Monday, January 26, 2009
Guess the Plot
1. Henchman of King Fenster, minion of Wizard Gertimont, Sir Toby rides his invisible steed to the rescue. But will the villagers of Wackton Waters actually welcome him? Or is he barking up the wrong tree again?
2. Days on the farm are too dull for Toby Olson, so he packs a knapsack and hops the next freight train to Chicago, where each moment is more exciting than the last as he vies with a gun-toting gangster for the heart of beautiful Roxanne, queen of the double tall latte.
3. The last buddy the cat would accept was a puppy, so when Ted and Sally brought home an uncouth idiotic canine mutant, the feline morphed into the fiercest monster in the Adirondacks. Now Ted is watching the house with General Armstrong, while helicopters hover overhead waiting for the order to drop the bombs, and a distraught Sally calls, "Here kitty, kitty!" But is Toby actually in the house? Or is he sneaking up behind the General?
4. Toby Taylor runs away to join the traveling circus. But once they take him in, things start to get weird. Trapeze artists can't fly, the tiger eats his trainer, and the clowns kill the showgirls. Is Toby behind this chaos?
5. Guardian angel Toby is assigned to watch over Katherine, but he breaks the guardian angel rules by falling in love with her. He is brought back to heaven to stand trial, while she ends up in a loveless marriage. Nice work, Toby.
6. Toby McGreevy spends his days wheelchair-bound and drooling through fifth grade, but at night he soars above the houses of his small Irish village exacting sweet revenge for every childish slur cast in his direction on the playground.
Dear Evil Editor:
My name is Kevin _________ and I am fourteen years old. [Nice try, lady, but I'm not going easy on you.] I regret telling you my age not because I don't think you'll take me seriously, but because I think that my writing is strong enough without the mention of my age. And while some people tell me that it doesn't matter about my age others tell me that it does matter. But, despite my age, [Is there going to be a sentence in this query that doesn't mention your age? Just wondering.] writing is my life, and though I'm sure that card is played a lot, [You have no idea. And it's like leading out with the two of clubs.] it is a true statement in my case. [Until you discover girls, anyway.] The proof of my statement is that in the last three years I have written five books (all at least two hundred pages), and I've already started on a sixth. [Editors have a short attention span. If you haven't convinced them by the end of page one, forget it. Thus to help you shorten this query, at the end of each paragraph I'll tell you what was important so you can drop the rest.] [Zilch.]
The novel that I am telling you about is my fifth, and it is titled, Toby. Tatem Alexander has lost everything that she had once known in herself. She can't remember who she was, so the prospect of finding herself now seems near impossible. Her life is a circle, never ending, never changing, and she can't find her way out. Thus comes Katherine Renner sporting a bright smile and a claim that Tatem should already know who she is. Katherine has a story to tell: her own. It's one that will change Tatem for forever. [This paragraph has three important points, but two of them are missing, namely how old is Tatem, and what happened to her to bring her to this low point? That leaves, In her darkest hour, Tatem meets Katherine.]
Katherine's life started out on a rocky path when at four, her father died. His death occurred only because he had to give Katherine the gift that would from then on control her life. [Why did he have to give it to her?] The gift is the ability to see angels which can be beneficiary [beneficial] at times, but at other times it can only cause trouble. After her father's death, Katherine's mother became cold and resentful towards her youngest daughter. Her mother even goes so far as to check her in insane asylums. [I don't think they check kids into insane asylums these days. Though it's not a bad idea.] Katherine had no friends except for her brother who was always preoccupied, and her guardian angel, Toby. Toby began to stay closer and closer to Katherine. He would always wipe away her tears, pick her up when she was down, and finish her thoughts and sentences when she couldn't. He chose to grow up with her, as if he were truly a human instead of being an adult angel watching over a human child. [Katherine's father died when she was four, and her mother is cold and resentful. Luckily Katherine had one friend: her guardian angel, Toby.]
