Monday, October 23, 2006

Face-Lift 220

Guess the Plot

Random Thoughts of a Teenage Axe Murderer

1. Should I chop up my boyfriend and eat his body parts? I hate writing my thoughts in this crappy journal. If I kill all my co-workers, maybe I'll get promoted out of my lousy entry-level job. I'm in love with my shrink; maybe I'll kill him with an axe. Or maybe I should have him over for dinner . . . as the main course!

2. She's cute. Math homework is so unfair. Got to beat my GTA3 high score. Wonder if the new Blindside album is out? Look at the boombah's on her. Die, Die, Die, you scum-sucking parasite. I hate mayonnaise.

3. Mmm, cookies. I wonder if I should ask Tina to the Winter Formal. Double-bladed looks cool, but a hachet is a lot more practical. Are there walnuts in these? If there are walnuts in these, someone is going to have to die. Would it look suspicious if I rented a woodchipper?

4. Will this fake I.D. work to get some beer? Can I get that cute girl in History to notice me? Will my skin clear up in time for the dance? Will my Dad loan me the car and an axe Friday night? Who you lookin' at?

5. I wonder if I was on the verge of getting my license before I chopped the driving instructor into tiny pieces. How do so many kids buy this Red Riding Hood story? I mean, if you can't tell your grandmother from a wolf, you need your eyes examined. Think I'll go hang out at the mall. Better bring my axe in case some cop gives me trouble.

6. So I hacked up a few people. Was that any reason to put me in here with all these crazies? Look at that guy, sitting there with his mouth hanging open. Where's an axe when I need one? Doesn't that TV get anything but Brady Bunch reruns? Wait a minute, is that an axe behind the glass in the fire extinguisher cabinet?

Original Version

All Mighty Evil One,

Therese Randle just turned nineteen and she thinks she's falling in love. Normally that wouldn't be a problem, but Therese has a small tendency to kill and eat her boyfriends. Well, she eats part of them; other parts give her indigestion. [The liver is good with Chianti and fava beans, but she stays away from the brains, possibly because her nickname for him was "shit for brains."]

Therese's problem is that her brain is incapable of remembering happy thoughts. [It's a psychosis known as elationesia.] So when something pleasant happens, she reacts to that foreign emotion by removing the cause of it. [For instance, if her boss praises her, she responds with an axe blade to the forehead. If a waitress gives her exceptional service, she responds with an axe blade to the forehead . . .] She sees nothing wrong with this less than accepted form of emotion management and is able to look at the death she causes in a matter of fact way. [The difference between Therese and Evil Editor is that when I dole out an axe blade to the forehead, it's to someone who gave me unpleasant feelings.] This allows her to calculate her moves before she makes them in order to escape blame. [In other words, premeditated murder is the best kind because there's no blame involved?]

When she kills her boyfriend, Bucky, in the middle of sex in the middle of a forest,

[Bucky: Not to ruin the mood, but out of curiosity, why do you have an axe?
Therese: If a tree falls on us and pins us while we're making love--
Bucky: Ah. Say no more.]

[If a tree falls in the woods, and the only people there to hear it are moaning and screaming, "Yes, oh yes, harder, baby," does the tree make a sound?]
Therese claims to have witnessed the whole thing as a victim. ["Hey, I'm the victim here. I had to watch as Bucky was chopped up with an axe."] With a rash of [axe] killings sweeping through the area, everyone is more than willing to believe her. Months later, when she uses unnecessary violence against a cop who pulls her over for speeding, [She hacks him up with an axe.] [I thought it was only pleasant feelings that made her respond with violence.] Therese is sent to a psychiatric ward claiming emotional trauma from witnessing her boyfriend's death. Her shrink, Dr. Brian (a cute novice straight out of college) takes her on as his pet project and a year after her arrival gets her out of the ward and into a halfway house for nut jobs [Is that the pc term they're using these days?] with no knowledge of what's really wrong with her. With her new "apartment" and the low entry job she must take as part of her reintroduction into society, Therese makes friends that she must desperately try not to kill. [For if she kills her co-workers, she'll surely get the axe.]

