Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Face-Lift 787

Guess the Plot

This Changed World

1. This morning it was sunny. This afternoon, it rained. How will mankind adapt to a world where water falls from the sky?

2. Vampires Gabriel and Michael move to the little city of Oskaloosa to harvest blood from the unsuspecting--only to find their home besieged by vampire-crazed teenagers. Maybe they should have stayed at that retirement home on Key West.

3. Only forty years ago, children would walk ten miles to school in the snow, uphill both ways, work 25 hours a day and be happy. Now they're always twittering and face-blogging on the interwebs. And they're miserable. Except the ones on Prozac.

4. Raised by an all-American war hero father he could never measure up to, Bill decides to make his own mark on the world: he travels to Tibet to murder a monk who's the key to everlasting world peace.

5. At 43, Jack Skellar finds his world turned upside down. His teenaged daughter has shaved her head and his son wants a pet anteater. All becomes clear when Jack is beamed up to a UFO and told that he's going back to his home planet -- Earth!

6. Priscilla Denby time-travels from Victorian England to modern-day Manhattan and finds herself in a sex club. She's shocked by what she sees, but even more shocked to discover that she's the one lady every guy--and woman--in the place wants to hook up with.

Original Version

Dear Agent,

By the time Bill realized he should have let the boy die that day in Chengdu, Sichuan, instead of jumping in with CPR, it was too late. [For the boy was already alive.] The world changed the day he breathed life and pounded a pulse back into the still body. Natural disasters hit at an all time high. Bill's personal disasters ran a close second. The chain of calamities started when Bill interferred [interfered] and saved a life that wasn't meant to continue. [I don't see how he can make a connection between saving a life and an increase in natural disasters. It's like Evil Editor saying, "Man, there've been two floods, a tsunami, a disastrous hurricane and three earthquakes in the past decade; I never should have rejected that guy's manuscript in 1999."]

Bill decides to find the boy and when [he] does he's going to kill him. Not sure if he's crazy or right, [Traveling from the US to Tibet to murder a 14-year-old boy: crazy or right? Crazy or right? I'm just not sure.] Bill ends up face to face with the boy in Tibet where Bill is forced to rethink his decision. It's hard to murder a fourteen year old [but if it might solve your personal problems, it's worth it]. It is harder when he is a novitiate monk, lives in a temple and he could be the world's conduit to enlightenment and the peace it will bring - if you buy into the hype the kid's generated. [In other words, murdering a 14-year-old is easier if it's an eighth-grade girl who spends too much time on the phone?] The government, not fond of mass hysteria over any charismatic personality, doesn't believe the boy should live either. [But their armies have been thwarted in every attempt to murder him.] Bill's choices become much harder as he comes to know this simplistic boy. [The first rule of being a professional hitman is Don't spend a lot of time getting to know your target.]

Bill, raised in an all American home with a real war hero for a father who raised his 8 kids in his Voodoo religion, [I'm not sure I'd describe a home in which the father and eight kids practice the Voodoo religion as all-American.] [Bill could have saved a lot of trouble by staying home and sticking pins in a Tibetan monk doll.] has a few things to learn about the circle of life from the youngster he came to kill. [The circle of life? Isn't that where the lion eats the wildebeest and the lion dies and the insects eat the lion and the bird eats the insects and the crocodile eats the bird and the . . . wildebeest eats the crocodile? Wait, where'd I go wrong?]

This Changed World is complete at 60,000 words and I'm seeking representation.

Thank you for the time you took reading my query.



We need to know why, out of the billions of things that happened right before the disasters started, Bill knows that his CPR incident is the one that's responsible.

Leave the Voodoo out of the query. It makes the story sound even nuttier.

So your novel attempts to solve the age-old moral dilemma: Is it better to have world peace with frequent natural disasters, or to be at war with occasional natural disasters?


Anonymous said...

Dear Evil,
So sorry for the spelling mistake. You make me laug and my hart sign. (Joke!) Grand coments. Thanks, oh Evilness, Bibi

Adam Heine said...

I actually really like this story idea and the voice of the query. But yeah, EE's comments are spot freaking on.

Oh yeah, what's the genre?

Anonymous said...

Just an aside here - the guy, MC Bill didn't travel from the US to save the kid. He was already in China (and had been for years) when he saved the kid in Chengdu. He was working there and came across a comtose/dead kid - no pulse. He did cpr. To this day he regrets it. This is a true story, maybe I haven't done it justice. Bibi

vkw said...

This is a true story? An American, voodoo practioner, saves the life of a kid who becomes a peace leader? The American determines that saving this kid has resulted in natural disasters and personal problems. So, he therefore, decides to kill the child.


The American is a paranoid personality disorder with psychosis and ends up checking himself into the state psychiatric hospital after a long philisophical discussion with a child.

Wait: That's crazy. A paranoid personality disorder would never do anything rational after a discussion with the person he thinks is the cause of his problems. He would kill the kid. No need to have a discussion and certainly would not "get to know the kid" unless it was for the purpose of finding more evidence to support his delusions, which he will do.

Second Conclusion:

This query needs to be rewrote. There's a lot of problems.


150 said...

Like Adam, I'm actually a little intrigued, but that's despite the query letter, not because of it. Try again according to EE's suggestions and with a clearer sense of cause and effect. This has a fairly high concept but I'm not yet convinced the story lives up to it.

Mother (Re)produces. said...

I found the beginning of the query repetitive. We are told a couple of times in different ways that he saved a kid he should have let die. The jump from saving the kid to trying to kill the kid needs to be explained, as EE said, but I'm intrigued by the query all the same.

J.M. said...

Author, Bill travels from far away to reach Tibet to kill the kid though, right?

