Thursday, December 21, 2006

Face-Lift 249

Guess the Plot

The Ituri Project

1. Tammy Ituri is nice, but she's the ugliest girl in school, which makes her perfect for Tina Winston's term project in fashion merchandising class. But as the makeover progresses, Tina realizes nothing is working. Should she admit defeat and accept a "C" in the class, or will blue hair dye, false eyelashes, and a sequined tube-top save the day?

2. Jim Knife wants to retire with a bang: introducing the miracle vaccine developed by his company. But as employees of the company begin mysteriously disappearing, it's up to a lowly college intern to discover the truth about . . . The Ituri Project.

3. Picking on the junior-most capable CPA, Jason Barlow's accounting firm sends him to Africa to sort out the financial mess at an uplift project he considers a worthless waste of money. That is, until he's been there a few weeks and gotten to know the Ituri. But now the backing company agrees with his earlier assessment and wants to pull the plug.

4. Psychic Rod Mayhem can read the future, a talent that puts him at the top of the heap of international arms dealers. But peace breaks out in war-torn Ituri. Is this his chance to reconcile with his ex-lover Glenda Goode, head of the Ituri food bank?

5. Scientists Jack and Imelda Ituri drill through the Antarctic ice cap -- straight into a pocket of Mesozoic soil. Ancient spores sprout in the lab, producing gigantic parasititic brain-sucking amoebas. They'll quickly destroy humanity if 14 year old Jamelda Ituri can't kill her parisitized Zombie-ized parents before they escape to Australia.

6. Ugandan land owner Hema Lendu and Democratic Republic of the Congo strongman Ernest Wamba vie for the Rainforest Cafe Franchise. But Ituri pygmies have other ideas as they successfully mount their own media blitz and land a spot on American Idol.

Original Version

Dear Agent:

What if the world’s most powerful company held the secret to its most powerful cure?
[Three possibilities.
1. The company guides the cure through the painstakingly slow patent and FDA approval processes. Hundreds of thousands die.
2. Insider trading by the company's employees alerts the world that something's up, and manufacturers of less-effective cures sabotage the project. Millions die.
3. The CEO realizes that the product will eliminate all disease, putting them out of business, and thus terminates all research and production. Billions die.]

That question lies at the heart of my novel, THE ITURI PROJECT, a thriller about an intern who stumbles upon a dark secret at America’s largest company. [Exxon-Mobil has the secret to the world's most powerful cure?]

Brian McAllister is struggling to prove himself in a cutthroat jungle. Only months away from earning a degree, he’s counting on his internship at API to land a job after graduation. That’s when he uncovers a simple mistake buried in the company’s paperwork. [He discovers a minor error in the translation of the Pakistani research scientist's report: The part where it said, The drug is toxic, lethal, and could wipe out humanity if released, was translated as The drug will cure all disease.] But as he digs deeper, the world outside Brian’s cubicle begins to crumble.

That’s because Jim Knife, API’s star CEO, has just announced his retirement – sending shockwaves through boardrooms everywhere. As power players [Will Spoon and Les Fork] begin to maneuver for Knife’s position, the chief executive quietly orchestrates his greatest achievement yet – [A spork that actually works.] a revolutionary new vaccine worth billions. Knife plans to launch the vaccine and topple API’s competitors, but another employee – Daniel Kamat – threatens to blow it all by going public first. [How does that blow it all? If the vaccine is better than anything else, does it matter when it goes public? Are you saying Kamat is coming out with his own vaccine?]

Meanwhile, Brian’s search soon leads to a disturbing discovery – illegal payments authorized by a top API executive to dozens of employees. When those employees begin to disappear, Brian goes head-to-head against the powerful API in an effort to save his life and discover the truth behind the Ituri Project. [What better way for this lowly intern to land a job after graduation than to bring down the company he's working for?]

I have a degree in English Literature, and have spent the past seven years working with executives at two Fortune 100 firms. [Now that I've been fired, I'm blowing the whistle on them. Revenge shall be mine!] Most of the market knowledge and business insight described in this book was learned during that time.

THE ITURI PROJECT is approximately 90,000 words in length. May I send you the completed manuscript? I’ve enclosed a self-addressed, stamped envelope for your reply.



How does this intern seem to have access to more information than anyone else in the company? What does this vaccine do? What is Kamat threatening to do, exactly? What is the simple mistake Brian stumbles upon? A few answers in the query would mean fewer questions arising.


Anonymous said...

I really like your story, author. The rosy-cheeked intern stumbling across the "error" is intriguing to me. If I were you I'd stay with that a little more in the query.

Instead, you keep "walking up the ladder": now this guy is retiring, NOw they have a great vaccine, etc. Does the great vaccine derive somehow from the mistake that rosy found? Does that mean it's less great than people think?

I guess I feel like I don't know what the climax is here. I thought that finding the error was the major plot point but it's mentioned once and disappears. In my opinion it was the most exciting part of the story.

