Sunday, July 08, 2007

Face-Lift 373

Guess the Plot


1. By day, she lived in the woods, chased after squirrels, and snoozed in the sunshine. But by night she wore grey flannel suits and traded the Japanese markets. She was . . . Werewoman!

2. Butch, Guts, and Ripper are pleasantly surprised when a rare female werewolf joins their pack. Tension ensues, however, when the three pals turn against one another in hopes of winning the position of Alpha male, and the affections of . . . Werewoman.

3. When Timmy goes missing on a winter field trip, only one person can penetrate the gloom of the Arctic, find the eco-terrorist's hideout, and rescue the boy before it's too late: wildlife photographer Jane Eminescu, the notorious . . . Werewoman.

4. When Noah Fenton is seduced and bitten by a mysterious woman during a night of debauchery, he doesn’t think much of it--until the next full moon causes his penis to shrivel and crawl inside his body, and he becomes . . . Werewoman.

5. She was an ordinary Persian until the accident that sent her flying from her owner's limousine window into a dark alley . . . Now, every full moon, this stray cat becomes a bar-hopping little pussy known as . . . Werewoman.

6. Denise didn't know what was wrong with her until Dr. Schadenfreude worked magic with a scalpel, a suture and liposuction. Now he's Dennis, one of those who once . . . Were women.

Original Version

Dear Agent,

When Noah Fenton is seduced and bitten by a mysterious woman during a debaucherous night in Mexico, he doesn’t think much of it. But back home in San Francisco four weeks later, he transforms into a beautiful woman when the next full moon rises. [I've been in San Francisco, and believe me, what goes on there has nothing to do with the moon.]

Noah is terrified at first – watching your penis shrivel and crawl inside your body is hard on a guy – [Unless, like Evil Editor, he regularly swims in Lake Superior in February, in which case he's used to it.] [If Noah doesn't want to watch his penis shrivel, he might consider wearing pants, at least when the moon is full.] but he soon realizes the potential of his peculiar situation. [He can now wear ladies' undergarments without fear that he'll be involved in an accident requiring hospitalization, and he can stop pretending he likes pro wrestling.] As the moons come and go and he changes sex for three days every month, he begins to crave the spotlight that shines on beautiful women. He's also educated in the wonders of womanhood in ways most men would kill for: from studious explorations of his female anatomy [This is starting to get a little weird.] to being on the receiving end of clumsy pick-up lines. [Not even EE would go so far as to kill just to hear some woman say, "Is that a rejected manuscript in your pants, or are you just happy to see me?"]

But not all discovery is fun. Noah can’t find the courage to tell his friends and family what's happened to him, [Hey, his friends would envy him. And his mother was probably hoping for a girl from the beginning.] and his baffling journey is taken alone. After he’s unjustly fired from his job as an editorial assistant at the San Francisco Independent, he plots to use his female body to expose his unscrupulous boss. In high heels and a little black dress, Noah expects to breeze through a plan to avenge his firing. Will he learn in time something all women know, that some men don’t take no for an answer? [That sounds like your plot, those last three sentences. I'm not sure you need much of what's in paragraph 2; in fact some of it may be hurting your cause.]

Inspired by the werewolf myth, Werewoman is 72,000 words. My short stories have been published in the Apalachee Review, Literal Latte and Catalyst, the student literary journal of UC Santa Barbara. I have never, to my knowledge, turned into a woman under the full moon.

I’d be happy to send you a copy of the manuscript for your review. Thank you for your time.



Inspired by the werewolf myth . . . or by Werewoman? Check out these 12 comic book covers (7 on page 1 and 5 on page 2). Hilarious. Some of them sound just like this plot.

At times it sounds like comedy, at times like serious business. Comic relief is okay in the book, but if it's not a comedy you don't want your query to hint that it is.

I'd dump the isolated facts about Noah and his situation, and provide more info about his plot. Why was he fired, and what's he doing about it?]


Dave Kuzminski said...

At least he wasn't bitten by a tse-tse fly or he might have become a fly by night. ;)

writtenwyrdd said...

Oh, my. Your plot does unfortunately follow the comic book's plot, going by the covers at least.

I realise that this sort of accidental repeat is disheartening; but I think that the comparison is even worse because your query letter makes the plot elements sound rather florid.

Anonymous said...

I don't know which would be worse for a man: Reading about Noah's shrinking penis OR being forced to sit through the Vagina Monologues with my Mother.

Heather Dudley said...

I swear I've seen this before, in short story form. Possibly Realms of Fantasy, at some point? I read a lot of sci fi/fantasy rags, so it could be anything, really.

It just doesn't sound original to me, and honestly, wouldn't pick it up in a store.

Peter Damien said...

Well. Weirdest plot ever.

You know, he's in San Fransisco. If he said "I turn into a woman for three days, once a month," his friends would probably not bat an eye. Some of them may do the same thing as well.

You could get a hilarious scene out of a Cinderella-type scene where "she" is kissing the prince right at midnight on the third night. Changes, and hilarity, would ensue. Well, something would ensue anyway.

Rachel Green said...

I can't help wondering if the writer realised what woman go through during the three days of full moon.

Dave Fragments said...

Familar? Familar?
Try "transgender" in the Nifty Erotic Story Archive.
Try the "male to female" section of Choose Your Own Change website.
Try Fictionmania, a huge archive of trnasgender fiction.
Try "The Other Sex" in the Transformation Story Archive.
Men turning into women is a grand theme of a whole lot of amateur erotic fiction out on the web.

I was hoping this was a werewolf story. They seem to be as popular as vampire novels and paranormal creature feature stories.

Anonymous said...

