Friday, July 28, 2006

Face-Lift 138

Guess the Plot

The Bridge Beckons

1. When Mark messes up his solo in the Christmas musical, his dad is so upset with him he crashes the family car into a gasoline tanker truck on a foggy bridge while driving home.

2. 10-year-old Thomas hates traveling over the village bridge, where the King has his enemies' heads on display. But when young Tom realizes the bridge is a portal to a world populated with the souls of the damned, he must decide whether to cross the bridge . . . and become the ruler of all of Hell.

3. Stan, a 29-year-old sock model needs help getting his love life in order. His dentist comes to the rescue with a novelty bridge that emits a hypnotic tone when Stan runs his tongue over it. Will it work on Shogun Sheila?

4. Agnes remembers the torment of "Take the key and lock her up," from kindergarten. Now 40, she vows to blow up London Bridge and put an end to her nightmares.

5. A wannabe novelist pursues his dream, but ten years, three bankruptcies and two divorces later, only PublishAmerica are interested. Will he accept the bridge's offer instead?

6. Randy Markinson lives in the shadow of the Golden Gate Bridge and waits in the lonely shadow of depression. All he needs is four more jumpers before he can be number 1,000.

Original Version

Dear EE

Seventeen year old Mark Wilkerson screwed up. He knows it. His dad is disappointed in him; his whole family knows he blew his solo in their Christmas musical at the retirement home. [Even the old ladies in their wheelchairs were booing and throwing rotten tomatoes at him.] So, later, when a car passes them through the dense fog on the Carquinez Bridge, and clips the family car, Mark knows if his dad hadn’t been so upset with him, he might have avoided the tangle with a gasoline truck. Mark and one kid sister are the only survivors of the fiery crash. Now, Mark’s guilt is tearing him apart. [If only I'd been on key with that b flat, they'd be alive today.]

Mark and his sister move in with their grandmother in a new town where the Carquinez Bridge dominates the town’s skyline and constantly reminds him of his tragedy. He suffers from nightmares, paralyzing memories and fears resulting from the accident. A girl he meets, Genie Lombardi, who promises [Suddenly you're talking like Yoda.] to help him overcome his phobia. But her ex-boyfriend, Jeff Marino, harbors a terrible secret that will affect Mark’s conscience forever. [He put a gerbil in Mark's tuba before the Christmas musical, causing . . . everything.] Jeff also wants Genie [Even the genie on TV didn't spell her name "Genie," and she was a genie.] back and will do anything to get her, including killing Mark - or even Genie if he must. [Now that's what I call true love.] [If he tells her he wants her back, I advise her against using the phrase, "Over my dead body."] [If you're willing to murder two people to get your girlfriend back, isn't it kind of stupid if one of them . . . Oh, never mind.]

Knowing of Mark’s phobia, Jeff kidnaps Genie to get to Mark. [One wonders what Genie saw in this guy in the first place.] Now, Mark must overcome his fear of the bridge to rescue the girl he loves. [It's the big climax. Jeff is dangling Genie off the bridge. "I'm losing my grip," he says. "You'd better come and save your girlfriend, tuba boy. Oh, wait, I forgot, you're afraid of bridges. Guess she's gonna die, and it'll be your fault, bridge chicken." Mark struggles closer, like Jimmy Stewart climbing the stairs at the end of Vertigo. It's a big four-lane bridge, but to Mark it looks like a shaky rope bridge over a gorge. Will he overcome his fear and save Genie?] At the last moment everything goes wrong. Now, Mark has two tragedies on the bridge to live with. [What?! She falls to her death? Another tanker truck explodes? The bridge wins?] But, ultimately, it's the second tragedy that forces him to face the bridge that beckons to him. [He's going back for a third try? Who gets killed this time, his sister? His grandmother?]

The Bridge Beckons is a 73,000-word romantic/suspense novel written primarily for young adults. It is a story where high school friends and enemies clash in a 1960s tale of teenage deceit and intrigue, some of whom will survive and some will not.

