Monday, October 05, 2009

Face-Lift 680

Guess the Plot

In All the Wrong Places

1. A complete catalogue detailing every single place where Lorraine looked for love from 1992 through 2005, and a picture what she found there.

2. Amber wants to rid the world of men who touch children "in all the wrong places." So she teams up with her friends Cassie and Robin to form a vigilante trio of pedophile eliminators. But will they get their first victim before he gets them?

3. The problem with Joanie's career is geography. Every time she gets a job, disaster strikes, removing her office from the map, or at least reducing it to rubble. But she has great legs and fabulous hair, so Steve hires her anyway. Trouble ensues.

4. Joelle can't understand why her self-published romance novel isn't selling. When her mother suggests it's because the only places it's available are Billy Bob's Bait & Tackle Shoppe and the concession stand at the local cockfighting pit, Joelle looks into advertising in the Wimbledon program.

5. Elvis Midnight, vampire hunter, never gives up when stalking his prey. What he can't figure out is why a vampire is living in the middle of the Sahara.

6. Rosie likes her new boyfriend, except for the fact that he has no idea what he's doing in bed. So she enlists the help of sexologist Peter Patel—only to discover after a few sessions she's in love with him. Will she have the courage to tell Dr. Patel how she feels, or will her boyfriend continue touching her . . . In All the Wrong Places?

Original Version

Dear [specific agent]:

I’m querying you because you are ‘drawn to a conflicted protagonist trying to right some wrong.’ [That's too vague for your opening sentence, even if it is taken from the agent's website. If you describe a good story in which a conflicted character rights a wrong, the agent will be drawn to it without having to be reminded that it's his/her cup of tea.]

Over-achieving and insecure, Amber dreams of saving children from abuse by ridding the world of pedophiles, but she wonders if she’s prepared to risk her marriage to David—he defends the justice system even when it fails.

[Amber: Unbelievable. According to Time, DNA evidence proved that yet another innocent man went to the electric chair.

David: Hey, they all had their day in court.]

Veterinarian Robin, a grieving widow, cannot euthanize an animal without feeling Roman Catholic guilt; she wonders if she can risk eternal damnation. Car dealer Cassie doesn’t wonder at all. [At least you have one realistic character.]

Over dinner and laughter, they devise ten rules for committing the perfect murder. Rule #1: Convicted pedophiles only. Rule #2: No connection between huntress and the pedophile or his victims… But what if dinner party rules don’t work in real life?

To test the rules and her resolve, Amber stalks a suspected pedophile [Suspected by whom? What happened to Rule #1?] and discovers an outlet for the anger that threatens her marriage. She doesn’t know her target tortures his victims to death. She never imagined he would threaten her life and David’s. Now it’s too [late?] for regrets. To save David, [She actually wants to save her pathetic pedophile-sympathizer husband?] Amber and her friends must ignore the rules and eliminate the killer before David discovers their secret. [I would think eliminating the killer before he kills them would be stronger motivation than eliminating him before David discovers their secret.]

IN ALL THE WRONG PLACES is currently the #1 all-time favorite on HarperCollin’s authonomy® website. [That's like saying, When the opening of my novel appeared on Evil Editor's website it got more positive comments than any other New Beginning.] [Also, that should be "HarperCollins's".] [Also, this leads one to wonder why HarperCollins hasn't snapped it up.] Hollywood screenwriter Michael Grais (“Poltergeist” and Stephen King’s “Sleepwalker”) says, “This brave novel goes beyond ‘Dexter’ and ‘Death Wish’ and asks whether vigilantism is ever right. Great movie potential.” [Not clear why a Hollywood screenwriter is being quoted. You can worry about film rights later, or adapt it into a screenplay, but whether it would make a good movie isn't going to matter at this stage of the game.] Scenes from the novel have won two contests sponsored by the Canada Council for the Arts and BC Arts Council in the literary and crime fiction categories.

For the many parents who worry about their children’s safety, IN ALL THE WRONG PLACES explores their fantasies of vigilante justice. For me, a corporate lawyer, vigilantes are the stuff of thought-provoking novels. EPIPHANIES, my book on the fiction-writing craft, will be published early in 2010 by AMADIS Publishing LLC (website under construction.) [Actually, your qualifications to write a book on the fiction-writing craft would make better credits than the fact that you wrote one.]

I have attached the first chapter of my novel and inserted it following this query in case you prefer not to open attachments.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Yours sincerely,


What exactly is threatening Amber's marriage? Her husband's refusal to take the law into his own hands?

I found the perfect murder discussion the most interesting part. Maybe you should open with something like: Over dinner and laughter, three women devise a formula for committing the perfect murder--little realizing they'll soon have a need for that formula.

After that you can tell us who the women are, and it won't feel so much like a list of unrelated items.

Unless you bring up how the veterinarian's guilt and the car dealer's lack of it affect the murder plot, you can leave that out and just identify them by occupation or as Amber's friends. Those tidbits feel like random facts as presented.


none said...

I thought it was Buddhists who were against killing animals, not Catholics. Does Robin feel guilt during transubstantiation as well? Why did she become a vet in the first place if it's so problematic for her?

