Friday, February 12, 2010

Face-Lift 730

Guess the Plot

Bouncing Apostrophe

1. ’ , ’ , ’ , ’,’,’,’,,,,

2. Its a Wo'nderful Life meets ... I mean Its a Wonderful Li'fe meets ... Sorry, meant to say Its a W'onderfu'l L'ife Me'ets ... Goddammit, stop that!!!

3. It's a happy 'story about a punctuation mark that u'sed to be unhappy with it's lot in life. But now it bounce's about all over the place, announcing to everyone, "Here come's an S!"


5. Apostrophe is a nine-year-old girl with super-springy knees that send her high in the sky whenever she jumps. When she bounces all the way across the ocean from London to Michigan, she must find a way to get herself and her dog, Dash, back home to her parents. Also, twenty mustachioed snowmobilers.

6. Ellen is a copy editor at Hot!, the magazine for young fashionistas. When the gloriously goth Allen comes aboard as layout artist, she finds herself in love. Unfortunately, so does Allen--with Dmitri, the caterer. Hilarity ensues.

7. Jasper havin’ ritten da firs’ fo’ leng’ literature novel brakes all da rulz, of splellin,’ n’ grammer: teachs the bes’ shizzle in a a p'aranormal-romance-tell-all-historiacl-fiction-thriller starin’ an gay werewolves meets pirate on way to show da worl’ rulz don’ mack a fine book it confuses da reel massage.

Original Version

Apostrophe is a girl with a problem. [Is it her name?] No, it’s not her name. She has super-springy knees. If she gets overexcited and jumps up and down, her elastic joints send her up, up, up in the sky... She usually lands with an unladylike bump somewhere far from her London home. [I think the sound would be less bump and more splat.] This is a major pain in the kneecap. Dash, her faithful dog (named after the punctuation mark and for his aerodynamic shape), has a sixth sense when it comes to her bouncing. He grabs hold of whatever body part is nearest with his teeth. She doesn’t mind. Much.

This time, Apostrophe’s bouncy knees have sent her and Dash across a vast ocean to a land where trousers are pants, rubbish is trash, and chips are fries. That’s right, the United States of America. The Upper Peninsula in Michigan, to be exact. [The Internet shows many fish & chips restaurants in the Upper Peninsula, so it's not clear that someone whose first trip to the USA was there would discover that chips are fries. In fact, being so close to Canada, and having a large Finnish population, wouldn't the UP use a lot of British terms spoken in Scandinavian accents?] Apostrophe must get herself and Dash home to England, but like any self-respecting nine-year-old, she can’t bear to ask for help from her parents. “Independent ladies don’t require assistance,” she says. Trying to bounce back is too risky, though, they could end up further from home. While trying to come up with a plan, Apostrophe gets to know some of the locals – a gang of twenty mustachioed snowmobilers, [Amazing how different Upper Peninsula gang culture is from, say, Detroit.] the Kilpinen kids (all thirteen), and the town’s boot-throwing champion. [Please. It's called Welly Wanging. Here's an introduction to casual welly wanging, and here's a champion wanger.] Her linguistic nuances cause minor awkward misunderstandings, major life-threatening confusions, as well as tear-jerking belly laughs. It is through her new-found friendships, though, that Apostrophe discovers how being truly independent sometimes means relying on others.


It sounds like the whole point of the story is to show that relying on others isn't a bad thing, but you don't show us any instance in which Appie relies on others. Who does what to help her get back?

Presumably this is not the entire query letter, as the recipient will want to know how long it is, what age range it's intended for, whether it's got pictures.

If she's come down far from home in the past, wouldn't she be under strict orders to contact her parents whenever she bounced far away? They must be worried sick if she's in Michigan and not even contacting them.

It seems to me that the arc required to bounce from London to Michigan without reaching unpleasantly fatal speeds would take Apostrophe into realms where the temperature and lack of oxygen would be unpleasantly fatal. Not that little kids will care, but the age at which kids won't scoff at the science may be the age at which they expect illustrations.

Bouncing to Wales or Scotland isn't good enough?

I'd drop Dash from the first paragraph. He isn't needed in the query, but at least he's not taking up much space in the second paragraph.


Sarah Laurenson said...

