Thursday, January 11, 2007

Face-Lift 259

Guess the Plot

Gotta Get A Q

1. Lenny Lonsdale squares off against Xankorr of Gortha IV, in a Scrabble match to save the planet. With Earth hanging in the balance, can Lenny draw the letter he needs for a triple word score?

2. Destined for greatness, marketing genius Quigley Queen inspires a revolution by launching his "Q is the new X" campaign. But when the powers-that-be freaQ, Quigley discovers their retaliation will be Xtreme.

3. Bombshell Bianca has dated a guy for every letter of the alphabet--except "Q." When she meets Quincy, she thinks her quest is finally over--until she notices that Quincy paints his nails pink and carries a man-bag.

4. Sam Bindlestaff died with his face on his typewriter and a spear in his back. The only clue was on the page. Detective Mae Wong read it--the letter "Q." Obviously he was trying to name the murderer, but was it his wife, Quintessa? Was it his butler, Quinn? Or was it--and this was a long-shot--Quentin Tarantino?

5. Joey 'Big Ears' Stromboli left The Family for medical school and an honest life, but Don 'No Nose' Franzia's severe ear wax problem could draw him back into The Outfit. Hilarity ensues as Joey searches pharmacies nationwide for extra long Q-tips, with Don Franzia's crew hot on his tail.

6. Ueen Gwen Uincey rules a ueer land with an enchanted alphabet. The Qirish qwizard, Qrichard Qwick removed the Q from Qwinglish to maq his own new lanquage. Everyone will speak ueerly forever unless Ueen Gwen finds the cave where he hid the Q and gets it back to the alphabet uickly.

Original Version

Dear Evil Editor,

She's so close to becoming a dating legend, she might as well declare herself victorious, but there's still one thing standing in her way: a "Q."

GOTTA GET A Q, a 35,000-word young adult novel, follows former nerd and current bombshell, Bianca Hadrian. In her two years of high school, she's dated a guy for every letter of the alphabet--except "Q." [Of course, she was extremely lucky to be attending the same high school as Zorro and Xankorr of Gortha IV.] When she finds out that the new kid's name is Quincy, she's positive it's her destiny to date him and accomplish her dream. The plan sours when she discovers Quincy carries a man bag, paints his nails pink, and uses jazz hands. [And looks like Jack Klugman.] Chances are he'd rather be the Homecoming Queen than date Bianca. This is a major dilemma—until Bianca has to deal with a catastrophe of tragic proportions.

Bianca's best guy friend dies in a car crash, a guy friend Bianca loved. Bianca regrets her serial dating ways and how superficial she's become, but most of all, misses her friend. [Not enough connection between her loss and her regret. Something like, The loss Bianca feels for Mick reveals to her how superficial her other relationships have been, and she comes to regret her serial dating ways. would be more clear.] Quincy turns out to be a major gay gift [We know he's gay, and I'm not sure what "major" means. "Gift" is sufficient.] from above and soon becomes her rock and confidante. After a month of heart to heart chats, Bianca finds herself crushing on Quincy, complicating her life to the point she'll do anything to get over him--even ruin their friendship.

My short story, "Third Party Candidates," is published in the January/February 2007 issue of New Moon Magazine.

Thank you for your time and consideration. More material can be sent upon request. I look forward to hearing back from you.



The query is well done. I had a few minor complaints, some of which I fixed.

It's the plot itself that gives me pause. Wouldn't this work if Bianca's best guy friend had to move to New Zealand? Because the death in a car crash doesn't, in my opinion, meld with the tone of the setup. Your first paragraph is funny, as I suspect the first part of the book is. I'm not sure how heavy you want to get. Your best friend moving away is bad enough, and still leaves you needing a rock and confidante. Is it necessary to also have a mangled body in a crushed steel death trap, followed by a depressing funeral? I prefer a light book to stay that way; whether the minions will agree remains to be seen.


Anonymous said...

Fag Hag noir?

I was hoping for GTP #6. -JTC

acd said...

You're probably right about the tone, EE, but moving to New Zealand is really comparable to death now that you can text, talk, play games, and shop together online. If he moved to New Zealand, she might just go back to her nerdish ways.

Marissa Doyle said...

I don't think the death is too jarring, plot-wise--moving to New Zealand just doesn't pack the same impact of loss that will kick the main character out of her self-absorption. And yes, you can have funny and death too. Think Harold and Maude.

I think this sounds like a great YA book.

Marissa Doyle said...

Oops--forgot to say that one thing that gave me pause was the "former nerd and current bombshell". What caused that transformation? IMO it takes away from her other, on-camera transformation after her friend's death, which would be more dramatic if she'd always been shallow and self-absorbed and came to realize that there were other ways to go through life. Just one person's opinion, though.

Anonymous said...

This dating venture is a bit too sluttish for YA, IMO. It does sound amusing, though.

