Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Face-Lift 489

Guess the Plot

Hitting the High Notes

1. Marco knew that becoming one of the sultan's eunuchs would mean he'd never father a child. What he didn't know was that it also meant he would be cast in the role of Lauretta in Puccini's Gianni Schicchi.

2. Carl Fetterling wins a scholarship to Julliard to study voice. But his dreams of singing all the great baritone roles of opera turn upside down when his beautiful teacher presses him to become a countertenor. Hilarity ensues.

3. Unlike many "singers," Georges Jones knows she can't sing to save her life. However, she's been known to kill small animals and fish with the sound of her singing voice. Which gives her an idea. Realizing she can forever rid the world of Paula Abdul, she tries out for American Idol.

4. When failed tenor Roberto Gambini hears a gorgeous, haunting song in the woods, he's instantly enchanted. He must find the amazing singer and bring her to the stage. But how can he, when the singer is Kadrille, a young centaur?

5. Baritone Lorenzo Pazzazzi, trying to recover from bad reviews, poses as a kidnapped celebrity running from the environmental kooks known as the Green Socks Gang. Will his ruse win the heart of unemployed Maggie Duncan, or is Pazzazzi singing the wrong tune?

6. Tired of playing just the bass notes, and desperate to get closer to hunky flautist Toby James, symphony tuba player Martha Carlson switches to piccolo. Will Toby fall for Martha once she starts . . . Hitting the High Notes?

Original Version

Dear Evil Editor:

Hitting The High Notes: Carl Hiaasen meets Thelma and Louise (sans cliff dive).

[How do I hate thy first line? Let me count the ways.

1. It's quite likely that your query is going to be read by a twenty-year-old intern English major who's studied Milton and Keats and who reads romance in her leisurely hours, and who never heard of Carl Hiaason unless she remembers his name from the credits in the movie Strip Tease.

2. She was also two years old when Thelma and Louise (sans cliff dive) came out, and if she's seen it at all, the only thing she remembers about it is the cliff dive.

3. Okay, she probably also remembers Brad Pitt.

4. Sans.

5. If she looks up the movie on the Internet, she'll find it's about an Arkansas waitress and a housewife who drive cross-country pursued by federal authorities after killing a rapist. Having looked ahead, I don't see it as the best comparison.]

South Floridian, Maggie Duncan, [Two unnecessary commas in the first four words has me worried I'll be commatose by the end of this.] is flirting with fifty. [She'd have better luck if she flirted with just one! Ba-dum-tsss.] Her hormones wreak havoc. Her job’s outsourced to India and she’s still navigating the shoals of mourning after her mother’s death when she meets by chance AWOL opera singer Lorenzo Pazzazzi who is nursing a bruised ego from bad reviews To pass time during his self-imposed exile, Lorenzo cooks up a scheme to win Maggie’s sympathy, and affection. Posing as a kidnapped celebrity on the run from [How can he be both kidnapped and on the run? Also, I'm picturing this guy as built like Pavarotti, in which case if he's on the run, he'll be easy to catch.] a kooky ransom-seeking environmental group, The Green Socks Gang, the bad-boy baritone leads Maggie on quite a chase. [Is she chasing him, or running with him? In either case, why?] She figures out [exposes] his ruse, however, with help from her best friend [Ah, Louise finally shows up. I was beginning to think it should just be Carl meets Thelma.] and turns the tables, meeting “a potential keeper” along the way.

Thanks for your time and consideration of this completed 90,000 plus lady-lit with strong romantic elements. I am a member of RWA. Hitting The High Notes finaled in the adult genre category of PNWA’s 2006 Literary contest.



I assume the romantic elements involve Maggie and the "potential keeper." If you're selling this as lady-lit with romantic elements, you might want to tell us more about the "keeper."

I'd also like to know more about Maggie turning the tables. You've given us the set-up: an opera singer meets a bereaved, unemployed woman and, inexplicably wanting her affection, inexplicably pretends to be the target of environmental terrorists. The story we want to hear, and which you've left plenty of room to tell us, is how Maggie dumps this clown and ends up with Mr. Right. At least temporarily.

That really long sentence is bothersome. I'd start:

South Floridian Maggie Duncan is flirting with fifty. Her hormones are wreaking havoc; her job’s been outsourced to India; and she’s still navigating the shoals of mourning after her mother’s death. She and her best friend Louise spend all their time watching Nurse Betty over and over.

Bad-boy baritone Lorenzo Pazzazzi is nursing a bruised ego from bad reviews. During a self-imposed exile to South Florida, he chances to meet Maggie, who is fascinated by the overwhelming number of "z"s in his name.

You can take it from there.

Is there some way to make it clear why being on the run from environmental kooks would make one seem more attractive to a woman?


Dave Fragments said...

The great mezzo-soprano Marilyn Horne once spoke of a Tenor who when playing Don Jose in Carmen would "feel up" the singer playing Carmen. To counter this, she ate cloves of garlic before the performance so her breath... etc...

And Mignon Dunn (a very well endowed mezzo) wore a dress so tight in one of her productions of Carmen that when the tenor threw her to the floor, the seams broke and her breasts popped out. The tenor complained that she was upstaging him. Miss Dunn said he was just jealous he didn't have tits.

And Beverly Sills (the greatest coloratura soprano of our time, Maria Callas was my Parents time) tells the story of her debut at LaScala in Italy in the role Lucia di Lammermoor. This is "the role" for coloratura sopranos and "the venue" for their debut. It might be called the Nobel Prize of coloratura -- Lucia in LaScala.
Anyway, the tenor got sick and the understudy couldn't sing the role. So when Beverly sang, the Italian audience sat silent and when the tenor sang, they whistled and jeered. Sills says that she grabbed the tenor's right hand to keep him from running off the stage and held him tight.

