Friday, December 08, 2006
Guess the Plot
Dead Woman's Pass
1. After mild-mannered Amelia Pettipants is hit by a bus, dies, and returns as a zombie, Dallas Cowboys' scout Fierce Weeney discovers her uncanny arm strength. Now it's fourth and long in the NFC championship game. Can Pettipants hit T.O. on a post-pattern to get her team to the Super Bowl?
2. Separated from her parents during a train crash in a blizzard, twelve-year-old Samantha Bright has done everything she can to survive. Can she hold out until the St. Bernard with the hot cocoa arrives? Or will she feast on the remains of her governess?
3. Waitresses Betty Jean Pettijean and Hetty Lou Pettigrew lucked out when a pass to the opening of the new Wax Museum was found in the tip jar. But one of the exhibits looks strangely like their boss, Nettie Dawn Pettijohn.
4. Sophronia Ilkes does NOT want to be known as the Virgin Zombie. But all the zombie males have lost the urge, and most even the equipment. Is Ronie brazen enough to entice a living man to devirginate her? More to the point, is she fresh enough?
5. Village snoop Amelia Pettipants discovers the body of Lady Bulgrim stuffed into the red phone box at the end of the lane, a Eurorail Pass flattened across her nose. Both the village doctor and Miss Nasale, the French teacher, have disappeared. Will the busybody sleuth discover the murderer before the next train to Calais?
6. To escape the serial killer who's after her, Annie flees Connecticut for the safest place she can think of: Dead Woman's Pass, the highest point on the Inca Trail to Machu Pichu in the Peruvian Andes (approx.13,650 feet). But the killer is one step ahead of her.
I am seeking representation for my 88,000-word suspense novel which takes place in Cuzco, Peru, and Connecticut’s Gold Coast. Because of your interest in suspense and women’s fiction, I think Dead Woman’s Pass will be a good fit for your agency.
A young, socially naive veterinarian lands the job of her dreams in the emergency department of the local veterinary teaching hospital. After she suffers a brutal rape, the police tell her what she can barely comprehend—her assailant is wanted in a string of murders across the South. In order to survive, she must disappear. [How is it known the killer will obsessively come after her, rather than leave the area and choose another random victim?]
Plunging her car into a swollen river on a moonless night, she buries what’s left of her life in the silt deposits of the Tennessee River. Her old life and identity are dead. Annie Elliott flees to the safest place she can think of—the sacred sanctuary of the Incas, tucked in a remote rainforest high in the Andes. [Are you kidding? That's the first place he'll look for her.] [Shouldn't she have driven her car to the airport instead of into the river? I assume she takes a plane to Peru. They're going to want to see her driver's license a few hundred times at airport security. Did she bury that part of her identity in the silt deposits?] But she doesn’t feel safe at all. [Hey, if you don't feel safe in the sacred sanctuary of the Incas, you're never gonna feel safe.]
All Rick Helms wants is a family of his own. But when his pregnant wife, Lanie, succumbs to acute leukemia just months after the wedding, that dream dies along with her. On a much-needed vacation to Cuzco—a trip that Lanie had planned before her death—Rick is forced to confront his grief. [Annie choosing to hide in Peru seemed preposterous. The death seems awfully fast. That Lanie had planned another major trip so soon after their honeymoon seems odd. And that Rick goes on the trip alone while grieving strikes me as implausible. I certainly hope nothing else far-fetched happens in the next couple lines.]
On a train high in the Peruvian Andes, their worlds collide when Annie saves Rick from gun-toting guerillas by yanking him from a moving train. Stranded miles from Cuzco, there’s nowhere to run and only one way out—an arduous trek along the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu. [There should be at least two ways out: the direction the train was going, and the direction it was coming from.] Dead Woman’s Pass weaves a bittersweet tale of friendship between a man and a woman whose lives have been ripped apart—and a serial killer who will stop at nothing to fulfill his mission. [Still not sure why this is his mission. He goes from a random killing spree across the South to a single-minded hunt to the ends of the Earth for one specific person?]
I’m a Connecticut native, veterinarian and writer, with a passion for suspense novels. I’ve lived in Peru, hiked the Inca Trail, and the country and its people hold a special place in my heart. [Wait a minute. Are you saying this whole thing is autobiographical?] I am currently working on my next novel. [In it, an Ohio woman goes on one blind date and later finds she can't get rid of the nerdish guy, so she burns down her house and moves to Outer Mongolia.]
I have enclosed a synopsis for your consideration. If you’d like to see more, I’d be happy to send the completed manuscript. I look forward to hearing from you.
Can't Annie go to Peru for some reason other than to escape a serial killer? Like a vacation? Then she and Rick can run from the gun-toting guerillas instead of the serial killer. What serial killer in his right mind is going to drop everything to follow someone to Machu Picchu? I realize Hannibal Lecter tracked down his warden somewhere, but that was different. He was craving a specific cut of human flesh, one that would complement his favorite Chianti.
How do you get yanked from a moving train? I mean, you're sitting on a moving train, enjoying the view of the ravines below, and suddenly gun-toting guerillas burst into your car. It looks like you're a goner--and then someone unexpectedly yanks you off the train?
No doubt you've made all of this believable in the book, but in the query it sounds forced. If this is an adventure story in which Rick and Annie become a romantic item, I'd skip the heavy stuff like the rape and the serial killer and Lanie, make Rick a bachelor, and set the whole thing in Peru. Also, change the guerillas to gorillas, and change the title to Gorillas on a Train.