Guess the Plot
Sunshine Kids Make Money
1. Ten-year-old Sam and his nine-year-old sister Trixie are sick of lemonade stands and dog-sitting. They need some real dough to support their gummy worm habit. Good thing their mom doesn't know about the fake panel in the basement wall--the one that hides their printing press.
2. Although he's an adult, Ivan signs up for a door-to-door sales program called The Sunshine Kids, to try to make some extra money. But when his sales route leads him to a dead body, he decides solving the mystery would be even more fun.
3. A gang of nocturnal art students, the "Sunshine Kids" figure how to make money. Lots of it. They design fabulous bills and print as needed. This works great because no one knows what real money is supposed to look like anymore and Sunshine bills are a lot more attractive than what the Treasury makes. Can Special Agent Dunbar put a stop to it?
4. Julia Pettigrew says the sun shines out of her kid's nose. Boris Llewellyn says he'd pay to see that. Hilarity ensues.
5. After courageously unmasking the 911 widows as the opportunistic whores they are, Ann Coulter is back with a new hard-hitting investigation into the seedy corruption of this “non-profit” organization for child cancer patients. Find out how the Sunshine Kids are raising your taxes, destroying your liberties, and why it’s mostly the fault of the terminal children themselves.
6. Three enterprising children set up a stand on the beach, selling SPF 43 sun screen at a 200% markup. They make a killing and retire millionaires at the age of nine.
Dear Agent Thingy:
I would like to invite you to consider representing my darkly comedic novel SUNSHINE KIDS MAKE MONEY. The book is rather difficult to describe, but here's my best shot: (In pitch form, of course.)
The nameless twenty-something narrator doesn’t really like people. He doesn’t like cars, either. He hates fish and likes to smell everything. He has a subscription to EQUESTRIAN DREAMS, but doesn’t own a horse. [So far you're describing Evil Editor.] He hates Tuesdays and loves Wednesdays. His grandpa left him a house when he died. His grandpa was killed by a lawnmower. He has no idea what alcohol is and he hates small talk. Coca cola commercials frighten him and he talks to his toaster.
[Nameless Twenty-something Narrator: This English muffin isn't even lightly browned! I set you on dark, and this is what you give me? I should have gone with the toaster oven. Sure, it was more expensive, but I'll bet it could have toasted an English muffin. Two at once, in fact. You do this on purpose. Wednesday's my favorite day, and YOU'VE RUINED IT! THIS ISN'T EVEN WARM ENOUGH TO MELT BUTTER!! Was it something I did? Okay, I haven't emptied your crumb tray in ages, and you're probably feeling a little scummy. And there was the time I put a bagel in you and it got stuck. Hey, it's not like my life is without minor irritations. You don't know what I have to put up with. Like pedestrians at crosswalks who amble across the street when they don't have the WALK sign, preventing me from going right on red. If they're in such a big hurry they can't wait for the light to change, WHY AREN'T THEY RUNNING?! HURRY UP! Either you're in a hurry or you aren't, MAKE UP YOUR MIND! People get shot in traffic arguments in California, so don't think I won't run you down, and I'm not kidding!! I'LL KILL YOU!!! I'm gonna give you another shot at toasting this muffin, because I know they take longer than regular bread. I don't know why they take longer, it's one of the unsolved mysteries of the universe, that and why my car keys ARE ALWAYS IN THE POCKET ON THE SAME SIDE AS THE HAND I'M HOLDING THE GROCERY BAG WITH!!! Another thing I have to put up with: people who get the good seats up front at the basketball game and stand up whenever anything mildly exciting happens, forcing everyone behind them to stand up. SIT DOWN!! What's the matter, CAN'T YOU SEE?!!! ARE YOU BLIND?!! YOU WEREN'T HAVING ANY TROUBLE SEEING A MINUTE AGO! Somewhere behind you is someone with a broken leg or a sleeping baby or in a wheelchair who can't jump up EVERY TEN SECONDS!! YOU PAID FOR YOUR SEAT, SIT IN IT! What's that smell? Smells like fish. Disgusting. Have you been toasting fish?!! Did Grandpa put fish in you? That senile old bastard. No, wait, he's dead. I killed him with the lawnmower. Hey, it was an accident. SHUT UP, YOU WEREN'T THERE!!! Oh, and do I have to bring up people at rock concerts who yell and whistle in the middle of songs? The performers