Dr. Brian encourages Therese to write her daily events in a journal- a boring tedious task to her that inevitably becomes an eye opener. As she writes and rereads her entries, she realizes that good things do happen and she really wants to understand why she doesn't remember them and to try and overcome her violent urges. When Dr. Brian falls for Therese, and Therese for him, she knows exactly what kind of danger he's in even if he doesn't. So the question is, does she tell him the truth, or invite him over for dinner?

Random Thoughts of a Teenage Axe Murderer is my first novel. [Good, I was afraid it was your autobiography.] The complete, 88000 word manuscript is ready at your request. Thank you for your valuable time.



"Random thoughts" doesn't give the impression we're dealing with a cohesive novel. Maybe "Confessions" would be better.

You make it sound like killing is a regular occurrence with Therese. Is she that good at getting away with murder?

It seems like if you're planning in advance to kill people, you'd settle on a less-conspicuous weapon than an axe. Plus, even if the person isn't alarmed by the fact that you happen to have an axe, and there's been a rash of axe murders in the area lately, anyone with good reflexes could duck or run in less time than it takes to swing an axe. Of course, you don't actually mention an axe anywhere except the title, so perhaps she doesn't always use an axe.

What you really need if you're trying to sell a book about a killer is a weapon that hasn't been done to death in the movies. Thus I'm providing a list of weapons you might use to fill in the blank in your title, Confessions of a Teenage ______ Murderer.

1. Hoe
2. Tuning Fork
3. Dipstick
4. Baton
5. Turkey Baster
6. Corkscrew
7. Corn Holder
8. Waffle Iron
9. Clarinet
10. Pie


acd said...

I haven't even read the query yet. I just want to say these are the six best guess-the-plots in history.

writtenwyrdd said...

To be truthful, I am not sure that this premise could work. Erasing good feelings with violence? I don't get that, and I honestly doubt an audience would either. Perhaps switch it around to her switch getting flipped by something negative?

Beyond that point, I think you need to think out some of the consequences of carrying around an axe and basic police procedures. There is very little likelihood that a lot of murders won't point, very rapidly, toward your protagonist.

Evil's commentary sums up every other objection I have. I do think that the 'disturbed teen girl goes on twisted killing spree' is potentially a good one, though. (BTW, watch Serial Mom, it's similar to your idea and funny. Fashion victims get an entirely new meaning in this flick.)

Riffing off EE's comments: "The Waffle Iron Murders" is a good title for a comedy mystery. Now, how to kill off people in a variety of amusingly original ways...

1. the obvious: Waffle ironed to death. Griddle marks everywhere.
2. Clouted over head with blunt object (waffle iron).
3. Drowned in butter and syrup with a waffle chaser stuffed down the throat.
4. Strangled by the electric cord.

Well, it's a limited repertoire but amusing.

Anonymous said...

Oh... ugh. This story idea just doesn't have any redeeming qualities that I can find. Taking a light hearted approach to serial killing? Yuck, yuck, yuck.

Word verification ouccln, but looks like "oucch." How appropriate.

Anonymous said...

I won't hack up the story idea. I think just about anything can be a good story if it is written well. Jason and Freddie are legends.

Did any one see Feast? It is proof that a slasher movie can be done in a light hearted and original, fresh way. Of course I'm making the obvious connection between serial killing and slasher.

Sorry, but this one just isn't doing it for me. -JTC

Inkmandoo said...

I smell a contest.

Pooper scooper
Thigh Master
Golf umbrella
Ice cream scoop
dowsing rod
curtain rod
electric wok

acd said...

Back! And...that was one of the funniest query critiques in history, too.

The central plot point sounds like hooey--so if it's not, author, you should include the clinical name of the condition, maybe a line or two about its history or discovery.

Also: she kills Bucky during sex? That sounds...difficult.

Seems like a pretty competent query in terms of telling us what we need to know.

I think I'd enjoy this, but from the query, it's asking for too much suspension of disbelief.

word ver = awwxeno. Man, there is a joke in there but I am just not finding it.

Kate Thornton said...

Writtenwyrd! Waffle Ironed to Death - too funny!

The Waffle Iron Murders:

Chapter 1. My Griddle is Too Tight
Chapter 2. Do I Want to Brain Him? Or Don't I? Or Do I?
Chapter 3. It Looks Just Like Mickey!
Chapter 4. Aunt Jemima and Betty Crocker Step In
Chapter 5. Pancake Make Up

The story just didn't make a lot of sense to me...but there's a kernel of a plot in there that could be developed. I just couldn't buy the main idea and the axe seems like a bad idea.