EE: I think the label for this one should be "Contemporary Paranormal" rather than "Contemporary Fantasy." Paranormals feature supernatural characters such as vampires, ghosts, angels and werebeasts in a world where these things are extrordinarily rare. Stories set in a world where these things are more expected (like Buffy), would fall under the "Urban Fantasy" label. But that's just splitting hairs (or possibly fur), and much of it is gray area.

Shame on you for including that link to the comic books without a spoiler advisement. Now all I can think to ask the author is if he thought about the pregnancy angle...

Played up for real laughs, this could work. EE points out the query hints at humor, but it is hard to tell just by reading this on which side of the laugh line the story lies. I'm hoping it's a paranormal chic lit romp.

It may also be appropriate in a query for a story like this to include the level of sex in it. I think agents will be wondering. Sensual, spicy, erotic, sweet?

Anonymous said...

Man, that's cold: You break up with your boyfriend and this is your revenge?

Has he read it yet?

Evil Editor said...

As Contemporary paranormal isn't a label I've used, this would be the only query with that label, so I just added urban fantasy. I do have paranormal romance, but I don't see the romance angle here.

I'm wondering if the comic book covers are real or gags. Based on the prices these would have come out in the late fifties, and some seem a bit wild for the time. On the other hand, if you're creating gag covers you usually wouldn't make 12 with the same title.

writtenwyrdd said...

EE, if you think these appear a bit wild for the times, you should check out the Judge a Book By Its Cover blog, especially this post:

BTW, Author, I lived in SF for 12 years. If you do not intend humor by using that as the main character's home town...maybe change his residence to Barstow or something???

Anonymous said...

They look like reworkings--on the home page there's a panel that's obviously been redone. In fact, if you look at the seal, they say something about being lovingly redone.

AmyB said...

Maybe I don't get around enough, because I've never seen anything like this before. I thought it sounded cute and funny.

Dave Fragments said...

Those aren't "gag" comic covers. The gang over there is seriously involved with transgender stories. Someone made them up as what they would have wanted to buy in the 50's.

Where I used to work, we had a transgender person (male to female) and all I can say is that it was a learning experience for all involved. I don't mean that in a perjorative way. The people who pay attention to things, learned good things and the jerks who never wanted to understand it, still don't understand. Most of the desire to change sexes is mental not physical.

This story is a bit of a throwback to the Greek Legend of Tiresias, who after striking snakes was turned into a female and eventually back to male. Then when he commented to Zeus and Hera that women ahd more fun, Heras struck him blind and Zeus contered by giving him 7 lifetimes and his abilities as a seer. From this we get the twisted snakes of the Caduseus.

I don't think that WereWoman who changes once a month (a lunar cycle) is ever going to reach that level of mythic proportion.

Regardless, It would have an audience if it was well written. Yanno, Miss Snark used to say write the best story you can and make it good and you will get an audience. I think this fits the "good writing will trump all" situation.

Robin S. said...

I'm with amyb,

I liked the idea of this.

I liked reading this query. It was funny, and so were EE's asides, especially-
"Not even EE would go so far as to kill just to hear some woman say, "Is that a rejected manuscript in your pants, or are you just happy to see me?" And the shrivel job in Lake Superior - belying the name. Good one.

And I liked the author's line -"But not all discovery is fun."
We've all been there, or I guess 'we' all have, anyway.

Bonnie said...

Well, the idea certainly isn't that original, as others have pointed out, but there's not enough about the plot to tell whether your treatment of it is interesting, original, insightful, or just plain funny. I get the impression that you've got a chick lit style story, where the boss falls in love with the woman side of him. But it also sounds like it could be serious -- like maybe he's going to trigger the boss's sadistic serial killer streak or something.

I don't get any feel for what's at stake for the main character, or why getting his job back is so important to him -- or why he lost it in the first place, for that matter.

Anonymous said...

So he changes into a woman. That it? Ohhh, THOSE three days of the month - when wimmen howl at the moon and bite the menfolk for acting like complete slobs who drop mayo on the floor so you slip and crack your head on the tool box and trip over the broken iron's trailing flex and you just want to scream but you bite him instead. Those days.

I'd read it if it involves rending apart useless males. The second paragraph is puerile: teen boy groping fantasy bleah.

Robin S. said...

Anon 1:02 - Are you telling me that if you were a male and you changed into a female for three days - you wouldn't take a good, hard, uncompromising and unabashed look at your new anatomy?


I think this must be one of those "you call it corn, we call it maize" kinds of know, where you'd call it puerile, and others might call it their own personalized anatomical, stopwatch-free adventure. At least Noah's gotten something tangible from his night of debauchery.

Anonymous said...

I'm saying I wouldn't read it, is all. You think an agent reading that second paragraph's gonna go, "Wow, maize."

Robin S. said...

No, anon - I don't think they'd say "maize".

Absolutely not.

Anonymous said...

I call it a-maize-ing!

(Not really. Just popping in to make the obvious joke. Leaving now.)

Twill said...

No one commented that losing a penis was hard on him?

That choice of wording is suspect, if it isn't comedy.

Anonymous said...

Will he learn in time something all women know, that some men don’t take no for an answer?

Uh...this sounds like rape. In fact, that is rape. The rest of your query, what with the dick-shriveling and anatomy-inspecting, sounds pretty light-hearted. If you're really saying that s/he is suddenly in danger of being raped and realizes too late how fragile we poor women are, then I think you need more of a segue into the real danger, or if it's not rape/real physical danger, you need some different phrasing. Rape is not funny or light.

batgirl said...

Heather, there was a funny story in F&SF sometime last year, about a gay guy who got a dog after a bad breakup, and the dog turned into a woman during the full moon. She helped set him up with his cute vet, I think.
That might be what you're remembering? (ooh, word ver is mrbyen - mr. bean?)