I can imagine this novel being popular, but I wouldn't want to read it, tbh.

Anonymous said...

Vigilantes are not my idea of interesting so maybe I just don't fully appreciate your plot statements. Perhaps it is in keeping with your day job, but you seem to be spending huge amounts of time & energy on commercialization efforts and the actual novel is lagging behind. It sounds like you are setting up an llc to self publish your nonfic how to write fiction before you get the fiction published. No doubt you're an expert at writing llcs so that's easy for you. I don't want to read this novel, based on your description. don't want to read your nonfic either. I think there is an audience for vigalante movies but don't know about their reading tastes. My suggestion is to put more focus on the novel and don't get distracted with all these other activities.

Dave Fragments said...

Wow, what a plot and so in tune with today's blood-thirsty public.

This is like "Strangers on a Train" or possibly, "Throw Momma from the Train." I can't tell which one. A grand plot.

I'm not sure that we need to know that David believes that one of the States has executed an innocent man. It's true. Texas did just that. But David (the husband) actually believes something quite different. He believes in rehabilitation over incarceration.

Murder, even of a pedophile is still murder. Why on earth would a plain housewife like Amber (even a veterinarian who cares for animals) sink into murder?

You have to help the reader understand Amber's motivation in plotting cold-blooded murder. I can understand revenge but I can't understand searching out a complete stranger and killing him. What part of Amber lets her do that, or is it possible that she doesn't understand how hard it is to kill someone and not suffer trauma? This isn't a trip to the spa, this is real-life, death with all its baggage.

_*rachel*_ said...

Rumor on the blogosphere is that agents will often just delete emails with attachments. See #4.

The perfect murder bit is probably your hook. The rest didn't catch my attention much... but it has been a long day.

I don't even like vampires, and #5 sounded fun! Speaking of the GTPs, the one for the actual book brings up a plausible interpretation of the title. That might cause problems.

Anon 5:03--lots of people like vigilantes. Batman is still popular, n'est-ce pas? This isn't much like vigilantes, but (based mostly on myself) I think people still like stuff about them.

Anonymous said...

Actually murder of randomly chosen sex offenders has been done and got a fair amount of press.

batgirl said...

Sounds like a strong concept (I'm surprised nobody's used it already) but I think you're getting ahead of yourself with this query.
You're missing some important information like word-count, and providing too much irrelevant personal info. That you have a book on writing fiction (based on what credentials?) coming out from a barely-there publisher (google says nothing) seems more like a red flag than a plus.
I'm not an agent, so I may be wrong about that (but right about word-count).

Anonymous said...

Once a very long time ago I competed on gather for a "beat the slush and get your book published" contest.

Gather game before Authonomy and it taught me a very important lesson about websites that offer a chance to bypass the system by impressing your internet friends:

Popularity has very little to do with quality (and lets not forget marketability). Can the be related? Sure, but the ability to network outweighs everything else. Maybe this is why Gather hasn't held a similar contest since.

And its not a publishing credit.

Winning your two contests is far better, but I'm curious why you didn't tell us the contest name? I checked out the Canada Counsel for the arts, but couldn't find any contests for incomplete books (they do have a really nice prize for published books though). If you put something like this in your query the agent will check. It's better to be specific: I won the Levi's Blue Jeans Fiction Writing Contest sponsored by Pepsi has a whole different meaning than I won a contest sponsored by Pepsi.


Matt said...

Most agents delete emails with attachments (Or have spam filters that take care of it). Since you paste everything in the body of the email anyway, why risk sending it with an attachment?

Anonymous said...

Warning: Clue Gun is Locked and Loaded.

Is David a lawyer? Why does he defend the justice system? Why does the MC want to save the world by getting rid of pedophiles? Did something happen to her?

The vet and the car dealer come out of left field. Are the MC's friends? Or people she just met???

I find it hard buy a book motivated by " Like, what if dinner party rules don't work for real." (insert valley girl tone) For me to read this, there'd have to be solid motivation and this isn't it.

I think we find out her marriage is threatened by her anger too late. And this is a more plausible motivation than "testing the rules we made up."

Pedophiles aren't always murders and someone who tortures their victims to death (okay sex with kids is torture but...)isn't the same thing. You've confused pedophile with masachist and thrown in a touch of serial killer for good measure.

Ignoring "our own made up rules" isn't a substitute for real conflict. This feels as though its all about what happens for "shock" value.

We need to know...
What does the MC want?
What obstacles get in her way?
How does she over come them?

I really struggled connecting the query with the kick ass novel your query implies this is so I looked it up. (I'm sorry but I couldn't help myself)

Here is a link to the Authomomy. This author did succeed in getting it reviewed by HarperCollins.

Miss Snark would call this shooting oneself in the foot.

Anonymous said...

I don't know, something about this query touched me.

Albeit somewhat inappropriately...

Sheryl Dunn said...

EvilEditor and everyone who commented and who will comment, you have my eternal thanks.

Keep on commenting if you'd like--the more suggestions and downright negative criticisms the better.