Anonymous said...

ACD, you're right! That's the best set of GTP's ever! Still laughing.

"Is the new BlindSide album out yet?" (good callback joke)

"I better bring my axe in case some cop gives me trouble".

Anonymous said...

Not to be a spoilsport, but Jason Voorhees of Friday the 13th legendia used a corkscrew at one point.


Anonymous said...

OMG, "Confessions of a Teenaged Hoe Murderer" that is priceless. I agree that axe murders are so passe. I mean there was a whole movie called, "So I Married an Axe Murderer."

I'll suggest random items that I see on my desk:

Thumb tacks
Tape dispenser
Kleenex box
Post-It notes

Well the paperclips can be bent and sharpened

The thumb tacks maybe if you put some poison on them or got lucky with an artery

Tape dispenser is pretty heavy

Kleenex box has pretty sharp corners

Post-It notes if you put enough around someone's mouth and nose might be able to smother someone.

This story could have possibilities by turning the standard formula on its head a little where the protag is the hero AND the villain. I'd say to shorten the query and make sure to highlight the comedic potential as opposed to the murders.

Anonymous said...

This sounds, um, stupid. Of course, it could be redeemed by brilliant writing. I hope this autor submits a new beginning.

GutterBall said...

I wanna be a Teenage Turkey Baster Murderer. Too bad I'm no longer a teenager.

Word ver: olghkuf - the sound you make when killed with a turkey baster.

Daisy Bateman said...

"Confessions of a Teenage Hoe Murderer" sounds like it might be an entirely different kind of book.

Not bad, mind you, just different.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps I have a sick sense of humor, but I thought the premise of this book sounded fascinating and if I read it as a blurb (with the caveat that there would be no axes, but something more subtle and clever as the murder weapon) I would definitely be intrigue enough to pick it up and read it.
I don't really like the title and as I said before, the axe is problematic, but otherwise, I think this is clever and interesting.

Anonymous said...

EE, did you forget wire whisk and eggbeater, or did I miss those novels? The eggbeater murders, right up there with the waffle iron murders. All part of a series called "The Kitchen Utensil Murders," or "Death At Williams-Sonoma."

My next novel is about what happens when someone develops a chemical they inject into the water supply of Atlanta that makes everyone deathly allergic to peanuts. Is it terrorists? Or is it an unknown investor who just bought up the majority of stock in the companies that manufacture and distribute Epi-pens?

As to the query... the title needs a change. I can't imagine myself EVER wanting to read a book with a title that contains both "random thoughts" and "teenage".

I suppose the plot seems maybe a little interesting, but the shrink falling for the 19-year-old nut job seems a bit cliched and predictable. I thought this was going the way of Girl, Interrupted, and I thought the aspect of self-discovery through journaling had potential, but the cheap romance sort of ruins it for me.

Anonymous said...

Um...why would I want to read about this woman? Why would I want to spend any time at all inside her head?

Does she have any redeeming qualities?

If so, you need to put them front and centre, because there's nothing in the query letter to make me want to pick up this book.

I can't sympathise with Therese based on what I've read here. I'm too stunned by the horror of what she does to care if there's any humour or entertainment to be had from this book.

The timing of this is interesting, however. I just got done reading Miss Snark's blog, where she has some flap copy listed for Darkly Dreaming Dexter, which is about a likeable serial killer. The thing to sympathise with in Dexter's case is that he only kills "bad" people. The urge to punish "bad" people has just enough resonance with me that I'm interested in seeing what goes on in Dexter's head, even though he's a murderer.

I'd suggest you think carefully about what sort of things could make the reader like Therese. What does she struggle with that is a universal-enough issue that we can emphathise with her? Try to weave those elements into your query, because your book is stillborn if the agent/editor thinks readers will never be able to relate to the main character.

Also, having Therese kill and eat her boyfriends does sound like a rip-off of Silence of the Lambs. You might want to leave that out of the query letter.

Stacia said...

If she doesn't see anything wrong with her actions, A)she's a sociopath, and Dr. Brian must be spectacularly bad at his job, and B) why wouldn't she confess to them? "Yeah, I chopped him up, so what? Is that a crime or something?"

