of avoiding the criticism that it doesn't hold together as a novel? If there's a logical progression through the 30 days, with Steve learning something about life and himself, tell us about it. If the first 25 days/chapters could be rearranged in any order, it's not a cohesive story.
Once you cut the bio/credits to a couple sentences you'll have plenty of room to tell us what happens in your book, focusing on Steve's character arc rather than listing stuff he does.