Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Face-LIft 126

Guess the Plot


1. Caught in the boat house with the new French maid, buck-naked except for his rubber horsey head, Boone needed a story and needed it fast.

2. Late at night, depressed and divorced Joanna teaches herself to conduct activities while deep in REM sleep. Not only is her house sparkling clean in the morning, she's been having fantastic daydreams of nighttime flings with her neighbor.

3. Sleeper agent Salman Al-Hamdani has lost his passion for his mission--and for life itself--until he meets a sassy African-American flight attendant named William who brings the spark back to Salman's life...and ultimately to the fuse on his bomb.

4. When the old lady asked Harold for a dime, he laughed and told her to jump off a bridge, unaware that she was Somnia, the goddess of sleep. Now, trapped in her netherworld, he must travel through nightmares for eternity.

5. Elite soldier Randy Pilton trained himself to sleep while walking on long, forced marches. Now that he's back home in his small Iowa town, some suspect him in the recent rash of brutal midnight murders of 7-11 clerks.

6. Paralyzed after an accident, Blake Warren will never walk again-while awake. But an unexpected opportunity arises in the form of an experimental and risky new medical procedure.

Original Version

Dear Editor;

After accepting a position as a research assistant, Jamie Grinburg travels to a hamlet in the middle of the desert. [I believe that's what's known as a mirage.] The nightmare that awaits him in the shadows [Shadows? In the desert? Must be the ones cast by the vultures circling over his head as he crawls toward the "hamlet."] will test his mettle and bring him face to face with his worst fears.

Blake Warren was once the emperor of his universe. Now paralyzed from a terrible accident, [Or was it an accident? he wonders. Maybe my mistake was trusting the empress of my universe to pack my parachute.] he laments over the power he’s lost and the happiness he once knew. Desperation commands him to take part in an experiment [that will turn him into M.A.N.T.I.S., the paraplegic superhero, and] that will lead him down a path of malevolence and self-destruction.

Sleepwalking is cerebral thriller that brings the two protagonists spiraling towards a cataclysmic conclusion. Pages will turn on their own as the reader is assaulted with [hurricane force winds?] dark intrigues and unworldly beings. [That's it? That's all you're giving me? There's some guy in the desert and a paralyzed guy is going to be part of an experiment? What unworldly beings? Does anything actually happen?] [This paragraph (toned down) belongs on the back of your book, not the bottom of your query.]

My background is largely in medicine which lends itself to the many hospital scenes that appear in this book. I have been a Respiratory Therapist for 12 years. During that time, I have had several articles published in professional journals. My agent was recently forced to close her agency due to a debilitating illness. [No need to include this.] My manuscript is approximately 100,000 words in length.

If you would like to see an outline, a synopsis or sample chapters, please let me know.

Thank you for your consideration,


More specificity would be a good start toward conveying the book's plot. And let the editor be the one who discovers that the pages miraculously turn themselves.


Lightsmith said...

My agent was recently forced to close her agency due to a debilitating illness. [No need to include this.]

Don't listen to Evil Editor. If anything, you need to expand it. Perhaps something like this:

My agent, Jane Smith, was once the empress of her own agenting universe. Now debilitated by a terrible illness, she laments over the agency she was forced to close and the revenue she once earned. Desperation commands her to take part in an experiment that will lead her down a path of malevolence and self-destruction: She is starting her own blog, on which she will be known as...Abominable Agent.

Novelust said...

Are you sure you want to call your book 'Sleepwalking'? What kind of reviews would you be opening yourself up for?

Though I'd give major props to the author brave enough to call his book, 'Snore.'

Anonymous said...

#4 is a pretty good idea, actually. If the original poster has no objections, I'd like to take that one and run with it...erm, somewhere.

Daisy Bateman said...

#4 was mine, and you can take it, with my blessings. Of course, I fully expect to show up in the acknowledgements when you publish this future bestseller. :>

Anonymous said...

I think we can use the same advice for query letters as for writing: don't tell - show...don't tell us your book is a page-turner, show us...of course, that means sharing some pertinent details of the plot as EE pointed out (as only he can).

altar boy - loved the Abominable Agent bit.

EE - I laugh every time I read your blog...thanks for giving me many much needed moments of hilarity. (off to light candles to shrine of EE)

Anonymous said...

I'm not buying any book that assaults me with self-turning pages.

I'm just not.

Lightsmith said...

don't tell us your book is a page-turner, show us...

Is it possible to do this within the constraints of a one-page query? A query-writer can mention specific dramatic events from the story, but page-turnicity (to coin a term) is created largely through pacing...

Anonymous said...

Wow! I've always wanted a book that had self turning pages! I am so lazy! If you can invent something like that, Mr. Author, I would buy it. Definetally.

And when I see the book on the shelves on the bookstore, I might give it a shot. Maybe.

According to, a hamlet is:

n 1: a community of people smaller than a village [syn: crossroads] 2: the hero of William Shakespeare's tragedy who hoped to avenge the murder of his father [syn: Hamlet] 3: a settlement smaller than a town [syn: village]

So I guess the author's definition works. Whenever I think of hamlets though, I think of greenness and pretty trees.

Anonymous said...

Blake Warren was once the emperor of his universe.

See, this makes me think sci-fi. That's not a problem in itself, but wouldn't it be a different market for the book? (Unless the author means universe in the sense of Warren's personal space or something, in which case, ignore me.)

There's nothing in this that jumps out at me (except the self-turning pages ...). Darn the page limit :)

none said...

I used to think fondly of my novel as a "page-turner", as in a compelling read where you had to keep turning the pages to find out what happened next. Then I discovered that some people think of a "page-turner" as a book that's a fast read because there's no depth to it, so I stopped.

One person's meat is another person's anaphylactic shock.

Anonymous said...

For me a "page-turner" is a book so boring and so poorly written that I begin scanning only the first line of each paragraph. It's a real page-turner if I don't lose the thread of the story. Sometimes I don't feel like I've missed anything at all. Last time that happened: Da Vinci Code.

s.w. vaughn said...

Drat, someone beat me to Harold and the goddess of sleep! I'm gonna have to get faster on these fake plots. :-)

At least there's still Pumpkin James!

I think this is an interesting premise, and I'm with EE: details, man, details! Show some more of the story. This could be good. :-)

magz said...

I liked # 5 muchly! The sleepwalkin soldier is a neat idea, and totally within the constraints of 'possible'...

If you aint writing this story oh Author of 5, may I?

It really would make a hellacious book.

Anonymous said...

Re: page turnicity having to do with pacing and can one achieve that within the constraints of a query letter.

Actually I think it can. But this is because page turnicity is due to more than just pacing. For example, word choice can increase tension and thus page turnicity (henceforth to be known as pt).

I guess I was thinking along the lines of how gripping a novel is, and I think, hopefully, that a query letter should have the same effect. We should read a query and think, man, do I want to read that!

Anonymous said...

All I can say, is I wish I could do my housework, while asleep (as apposed to while awake). Rock on #2!

However, my next door neigbours to one side are very elderly, while the next door neigbours to the other side eat with their feet. And don't get me started on the downstairs neigbours, etc.