Anonymous said...

Melon baller?
Cookie cutter?
Ice cube tray?
Crevice tool for my Hoover?
CD rack?

The average home abounds with murderous possibilities.

Anonymous said...

This is the funniest thing I've read all week. I'd read this book because I love the absurd and this definitely falls into that category. And macabre humor is just fine with me, too.

Daisy Bateman said...

Glue Stick?
Eyelash Curler?
Air Freshener?

writtenwyrdd said...

The Kleenex Killer?
The Toilet Tissue Torturer?

Other appliances worth mention could be
1. Dishwasher
2. Diet soda
3. the cat's flea comb
4. Redi-Whip (oops, now is the segue to foodstuffs)
5. Meat Thermometer
6. Juiceman Jr.

magz said...

Oh these are funnnny!
I actually thought the book sounded just off the wall enough to be a really great read but I'm with gutterball: The Teenaged TurkeyBaster.
And Ink-man... and EE..
Murder Weapons You Dont See Everyday!
Death by Douche-bag
TiddleyWink Terrorists
The Deadly Dog Wormer
Suffer the Long Lost Sweat Sox
and of course
The Chicken Choker: Murder Most Fowl on FriedDay the 13th
(I'll be back later when I've composed myself a bit to attempt a little more actual commenting on the query, it sure set off a goofy run in here, I'd read it!)

Stacia said...

OMGs, Kate, I almost peed myself at "It looks just like Mickey!"

Dave Fragments said...

Death by electric toothbrush.
Death by hand massage machine or non-sexual vibrator.
Death by electric wheelchair ala Isadora Duncan.
Death by toenail clippers.

BTW - check the Mythbusters, a kleenex box is deadly in a moving car.

In the movie "Kiss of Death" Richard Widmark plays a giggling, psychopathic hit man who in one scene, ties an old lady to a wheelchair and pushes her down a long, long flight of stairs. This act alone established Widmark as one of the best villians ever to cast a shadow on the silver screen.

I hate to use somebody else's old phrase and then to use it as a cliche' but Therese Randle ain't no Richard Widmark.

Talia said...

That has to be the best critique and 6 potential plot lines I've read. EE you really outdid yourself. And the comments are a scream too - especially Kate's chapter analysis.

Yep the turkey baster got me.

As to the query itself, I would read it, on the proviso it wasn't a teenager and that she used something other than an axe. I mean c'mon she'd have to be an amazon to kill people with an axe. Have you ever tried chopping wood? It's darn hard work, and an amazonian teenager would stick out.

Having said that I like the premise. It sounds like a fun tongue in cheek idea. Echoing the comments on Darkly Dreaming Dexter the plot doesn't give you any reason to like the teenage killer so that needs to be resolved.

The rest is fine. If you're talking about people not remembering happy times - quite simply that's just extreme depression. It distorts your cognitions and skews your memory so you only focus on the negative etc etc. That aspect is believable but I would expect violence to be a result of a situation that is stressful, and stress would be when someone makes demands on you or annoys you. Happiness leading to killing isn't a consistent characterisation as you've explained it, but it could be if you said that the emotion is so foreign that the killer doesn't know how to react, etc etc.

Overall I thought it was a well written query, altho EE's comments were even better. This should go in EE's hall of fame. It's the best critique and plot lines yet!!!

pacatrue said...

I bet if done well there are a bunch of people who would like this book, even though it's not my thing. The main thing to concentrate on is whether or not the query truly captures the tone of the book. I'm guessing the book has a serious sense of humor about it, as well as a fondness for the absurd and macabre. But I'm not quite getting that yet from the query. Yes, the whole plot is absurd, but that's in content right now, not quite in tone. Perhaps there is a way to inject a little more of the spirit of the book into it. Then, as they say, query widely.

"What did you say? Oh no, you did not. Don't make me get out my turkey baster."

GutterBall said...

but Jason Voorhees of Friday the 13th legendia used a corkscrew at one point.

So did Michael Myers, Nick. Not until H20, mind you, but for anyone who was still watching....

I'll suggest random items that I see on my desk: paperclips, thumb tacks, tape dispenser, Kleenex box, Post-It notes...

I wrote a story about that, Anonymous. *snerk* It's on my blog.

