Thursday, November 07, 2013

Face-Lift 1167

Guess the Plot

The Borrowed Man

1. His neighbors have borrowed almost everything he owns- his lawnmower, his rake, his hedge clippers. Now one of them is "borrowing" his wife. Luckily there's one thing no one has borrowed yet: his Glock.

2. To make it home in time for dinner with his wealthy future mother-in-law, morgue attendant Ed Bomer nabs a John Doe so he can use the carpool lane during rush hour. Will he still get her blessing after she insists he set her up with the handsome fellow she spied riding shotgun?

3. Kelli and Kaci are mad for each other, and long for a child they can call their own. Unable to pay for in vitro, they search for a suitable donor. Surely, there must be one good candidate in Saskatchewan?

4. Seeking vengeance on the men who murdered him, Adam Rorke possesses his brother Tim's body and sets out to commit multiple murders of his own, using an electric saw. And now Tim must worry about being arrested for murder or killed by the murderers Adam hasn't gotten to yet.

5. Jackie will be damned if she's bringing her paunchy, unemployed, boorish husband to her 25th high school reunion. Especially not when her BFF's strapping son, Cord, is home for spring break. Jackie rocks her cougar status . . . until hubby gate-crashes. Hilarity ensues.

6. Voodoo practitioner Amanda Lively needs a date for her cousin's wedding, so she digs up a recently deceased male model -- suffocated in his own hairspray -- and reanimates him. He smells bad, he mumbles and he's a terrible dancer, but it's not until her pushy mother starts dragging him from table to table introducing him as Amanda's fiance that Amanda picks up a steak knife and wonders what other uses can she find for . . . The Borrowed Man.

7. Lady Kibbelford’s masquerade ball is the highlight of the autumn season. But her butler and several of her staff are down with the flu. She asks visiting Duke Sterreich, if she can borrow his main man. Due to mistranslation, she gets Sterreich’s Hungarian gardener.

Original Version

Dear Agent,

Tim Rorke's dead brother Adam has possessed him to avenge his own murder.

He knew how crazy that sounded. [To whom? Has he told someone this?] Maybe even crazier than killing a stranger at a train station with Adam's gun. And that's not even the worst thing he's done lately. He tried not to think of the circular saw and how those things really could cut through just about anything. [If you're talking about human flesh, that's probably a lot easier to cut through than anything a circular saw is normally used to cut through.] [Also, this paragraph would make more sense if we had already been told that Adam was killed by multiple people. As it is, it's not clear what the saw has to do with anything.] [Perhaps something like this would work better:

Tim Rorke's dead brother Adam has possessed him to avenge his own murder. Unfortunately, Adam was murdered by the entire Miami Heat basketball team. Putting a bullet in Dwyane Wade's head was easy enough, but killing LeBron James by cutting off his limbs with a circular saw was a bit over the top. Tim doesn't even want to think about what Adam has in store for the benchwarmers.]

Adam, who turned his back on Tim twenty years ago, has really dumped him in the shit now.

Even if Tim doesn't get arrested for multiple murders, Adam's killers are going to kill him. If not because he killed some of them, then for the money Adam stole from them - the money they now think Tim has. If he can find it, maybe he can make a deal. Maybe they'll let him live.

Though that doesn't [won't] help him with problem number three; [colon] what to do about [how to get rid of] Adam? [period]

The Borrowed Man is complete at 85,000 words.

Thank you for your time and consideration.


If you have no luck with this story, try writing one of the fake plots. They all sound like winners.

If Adam stole from these guys, they probably killed him because they wanted revenge. There should be a limit of one revenge killing per situation. Otherwise, after Adam gets revenge on the guys who got revenge on him, they may possess other people and seek more revenge on him.

It's not that bothersome that it's mostly setup, as the situation is interesting, but something about what Tim does (to find the money? to get rid of Adam?) might help us see where the story goes.

Speaking of which, in order to find the money, Tim needs control of his body. If he has control, why can't he stop Adam from committing the murders?


khazar-khum said...

How aware of Adam's presence is Tim, anyway? Does Adam pop up, making nasty comments? Do these get voiced out loud? That could have unfortunate consequences at inopportune times.

150 said...

Name your genre in your closing sentence, along with the word count.

The top thing I'm unsure of is why Tim thinks he is possessed by Adam, and this makes me nervous that the big reveal is that he's not, he's just delusional and committing all kinds of crime under his own power.

Notice that EE wrote this GIP as if Adam was the protagonist. He is, after all the one doing the protagging.

Mister Furkles said...

First, loved GTP # 2

On the query: try to tell it more from Tim’s POV. Use more specifics and fewer general comments. Thomas Tryon wrote “The Other” about two twins; one was evil—maybe EE’s uncle—and the other was good. It’s kind of like your story but about nine-year-olds. You need the reader to identify with Tim’s situation and not so much with Adam.

I’d leave the cordless circular saw out of the query. Have you tried to free hand one? It would seem awkward to me. Chain saws have a long chain arm in front. Tim, or Adam, would need to get very close to use circular saw on an active victim.

Veronica Rundell said...

Hi there, author!
I got all tripped up with this:
"Even if Tim doesn't get arrested for multiple murders, Adam's killers are going to kill him. If not because he killed some of them, then for the money Adam stole from them - the money they now think Tim has. If he can find it, maybe he can make a deal. Maybe they'll let him live."

