Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Face-Lift 23

Guess the Plot

Bad Ice

1. A sixteen-year-old's science project reveals stunning truth: ice from frozen toilet water collected at Fastburger contains fewer bacteria than ice from Fastburger's drink dispenser.

2. A former '80s rap icon, now a target of ridicule, falls for a talent scout and must release an album people won't laugh at.

3. Pro hockey player Jason Peterson dumps his girlfriend Sheila. In a fit of jealous anger, she causes his demotion to the minor leagues.

4. Seventeen dead at a black-tie soiree. No trace of a weapon. A toxicologist must find the answer before champagne flows at the Mayoral Ball.

5. Stan Milburn, heist-man extraordinaire, gets more than he bargained for after he steals the cursed black diamonds of Calcutta.

6. A butcher loses his thumb in a dry ice prank. His world tumbles into chaos. Rediscovering himself, he also finds love, in textured vegetable protein.

Original Version

Dear Agent:

Please allow me to introduce my novel, entitled Bad Ice. [Pleased to meet you. And may I introduce my reaction, Bad Title.]

After a bullet narrowly misses professional hockey player Jason Peterson during a game, [Evil Editor knew all that fighting in hockey games was going to escalate, eventually.] he finds himself torn between Christina, the beautiful young widow who saves his life, and his ex-girlfriend Sheila, who will use any means to reclaim him, including attempted murder. [I can see his dilemma. It's sort of like when the waiter brings you the dessert menu, and the only two items on it are chocolate mousse cake and arsenic custard.]

Jason is at the crest of his stellar career when Ian Pollard smuggles a gun into the arena and attempts to shoot Jason. Christina Mackey is a bystander who inadvertently thwarts Ian's attempt, [She accidentally spills her nachos in his lap while he's aiming his rifle.] becoming injured in the process. Stricken with guilt, Ian turns the gun on himself. [Guilt because he missed? Guilt because he injured Christina? What kind of injury are we talking about? Did she get shot?] [The ravishingly beautiful widow thinks, I've been in mourning long enough, I gotta get out and start living again. So she goes to a hockey game, and before the first period's over, she's lying in the aisle between sections 102 and 103, in a pool of her own blood, with the corpse of the guy who shot her sprawled on top of her. It'll probably be three years of therapy before she goes out in public again.] [Wait a minute, Ian goes to a hockey game to commit murder? Couldn't he shoot Jason outside his house, instead of in front of 20,000 people and ESPN, with the Jumbotron camera trained on him?] [Ian has no qualms about committing murder, but injuring someone is enough to make him kill himself?]

After Jason discovers that he was the original target, [Ian being dead, how did he discover this?] he visits his rescuer in order to thank her. They strike up a friendship which quickly develops into attraction. He is also enchanted by Christina's daughter Mishayla, six years old and already a budding hockey star. [She plays left wing for the Boston Bruins.]

Sheila Duffy is making life a living hell for Jason. [That should be the topic sentence of the next paragraph, not this one.] Their tumultuous relationship had come to a dramatic close when she confessed that Ian had been her lover. Jason assumes that Ian had tried to kill him out of jealousy, but eventually discovers that the dead man's motives were twofold. A secret that Jason had kept hidden for many years was the actual reason for Ian's rage. [Apparently Jason isn't the only one keeping this secret. What is the secret?!!]

Sheila uses lies, threats and manipulation [All the things men find attractive in a woman.] in an attempt to recapture Jason, but with no success. In a fit of jealous anger, she causes his demotion to a minor league in a distant city through a malicious fabrication. [At the crest of his stellar career he gets sent down? How is this explained to the fans and sportswriters?] [That must have been some fabrication. My guess: Sheila announced that Jason was sleeping with the owner's wife.] Aware that he is seeing someone else, Sheila is determined to drive herself between Jason and his unknown saviour, using his secret as a weapon. [At least someone knows the secret.]

Christina insists on obtaining proof that Sheila is behind Jason's demotion, but Jason tries to keep them apart, fearful that Christina will discover his secret and ultimately reject him. [If only Evil Editor could discover his secret. Can I have three guesses? Is he a serial killer who wears a goalie mask? Does he have a pink butterfly tattoo on his thigh? Wait, I have it! He's a hockey player; he has no teeth!] His selfish omission puts Christina and her daughter in peril. [What did he omit? Who are they in peril from? Christina? Has Jason moved to his new city? If so, how is he trying to keep Christina and Sheila apart?] [Your omission of what the secret is, in case you haven't noticed, is bugging Evil Editor.]