A few commenters are doing a good job of diagnosing Bill. If you still need convincing as to how nutty this comes off, here's my version of your query:

Raised in an all-American voodoo household, Bill knows why he's had nothing but bad dates and IRS audits while the earth has been plagued with earthquakes, floods, and global warming: years earlier, Bill saved the life of the wrong boy in Chengdu, China. Bill knows there is only one way to rectify this mistake, so he resolves to track the boy down and kill him.

By the time Bill catches up to the boy, he has moved to Tibet, become Krishnamurti, and attracted the hostility of the Chinese Communist Party. Krishnamurti explains to Bill that earthquakes, floods, and fires are necessary to make room on the earth for more people to be born. This has never occurred to Bill. Now he's not sure whether to proceed with his murder plans.

angela robbins said...

"Man, there've been two floods, a tsunami, a disastrous hurricane and three earthquakes in the past decade; I never should have rejected that guy's manuscript in 1999..."

I'm going to have to start reading these things with a Depends on, especially when I'm at work!

EE, you devil of humor, you.

I agree with everyone on this one. This idea is very interesting to say the least. I would also go with EE's suggestions.

Anonymous said...

Thanks all. I missed the mark, but I'm learning. The true part is after saving a kid's life the guy's life went into the loo personally and several world disasters happened. We were "what if-ing" a couple of years later and bang - there was the story. Appreciate the comments so much. Retreat and revise. Valuable input. Thanks for the help. Bibi

Anonymous said...

Whoa, Bibi. Now you're describing something I could get into. A guy who's had a crazy upbringing -- seven siblings and Voodoo Veteran dad -- is going through a series of personal disasters. His thoughts wander to the headlines -- floods, fires, earthquakes! A little math, a dash of chaos theory, maybe some really good hash, and our hero winds up on a quest to this junior Dalai Lama . . . not to consult him, but to kill him! And heck, it turns out the kid can relate.

It sounds to me like a great twist on the trip to The Wise One, if this is what you've done.

Anenome said...

No, no. He was trying to say that Bill traded his all-American up-bringing for living in the house of the Tibetan he's now trying to kill, a Tibetan who's now raising his own kids in a voodoo religion, and that Bill is trying to fit in with them.

Although, characterizing Tibetan Buddhism as "voodoo" isn't exactly nice :P

What I don't like about the story is that it's the causal fallacy in story form. Saving a life simply cannot cause natural disasters.

And if it's really a character-study of a guy who's actually sick in the head it should probably be presented that way.

You know what, one night I broke up with my girlfriend, the next day was September 11, 2001. Doesn't mean the world was coming to an end just because we broke up... or does it :P

Well, it does mean no one asked me why I looked sad and mopey for the next month :P They all thought they knew. It was a completely invisible break-up :P

Anonymous said...

Arlhooely: Great re-write. Thanks. Your second comment, you got it.
Anonenome: "characterizing Tibetan Buddhism as "voodoo" isn't exactly nice." I didn't do that, promise, honest. Where did I write that? How did that come across? (I know my query sucks.)And maybe... who knows.
Mother: Thanks, I know I am repetitive. Would I like to kill that. It's like I don't see what I've written. Appreciate you pointing it out. Have to work on it.
150: As always, hit me on the head with your hammer- in a good way. Thanks.
Yup, gonna do what Evil says - Evil, the voodoo thing seemed to turn a few cranks. I will obey our dear King, but I'm getting interest in the voodoo. So let's smear ourselves in chicken blood and dance naked around the fire. Okay?
Best, thanks for reading my cruddy query and commenting, Bibi

Anonymous said...

Adam: I can't tell you the genre. Help minions! Bibi

Joe G said...

I understood the story, but I'm generally in the camp that a confusing query letter filled with awkward English will accurately reflect the novel itself.

You seem to have, really, written a philosophical novel. As I found the ideas in your query disconnected, I imagine the novel is much the same way. I'm not sure this idea is fully realized yet, or that you've polished your skills enough to write a novel. A query should give me confidence that the book will be well written and the ideas in it will be clear and have internal logic.

I think this is why people are criticizing your hero as seeming nutty, when it's clear that while others in the story may see him as nutty, the reader should be able to see that he is really the only person seeing truth. Internal logic is everything.

mb said...

Bibi -- it's not so cruddy, just needs polishing. I also think this has the germ of an intriguing idea. Just see if you can get to the heart of it and maybe make it clearer (in a few words) what Bill's thought process is here. It's not so far off.

Bee Magic Chronicles for Kids said...

I agree with Mother's comment. There's repetition at the beginning and it's unclear why he thinks the kid needs to die.

Stephen Prosapio said...

this reminds me of:

"The Twilight Zone" Profile in Silver/Button, Button (1986)

Joseph Fitzgerald is a professor at Harvard University in the year 2172. He is the last living direct descendant of John F. Kennedy. He is fascinated with his ancestor's story and eventually gains access to a means of travelling back to the 1960's to try and meet him. He ends up in Dallas, Texas in 1963, realizing he is at the scene of Kennedy's assassination. With foreknowledge of the event, he manages to intervene and save Kennedy's life. This brings him to the attention of a grateful president, although very shortly after, a different crisis emerges: Soviet Premier Kruschev has been assassinated. Fitzgerald consults his AI temporal adviser, which tells him that the Kruschev assassination was effected to balance the temporal instability created by the stopping of Kennedy's death.

Maybe the synopsis wording will help. Cool concept.

batgirl said...

Bibi, keep your dictionary handy while revising this. For instance, 'simplistic' is not the word you want, if you mean something like divine innocence.
I hope that doesn't sound insulting. I keep a Pocket Oxford Dictionary beside my laptop so I can doublecheck words I'm unsure of.