See, I think there are too may 'ifs'
If Tim/Adam has been successfully killing Adam's killers, how many are left behind to hunt Tim down?

I also think the money is a lesser motivation than revenge when all your buddies are getting whacked and you're also on the list...

How dumb are criminals to bargain with a revenge killer? If this dude was coming after me to 'buy me off' I'd be super leary that his plans actually had me buying the farm. Not a chance I'd get within a time zone of him--no matter how much money he offered me...

To me this screams horror--which is not my cuppa, but those are the logic issues that tripped me up in the query. The premise sounds cool.
Best of luck.

Jo Antareau said...

This plot sounds like it might be better suited as a screenplay than a novel - and I mean that in a good way! There's a market for chainsaw/ circular saw slasher movies.

Horror isn't really my genre either, although I could see it working as a really black comedy (oops, my hand just picked up a saw and killed somebody...been happening a lot lately...sorry, buddy).

My nit pick is that I can't see how the pack of murderers would jump to the conclusion that Adam's estranged brother would be the guy entrusted with the treasure map. Surely Adam had a girlfriend/ wife/ accomplice/ therapist who might be better suited to hear where his stash is hidden? Or do they just think that Tim's protecting the loot by coming after them with an arsenal of sharpened power tools.

CavalierdeNuit said...

The query makes this feel a little thin, more like a novella than a novel, and where's the love interest? There must be a more noble reason for Tim/Adam's revenge than money or an untimely death. I'm not sure if including the word shit in your query is a good idea. It is a business letter after all.

I agree with Mr. Furkles about the circular saw. I imagine you'd have your victim tied up on a table or something for it to work. I think if someone was chasing me with a circular saw I'd just laugh.

SB said...

Yeah, I'm wondering about how Tim can do anything about this if he's possessed and not in control of his body. Is it off-and-on?

The biggest problem in this for me is the idea that if Tim could get the money, the bad guys would make a deal with him and just let him go. Considering he's already killed some of them, I can't imagine they wouldn't want him dead no matter what.

Belinda Rees said...

Hi, this is my query, thanks everyone for reading and giving some advice.

I think I need to start again with this. Maybe possessed is the wrong word. This is about the seventh query I've written for it, it just isn't working.

Tim doesn't know at first that Adam is using him, he just starts killing these men, doesn't know why and can't stop. He thinks he's either imagining he killed them and / or he's going crazy.

There are a couple of moments in the story where Adam does take complete control of him, but it's after Tim knows what's really going on.

The stuff you guys questioned does, I think, make sense in the story, maybe it's just not right for the query.

Thanks again, you've given me lots to think about.

AA said...

Hi, Belinda.

Now that you put it that way, it makes more sense. Hope you re-write and post here. Maybe you can start with how Tim doesn't know what's happening at first. At least it makes it clearer.

Belinda Rees said...


I've had a few more goes at a query for this one, any advice is appreciated (good advice preferably hehe). I think this one is better, definitely has more of the story, and from Tim's point of view. Not sure my bio line is worth including though...

Dear Agent,

Tim Rorke hasn't been himself lately, though he's not sure who he has been. Whoever it is, he's not a nice guy. When Tim kills a man at a train station with his dead brother Adam's gun, he tries to pretend he imagined it. But three more murders are harder to ignore. Then he discovers the men he targets all have one thing in common: they killed Adam.

When Tim meets Seren, the psychic sister of his next target, she tells him something that explains everything, even the way he seems to know the men he kills. As crazy as it sounds, Tim knows it's true: Adam is the reason he hasn't been himself.

Tim lost any interest in life years ago. He's been living on autopilot, programmed only to go to work and watch TV. Now Adam is at the controls, re-programming him for revenge. It's clear Adam has a plan: kill the men who killed him, and bring down their criminal operation - the one he helped them build.

Now the killers think Tim has the money Adam stole from them. Tim's agreed to meet them, and to hand it over, now all he has to do is find it. Of course, if they've discovered he's the one who's been killing them then he's not walking into a deal, he's walking into a trap. Too late he realises it's Adam's trap, just to get them together so he can finish it once and for all. Unfortunately Adam doesn't seem to care if Tim lives or dies.

Tim's just hoping he can survive long enough to figure out how to get rid of Adam and sail off into the sunset with Seren. Piece of cake.

THE BORROWED MAN is a horror, complete at 80,000 words.

I'm an Australian currently living in New Zealand. I've previously had short stories published in various online magazines.

Thanks for your time and consideration.

Evil Editor said...

I would dump paragraphs 2 and 5.

P4: Period after "hand it over." And finish: Too late he realises it's Adam's trap--and Adam doesn't care if Tim lives or dies.

I'd call this a thriller rather than horror.

Chicory said...

I'm not crazy about paragraph three. It makes your hero sound extremely passive, which I know is the point, but it also makes him unsympathetic (to me, at least. I can't speak for anyone else on this point.) Glad you've given the query another go! Good luck on this round. :)

Kelsey said...

Yeah - you're repeating several times that the MC isn't himself, Adam's in control, etc. Say it once, in as strong and clear a manner as you can, and leave it at that.

Is there an exciting or likeable feature to Tim that makes the reader really care about him? If there is, show that in the query. Right now it sounds like the only reason we're sympathetic to Tim is because he's compared to his nasty brother Adam. Which isn't enough to sustain a whole novel, in my opinion.

Best of luck!