are surrounded by powerhouse speakers, with blinding lights in their faces. They can't hear or see you, SO SHUT UP!! Sit down, shut your face, and show some appreciation for the hours of rehearsing the performers put in just so they could put on a quality show. I didn't pay seventy bucks for a ticket to listen to you, WHISTLING AND SCREAMING RIGHT BEHIND ME!! See what I mean? You don't have to put up with that kind of crap. No, you just sit motionless on the kitchen counter, like the big glass jar with grandpa's head in it. You don't even do the one thing I got you for. And after I freed you from the cardboard box that you'd probably still be trapped inside if I hadn't come along. Maybe if you had to watch Coca Cola commercials, or put up with some of these drivers who can't make a right turn into a driveway without practically coming to a complete stop, so that I, who was a half mile behind them when they started slowing down to turn, end up slamming on my brakes or swerving to keep from ramming them, you'd appreciate me more. GET YOUR CAR OUTTA THE ROAD!!! MOVE IT! STEP ON THE GAS PEDAL!! For Christ's sake, where's the ding? Where's the pop-up? WHERE'S MY FRIGGIN' MUFFIN?!!!
Toaster: Hey DIMWIT, did you ever consider shuttin' up for five seconds, and PLUGGIN' ME IN?!!!!!]
No one knows what’s wrong with him, because he’s never been to the doctor.
It could be the result of being raised by his insane, senile grandfather. [Is this a query letter or a psychiatric evaluation? Stop listing stuff about the narrator, and get to the plot. Does anything happen in this book? So far we know nothing (although the talking toaster was cool.)]
Maybe he’s just nuts.
See the world through his eyes as he becomes obsessed with an immoral door-to-door sales program called The Sunshine Kids. During his quest to become a top sales person and win a mountain bike, he discovers a dead body in an alley near his house. He shifts his focus and becomes determined to discover the killer and solve the mystery. (Didn’t I mention that he loves mysteries?) [Amazingly, no; the one character trait you failed to mention is the one relevant character trait he has.]
The world he occupies is offensive, sick, dark, complex and maybe a little crazy. Okay, maybe it’s very crazy.
The first chapter has recently been published in an issue of the online journal EDIFICE WRECKED. I am a recent college graduate with a degree in History Education. My brother and co-author, ___________, is a professional actor/comedian in the Minneapolis area. He is also the In-Arena Game Host for the Minnesota Timberwolves. You can learn more about him at _____________. [If I contact him, will he tell me the plot?] I would be delighted to have you represent me. If you would like to read a sample of my novel please contact me at your earliest convenience at ________________. Thank you kindly for your time, and I look forward to hearing from you. [The credits paragraph is too long, considering it has little info an editor or agent will care about.]
As one of the Guess the Plotters points out, there is an organization called Sunshine Kids, presumably not immoral, so you might need a new name for your own group.
J.D. Salinger revealed to me not long ago that the only reason he gave Holden Caulfield a name in The Catcher in the Rye was so he could start his query, "Holden Caulfield doesn't really like people," instead of "The nameless teen-aged narrator doesn't really like people." Also, when book reviewers describe your plot, they prefer to use the character's name rather than "the nameless narrator," which gets annoying after the third or fourth time. Guess the Plot writers also need names. Would it kill you to give the guy a name?
If you condense your opening into something like
That's as much of the plot as I know, but you know the main storyline, and now you have plenty of room to describe it.
Ivan Gotaname doesn't like people, fish, Coke commercials, or Tuesdays (maybe it's the result of being raised by his insane, senile grandfather, the one who got killed by the lawnmower). But he does love a good mystery.
Obsessed with winning a mountain bike in an immoral door-to-door sales program called The Sunshine Kids, Ivan stumbles upon a dead body. He drops everything, determined to solve the case.
My version makes it sound like Ivan is a kid. Of course, what's a twenty-something guy doing trying to win a bike? Why doesn't he just buy a bike? What's he doing in a program called The Sunshine Kids? Maybe Ivan should be a kid.