It's not that the author's idea can't be done with panache. It's just that anyone in their right mind -- Therese obviously excluded -- would see right through her. A sociopath is fairly easy to spot if anyone's paying attention, and if she's in a psych ward for any reason, I'd think they're watching.

Oh, God, now I'm thinking of Nurse Ratchett! NOOOOO!

Oh, and:

Killed by Kitty Litter
Dismembered by Dental Floss
Brain-bashed by Barbeque Grill
Snuffed by Snausages
Massacred by Mascara
Whacked by Whirligig

Anonymous said...

I find the idea intriguing, but like everyone else I'm not buying the axe. I'd ditch the title in a big way. While 19 might have "teen" in the number, most people do not consider that a teenager.

Talia said...

"A sociopath is fairly easy to spot if anyone's paying attention"

No sorry that's not true. A sociopath can be extremely charming and is capable of adapting their responses to appear to fit in with the environment. A sociopath is not insane, they simply have no conscience.

Besides think of all the neighbours that say, "He was such a quiet man" etc etc

Daisy Bateman said...

Dispatched by Dryer Lint

Anonymous said...

Wait, wait... wait. This starts out as a promising horror plot about a teenage psychopath, then turns into -- what? First a turn into an introspective literary bit, and then -- a romance??? Wait... WHO is the psychopath here? The teenager or her terminally naive psychoanalyst?

While the story got off to a bang, it flounders where it turns completely unrealistic. If she's really an axe murderer (supposing that 1. she's able to tote a very sharp axe everywhere and no one notices and 2. has the upper body strength to wield it with deadly force, and we're already down two strikes with those two assumptions), the crime scenes should be so bloody awful messy that the foresic lab shouldn't have any problem figuring out who did it.

An axe murderer, even if legally "insane" (that being a legal term, not a diagnosis), would not be allowed into a halfway house. She'd be locked up for life.

As for alternative murder weapons, there are a few items that are so frequently misused that I've sometimes been tempted to bludgeon, strangle, or choke people with them, including:
1. cell phones of all kinds;
2. portable music devices with earphones turned up so loud that everyone around can hear them clearly;
3. bottles of perfume that some women drench themselves in until the air around them tastes bitter;
4. wads of gum that people pop and crack with their mouths flapping open, like a herd of lobotomized cows;
5. cars that go BOOM THUMPF THUMPF BOOM!
6. lit cigarette butts tossed out a car window or on the ground -- like they just vanish or something?

Anonymous said...


You owe me a new keyboard. :-P

HawkOwl said...


I hated the work right from the title. Fortunately that doesn't appear until the very end of the query. Unfortunately, I also hate the first sentence of the query. As well as the second and third sentences. I also didn't like any of the rest, but does that really matter?

I think if you're going to write a novel about someone who routinely eats and kills people because she's mentally ill, you might want to not be flippant about it. Either you're finding mental illness, murder and cannibalism humorous, which is sad, or you don't understand that you're writing about topics deeper than shoes and purses, which is just stupid.

I think the only thing that would make this query more of an instant reject is "being female and just sixteen."

Anonymous said...

Right on, Writerious!

2. portable music devices with earphones turned up so loud that everyone around can hear them clearly

Do we ride the same train? a herd of lobotomized cows

How is a lobotomized cow any different from a regular cow?

6. lit cigarette butts tossed out a car window or on the ground -- like they just vanish or something?

I have really really really wanted to print up a number of "The world is my ashtray" bumper stickers and follow people who throw butts out the window (the cigarette kind, not the moon kind) and jump out and slap one on their car at a red light. More than almost any other road idiocy, this strikes me as the ultimate in selfish ignorance.

And irony of ironies: Verification word is lhbnic, prounounced "lob nic" but with a hint of smoker's cough as the nicotine stick is lobbed out the window.

Anonymous said...

"A sociopath is fairly easy to spot if anyone's paying attention"

Talia says: No sorry that's not true.

Correctomundo. I won't go into how I know except to say I married one. (shudder). Not all, even most, are bad people, but they just DON'T get normal people reactions to things.

writtenwyrdd said...

Dunno, hawkowl, humor with such extreme violence attached often works, at least in this society.

We've listed several movies that are comedies already. And there are authors aplenty who fit that genre, including Carl Hiassen of Striptease fame.

