Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Face-Lift 410

Guess the Plot

Fortune's Fool

1. Upon discovering the elderly King Bronson dead in the garden maze, Prince Gerundin concocts a plan to prevent his elder brother Arlin from inheriting their father's fortune and his throne. Disguising Tortino the Fool as the king, Gerundin proceeds to rule his dead father's kingdom third hand. But Tortino has plans of his own.

2. “Flip” Spencer makes a killing purchasing houses at high prices, slathering on cheap paint, and reselling the same houses for even higher prices. But, when the market changes and interest rate resets loom on his subprime mortgages, can he get rid of his backed-up inventory or will he become . . . Fortune’s Fool?

3. An investigative journalist trains his sights on his own profession in an attempt to discover the identity of the individual responsible for Fortune magazine naming Enron the "most innovative company in America" for six years running.

4. First he was Cathy's Clown, then Doro's Dolt. Each time Charlie falls in love his heart is broken within a few weeks. Maybe everything will be different with his new girl -- or will he end up as . . . Fortune's Fool?

5. Romeo and Juliet are back! Turns out that whole death business was a big misunderstanding. The family feud? Forgiven. Now they have to make the marriage work, and hilarity ensues . . .

6. Dragged to another dimension by a secret agent, Jason will need good fortune if he's to complete a mission for the Queen of Pittsburgh and make it home in time for dinner. Also, a giant river squid.

Original Version

Dear Mr. Evil:

I am seeking representation for my middle-grade fantasy novel, Fortune's Fool, complete at 50,000 words.

Jason Wu has a problem as big as Pittsburgh. Specifically, he wishes he was IN Pittsburgh--and not some crazy flooded-out alternative dimension where the sun has been dark for a year and the residents look more like bugs than people. [You can clarify where he is by changing "and not some" to "instead of this." As it is, there's more than one possible meaning.] According to Scrabb, [Change that to Scabb. Middle grade boys appreciate that kind of attention to their needs.] the secret agent who dragged him here, only the city's Queen can send him home. [A Queen? in the Steel City? Unheard of.] And sticking with Scrabb is the only way Jason will be able to get to the Queen in one piece.

It's a dangerous town. Crazed barbarians subsist in the streets; giant, bloodthirsty snipes soar through the skies; and something with tentacles has made its home in the three rivers. [This place sounds almost as bad as the real Pittsburgh.] On top of that, the local mob is less than thrilled to see Scrabb return--and they don't mind taking out Jason at the same time. [In our world, a secret agent and a local mob wouldn't care about each other. What do secret agents do in the alternate dimension?]

But Scrabb's got a little bit of magic that he brought back from the "real" Pittsburgh, and--unwittingly--Jason has some of it too. When Scrabb is kidnapped by a snipe, Jason must use all his strength, his wits, and some good fortune to not only save him, but to finish the Queen's mission and, ultimately, get back to where he belongs. [Wasn't that the plot of The Fish that Saved Pittsburgh? Except instead of Jason it was Doctor J.]

I am a five-year resident of Pittsburgh [and I feel it's about time somebody told the world what's been going on here]. I have enclosed a few sample pages and would be pleased to provide a synopsis and sample chapters at your request; the manuscript is also available electronically. I have enclosed a self-addressed stamped envelope for your reply. Thank you for your time and consideration.

Best regards,


Two thirds of this describes the setting, and there's very little plot. Why did Scrabb drag Jason Wu to this alternate dimension? If to carry out the Queen's mission, what's the mission, and why Jason? Whether he came for the mission or not, he needs to complete it now, so we should know what it is. How does the magic fit in?

As Dawn of the Dead and Night of the Living Dead are set in or near Pittsburgh, wouldn't a city of barbarians and snipes be preferable? Jason should at least consider staying.


Anonymous said...

I can't really comment on the query, since I'm not a big middle-grade reader.

But I wanted to mention that I personally adore plots 4 & 5! Thanks!

none said...

If the snipes are bloodthirsty, why has one only kidnapped Scrabb? Bloodthirsty implies something a little more violent, involving, perhaps, shedding blood.

Anonymous said...

Although plot elements are left out, this hangs together well. It's logical; it flows; it reads well.

I want to know what the Queen's mission is and what the magic is.


Lightsmith said...

Author, much of the query is phrased in a way that de-intensifies the action you are describing.

For example, you say the local mob is "less than thrilled" to see Scrabb. I'm sure you are using the phrase ironically, but it lacks punch and sounds cliched. Also, by saying the mobsters "don't mind" killing Jason they sound sort of blase about it, which isn't very threatening.

For the tentacled monster, saying it has "made its home" in the three rivers makes it sound domestic. Why not say it lurks under the water?

For the barbarians, instead of saying they "subsist," which makes them sound like half-starved peasants, why not say they prowl the streets scavenging for food?

Hope these suggestions help.

Anonymous said...

I thought this was pretty darned terrific as is.

PS--I used to live in Pittsburgh :-)

Robin S. said...

"A Queen? in the Steel City? Unheard of," made me smile.

This was a really goo dcrop of GTPs - I really liked the weirdness of the realities in #s 2 and 3.

I like some of the thigs I'm reading in the query - the name Scrabb is nasty sounding in a good way, I wanna know about the bit of magic mentioned, but I'm guessing you need more, as was mentioned, in the plot point area.

So, what happens? And does it include the river squid? It would be fun to find out.

Dave Fragments said...

I was born and raised in Pittsburgh, went to high school there, and college, and made my career there. I'm not sure if I should laugh or cry at this. It's kind of satire, ya know. But satire died years ago with the death of disco. I know I attended the funeral.

And another thing, Sophie Masloff the former Mayor of Pittsburgh, is queen of the city. She's a short, jewish grandmother type with a raspy, nasal voice who used to cheer Mario and then penguins with "scratch my back with a hacksaw," referred to Bruce Bedspring (Springsteen), the Grateful Dead as Deadful Dead and their fans as Deadenders. She is, and will be Queen of Pittsburgh and the world's Jewish Grandma.

We need plot details. This query is all setup.

Anonymous said...

Go Stillers!

Chris Eldin said...

I agreed with what Lightsmith said, but I still thought it was a good query. There must be some deep void in my brain that isn't making connections after reading all these queries on EE's blog.

If I had the talent, I'd put up a sign and start a business. I'd read manuscripts and craft query letters for writers. Just that. I'd be a Query Crafter, and I'd be rich, rich, rich.

Good luck author.

winschod said...

Thanks for sharing!