Thursday, August 24, 2006
Guess the Plot
The Disappearance of Abe Lincoln: And the Misadventures of a Guy With a Mustache and a Chick With an Eye Patch
1. Exhausted from writing out the title to his novel, a writer collapses on the keyboard.
2. Abe Lincoln is kidnapped by two oddball characters, taken to Manitoba, and held for ransom. Too much ransom, apparently, as no one is willing to pay, and negotiations drag on for years, until Abe grows so enamored of his captors he doesn't want to be rescued.
3. Pirates Ann Bonney and Captain Kidd sail through the Bermuda Triangle and into the present day Potomac Basin to hold the nation's most cherished public monuments for ransom.
4. As mustachioed Martin attempts to stuff a five-dollar bill into the g-string of a stripper with an eye patch, a gust of wind blows the bill away. To make a long story short, Martin and the stripper wed and have four children.
5. Before launching his career in politics, Abe Lincoln tries his hand at piracy. However, the ship's captain sends Abe back, after he shares his honest opinion on her wardrobe.
6. Wizardo the Magician and his assistant, Pirate Wench Sally, could make anyone disappear. Booked at a charity gig with a Senator from Illinois with an annoying habit of telling the truth, even to a magician's fans, it was time for this Lincoln guy to disappear - for good.
Dear Evil Editor:
I am seeking publication for my novel, The Disappearance of Abe Lincoln: And the Misadventures of a Guy With a Mustache and a Chick With an Eye Patch, complete at 92,128 words and 460,569 characters. [And that's just the title.] (Yes, I counted them all by hand. My cat Flannery O’Connor helped, of course.)
I adore ninjas, bunnies, and zombies – So it really is too bad that none of those made it into my novel. It does, however, contain a kidnapping and a road trip. I guess those are cool too, especially if it is the kidnapping of former president Abe Lincoln. Unfortunately, former president Abraham Lincoln was murdered and is dead, so it’s the kidnapping of a different Abe Lincoln, which is not quite as awesome, though still mildly arresting.
Abe Lincoln is an experienced ninja for hire with a murky past and noble connections… oh wait, I forgot that there aren’t any ninjas in this novel. Sorry. Abe Lincoln is a 10th grade history teacher in a small midwestern town. [I'm pleased to see you're finally talking about what is in your book, rather than what isn't; unfortunately, you're doing so after the reader has moved on to the next query letter.] He has grown accustomed to his famous moniker, even if others haven’t. His parents, he realized at a young age, did not have a great sense of humor, and they were also acid tripping hippies, which certainly played a part in his naming. Abe is 24 years old and a magnificent, but eccentric educator, naturally, a student favorite. His students, then, are especially sad when a guy with a mustache and a chick with an eye patch and an undistinguishable accent kidnap Abe in the darkness of night. [How do the students know what happened?] They stuff Abe in the trunk of their white 2001 Ford Taurus and drive north, across the border, into the remote areas of southern Manitoba. [I've never crossed the border into Manitoba. I take it they don't check your trunk to make sure you aren't smuggling in heroin or a kidnaped guy? Even if they check only suspicious characters, a woman with an eye patch is likely to be at the top of the list.] Along the way they meet a bizarre cavalcade of strange characters, including a three-legged wolf, a mannequin fisherman, [Unclear whether that's a mannequin dressed in fisherman's garb, or a fisherman who tries to hook mannequins.] a Royal Canadian Mountie with a penchant for puns, [What was the name of the snake that went into law enforcement? Mountie Python.] [Describe Dudley Do-Right after he finishes his dinner: The Full Mounty.] palindromes, [Lincoln meets McEntire: Abe Reba] and candy necklaces, a family of traveling evangelicals, and many, many others. After relaying demands to Abe’s family via email, the kidnappers soon realize that his parents are not willing to pay a large ransom for Abe, thus the bargaining begins. It will go on for over two years, and Abe, meanwhile, becomes infatuated with his kidnappers and begins to hope he is never rescued.
I am 23 years old and started writing [this query letter] about seven months ago. I would have gotten started with my writing career sooner, but my obsessive nature constantly distracted me. It all started when; at about age six, I became obsessed with pancakes, flapjacks if you will. I ate at least 35 per day, and threw temper tantrums if my parents refuse to make them for me. Pancakes on the mind, day and night, do you know what that is like? [Not first-hand, but it sounds extremely boring.] Needless to say I could not function in school, and therefore did not go. Eventually, after years of therapy and hypnotists, I finally was able to let go of pancakes. I was thirteen. On my fourteenth birthday I read my first Flannery O’Connor short story. I was hooked immediately. I consumed as many of her stories as I could. Literally consumed, once I finished reading each story collection or novella, I wept for about an hour, and then ate the book, pages, cover and all. Luckily, Flannery passed at a young age, God rest her soul, so I eventually ran out of books to eat and the obsession slowly dwindled to a slightly unhealthy fixation. By this time I was seventeen and had just completed grade school. I was grossly behind. That is why I did not learn to written thingys gooder until I am 23 and having later starting on writing. [This is why it's best to let Evil Editor do the comedy, people.]
I have shown my novel to some respected authors and have received the following great reviews:
Brett Easton Ellis: “Get the hell away from me!”
John Updike: “Who are you, and why are you following me around?”
Stephen King: “I’m calling the cops.”
Dr. Seuss: “I do not like you sir. No, I do not like you now or then, I do not like you any when.”
If you are interested in reading my novel, and possibly publishing me, please let me know at your earliest convenience. Thank you kindly for your time.
Assuming this book exists, the title and plot are enough to demonstrate that it's humor. There's no point in driving home the point with fake reviews, a lengthy fake bio, and a list of what isn't in the book. Personally, I found the plot description more amusing than the other stuff anyway.
If you want a businessperson to spend thousands of dollars publishing your book, it's best to talk about your book, and to do so as if you are a businessperson. You can perform your comedy act later, when you meet your editor at IHOP. (Though I don't recommend it, not without better material.)