Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Face-Lift 846

Guess the Plot

Of Two or More Minds

1. Penta the Hydra's left head (Gil) summons a demon to rid himself of the right head (Sullie) who's hired a mad scientist to off him. When the demon and scientist team up and imprison them it's up to the middle head (Cal) to free them.

2. In half of his mind, Adrian believes he could make Regina happy, despite being a bisexual homophobe. But in the other half, he knows she won't be thrilled to find out he works for a pornographic video production company connected to a Salvadorian child prostitution ring.

3. Charlie the zombie could never do anything right. Instead of just eating brains, he's been gulping down the minds as well. Now he's afflicted with multiple personality syndrome. Can he find a cure before two or more of the minds he's eaten talk him into chomping down on a head and getting hair between his teeth?

4. Kate knew exploring the haunted house at night was a bad idea. Now she has two ghosts possessing her body. One is out for revenge while the other just wants to live a normal life - and they're both in love with Kate.

5. Five-year-old Malcolm could barely read English when he started speaking Spanish, and Swahili and Sanskrit. Psychiatric consultations provide the explanation: three ancient spirits are feuding within Malcolm's mind. Can Malcolm's own mind take control . . . or has he already lost it?

6. When a photo booth generates an exact double of 15 year-old Yin Chee, she thinks it's the solution to her problems. She can party while her double keeps up with the grueling study regime that her parents force on her. Trouble is, her mind simultaneously occupies both bodies. And when her double spontaneously splits, her mind gets shared between three Yins.

Original Version

Dear Evil and expanding evilness:

Query for novel "Of Two or More Minds"

Adrian's friends attempt a shakedown of his boss by stealing an illegal adult film and threatening to turn it over to authorities. This leaves the sexually confused theater manager playing both sides; [Not clear whether Adrian or his boss is the theater manager.] earnestly trying to prove his loyalty to the company while reluctantly pocketing his share of the stolen cash. [What stolen cash? It was a film they stole. Did the guy pay them off? Usually when someone says a shakedown was attempted, I assume it failed. Otherwise the writer would have just said they shook him down. Why does Adrian get a share? Was he in on the theft? When a guy has something illegal and you steal it from him, you now have something illegal. Seems like you're the one potentially in trouble now. And if he buys the item back, does that make the payment stolen cash?] Actually, Adrian distrusts Lou Davis, his boss, but doesn't know the porn operator had partnered with a Web-based video production company deeply connected to a Salvadorian child prostitution ring. [If you're gonna partner with a child prostitution ring, make it a Guatemalan child prostitution ring or a Nicaraguan child prostitution ring. Anything but a Salvadorean child prostitution ring.] [How come whether I spell it Salvadorean or Salvadorian or Salvadoran, Blogger doesn't tell me it's misspelled? Apparently you can spell it any way you want. Salutatorian. Slovenian. Slobodan Milosevic. Christ, everything works. In El Salvador, spelling bees never end.] He doesn't know Lou's partners had already gained control of the business by turning Lou's weakness against him. Adrian was soon to get set up the same way but gets off much easier, [The younger you are, the easier it is to get off.] the blackmail only having destroyed his half-serious engagement to Regina, [You're dumping me? Just because I'm a blackmailer tangentially involved with child pornography?] his best friend and lover. But he could rationalize that as the fair outcome. A bisexual homophobe not much for sharing is probably not the reliable lover she wanted so to believe. [And probably not the main character we wanted so to cheer for.] Even if he wanted just as much to believe. Belief, it seemed, could be complete in just half of one's mind.


Half of my mind believes this is a hoax. The other half wants to believe it's a hoax.

But just in case it isn't, it needs clarity, it needs paragraphing, and it needs to focus on the Adrian/Regina relationship. If Adrian loves Regina and has no idea he works for a porn producer and then he finds out, but his criminal bosses threaten to kill him if he quits . . . Nah. I don't see anything making us want to root for a homophobic blackmailer who is torn about remaining loyal to a company connected with child porn. I recommend putting this novel in a trunk and writing one about kittens.

If you want to make money by stealing, it's kind of stupid to steal from a criminal involved in a sleazy racket. You could end up sleeping with the fishes. Better to steal from a little old lady, so you only have to worry about the police.


Anonymous said...

Reads like your computer was attacked by a virus that removes every other sentence.

Anonymous said...

I'm gonna put my money on "Salvadoran."

Reason is, there's nothing in the country's name to justify that extra syllable.

Of course, you could be a real purist and say "SalvadoreƱo."

A bisexual homophobe not much for sharing is probably not the reliable lover she wanted so to believe.

After reading the above twice, I decided it was grammatical. But you really don't want your writing to be that debatable.

On Query Shark's site a while back, she made the point that a light, jovial tone doesn't go well with certain types of subject matter. I would posit that child prostitution is one of 'em.

Anonymous said...

