Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Face-Lift 1264

Guess the Plot

The Mailman

1. A zombie postman conspires with his vampire mistress to kill her washed-up Superhero husband, who now owns a lunch counter.

2. John Tremble has been handling other people's packages for too long. Now he's ready for someone to handle his package. He grabs that Magic Mike DVD and a thong. Hilarity ensues.

3. He's a serial killer who incinerates his victims and delivers the ashes to their loved ones. The police are baffled because they haven't thought up a catchy name for him. Finally they give up and settle for . . . the Mailman.

4. Every day, Maggie waits for him to come by. He always has a kind word and a smile for her while he visits with Mom. She loves him--until he brings the papers that make Mom and Dad fight and split up. Today she'll get her revenge. Today she's going to bite him.

5. Jack just delivers the mail, lost in daydreams about the tropical island he'll live on when the lottery numbers fall his way. But when he drops a package he was supposed to deliver and finds it full of white powder, he realises he has won the lottery. Thus begins a new lucrative career. Until the heavies with bolt cutters arrive, that is. Then the tropical island is about the only safe place left for him...

6. In the not-so-distant future, Earth is ruled by a central government that limits communication among the newly-designated provinces it rules. Supposedly, the only person who knows what's going on everywhere is The Mailman, a Santa-Claus-like mythic figure who distributes letters and packages around the planet every night. It turns out, however, that he actually exists -- and 16-year-old Tonyah stows away on his mail truck one night to find out more.

7. When mailman Trevor Hayworth attempts a delivery, the woman who answers the door asks him to drive her to Arizona. Hours later, she and Hayworth are being chased by sex trafficking thugs, corrupt cops, and a contract killer. Looks like the people on Hayworth's route won't be getting their mail today.

8. Sally Jensen has been delivering mail for ten years. Rain, sleet.. you know the rest. But when a jerk on her route calls her a mailman instead of mail-person, she snaps and delivers a right cross to his face. Romance ensues. And there's a monkey.

9. A serial killer is loose in Bucks County. FBI agent Jane Treadwell plans to take him down. When packages with body parts of the victims start showing up on her porch, she's gotta wonder... is a McDonald's gift card enough of a tip for the mailman this year?

Original Version

Dear EE,

Ex-Marine MP Trevor Hayworth is subbing as a postal carrier in San Diego and struggling to make ends meet for his eight-year-old daughter and himself. While [he's] delivering the mail, a pretty young woman begs him to come into the house. She takes off her shirt, [Suddenly I have the urge to apply for a job carrying mail.] revealing massive [Whoa, is this one of those erotica books we never seem to get queries for?] bruises [Massive letdown.] up and down her back. She says she was taken from her family in San Salvador seven years previously and sold to sex traffickers. She asks him to help her escape and drive her to Tucson, where she has learned her parents now live. In return, she will divide with him the money in the safe. [She has access to the money in the safe? Why is she still in this house?] While Hayworth is shaping his refusal the girl’s captor walks in. [Her captor was away and the front door was open and instead of emptying the safe and running like the wind and booking a flight to Tucson after she's safe, she decides it's a better idea to invite the mailman into the house and request that he abandon his route and drive her 400+ miles?]

Hours later, Hayworth and the girl are on the run, leaving behind a dead man, [The sex trafficker surely had a gun. Lucky for the girl this was the day an ex-marine was subbing for the regular mailman.] an empty safe, and their old lives. [Including Hayworth's daughter?]  Chasing them are sex trafficking thugs, corrupt cops, and a newspaper reporter who moonlights as a contract killer. Everyone wants the money and no one wants them alive.

[We need a paragraph here with the title, word count, genre, and how you became so knowledgeable about sex trafficking.]


Where was the captor when Trevor got there? In the house somewhere (in which case the girl is nuts to invite Trevor in rather than make her appeal outside), or off buying cigarettes (in which case the girl should have emptied the safe and headed out the minute he left)?

I assume mail has been delivered here for the past seven years. Is this the first time the girl's been alone in the room when someone came to the door?

Taking off her shirt seems weird. If not in the book, at least in the query.

The reader could get the impression half the book is a thrilling chase, but that half is preceded by some far-fetched events contrived by the author just to get the characters together. I'm sure there are reasonable explanations for everything; provide some, and leave out the parts you don't want to explain.

When they're being chased, are they in Hayworth's mail delivery vehicle?

I think Trevor should be a UPS driver. I think their trucks are faster and less vulnerable to gunfire than mail trucks.


AlaskaRavenclaw said...

Yeah; the woman taking off her shirt in front of the mailman and begging for help instead of grabbing the money in the safe and getting the heck out of there only makes sense in a world in which women are (a) absolutely helpless and (b) always ripping their clothes off without notice. That world is not this world. Google "squid in the mouth".

Not having a whole lot of sympathy, either, for a protagonist who, when begged for help by a victim of sex trafficking, is "shaping his refusal."

InkAndPixelClub said...

I'd cut down paragraph one, which is mostly setup and more about the nameless woman than our protagonist. You want to get to Trevor doing stuff and making choices as soon as possible and flesh out what happens in what is likely the majority of the book. I'm guessing Trevor encounters the woman and kills her captor within the first three chapters or so, which leaves a lot of story mostly unaccounted for. Are there gunfights? Narrow escapes? Does Trevor initially trust the cops or the reporter only to find later that they're not on his side?

Yeah, if you're not going to account for what happens to the eight year old once Trevor's on the run, leave her out of the query.

I'm seconding ARC's distaste regarding Trevor's response to the woman's plea for help. He can refuse to personally drive her to Tuscon; the daughter alone is reason enough to say no to that (assuming she doesn't vanish from the query after being mentioned). But a flat out "no, I won't help you at all" is going to kill sympathy for your main character before he's done anything.

You have a couple of awkward phrases like "she will divide with him the money in the safe" and "shaping his refusal." This is the first sample of your writing an editor or agent will see, so you want to make it as polished as possible. Consider reading it out loud when editing.

khazar-khum said...

Wasn't this the plot of a movie with Clint Eastwood and Sondra Locke?

If they know the cops are corrupt, why not take her to the Marine base?

Thirding that he'd better pick up the girl, dog, and parakeet before heading out.

Anonymous said...

The first paragraph -- "So she does this, then she does that, then she tells him something, then the captor walks in" (not an exact quote) reads like a hasty conversation rather than a summary. A whole paragraph of your query at the lady's doorstep and it's still confusing.

SB said...

It really seems unlikely to me that a sex trafficking victim would take her shirt off and ask for help from some random man. Seems like a woman in that position, especially one who's been in that position for several years, would equate strange men with abuse and unwanted sex. I find that basic setup highly unbelievable, and if I were reading this book, I'd probably stop at that point, roll my eyes, and get rid of the book. You could have him find out about her situation and help her in a way that doesn't require her to act so unbelievably.

The most interesting part of this query to me was the idea of a reporter who's also an assassin. Makes me kind of want to read a book about that guy.

PLaF said...

I'm with SB - I want to read about the reporter who moonlights as an assassin. Talk about job security....