Bad Ice, a novel of approximately 58,900 words, is a romance laced with intrigue that revolves around ice - the fast paced world of hockey, the tranquility of a frozen pond, and the danger that lies beneath the surface. [Sharks. That's what this book needs. Sharks devouring a Zamboni driver. Seriously, think about putting in some sharks devouring a Zamboni driver.]
According to your submission guidelines, I have enclosed with this letter a synopsis, the first three chapters and a self-addressed stamped envelope. You may recycle the material. Thank you for taking the time to read this material. I look forward to further correspondence. This is a multiple submission.

Best Regards,

Revised Version

Dear Agent:

Jason Peterson is at the crest of his stellar hockey career when someone smuggles a gun into an arena and attempts to shoot him during a game. Luckily for Jason, a bystander inadvertently thwarts the murder attempt--though becoming injured in the process.

When Jason discovers that he was the gunman's target, he visits his rescuer, Christina Mackey, to thank her. They strike up a friendship which quickly develops into attraction. Jason is also enchanted by Christina's six-year-old daughter, Mishayla.

Sheila Duffy, Jason's ex-girlfriend, is making life hell for Jason. Their tumultuous relationship had come to a dramatic close when she'd confessed her adultery--she'd cheated on Jason with the gunman who later tried to kill him! Sheila uses lies, threats and manipulation in attempting to win Jason back, but with no success. Aware that Jason is seeing Christina, Sheila determines to drive herself between them--even if it means putting Christina and her daughter in peril.

Bad Ice is a novel of approximately 60,000 words. In accordance with your submission guidelines, I have enclosed a synopsis, the first three chapters and a self-addressed, stamped envelope. You may recycle the material. Thank you for your time and consideration.

Best Regards,


The revised version eliminates some of the plot points that caused Evil Editor to think, Huh? But removing them from the query letter doesn't help if they provoke the same reaction in the book. Evil Editor can only hope that the book answers all of his questions sensibly and logically. Otherwise, he suggests changing the title to Ice Follies.


Anonymous said...

I think the subplot with the Zamboni driver has real potential as a screenplay.

I mean, I'm looking forward to seeing Samuel L. Jackson in "Snakes on a Plane" when it comes out. But if I had a choice, I'd much rather see "Sharks Beneath a Hockey Rink".

Lyvvie said...

I'm now banrred from reading your blog during certain TV programs because my laughter is distracting to my husband.

The wuss.

Anonymous said...

Thank you, thank you thank you! I'm surprised my ass is still attached; I laughed so hard! It was my submission - now I'm trying to decide if I should resubmit the novel as a comedy.
FYI: nachos were used as a weapon.

Evil Editor said...

FYI: nachos were used as a weapon.

Canon #6a of Evil Editor's The Ten Commandments of Fiction Writing states, "Nachos may be used as a weapon in comedy only."

Anonymous said...

If this book actually had ninja star nachos and sharks eating a zamboni driver, I would buy it in a heartbeat.

tgqghrqc: the death-throe sounds of the zamboni driver

Anonymous said...

I thought a rifle was the weapon!?

Anonymous said...

Now that I know the secret to spicing up the action in a novel I just know I'm going to get published tomorrow. Sharks devouring a Zamboni driver. What a winner!!! Thanks Evil Editor.

Anonymous said...

Would you comment on your deletion of the disclosure that the query was a multiple submission? I thought that was considered good form. Thanks.

Mad Scientist Matt said...

Chocolate mouse cake or arsenic custard. Too bad they had to experiment that way; these days it's so hard to find any good custards besides creme brule and flan. After finding out that real custards do not taste like their Jell-O immitation, I've embarked on a singlehanded quest to restore the lost art of making a good custard.

I'm kind of dreading what sort of blue notes might turn up in my own query letter after this one, but I'll probably be able to get a good laugh out of them...

Evil Editor said...

As the query was addressed to an agent, this question might better be addressed to Miss Snark. However, it seems to Evil Editor that an agent would assume a query is going to multiple agents. Otherwise it could take decades to land an agent. Now, when it comes to the manuscript or partial itself, agents and editors would prefer to be your only prospect (not that the agent won't be making multiple submissions as soon as she takes you on), so you'd best let them know if they aren't. Or you'll never work in this town again.

Brenda said...

I think one of these anons is a cherry bomber! I laughed when I saw the word verification sentence.

none said...

I assumed "multiple submission" was removed because the correct term for sending a query to multiple recipients is surely "simultaneous submission".

An agent or editor would know if a writer was sending them multiple submissions, as they'd keep on arriving...hey, if you don't like that book, maybe you'll like this one? Or this one? Or how about these poems...? Haiku? Dog biscuit?

Evil Editor said...

Evil Editor is amazed to discover that one (and possibly only one) of his minions is not a Snarkling. Now get yourself over to for initiation proceedings.