Usually the homophobia comes with being closeted/in denial. The way you write this, he seems to acknowledge his sexuality (or at least you do) so that gave me pause. A small point, though, relatively speaking.

Read guess the plot number 2. that's your book. Does it make you say, "Really?" too?

Unknown said...

I like all the funny, yet wacky ways that you showed the plot. The original idea sounds quirky. These days, with music making noise and cartoons having little direction, the market seems to love the randomness of shows like Adventureland and such. Do books with such crazy plots actually work? Nice blog.

Draven Ames

Anonymous said...

Sounds like your attention span would be happier writing short stories.

vkw said...

Dog books are in this year and make ideal Christmas presents. That means that kitten books may be the big thing next year for the hard to buy people in your life.

I am personally buying up the dog books for the people in my life I have to buy for and I do not like. I am doing this for a couple of reasons - one I can get them read before I have to wrap them. Then I can hope they will be regifted to me next year, but if they aren't I have my hope in the kitten books. But to prove I am not selfish or manipulative, I am giving them out also because they have the "Ahhhhh" and "Ohhhh" sentiment that may make my unlikeable family members likeable, if they bother to read the book before regifting it back to me.

That still makes me sound manipulative . . . well enough about me. . . .

Now about the book: here is the best I can come up with - blackmailing homophobes are not likeable nor are people who are loyal to child porn bosses. Serial killers are not likeable either, although Hannible was almost likeable for occassionally killing people less likeable than himself. Sometimes authors can pull out the "my serial killer's upbringing was so horrible it justifies what he did," aka "the victim card." But I think that is out of style these days - we are back to "suck it up".

Anyway this may be you only hope for Andrian - everyone else around him must be despicable and then you have to make the MC Regina.

Or start on the second book and tell yourself, you'll fix this book at a later date.

As for your query, it didn't make sense.


Anonymous said...

Okay, I think I'm getting it now. You're going for something like The Little Shop of Horrors?

none said...

There's no plot and nobody to care for. So it's literary, and in that case you'll need to improve the writing a lot.

Khazar-khum said...

Is this literary, where Adrian is Everyman and we're all really just child pornographers by exploiting the underclass when we support the brutal regimes of Latin America? If that's what you are going for, you need to radically strengthen the writing, because otherwise this looks less like an allegory and more like an unsavory stew.

Dave Fragments said...

There's a few books out there with distasteful characters in leading roles. DEXTER, No Country For Old Men, Hannibal, come to mind. And there are some stories with truly stupid leading characters (Lock, Stock and 2 Smoking Barrels and THE HANGOVER).

This query hurts whatever story you have. The story can be a look into the sleazy side of reality with a serious tone and if so, the query has to follow that tone of voice.
Or it can be comedy, and the query has to reflect that.
Right now, you have the worst of both worlds. Clownish characters with a serious tone.

I believe you didn't write a bad novel, I think you wrote a disaster of a query. I've done that. You might be too close to the story.

I will tell you one thing, the mention of kiddie porn makes people run away faster than the speed of light.

I will also tell you that sometimes it is just as satisfying to write what you know is commercial and not what makes your heart beat faster and fogs your eyeglasses. Get something published and then come back to this story.

flibgibbet said...

Successful queries, regardless of genre, are based (loosely) on the following structure:

What the MC wants.
What's standing in his way.
What the consequences are if he fails.

Your query/story isn't working because your MC doesn't want anything. And because he doesn't want anything, there's zero conflict and zero consequences. In fact, there's zero story and zero possibility of character arc. (You do know the difference between plot and story, yes?)

In any case, if your character isn't emotionally invested in the outcome of the plot, why would the reader give a care?

Anonymous said...

[The younger you are, the easier it is to get off.]


You here all week, EE?

Anonymous said...

Awesome label

Anonymous said...

well< sorry computer troubles> nathan bransford has a pretty good template for queries< i"d follow that to get things aligned then go again> we"ve all written bad queries< without exception>we want to care about the mc and so far i get distaste>kiddie porn needs to be handled so carefully adding a sex confused man isn"t helping to build your case to publish> would a sex confused guy be engaged? half hearted?

define your story> narrow the field and give us a reason to care and want to read on>

what does the mc want? what stops him from getting it and what are the consequences of his choices>

and i respectfully suggest you read way more> miss snark< query shark and please read the evil one"s archives and hop onto the divine miss phoenix site to see how she builds up the query>
good luck and vkw you bent me in half< hilarious> mac

Phoenix Sullivan said...

Uh-oh, EE, we're starting to play dueling queries.

Queriers: There's a lot of cross-over between my little blog and EE's. EE's gets huge traffic and more comments. I know everyone gets anxious about getting their query out in a hurry, but really, submit here first so EE can give you the best direction to go, and then submit a revised version at my place. You're wasting a cycle by having the same query critted on various sites.

Whether here or elsewhere, readers will indulge one or two revisions, but after that, no one reads -- much less comments -- any more.