Funny voice. But yeah - what age range are we looking at here? Seems a bit bare of plot to be very long or for older kids. I'm assuming early reader - maybe.

It's a fun concept and you have a nice style.

Maybe she should wear a helmet and oxygen tank at all times. Ya know, just in case.

Blogless Troll said...

If the point is to show "how being truly independent sometimes means relying on others," why not make her bounce somewhere exciting?

The Invisible Writer said...

If this is a picture book for Kindergardners - you can probably trim a few things from the adventuring and have a successful run with "Bouncing Knee Adventures" - as long as there are full page illustrations . . .

My 6-year-old would enjoy the idea, though he loves astronomy and would catch the trajectory and lack of oxygen thing. But he's in the minority there for kids'-book audiences...

pulp said...

I was thinking what a well-written query it was, but then came upon the comma splice sentence--and then it turned out there was no plot. I do like the voice and the premise. I don't mind at all that the physiology and physics won't work in the real world. Fiction is like that sometimes.

Kayeleen Hamblin said...

The voice is nice, but it seems really long for a query. Especially if you add in other bits like length and your biography. Is there any way you can make it more concise?

Marissa Doyle said...

I agree that it would be helpful to know the target age--as presented here, it sounds like it could be a chapter book or even an early reader, because the plot as stated sounds so simplistic. If there's more to it than "Apostrophe needs to get home", then it needs to be communicated.

Anonymous said...

Thank you, all! And especially you, oh mighty Evil Editor. I feel I got off lightly, which makes me feel all bouncy inside.

It's a middle-grade novel. It started out as a PB, though. Perhaps it'll have to undergo severe editing and return back to PB length! The science of it all relies on the reader believing it's possible without helmet/oxygen mask... although I guess I could have her carrying the kit at all times, just in case.

Pulp, where's that comma splice?! Strunk and White would have my guts for garters!

It does need some serious cutting... I'm working on it.

Appreciate your feedback!

Evil Editor said...

The science of it all relies on the reader believing it's possible without helmet/oxygen mask

And without food or water. As the trip takes 7 and a half hours in a vehicle with jet engines, I'm thinking it'll take Appy about a week.

Kids will go anywhere if they like the vehicle. But as I've said before, those who will buy a nineteenth-century count who can turn into a bat and who drinks human blood will refuse to buy that same count wearing an iPod.

So the question becomes, How far will readers follow you? They have to buy the ability to jump into the sky. They have to buy surviving the landing. Will they also buy making it to Michigan in a few hours, or doing so without leaving the atmosphere? Maybe, if you make it fun. If not, a trip to Liverpool has you on firmer ground.

Anonymous said...

If not, a trip to Liverpool has you on firmer ground.

Except that her bouncy knees would've been nicked and she'd be up on bricks down a disused dock yard.

Eh, eh, eh?!

Franziska said...

I guess I could chop 75 percent of the story out and save it for a novel about snowmobilers and welly wangers. That one would need to be self-published, though!

If I have to change it, I'll go for Manchester rather than Liverpool. Not only have I lived there, it's known as Madchester, which seems fitting. Plus the dialect is somewhat similar to that of the typical Yooper.

Lots of work ahead. But I feel as though there is a light at the end of the tunnel.

Chelsea Pitcher said...

I liked this a lot. It reminds me a bit of Pippi, in a very good way. And I enjoyed the part about Dash. You've got great voice here.

You have two sentences with ", though," in the middle of them, and both could be altered to run a bit smoother. That's all I've got!

Franziska said...

Blimey, Chelsea, you've just made me blush. Ms Longstocking is a firm favorite of mine and I would be thrilled if Apostrophe came across as a similar in any way. Thank you.

pulp said...

This is the splice:

"Trying to bounce back is too risky, though, they could end up further from home."

Easily fixed.

Thanks for sending your query. It convinces me you've got a fun and appealing book.

_*rachel*_ said...

True, the plot summary here isn't the best. But this sounds like one of the subgenres I'm a sucker for: hilarious, creative, wacky kid's books. If you get an agent who likes this sort of thing, you should be set.

I'd almost keep the dog in the query. He doesn't further the plot, but he helps the voice and genre. If you keep him, change "nearest with his teeth" to "nearest his teeth."