And I agree that having your best buddy die is a big downer for a humorous novel...unless he comes back as an interfering ghost who keeps setting her up with the wrong guy (not a Q) but who really si the right guy and the girl rides off into the sunset with him at the very end.

Anonymous said...

So is this the query from a 14 year old?

I'm impressed. I think it sounds like a good mix of funny and poignant.

(And I too am wondering who she got for X and Z--possibly Xavier? But Z?)

Anonymous said...

In reality who -- besides Bianca and possibly her gynecologist -- would care about this date-alphabet thing? Who would even want to know, never mind be impressed? She'd likely qualify for 'ho status among her peers but "dating legend"? You could make Quincy a talking cat instead of this stereotype gay guy. And the deceased could suffer a magical disappearance instead of the typical clumsy car wreck. That would be more in keeping with the fantastic sensibilities of your setup. The story's really a fable about maturing out of childhood narcissism.

Anonymous said...

I went to school with a guy named Zorroster (he went by, you guessed it, Zorro), perhaps that's it. -JTC

PJD said...

I don't think the death is too jarring, plot-wise--moving to New Zealand just doesn't pack the same impact of loss that will kick the main character out of her self-absorption.

What about if the friend moved to Los Angeles and became really shallow and plastic and superficial? (Like David Beckham.) Bianca could then see the transition through texts, emails, phone calls, etc.; it might provide a different sort of wake-up call for Bianca that does not involve actual death. If you want to avoid death, which I'm not sure you do.

And the deceased could suffer a magical disappearance instead of the typical clumsy car wreck.

Where did that come from? Teenagers die in car wrecks all the time (a tragedy that happened to a schoolmate of mine back in the day), but I've never heard of one yet that suffered a "magical disappearance." Disappearances, sure, but they usually involve something much more sinister than magic. You might as well say "alien abduction."

It seems to me that the author is trying for a realistic story with sincere depth of emotion and passion and self-image issues that teens go through. I think adding a strange magical event just to create an artificial plot point is much more clumsy than a car wreck.

Marissa Doyle said...

"This dating venture is a bit too sluttish for YA, IMO."

Oh, baby. Go pick a Gossip Girls book. Or "Rainbow Party". This story is Louisa May Alcott compared to some of the YA out there.

Anonymous said...

I agree, it sounds plausible for YA. The death-leading-to-self-questioning sounds like a completely believable development for the book, but I can see where you might want to make that connection clearer in the query.
Zachary? Zebulon? Zafrullah? Zippy? Zoltar the Magnificent?

Anonymous said...

Re: Everyone who wonders about the "Z." Umm, Zach? Zane? Zeke?

Anyway, I really like the idea. Good job, author!

HawkOwl said...

Yeah, Zach and Zane are pretty common, and now that it's fashionable to misspell your kid's name on purpose, Zavier and Zander seem to be gaining ground. Though it would be spicier if she had dated Zoe instead. Or, Zowie Bowie.

Anyway. As for the query, I couldn't think of anything to say about it that Miss Snark would allow on her blog. That's how highly I think of the plot device. And there's gotta be a better title option that this.

Good luck with it.

Anonymous said...


Leah said...

I don't really like the premise much. You'd have to be pretty funny to make this work for me.

I'm seventeen, and I don't like the cutesie books with bright pink covers in the YA section. When I read Kavya Viswanithans plagurized book, I just thought it was dull.

This might be funny, but you haven't shown me that it is.

I also don't know if you should include New Moon. That's the lit magazine for younger girls with the oil and pastel covers, right? I used to read it. Your query letter is well written, more so than some of the ones written by older writers, so I don't know that it strengthens your case any to mention New Moon, when the pieces in there weren't that great.

I do wish you the best of luck. Please note that my comments are mostly based on my personal taste. Your query was very well written and clear. I think you have good things ahead of you.

Anonymous said...

I agree that the tone's going to have to be dead-on for this to work. After all, twenty-five guys in two years is about a month each, with time off to visit Grandma for Christmas.

Either way, an editor is going to love or hate the premise. Not many wishy-washy responses, I bet.

Anonymous said...

There are currently seven Zacharies in my kid's elementary school, and one Zane. Two Zoes, which as Hawkowl suggested would certainly raise an eyebrow.

As for mode of death, there were three kids who died in my highschool. One from complications after a surgery, and two from suicide. Where I come from, the car wrecks tend to happen just after graduation.

Anonymous said...

Er, the query said she dated every guy in the alphabet, not that she slept with them. Or has dating become synonymous with sex now? And if so, what's it called when a guy and a girl goes out to a movie or something sans sex?

Anonymous said...

And if so, what's it called when a guy and a girl goes out to a movie or something sans sex?

That's called being married.

Anonymous said...

And if so, what's it called when a guy and a girl goes out to a movie or something sans sex?

Erectile dysfunction.

Anonymous said...

And if so, what's it called when a guy and a girl goes out to a movie or something sans sex?

It's called "Our last date."