If done correctly, it could definitely touch that icky-but-fascinating vein of the American book consumer.

Not my cup of tea, but I like funny horror once in a while.

Anonymous said...

Not to ruin the mood, but out of curiosity, why do you have an axe?

Hey, you got the wood, I got the axe.

Anonymous said...

The premise has potential, but I thought the plot was lacking. I couldn't get a sense of causality. Dr Brian's character is really bad. He's a total idiot and I think he completely deserves to get killed and eaten by Therese.

no coinkydink the wordver is :lot be pew?

Anonymous said...

Let's get the ball rolling soon on this. I want to pick-up a copy at my local bookstore.

Published Won

GutterBall said...

"A sociopath is fairly easy to spot if anyone's paying attention"

No sorry that's not true.

You know, I knew I wanted to reword that as soon as I hit the "post comment" button. I really did mean to add a few modifiers to that sentence, such as:

A murderous, axe-wielding, pleasure-disfunctional sociopath is fairly easy to spot if anyone's paying attention.

And Therese doesn't sound particularly charming or intelligent, which is how functional sociopaths remain hidden for so long.

My bad! *dodges thrown fruit*

acd said...

Writerious: I think she's in a halfway house for beating up a cop, not for axe murder. Right?

Word ver: dtfnrcia: Dump the f'n RCI already!

Unknown said...

I dunno. Not my cup of tea but weird enough to make me raise an eyebrow. So, I guess the query got my attention. With that said, however, why the heck would I want to read this? I agree with December Quinn, you must have redeeming qualities or else the entire book will fall apart.

Now to the really funny ..... these posts are hilarious. The guess-the-plots had me laughing out loud and EE's additions were big-time spew worthy.

Anonymous said...

If she battles against her demons and falls in love then obviously there's something redeeming about her so I don't know what some of you are talking about. I'd be disappointed if she's completely "cured" in the end of the story.

This could be great: chick-lit meets "American Psycho". Awesome.

word verification: zbung (huh huh bung)

Anonymous said...

Neat query though it felt a little long, but I'm not convinced enough by the events in it to suspend my disbelief. But I love this line: "So the question is, does she tell him the truth, or invite him over for dinner?" and I think the fact that the axe murderer is a female is a great twist. But another thing I wondered was, why does she eat them? To dispose of the evidence? That'd be an awful lot of evidence to dispose of.


writtenwyrdd said...

That'd be an awful lot of evidence to dispose of.

Okay, I'll be the one to say it: Axe-wielding, psycho-killer, bulemic cannibalistic teenaged girl

word veri: crhky. Crikey! I miss Steve Irwin :(

Anonymous said...

This one should have come with a keyboard protection warning. I had hot coffee in my mouth when I read this. God it hurts going the wrong direction.

I like inkmandoo's idea too!

Anonymous said...

This thread reminds me of the fine sleeper film Who is Killing the Great Chefs of Europe? in which the victims are killed in the same manner in which they prepare their culinary specialties.

Anonymous said...

Dave said...

BTW - check the Mythbusters, a kleenex box is deadly in a moving car.

Actually, I saw that episode of Mythbusters. They never managed to prove that a Kleenex box would be anything more than an annoyance stiking the back of the head at 75 mph. They did prove, however, that both a bowling ball and an axe were items one should probably not leave unsecured in the back window of one's car.

Anonymous said...

I think it sounds pretty funny, but then I was one of two people in the theater laughing at Mars Attacks. (The other was my son...)

GutterBall said...

I think it sounds pretty funny, but then I was one of two people in the theater laughing at Mars Attacks.

I adore Tim Burton. He craps gold, I swear.

It's a pity you weren't where I saw it, Bonniers. You would have been at least one of five. Maybe six!

Anonymous said...

Mars Attacks is perhaps the most glaringly overlooked example of cinematic genius of the 20th century. The Martians' brains exploding upon hearing the strains of the "yodeling cowboy" was nothing short of comedic brilliance. And that herd of flaming cows at the start had me literally peeing my pants. Well, not literally...

writtenwyrdd said...

Mars Attacks! is about the best movie ever. I can't believe that the whole theatre didn't bust a gut, bonniers. It did when I saw it!

I think that the axe-murdering teen is potentially a funny as hell story. commenters seem to agree.