Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Face-Lift 574

Guess the Plot

The Truth, Chickens, and Other Things that Wonʼt Fly

1. When ray asks Emmaline to marry him, she's just about to say that'll happen when pigs fly, when she spots a flock of pigs overhead. Quickly she begins formulating a different response.

2. Jenny, a compulsive liar, found a book that listed several things that couldn't fly. Then she saw an episode of Mythbusters where they made a lead balloon. Thus inspired, she embarks on a mission to teach a bunch of chickens to fly south for the winter. Also, lie detection by skunk.

3. Jimmy Weaver worships his wife, which doesn't eggzactly sit well with Jimmy's mother, who decides to save her son from a life of eggony. Mom "hatches" a plan to murder Jimmy's wife, a "fowl" plan that just might lay an egg . . . if Jimmy learns the truth.

4. Bernadette Barnes knows she must take creative action to raise enough cash to save the farm from her banker, Elmore Bladini, and his knife-wielding thugs. She'll use voodoo, astrology, and witchcraft to stave off the seemingly inevitable, but if Bladini still refuses to refinance, is she willing to try seduction?

5. Hunky Chicken rancher Joe Fargus realizes he can get more money for organic free-range chickens. So without changing his methods, he claims his chickens are organic and free-range. The money rolls in, until beautiful federal poultry inspector Jill Charleston pays an unexpected visit to the ranch. Can Joe sweet-talk his way out of this one?

6. Finally, a book that offers a conclusive and definitive answer to the question that has haunted philosophers through the ages: Which came first, the chicken or the egg? Hint: it was the chicken.

Original Version

Dear Evil Editor,

If you told Billie Weaver a year ago that sheʼd be plotting the murder of her sociopathic sister-in-law, sheʼd laugh [she'd have laughed] it off as a sick joke. If you told her sheʼd be teaming up with her braless, alcoholic mother to carry out the plan, sheʼd say [she'd have said] you were certifiably insane.

But now Billieʼs mother has shown up on Billieʼs upper-middle class suburban doorstep, and claims to be dying of cancer. [Translation: isn't dying of cancer.] In her last few months on the planet [before heading for Arkhos IV, where they long ago cured cancer], sheʼs looking to make it up to Billieʼs brother, Jimmy, for rendering him mentally diminished by drinking while pregnant with him. As her first and final attempt to protect her son, she hatches a plan to rid him of his abusive, drug-addicted wife, and she needs Billie to help her. If Billie participates, sheʼll become an accessory to fraud, an accomplice to murder,

[Billie: What do you need me for? Just shoot Jimmy's wife. You're dying, so you'll never go to trial.

Mom: You think I wanna spend my last month in a prison cell when I can spend it in a hospital ward?

Billie: At least prisons have decent food and TV reception.]

and risk destroying the carefully constructed life sheʼs built for herself and her young family. If she does nothing, her too-trusting brother will be doomed to a life of misery and heartache. Can she justify taking another personʼs life if it saves another? Can she ever explain it to Jimmy, who naively worships his wife as much as he loves his sister and his mother?

Bonded together, first by their love for Jimmy, and now by their criminal activities, [In my experience, nothing brings family together like murdering an in-law.] Billie and her mother struggle to overcome years of bitterness, estrangement, and inappropriate outfits to protect Jimmy and stay out of jail.

The Truth, Chickens, and Other Things that Wonʼt Fly is a work of womenʼs fiction, complete at 74,000 words.


The first and last plot paragraphs (and title) have a humorous tone with amusing touches (braless mother, inappropriate outfits), but the middle paragraph sounds like literary fiction, what with its cancer, drug addiction, misery and heartache, mentally diminished man, abuse... I'd like to be able to tell from the query whether it's a dark book with some comic relief or a comedic book with a few dark subplots.

If the book is a comedy, try lightening up the middle paragraph by reducing it to something like:
But now Billieʼs mother has shown up on Billieʼs doorstep, saying she's ready to perform one final noble act before she dies. She plans to murder Jimmy's wife, freeing him from a lifetime of misery with an overbearing, abusive ogre. Never mind that Jimmy worships his wife, Mother knows best. Now all she needs to put her plan into action is an accomplice. And she's chosen Billie for the role.
If the book is serious, the query doesn't need to include the comic relief, as whether Mom wears a bra or dresses in style isn't relevant to the main plot. And a different title will be in order.


Sarah Laurenson said...

Replace the middle paragraph with EE's and I'd say you're good to go. Unless, of course, this is meant to be serious. It doesn't seem like that to me though with the title and how the query is worded.

Sounds like quite the romp and a fun read. Your voice is coming through the query. Good job overall.

EB said...

A mom who's dying and seems to be off her rocker decides, in her final act, to kill the shrewish wife of her grown Fetal Alcohol Syndrome son and enlists the help of her seemingly sane daughter.

I sure hope this is a comedy.

What's the daughter's motivation?

Anonymous said...

Agreement! This has a very fun tone and the plot is wicked good too! Take EE's advice and note that your query falls just below not one, but two, "success story" entries. Good Luck!


Stacia said...

Ditto, this seems like it could be a real hoot. I hope it is indeed funny. :-)

none said...

If they shoot this wife, what's to stop the brother hooking up with someone just as bad? or worse? How does killing her solve the fundamental problem of the brother's too-trustingness?