Thursday, June 05, 2014

Face-Lift 1203

Guess the Plot

The Art of Blending In

1. A Vita-Mix cookbook for the serial killer in us all. Hilarity ensues.

2. Misfit Leland just doesn't fit in with the popular crowd. Adam tries to help him blend in, but Leland likes his individuality. Somehow these opposites develop a friendship that lasts long after they both want want it to end.

3. Angeleno Aliby Jackson had no idea that the man who ran in front of her Prius was a major player in a Mexican drug cartel. She's had to ditch the Prius, the place near Malibu, cut her hair and go--to Marion, Iowa. Can her hunky police protector Jay make up for going from assistant stylist's aide to coordinator of the 'Swamp Fox Festival'?

4. Fake up a bodysuit, dye it red, add horns and tail; steal a pitchfork and a bottle of eau de rotten egg; and next time TAKE THE LEFT TURN AT ALBUQUERQUE. Also, Satan.

5. Julia had a spatula… and she knew how to use it. Taking a page from a certain brutish barber, she chopped up her rivals on the food network and turned them into light and fluffy confectionery treats. The trick was all in how you added the ingredients. There was a knack, or rather, an…ART OF BLENDING IN.

6. I'm a private eye. I make my living tailing cheating spouses and white-collar criminals. You think it's easy not getting made when the person you're following is paranoid about being followed? You gotta blend into the crowd. It's an art. This is my story.

7. Art had been a line chef for six years to the pompous, credit hogging Master Chef Kral Ramset. Stir, stir, stir. That's all he ever did. And beat. If Kral asked him to beat one more piece of Kral's rubbery old meat, Art had half a mind to beat him, instead. That is, until Kral turned up dead one night in the kitchen, his head bashed in with Art's knobby wooden steak mallet. Now it was up to Art to blend in and avoid the cops until he could find out who the real killer was -- or get sent to the stir for good.

Original Version

Dear Evil Editor,

Leland Blakely is a loner, an outcast, and a complete misfit. Everyone at school knows that. After all, if he wants friends, why doesn't he try to get to know people? [That makes more sense if you just call him a loner; outcasts and misfits may well want friends.]

When Adam Fargis reads Leland's journal, [Without permission, I assume?] he expects to find pages of rants against the popular kids. Instead, he finds accounts of how Leland actually did try to make friends and get involved in something -- anything. But each plan is labeled a failure, with reasons such as "shyness" or "I blew it [," or "I never shoulda told them about my aspirations to be a suicide bomber]."

Now that he knows Leland isn't the bitter crybaby everyone thinks he is, [Where did anyone get the idea he's a bitter crybaby? What has he been crying about?] Adam is determined to help him out. He and his childhood friend Katrina befriend Leland, and the three of them try "normal people" things: an afternoon at a coffee shop, [That's normal for school kids? I'd go with the mall.] a video game tournament, even tryouts for their school football team. [Katrina tries out for the football team?]

Adam's goal is just to find a place where Leland can fit in. [Preferably a place Adam never goes so he can be rid of this loser.] Leland, on the other hand, seems very comfortable where he is now. Adam must decide whether to continue this friendship as it is, or reveal his ulterior motives [His motive is to help Leland fit in. What are his ulterior motives? The term suggests that Adam wants something out of this relationship that he's kept hidden from Leland so far. Like a date with Leland's hot sister.] just to get Leland off his back. [To get Leland off Adam's back? We need a stronger clue that Leland is an annoyance to Adam. If anything, it's been suggested that Leland would be happier with Adam off his back.]

THE ART OF BLENDING IN is a contemporary young adult novel complete at 60,000 words. The full manuscript is available for request. Thank you for your consideration. [I would consider changing it from blending in to fitting in. Fitting in means being accepted as part of the gang. Blending in suggests not wanting to be noticed, which may be true of some of those who fit in, but not most of them.]


(Not part of the query: the title comes from a conversation Adam and Leland have, where Adam is arguing that it is possible to blend in without losing your individuality. Leland replies that anyone who could do that is a natural con artist.)


This works if Leland is a werewolf, but you should probably mention that in the query.

Choose a main character and focus on his problem and what he does about it. If the MC is Leland, the problem is either that he has no friends and wants some or that he is happy where he is now but Adam keeps butting into his life. If the MC is Adam, the problem is either that he feels sorry for Leland and wants to help, or that he can't get rid of Leland now that he's befriended him.

You can probably set up the conflict in three or four sentences. Then you need to tell us what happens. Does something bad happen to someone? Is there a villain? We have the characters, now we need a story to go with them.


Amber said...

Wow, that actually didn't hurt like I thought it would. Thanks so much, EE!

Yes, Katrina is trying out for the team alongside the boys. It makes sense in context: her dad is the coach, and her attempts to impress him make up a subplot. I might change that sentence, though, since the explanation isn't important enough and the wording as it is now is confusing.

The plot is along the lines of Adam befriending Leland and then later wanting to get rid of him. Leland gets jealous of Adam's other friends, shows up at Adam's workplace and puts his job in danger, etc. I guess I'll try to figure out a way to add that to the query. Let's hope it works.

AlaskaRavenclaw said...

Yeah, there's just not enough story here.

Loner wants to get to know people and has altruistic friends who will help him sounds like a win-win situation.

What's the obstacle?

Also, who's the protagonist, Adam or Leland? Adam seems to be doing more in your query.

InkAndPixelClub said...

So these kids are 16 or older? I was thinking more late elementary of junior high from the query.

As the query stands, Leland comes across as the much more sympathetic character. He's the loner who wants to have friends, but feels tripped up by his own shyness and inability to fit in. Adam is just the guy who stumbles across Leleand's longing for friends, tries to help him and - as the query stands - later is torn between continuing to help him and arbitrarily dumping him.

Make the query Adam's story. Give us a glimpse of what his life before he meets Leland, or before he discovers Leland's journal. So he befriends Leland, which you can go into a bit of detail about. Then he decides to try to help Leland become more social. But Leland starts to get too clingy and Adam is faced with a choice. I can see why he'd want to dump Leland and get his old life back, but I'm not sure why he'd still want to keep Leland as a friend.

Mister Furkles said...

I don't see enough conflict here for a novel. Compare this with "A Separate Peace". Two prep school roommates. One is an introverted academic and the other an extroverted athlete. But there is a very dark side to that story.

This query doesn't show enough conflict for a modern novel.