Who says opera isn't fun.

Once, during the climax of Gotterdamerung at the Met in NYC, they dropped the set on Brunhilde's head and gave her a concussion.

And they almost roasted Brunhilde alive at the end of Die Valkyrie when the stage tech's created real fire for the climactic scene.

Stacia said...

I guess the story could be cute, but geez, the punctuation needs some serious work. I picture a whole book full of random commas where they're unecessary or long, meandering, comma-less sentences where I feel like I can't take a breath until they end.

I'm also not getting the point of the story. If it's lady-lit with strong romantic elements, I want to see the conflict in the query. Does Maggie's relationship with the opera guy help her find hope again? Or trust in herself? What is the conflict between them, aside from the external stuff?

Phoenix Sullivan said...

I agree with Deece (are we allowed to call you that, or is that name reserved strictly for EE?) about the conflict and resolution not being clear in the query. There's no real apparent motivation, and all the pieces seem a bit jumbled and at loose ends.

As for the comparison at the beginning ... hmm. A real-life author meets two fictional characters? And weren't T&L the ones on the run? Or do you mean before they went on the lam and whichever one of them it was killed the guy who tried to rape her? Like EE, I'm not getting the comparison, especially when Maggie's best friend is pretty much expendable in the query.

And I've got to ask: what's adult genre? Anyone?

comma-tose - I bet you had that one waiting in the wings, didn't you, EE? And you know I always adore your lists!

PJD said...

She'd have better luck if she flirted with just one!

I am working at home today. I laughed so hard at this that it startled my cat, who subsequently fell off the window sill where she had been sleeping.

Anonymous said...

Is the "potential keeper" the opera dude? Or do your heroine's affections go to some one else late in the plot? There is obviously no reality in this story, so I'm assuming you intend it as a romp for people who love romantic fantasy and logic doesn't really matter to them. But the query should make it clear who the heroine gets.

Anonymous said...

Hate to quibble with the master, other than I know it bugs him, but:

That really long sentence is bothersome. I'd start:

South Floridian Maggie Duncan is flirting with fifty. Her hormones are wreaking havoc; her job’s been outsourced to India; and she’s still navigating the shoals of mourning after her mother’s death. She and her best friend Louise spend all their time watching Nurse Betty over and over.

Why did you choose to use semi-colons to delineate the list rather than just commas?

The second sentence (which I realize is your add) feels non sequitur to what comes before, so don't you think that Renée Zellweger was actually better in Bridget Jones' Diary, not least because Colin Firth is a much more convincing leading man than Greg Kinnear?

Evil Editor said...

I went with semicolons because the items being separated are all complete sentences. As two of them are short sentences, I wouldn't be bothered by commas. Either is better than the period used in the original.

As for Renée, the point I was trying to make was to get the best friend into the query earlier if it's really a buddy movie like Thelma and Louise. I note that Ms. Zellweger won the Golden Globe for best actress for Nurse Betty, and was merely nominated for Bridget Jones. (She's won Oscars for Chicago and Cold Mountain, the latter in a supporting role). Sorry, but I have to agree with the Globe voters. And while Colin Firth may beat Greg Kinnear, Nurse Betty also has Morgan Freeman. You really can't top Morgan Freeman. Nurse Betty it is.

Anonymous said...

Thanks - I can understand your rationale for using the semi-colons, even though commas would have been my immediate reaction to the requirement, and although Strunk and White doesn't give any specific guidance, don't you think Morgan Freeman has rather been coasting recently? I mean, Evan Almighty?

Evil Editor said...

You're playing with fire if you say No when you're asked to play God.

Robin S. said...

[How do I hate thy first line? Let me count the ways.

1. It's quite likely that your query is going to be read by a twenty-year-old intern English major...

It's a weird set-up, isn't it, that a very large slice of the reading demograohic is over forty years of age, and first readers, and thus, decision-makers of the yes-ness or the not-for-us-ness of the slush pile are so young?

I believe you. I just find it interesting.

Anonymous said...

God, yes.

EB said...

I never quite got into comparing your writing with that of well-known authors. The reader may not recognize the reference (a la EE's example) or the reader may recognize the references too well: "You think YOU'RE the next Elmore Leonard? You couldn't carry his notebook." Too many pitfalls, I think, when you invite such comparisons.

When it comes to opera singers, fleeing or otherwise, I'm afraid I'm out of my element. And environmental terrorists? Best of luck.

Stacy said...

Here's why this query doesn't work for me: Usually musicians—even opera singers—don't need to come up with any elaborate schemes to win the affection of women. They just say "I'm a musician," and that usually does the trick. And don't tell me I'm stereotyping, either. I was a music major in college and saw it happen over and over. This is more like a timeless truth.

Stacy said...

In thinking more about this, if you really want a musician who has to plot to get the affection of a woman, make your lead an unemployed trombone player.

Blogless Troll said...

How could someone who plays trombone ever be unemployed?

Anonymous said...

he chances to meet Maggie, who is fascinated by the overwhelming number of "z"s in his name

Aside from the fact that this is hilarious, it also points out a significant plot point that isn't addressed in the query: why is Maggie at all interested in this guy? I didn't get a sense of what was going on with her.

Stacy said...

Don't tell me you've never heard of that old joke:

Q: What do you call a trombone player with no girlfriend?

A: Homeless.