Set in the small Northern California town where I grew up, the Carquinez bridge, is known for dense fog, multi-car pile-ups, and even suicides which inspired many of the elements of this story. [Multi-car pile-ups, suicide, death, murder, kidnaping, guilt. Not what we read as teens in my time. I'm getting old.] [Did you mean that the story is set in your hometown? Because you said the bridge was set there.]



I just can't buy into the kid's musical gaffe setting off a chain of events that culminates in a collision with a tanker truck. Or into the kid's believing it did. Can't you come up with something else, a big fight in the car, the father gets a drink spilled on him, turns around . . . crash.

Also, Jeff seems too criminal for a small town high school kid in the sixties. Kidnaping and murdering? Over a girl named Genie?

Plus, Mark finally confronts his fear of the bridge and it ends in another tragedy on the bridge? And this spurs him to confront it yet again?


HawkOwl said...

Oh my. I guessed plot #2.

You know, if the incident at the retirement home happened when the kid was, say, four years old, the guilt might make sense. Seventeen years old? Not unless the father has some pretty major anger issues.

Anonymous said...

EE, you're back in prime form!

A gerbil in the tuba? LOL! Genie?

I thought the story might work but physically the letter is confusing. Maybe it was written too fast. For instance, what happened on the bridge? Was the family car "clipped by another car"? Did they hit a gas tanker truck?

I think the bridge thing can work. EE might be right though. The mistake at the old folks home might be too trite and trivial. Maybe a heavier way to introduce the bridge aspect of the story would help.

Anonymous said...

He's going back to "face" the bridge at the end? I don't really get it. How can the human and the bridge have such a conflict? Will Mark (or is it Jeff?) stretch his body across the gorge, showing that he's even better than the bridge at allowing things to cross?

Anonymous said...

"Genie" spelled that way is usually a nickname for Genevieve. It's pretty common in New England (that French-Canadian influence) but doesn't seem to fit in northern California.

People do hang their survivor's guilt on small stupid things like flubbing a meaningless concert, so that part doesn't bother me. The plot later on sounds chaotic, though -- like things are happening just because that's what happened in real life, not because they're integrated into what the characters need or want.

Maybe if you could convey a bit more about the characters, or something?

fymqb -- the sound the tuba made when the gerbil came flying out

Anonymous said...

Let me get this strait. He moves to a new town and the Carquinez Bridge follows him? It sounds father and son both have severe psychological problems if blowing a tuba solo has such an impact on them. I agree with EE. Find something else to set off the tragedy. Thay would be a START.

Anonymous said...

Genie is also short for Eugenie or Eugenia. (Well, wouldn't you shorten it, too?) Genie Francis is a well known soap opera actress (she played Laura Spencer on General Hospital).

Anonymous said...

I knew a girl in high school named Eugenia. She went by Genie. How else should she have spelled it?

Anonymous said...

EE, your imagining of the scene on the bridge is classic. I couldn't stop laughing. I'm adding "tuba boy" and "bridge chicken" to my list of all-time favorite insults.

Anonymous said...

I take it from the query that Jeff Marino is the one who drove the car that "clipped" Mark's car and initially set off the chain reation/Mark's car into the gasoline tanker. Is this correct? But how could that secret make Mark feel more guilty?

I, too, can't see how Mark can elevate his solo performance problem to the "proximate cause" of his father's death. If anything did that, it was the other car clipping them. I can't believe his father would be so angry on the drive home that he would not react in the same fashion as usual when (Jeff?) clips his car.

Now if the family were performing on Family Idol, in the finals, before an audience of nationwide viewers, with a huge recording contract and their moment of fame on the line, then maybe dad (a wannabe country singer all his life) could be upset. But a performance at a retirement home? No way.

And just because the family crosses the bridge on the way home from the recital, doesn't mean they live "near" it. When Mark moves in with granny, the bridge is in the background, very "present." That's my take on the setting.

BTW, Eugenia is pronounced Oh-hay-nia where I live and the nickname is Wayne.

Paul W. West, Author said...

Thanks for the comments everyone. A couple of them may even be valid, including EE's. However, some look as if the commenter didn't really read the query.

Oh, and for what it's worth, Genie is short for Gina. It's her nick name.