Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Face-Lift 235

Guess the Plot

Semi-Sentient Soap Scum on the Prowl

1. With the cancellation of If I Did It, O.J. Simpson's ghostwriter comes forward to tell his own story.

2. A pharmaceutical genius tries to turn millions of men with hair loss problems into zombies with his brain-sucking Rogaine shampoo.

3. Investigating an attempt on his life, an overworked--but very clean--private eye is drawn into political intrigue when a spacewoman crashes to Earth.

4. At the 2007 Housewares Show, Mike Hawker demonstrates the latest in dishwashing technology: nano soap! But things get out of hand when an unsuspecting book editor, mistaking it for popcorn, swallows a whole bag.

5. When Marge Norge bought her long-abandoned mid-century modern House of the Future, she envisioned a Jetsons life, with herself as Jane in an apron. But the Kitchen of the Future has other plans.

6. Persnickety spinster Amelia Pettipants returns to Boring-on-End to discover her tiny cottage in a mess. Partridge, her char, has disappeared, leaving only a dirty mop bucket as a cryptic message. Can the busybody sleuth find her maid before the Vicar's visit? Or will dust and spotty teacups once again spell murder?

Original Version

Attention Evil Editor:

For Marlowe, an over-worked and oft worked over private eye, resurrection is just the start of another long day where nothing can be taken for granted. Not the bar of soap that just murdered him, not the vacuous-looking dog on the corner that has attained a ranking of chess Grandmaster, [As nothing can be taken for granted, could you clarify whether it's the dog or the corner that's a Grandmaster?] and certainly not the flock of colorful birds that control the city's largest crime syndicate. [This should be a cartoon. The crime boss will be a bird who talks like Edward G. Robinson. Get it? ROBINson.] In the dark streets, underground lairs, and seedy salons of a city rebelling against the tyranny of gravity, Marlowe has his work cut out for him. He has to track down the homicidal soap that killed him so he can find out who hired it and why, [Whom do you ask whether they've seen any suspicious-looking soap? A snitch washcloth?] all while being dragged into the political intrigue that erupts when a spacewoman crashes to earth smack dab in the middle of his investigation.

Semi-Sentient Soap Scum on the Prowl is a 98,000 word novel set in the near future of an alternate reality. [When you're in an alternate reality, how do you know whether it's the past, present or future?] In Marlowe's world, the unbelievable is true, the believable a deception, [So if Marlowe doesn't believe soap murdered him, it did, but if he believes soap murdered him, it's a deception. It sounds like one of those logic riddles where one person always lies and the other person always tells the truth and you have to think of a question to ask that will reveal which is which.] and the absurd commonplace. It is a dark noir science fiction novel with humor in the vein of Douglas Adams' Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy series [It, too, has an amusing title. Any other similarities should be left to the reader to discover.] and Isidore Haiblum's Tom Dunjer novels.

Thank you for your time. If you are interested, I would be happy to send my manuscript for your consideration. I have enclosed an S.A.S.E. for your convenience.


The dog and birds are examples of the world's absurdity, but their role in the plot, if any, isn't made clear. I'm sure there's more here than a series of absurdities. Tell us what happens in the book. All we have for plot is the last sentence of the first paragraph.


Cynthia Bronco said...

I completely baffled. It doesn't mean that I won't be able to suspend disbelief when reading your book, maybe and maybe not.

Stacia said...

I think it sounds like fun. I'd like to see more about the spacewoman intrigue, though, just to get a sense of what it is--do the town elders try to hide her, or kill her, or what?

It isn't my cup of tea, really, but I do think it sounds fun. My brother would probably really enjoy it.

Dave Fragments said...

A detective named Marlowe in a NOIR story. How original. I think that Sam Shovel would be a better choice.

You are way, way, way too enamored of the absurd apsects of your alternate reality. Absurdity is not a plot. In Hitchhikers, Arthur Dent and Ford Prefect are trying to save their lives, and after that - just survive.

In your novel, Marlowe is killed, resurrected, has a spacewoman fall at his feet and gets involved in political intrigue. That's your plot. Oh yes, he's qualified to investigate his own death, objectively and without passion.

What sort of political intrigue? Do the flock of mafia pigeons, chess dog and anti-gravity play a part in the plot (other than to serve as weirdness to disorient the reader)?

And then there's those killer nanomachines in the soap. Who sent them and why? That's got to be part of the plot.

Now as for title:
a) The title of the movie Semi-Tough works because all the characters say "semi-" at various times. And they are half-assed football players.
b) Soap Scum on the Prowl has a nice ring. The Semi-sentient is flogging a dead horse.
c) "Men In Black" was a perfect title. It pointed to the characters and it didn't reveal the absurdity of the plot.

How about "The Case of the Fallen Lady" ???

Bernita said...

Can something sound both turgid and spacey at the same time?

Anonymous said...

I knew it wasn't GTP #4. The title of that one is . . . Evil Editor -The Beginning.

I liked this one when it was submitted under New Beginnings and I am still intrigued. Bad query or no, I would like to read more. -JTC

Anonymous said...

Wow, it's already absurd and zany BEFORE the space lady drops in? This story is way over my head!

Rei said...

"Semi-Sentient Soap Scum"? Author, an appeal: avoid alliteration, as abolishing auditory acrimony achieves an all-important authorial accomplishment.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, rei, and someone once told Spyder Robinson to avoid puns. -JTC

Anonymous said...

Like Dave says, you're obviously in love with the elements of your story. They do sound amusing as hell, and I really would like to know more; but you need to have a story to tell, and I also see nothing to indicate the story.

Also, re the title: Alliteration is NOT your friend here. It sounds not just slapstick, but patronizing. Writing down to your readers will not work in your favor. Make the joke with them, and make them feel smart for getting it because you don't tell them everything.

One final comment: Are you sure that the nano soap is semi-sentient and hired? Perhaps it is just a tool? You are going to have to explain the autonomy of devices like soap--and litter the environment with such items--in order for it to work in the milieu.

Still, if you manage to pull this one off as well as Robert Rankin or Douglas Adams, I'd be a fan!

Dave Fragments said...

The best title I ever read for anything was on a cheesy and nealy unwatchable teen slasher flick. It actually won awards for best title.

It was (get ready now): "Sorority Babes at the Slimeball Bowlerama"

The video store rented that movie day after day just based on the title and the movie was garbage, trash, junk, illiterate manure, and not even a good laugh or a good blood splatter. What an effing waste of good title. That's not how you want to be remembered.

However, all this means one thing:
Good writing trumps all.
So find a better title and go edit your story. You'll be a better writer when you finish.