Also, EE is right. How does an employee "going public" negate the successful result of hundreds of millions of research dollars which found a great drug? In this industry, everybody knows way ahead of any announcements when a company has a blockbuster in the pipeline. What does "going public" mean anyway? If he granted an interview and said "I'm a minion at this company that has a great vaccine coming out," the reporter would say "Yeah, that was already leaked twenty times before."

I think this is a really good one.

...dave conifer

Zany Mom said...

I agree the query needs tightening, but I'd read this.

Rei said...

Judging from Miss Snark's responses to the hooks, I think you're trying to cover too much of the plot here. As a consequence, you're not focusing as much on the most interesting elements, and are raising questions that you don't have space to answer.

Anonymous said...

Internships in "big companies" and a bachelor's degree in English seem like obtuse preparation for writing about cutting edge science. When I read that I'm even more concerned that the sketchy approach to the science in the letter will prevail in the manuscript. I don't think this kind of plot can work if you don't get the science or economics right. You need to include enough specifics to make it clear that you're talking about a vaccine for a real disease and tell what problem is motivating all these murders etc.

Anonymous said...

There are tons and tons of people with non-science backgrounds in companies like API. I haven't read this story, of course, but I'm guessing that the rosy-cheeked intern is one of those.

Most of the hair-sprayed, glib talkers from the big pharmaceutical companies have never even seen a test tube. This premise could work.

Anonymous said...

I think this is a great story line. If the writing is good it will be worth reading. -JTC

Word verification: wfkarmx

karmx, it keeps your lips moist and soft.

Anonymous said...

I always think it's best to avoid rhetorical questions, at least when starting a query out. You see what EE did, and this is pretty much what a lot of people do in their heads when they read rhetorical questions. It sets you up for an argumentative reader - and slush pile readers (like me [cue evil laugh]) get pretty snarky when they read this kind of thing in the opening line.

Anonymous said...

Thanks to everyone who has responded here about my query for The Ituri Project. I appreciate your thoughts and suggestions (even the sarcasm - when it's well deserved). I'll take all of this into consideration for my revised letter. Hope you all have a very happy holiday and a great 2007!

Dave Fragments said...

I really liked the "gigantic parasititic brain-sucking amoebas"

As for the story, I think the query has to focus on one person and not a plethora of people.

BTW - Exxon is absolutely the most secretive company.

And another thing- API as the company name: API stands for American Petroleum Institute for anyone working in petroleum, oil, gasoline or energy business. You might consider changing the names.

Anonymous said...

A conspircy theory action book? One word: FUN!



But of course, you MUST, MUST, MUST listen to EE's suggestions. Or you get some spankies and stuff.

Must spam more, cause the ogre might be home for holidays, flossing with my internet wires again...

Anonymous said...

Nut, have you been drinking, I mean eating you banana pudding again?

Just wondering.

That aside, I like conspiracy books 2. I mean, I'm being wrongfully prosecuted for a crime I didn't commit, just cause I'm... errr... special.

An' if that's not a conspiracy, I dunno what is!

Anonymous said...


Actually it was Butterscotch.

Anonymous said...

#3 sounds like my dad. He was hired to fix some financial mess for a construction company in North Africa in 1973. It should have been a six month job, but he was stuck there for seven years!

Anonymous said...

Nut likes Frangelico or Amaretto. They're made from nuts.

Eww, then Nut would be a cannibal!

Anonymous said...

Good luck with this. I'd read it. But drop the part about the literature degree and the experience with working for big companies. That really doesn't matter if the writing isn't there.

Anonymous said...

Sorry, chumplet, never tried those...

See, the thing with this poor nut is, well, that I'm not a drinker. Just a nut.

Still, if you drop into my loony bin, feel free to bring amaretto. Ogre loves it!

Anonymous said...

I liked fake plot # 1--sounds like a fun YA read (or an episode of Zoe 101).

As for this, I got tired of reading it.

The set-up question isn't interesting. The largest company holds the secret to its most powerful cure? The largest company holds the secret to the world's most powerful cure?

What are you really trying to say here? A powerful new cure is in the hands of a large company only interested in profits-right?

Brian the intern discovers a mistake in the paperwork. He digs deeper. Why? Why doesn't he call the mistake to his supervisor's attention? That's what interns do, isn't it.

The question has been asked-how does Kamat's going public screw up the plan by Knife to launch the vaccine? Does it just mean that Kama will get credit instead of Knife? That has no effect on Brian.

I'm guessing that both lowly intern Brian and Kamat have discovered that the great vaccine isn't going to work the way Knife thinks. And the illegal payments have something to do with how the company got great results.

But if that's it, none of this story makes sense. Because I think there would have to be some (semi) independent study of the vaccine before FDA approval. (This is in America, right?)

Tell me I'm wrong about the story.

The story sounds like David and Goliath--but we need to be clear who Goliath is. Is it Knife? Kamat? The top API officials?

Somehow, I'm not buying this yet. I don't feel any confidence based on this query that this is a good story worth the read.

Good luck.