Katherine grows up under the shelter of Toby, but as she grows up she begins to get lost in the game of high school. She tries to break free from who she really is but disaster strikes. She looses [loses.] herself in her freedom, and in the wreckage her sister is killed in a freak accident. Katherine crumbles back to Toby, but not without becoming stronger. Their friendship begins to evolve into something bigger than either one of them expected. Soon, Toby and Katherine realize what they have been holding back for way too long. They are utterly and indescribably in love with each other. This brings conflict in between them because it is impossible for a guardian angel and human to be together, it is against the rules. But what they have is too much to be let down easily. They decide to break the rules and fight. Toby kisses Katherine, violating the code between human and angel, and he is immediately burnt back to Heaven [That sounds painful.] where he will stand trial. [What a drag it would be to make it to heaven and then get called for jury duty.] He only does this after promising Katherine that he will do whatever it takes to get back to her. [As they grow up together, Katherine and Toby fall hopelessly in love, violating the human/angel code, and Toby is brought to heaven to stand trial--after vowing he will return to Katherine.]
In the next ten years that Katherine is alone she does many things she regrets like dating different men, eventually marrying one, and getting pregnant with his baby. In all her haste to escape all the things she had lost [She should want to regain what she lost, not escape it.] Katherine's lies that she has told herself to keep herself going catch up with her. So when Toby comes back to her after all that time, [Apparently there's no right to a speedy trial in heaven.] she is stuck between her husband, expected baby, and the man she truly loves. [Man? Don't you mean alien creature?] Katherine finds herself sliding away though, and eventually through chance and pain she is able to get herself out of her mess [She loses the baby, and her husband accidentally eats chili filled with arsenic.] and return to Toby. Together they begin their lives together. In time, Katherine finally decides that she is ready to have children. Toby has to support her though he knows that the consequences are vast. Katherine has her children, two boys, and in the second week of her youngest son's life she passes away. But in her short life, Katherine has left a legacy. She gave both of her boys the gift that she had held on to for so long. [Toby returns ten years later to find Katherine married and pregnant. He uses his angel powers to eliminate these annoying problems, and moves in with Kate. He knocks her up a couple times, but then she dies, which ain't easy when your guardian angel is living under the same roof with you.]
When Katherine finishes her story, she reveals to Tatem that she is really her guardian angel, and she is here to help Tatem find herself again. But when Katherine reveals herself to Tatem, she has to leave. [That seems somewhat contradictory to the previous sentence. I'm here to help you; see ya later.] Tatem becomes hysteric, [hysterical] but in the end she does exactly what Katherine always planned. Tatem finds herself again. She mends broken bridges with her family, and begins to take back up her great love: writing. She also finds the love of her life, Katherine's youngest son. And when it is all said and done Tatem writes the book that she was meant to write. The book that tells the story of Katherine and Toby, and how through adversity and their growing problems, they stuck together and kept believing. [This is okay information.]
The book is narrated by Tatem the whole time. Tatem scatters certain tidbits that Katherine has written around in the novel. The book has a word count of 136,297. It is divided into ten parts. My book is not told in a straight forward manner, it is mixed up within each part, and at the end of each part it gives all the answers. I believe that this is the best book I have written in my short career, and I hope that you will give it a chance. Thank you for reading! [Only the word count is important here, and it's way too high. I guarantee you could tell this story in half the words. And let's face it, when a complete stranger comes up and starts telling you her life story, you aren't going to sit there and listen for 130,000 words. In fact, when she gets to the part where she says, And then I died, you're probably going to slowly back out of the room.]
What you have here, not counting the first and last paragraphs, is a synopsis. Your query letter should include a short synopsis, but not this much information.
Is Toby an adult in appearance when he enters Katherine's childhood life? Because it's a little weird falling in love with her when she's in high school. Can't he find an adult to break the rules with?
Having a guardian angel doesn't seem so great. Toby lets Katherine die and Katherine ditches Tatem after just telling her what probably seems like a wild story.
Katherine can see Toby because her father gave her the gift of being able to see angels. How is it that Tatem has the ability to see Katherine?
Do you know you're going to die when you give this gift? I can see giving up your life to save your child's but giving it up so your child can see angels? When she's two weeks old?
I don't think we need to know in the query that the ability to see angels is a gift. Let us make our own assumptions about who can see them. (We'll assume you can see only your own guardian angel.)
It's not clear what Tatem's situation is at the beginning. For all I can tell, she has amnesia. But she has broken bridges with her family. If Tatem's going to be in the query, we need specifics about her situation. Otherwise, maybe the query should just be about Katherine and Toby. Especially if they're ninety percent of the book.
We need to know who this book is for. What age group is your audience?
All of which is made irrelevant when I suggest that you will be a better writer when you're 16, and even better when you're 18, so why not continue writing books, and set them aside when finished. When you're in college you can pull them out and read them and use your improved skills to make them even better. What's the hurry?