Monday, March 08, 2010

Face-Lift 738

Guess the Plot

Junior Prom or Death

1. Brought up before the Spanish Inquisition for heresy, Ramon is offered a terrible choice.

2. When your aunt tells you your choices are the Junior Prom with Nate Willenburger or death, it's a tough call. And it's even tougher when your aunt is Medusa.

3. Death most certainly. In this recession what seventeen year old boy has money to spring for a limo, a corsage and the Red Lobster dinner that his date will only shuffle around on her plate?

4. The first volume of Patrick Henry's autobiography, from birth to graduation.

5. Samantha Powers has a problem. The Junior Prom and her sweet-sixteen birthday are only three days away and Zack doesn’t know she exists. If she doesn’t get a date with him she’ll just die. For the reals. She inherited a centuries old family curse that will kill her if she doesn’t get kissed by her 16th birthday. OMG.

6. Two days before the prom a fairy shrinks Kayla to the size of an insect. Can she make the two-block journey to Fairfax Fred to get the fairy's spell reversed, without being crushed or eaten by a predator? Also, a talking garden gnome.

Original Version

Dear Evil Editor:

Sixteen-year-old Kayla Hartley's biggest worry is that her prom gown makes her waist look thick – that is, until her dufus kid brother Dustin manages to tick-off a kleptomaniac fairy.

The fairy casts a spell on Kayla and Dustin, reducing them to the size of a katydid. Now Kayla's problems seem larger than life. A garden gnome tells them the only way to reverse the spell is to seek an audience with Fairfax Fred, a mangy male tomcat. The good news: Kayla feeds Fred when he comes into their yard. And the bad news? Dustin thinks it's fun to squirt cats – Fred in particular – with a water pistol.

Fred lives in an abandoned field two city blocks from Kayla's house. When you're no bigger than a matchstick, two blocks is a long way, especially when there are predators out there waiting for dinner. The quest will take them more than a day. It's Wednesday, the Junior Prom is on Friday night, and Kayla refuses to stand up her hot date, Brad Jeffers. [Based on my calculations, I can't see the quest taking more than 12 hours, but even if it does, they have two days before the prom, so what's the problem? There'd be more tension if it were Thursday instead of Wednesday.]

Junior Prom Or Death is an Upper MG Fantasy, complete at 56,000 words. I have sold a short story to XXXX, which was published in an anthology entitled XXXX. [It's always a feather in your cap when they name the anthology after your story.] Thanks for your consideration.



This sounds good to me. It's like Honey, I Shrunk the Kids, except instead of there being a scientifically plausible reason for the shrinking kids, there's a fairy. And there's a gnome and a talking? cat. Which makes me think it's for younger kids than upper-middle grade. What's the grade range for upper-middle grade vs. lower-middle grade?

You don't need to tell us the fairy is a kleptomaniac unless you show what it has to do with the plot. Otherwise we get distracted, wondering what it has to do with the plot.

As Fred is known to wander the neighborhood seeking food, it seems there's a good chance the kids will spend a whole day getting to the field only to find him gone--possibly to their house.


fairyhedgehog said...

I was sure it was going to be GTP #4 and this is so much more fun!

EE picked up on the apparent logic flaws that stumbled me.

I didn't know what a katydid is but I love the sound of it. There's something about the rhythms of the language that I like here.

John said...

I like this one. I agree with EE, and there are a couple of other places where the query could be tightened up, but it's a solid draft to work from. One quibble: "tomcat" means male cat, so "male tomcat" is redundant.

Kelsey (Dominique) Ridge said...

I did wonder what the kleptomaniac detail had to do with the story.

Altogether, it's not bad, though I would have liked to hear more details about the troubles of the quest and what struggles will await when they finally reach the tomcat.

Marissa Doyle said...

How old are the characters? If it's an MG, kids going to their Junior Prom are 16-17...not sure that works. If it were the big 8th grade dance or something, though, it might work.

I really liked #5. :)

angela robbins said...

I thought this idea was really cute and a story I'd read. It would make a cute kids movie, too.
Other than a smidge of tightening as the others mentioned... way to go.

_*rachel*_ said...

I don't understand why they don't just wait for Fred.

Anyway, that's the only nitpick I can find, which means I approve of this query. Good job!

Uberman said...

The "Also, a talking gnome" on the 8th plot was kind of a giveaway. Smashing work. I liked how you described her as "the size of a katydid".

It's a swell idea, but isn't it kind of like "The Borrowers" where a brother and sister that are only an inch or so high have to journey across town to solve their problem? It's a pretty basic nick, though, and doesn't really detract from the premise.

What sort of predators do they face, though? Does the fairy play a continued role? How can Fairfax Fred help?

Evil Editor said...

The "Also, a talking gnome" on the 8th plot was kind of a giveaway.

Actually, I estimate that if there's an "Also a ___________" tacked onto the end of a GTP, the chances that it's the actual plot are about 1 in 20. And would be even less if I didn't remove them from the fake plot authors' submissions half the time. said...

hhhmmmm... this is very close to wonderful. Gregor Samsa is on his way to Junior Prom....

batgirl said...

This sounds like a lot of fun - you've got both genders and a range of ages in the protagonists, so that broadens the appeal. Other than (as mentioned) the 'male tomcat' redundancy, and what EE pointed out, this looks good to go.

Anonymous said...

Hi -

This is the author. Thanks so much for your comments. Now all I have to do is finish the book.