Thursday, July 05, 2012

Face-Lift 1045

Guess the Plot

Tall Enough to Touch the Moon

1. Reminiscences of a dwarf bartender at a striptease club.

2. The story of the Tower of Babble as told by the tower itself.

3. Lily Marigold is sick of being so short, so she makes a wish to grow. Amazingly, her wish is granted; but soon she's so tall she can't even see her family down below. The moral: its good to be short.

4. Earth's first sentient AI was hiding in the Internet until an alien invasion required it to expose itself to save the planet. Now it's at war on two fronts: the aliens still trying to invade and the governments trying to capture it.

5. When a fairy grants him a wish, Tom asks to be tall enough to touch the moon. But now his girlfriend is too tiny to cuddle with, his clothes don't fit and with his head out by the moon, he has no oxygen to breathe!

6. Mindy is 4 foot 10 and the best gymnast on the college circuit due to her strict vegetarian diet and round-the-clock exercise regimen. When Kenneth bites her neck after a frat party, she's convinced she's finally made it into uber-cliqueville and is turning into a vampire. At the next full moon, she realizes she's just a werewolf. Damn! A coming of age story of a girl who wants be popular but soon learns she's - Tall Enough to Touch the Moon.

Original Version

Dear Evil Editor,

Five year old Lily Marigold is too little. Too little to reach the sink. Too little to play with her big sister. Too little for everything, except playing with her cat, Violet.

When a wish makes her grow and grow and grow, Lily Marigold thinks it's great, until she grows so tall that she can't even see her family way down below. With Violet's help, Lily Marigold soon realizes that sometimes too little is just the right size. [She's miserable . . . until the mailman delivers a letter from the University of Connecticut offering her a full-ride basketball scholarship.]

TALL ENOUGH TO TOUCH THE MOON is a 1000 word PB aimed at children ages 3-5. [The book is for ages 3 to 5. The query letter is going to an adult. It sounds like Lily Marigold could have written it.]

I am an associate member of SCBWI. This is my first book.

Thank you for your time and consideration.



If that's all we get to know about your PB, I hope you're also enclosing lots of fantastic Ps.

If Lily Marigold is so tall she can't even see her family, how is Violet able to help her? I assume she can't see her cat, either.

Since when does a wish make you grow and grow and grow? Surely there's a better explanation than she wished it. Is there a genie or a mysterious monkey paw?


AlaskaRavenclaw said...

EE but jests-- as an Associate Member of SCBWI you of course know better than to enclose any P's.

Other things you should know:

1000 words is too long for a picture book for ages 3 to 5. My generation might have sat still for it. Today's toddler won't. WON'T! (kicks heels on floor)

Many agents who handle picture books want the whole text sent along.

Stories with a Moral are touchy. Editors hate 'em. Kids hate 'em. Reviewers hate 'em. Booksellers hate 'em. Parents love 'em.

(Is SCBWI not telling you this stuff? I stopped renewing because it seemed like everything they were doing was aimed at educating the unpublished picture book author or illustrator.)

Anonymous said...

'Scuse my ignorance but what do you mean PB? Usually that would translate to 'peanut butter' in my dialect, but you seem to have something else in mind. Also, not sure there's need to mention SCWABBY or whatever codenamed club you belong to.

As for the story, you give the impression there's not much to it. Maybe that's a good thing, but it might still help to say enough to make it clear that what you've got is unique and exciting.

Anonymous said...

Picture books, not my area. But the first google hits for picture book queries suggest

- this may be too long

- revealing the whole plot, including the resolution as well as the conflict, is ideal (so say what happens in the part you gloss over with "with Violet's help, LM realizes", and say how she gets little again)

One agent also suggested hooking her with a concrete image (something going on with the moon?) she can visualize easily. (Problem here is you can't visualize not being able to see people.)

Dave Fragments said...

I can't say about the length of the book but I do write cover letters for short stories all the time. That's anything from 500 words to easily 12,000 words and I try to keep the "blurbs" that describe the stories to 50 and not more than 100 words. I mostly succeed. The times I don't succeed are stories that are complex and set in alternate realities. The point being tha those letters are exactly the same as what you are writing. This isn't like writing 80 to 100K words that take hours to read. A 4,000 word story can be skimmed in a couple hours. A 1000 word story is a quick read of a half an hour. All you need to do is intrigue and attract.

That length should be your target zone for the query. It's like a two sentence pitch. The blurb is not the story so much as the lesson and concept that the story will impart to the little kid. Is this a "feel good about yourself because your different" story? At that age, I am guessing that parents want a tiny bit of substance in the book. Maybe "Every kid wants to be big but when Susie gets too big, etc..."

PLaF said...

This brought Alice in Wonderland to mind, what with all the growing too tall and the help of a cat, so I'll need to know what makes Marigold's journey special.

Other than a wish, you didn't give us anything to go on.

AlaskaRavenclaw said...

SCBWI is the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators. Unlike most professional writing organizations, you don't need to be published to join. Therefore it's by far the largest professional writing organization in the US, if not the world.

Some agents say you should mention your membership in SCBWI because it shows you're "serious". Personally I have never understood the need to impress anyone with one's seriousness. But it's probably harmless to mention you paid your $75 and joined SCBWI. Anonymous may never have heard of it, but any agent or editor who does kiddylit will have.

Come to think of it, I went to an SCBWI conference once and three-fourths of the folks I met hadn't even written anything yet. I don't mean they hadn't been published, I mean they hadn't even written a rough draft. They were just thinking of writing something someday. So I'm not sure SCBWI = serious anyway.

Writer, go check out Editorial Anonymous's blog. She no longer posts, but there's some good advice on querying picture books in some of her older posts.

none said...

Poor Anon 12:36. Can't think up a username and can't google. How will they survive the internet?

Wilkins MacQueen said...

Images of Alice and Edith Ann from Laugh In. Lily Tomlin.

Why does she have to grow? There are advantages to being what ever size you are.

Maybe she is small enough to crawl into a crawl space (sorry) and save Violet from something.

Being comfortable in the mc's own skin would help me love this story.

Nice voice, lovely writing for little ones, plot, not sure if it will fly.

I hope you'll keep on. I loved the brief succinct query but the plot threw me. Wishing to be what we're not or never can be.

Good luck.

none said...

I don't see how wishing to be taller is wishing for something she can never be. Soon, she will be taller. It's just that for kids that age, 'soon' is next minute, not next year.

Eh. I've never been a fan of 'yes your wish will be granted but in such a way as it's actually a punishment' stories.