Friday, November 19, 2010

Face-Lift 843

Guess the Plot

Trial of the Heart

1. Jennifer is a family lawyer who specializes in divorce. David is a family lawyer who specializes in fathers' rights. Can they somehow overcome all odds while--oh, screw it. They hop in the sack the minute they meet and spend the rest of the book bitching about it.

2. Emily's family was killed by egotistical Conway Duke. As she fights for justice, Duke becomes seriously ill. Should she ease his suffering by forgiving him, or should she try to get his trial date moved up?

3. When a donor is found for her husband Mark, 51, Sarah is elated- until the next person on the list begs them to let her have the heart for her 13 year old son. Sarah is all set to flatly refuse, but Mark isn't. Can Sarah live with either decision? Can Mark? Can the reader, without barfing?

4. Detective Swanson says the murders were caused by the heart of Ignatius Trematode, which has been beating in a jar at the medical school for 28 years. But Prosecutor Umbridge is skeptical that a heart could poison Mrs. Trematode and cause her boyfriend to jump off a bridge . . . until Umbridge, himself, sleepwalks to the railing of that very same bridge. Then he schedules a trial and seeks the death penalty!

5. Internet scammer Joseph Nwoye falls in love with one of the rich American ladies he's been fleecing. She's sure to discover his deceptions--unless he can cover his lies by actually getting a job as CEO of the Bank of Nigeria. One man finds redemption through the love of a woman.

6. The Spleen had enough malice to commit perjury. The Kidneys were too bashful to take the stand. The Liver (“Lily”) refused to testify, even though she was the key witness. The Spine was nowhere to be seen. Only Large Intestine had the guts to speak out about what happened, at the . . . Trial of the Heart.

Original Version

Dear Evil Editor,

Emily Hennas has the power to ease a man’s suffering. Yet, that same man is responsible for murdering her family. After her husband, son and daughter are killed by a drunk driver, the egotistical Conway Duke, Emily is left alone to raise her youngest son. [While drunk drivers deserve no sympathy, we generally reserve the term "murder" for those who kill intentionally.] She moves to New York and faces the most difficult decision of her life: keep fighting for the justice her children deserves [deserve], or forgive Conway Duke for causing their deaths. [I don't think we need the first two sentences. They vaguely state what we get with more specificity later on. What we do need is an idea of what kind of justice Emily is seeking. Was there a trial? What punishment has Duke received? Surely he would have been charged with manslaughter.]

Driven by anger and survivor’s guilt, shadowed by the memory of her emotionally abusive husband, Emily engages in a legal fight hindered by an obsession for hoarding, [I don't know how a hoarding obsession hinders a legal fight, and the query is no place to explain it, so leave out the hoarding.] fears for her surviving child, and an overprotective brother. She forges an unlikely friendship with Nicholas Travane, a neighbor who at first embodies the arrogance of her dead husband. She’s attracted to Nick, but lays down unbendable rules for their friendship. Friendship is all it must be. She doesn’t want or need anything more. [Suddenly Nick remembers there's someplace else he needs to be.]

In one explosive moment, the legal battle ignites and changes course. Conway Duke becomes seriously ill, [Is that the explosive moment? Usually becoming seriously ill takes longer than one moment.] and might never face the justice for which Emily fights.

Trial of the Heart is the story of a mother’s love, a woman’s heart, and the obsession for justice. The work of women’s fiction is complete at 87,000 words. Would you be interested in seeing more?

Thank you for your time and consideration.



You mention that Emily's decision is whether to forgive Conway, which has me expecting you to come back to the idea after Conway is seriously ill. Instead it sounds more like she's worried he'll die before she gets justice.

Wouldn't it be harder to get justice once you've moved to another state?

Nicholas isn't needed in this query. Emily has no romantic interest in him, and he has nothing to do with her fight for justice. Focus on Emily and her main conflict.

In one explosive moment, the legal battle ignites and changes course. To me, this is the hook, but it needs some elaboration. What happened?


pacatrue said...

As EE says, I too have only vague ideas about what's happening. I think it's about our protag wanting to pursue justice but trying not to let that pursuit consume a new life? Maybe?

It also appears that every man in her life is arrogant. Conrad is arrogant (ok, egotistical), and Nick embodies her husband's arrogance, so both of them are, or seem to be) arrogant, too. I hope Emily learns how to avoid arrogant men by the end of the book.

Anonymous said...

Is Conway Duke's illness the "suffering" you mention in the first sentence? Or is it the ordeal of a trial, exacerbated by illness? Can't Emily forgive Conway in her heart but still have him prosecuted? I believe many crime victims do such a thing. They let go of their hatred and vengefulness, but they still want the criminals locked away so they can't victimize more innocents.

I'd get the overprotective brother out of the query unless you elaborate on his significance to the plot. But you seem to have a LOT of junk in here for no apparent reason -- anger, survivor's guilt, hoarding, the brother, Nicholas, and memories of spousal abuse. I think all you need is the anger, and then this merciful impulse that takes Emily herself by surprise and twists the plot. All this other stuff is random obstacles.

Joe G said...

Number four has Potter on the brain, I think.

Yeah, I dunno, this sounds a little syrupy, like Alice Sebold left out in the sun for a long time. You could work on trying not to make it sound too soap opera. Also, are we supposed to feel sympathetic towards Conway Duke?

Anonymous said...

Well this sounds like the light breezy summer read I've been waiting for.

Seriously though, this souds like it could be good.I really like that we're seeing multiple layers of conflict here. I'm going to disagree on nixing at least the hording part. That hooked did the potential other love interest. I see it as an internal conflict between going towards what is familiar vs staying true to her principles. Maybe just a rewording of it to indicate how it affects the actual plot.

I agree that we need more details regarding the "explosive moment" and Conway's illness.

I think the query is very close, and suggest you work on it over at Phoenix's site to get it polished. Best of luck!

Stacy said...

I would think the hoarding hinders her trial prep because it makes her disorganized. Personally, I would make the hoarding a new thing for her after the accident, because now she's afraid to let anything go. But that's not the most helpful query comment.

flibgibbet said...

Not to overstep, but this is your plot according to me:

After her husband, eldest son, and daughter are killed by a drunk driver, Emily is left alone to raise her youngest son.

She relocates to New York and faces the most difficult decision of her life: keep fighting for the justice her family deserves, or forgive the driver and rebuild a future for her surviving son.

Fueled by anger and guilt, Emily dedicates the next (blank) years to putting the perp behind bars----hindered by a new obsession for hoarding newspaper clippings of similar crimes and building a fortress of paper.

With the trial looming, she forges an unlikely friendship with her neighbor Nicholas Travane, a man as handsome and as arrogant as her deceased husband. She’s attracted to him, but insists that friendship is all she's ever going to able to offer.

The trial comes to an abrupt halt when the drunk driver becomes seriously ill and is hospitalized indefinitely. Emily fears he'll die before justice is served, but also begins to question whether vengeance is worth the sacrifice.

BTW. This is a story I'd gladly read, and wish you much success fine-tuning your query.

Xiexie said...

I think flibgibbet (accurate I hope s/he is) is on target here. The query jumps around a bit much. I get the story here, but the query doesn't make me care about Emily.

Anonymous said...

Thank you all for your comments. This query has been revised more times then I care to admit. : )

The newest version will be posted on Phoenix's site this Wednesday. If you have a moment, I'd love to know what you think of the revision.

Thanks again!