Thursday, March 07, 2013
Guess the Plot
1. Non-fiction treatise examining the link between the decline in the IQ of American teens (as measured by standardized testing) and increases in 'reality' TV show ratings.
2. Food tasters are supposed to prove whether a monarch's dinner is poisoned. But when both the food taster and monarch die from a slow-acting poison, it's up to Jovan, the new food taster, to find the guilty party and prove it--before he becomes the next victim.
3. Fiona lives a life of confusion, constantly taking everything literally. When told the expression 'the proof is in the pudding' she goes on a frenzied hunt through bakeries and supermarkets, buying all the puddings she can find. Will she ever find the proof she needs, or will she be arrested as a public nuisance?
4. Mark drinks a whiskey drink, he drinks a vodka drink, he drinks a lager drink, he drinks a cider drink. But when will he find the drink with the right proof? Time, and a damaged liver will tell.
5. James and Nadia stumble on a meth lab in their grandmother's basement. Grandma's side project is funding their uncle's medical treatments, but now they've discovered she's selling to kids at their school. When the lab and all its equipment mysteriously disappear, they are left wondering how to accuse grandma when they haven't any... proof.
6. Motive, opportunity, weapon, eye witnesses, forensics . . . it's all part of proving who committed a crime. But detective Saul Durbun specializes in getting justice when there's no proof to be had. Not through torture, but through trickery. This is his first case.
Dear Evil Editor,
Tasting food for poison might not sound like the most appealing job, but proofing for the ruling Fijoldo has been Jovan's family's secret duty for over a century. [Using the word "but" leads us to expect you're going to tell us the job is appealing in some way. You don't.] [How about: Tasting food for poison has been the duty of Jovan's family for over a century.] And it's easier to memorise characteristics and symptoms when you're driven to compulsive, repetitive behaviour by a frustrating mental illness. [Not clear what that sentence is doing for you. Get rid of it.]
But his years of preparation [Training.] seem inadequate when his uncle's trained palate fails [Are you talking about Jovan's years of preparation or his uncle's? It's not clear.] and the Fijoldo dies. [Is that how food tasting works? I always thought the taster ate some of everything, and if he didn't die a horrible convulsive death or at least get a tummy ache, the Fijoldo felt safe. You're saying he has to be able to detect the presence of arsenic in a pot of spaghetti sauce?] Suddenly Jovan is the only one standing between the Heir-his best friend, Tain-and a traitor [Assassin.] armed with an undetectable poison. [If the poison is undetectable, how can you say the uncle's palate failed?] Then the capital is besieged during the funeral by the country's native people, somehow incited to rebellion. [Somehow? Is this related to the death or is it a coincidence?] Even if the city can withstand the siege, racial tensions threaten to tear it apart from inside.
Jovan, his sister Chalina, and Tain can trust only each other as they search for their enemy. The more they investigate, the more they learn about the rotten core of their beloved country and their own families, and they begin to sympathise with the native rebels. Even if they can find and stop the poisoner, breaking the siege to save the city might come at too high a cost. [The poisoner has already accomplished his goal as far as I can tell. Is there reason to believe he's a serial poisoner?]
'Proof' is a 120,000 word novel that combines elements of fantasy and suspense. Based in a fantasy setting but without a supernatural element, [Any setting can be a fantasy setting. The elements of fantasy should be fantastical, not just made-up place names. If it were set in England or Persia or Rohan would it be different in any way, other than the king or sultan would be dead instead of the Fijoldo?] Proof is a story about how three people, bound by ties of family and friendship, are tested by tragedy, danger and betrayal.
I have attached [synopsis and/or chapters, consistently with agent's guidelines]. Thank you for your consideration; I would love to hear from you.
Has Jovan become the new food taster now that uncle is dead (I assume uncle died from the same poison that killed the Fijoldo, but it was slow-acting poison)? Did everyone at the table die, or just the Fijoldo? I ask because Wikipedia suggests that the food taster would be responsible for preparing and serving the Fijoldo's plate (having incentive to keep the plate poison-free), thus requiring the poisoner to poison the whole pot of Bouillabaisse rather than just the target's bowl of Bouillabaisse.
Is this a murder mystery, in which Jovan must figure out which suspect poisoned the Fijoldo, and how? I'm guessing not, as that would work fine without the backdrop of a revolution. On the other hand, if the main plot is the rebellion, we're spending too much of the query on the poisoning. You could just say:
After Bullwachia's monarch is poisoned, his heir Tain must deal with a rebellion and with knowing that the poisoner may target him next. So far the army is holding off the rebellion, and as for the poisoner, Tain's best friend happens to come from a long line of professional food tasters. So all is well.
What's the deal with racial tension?
Seems like a family of food tasters would already be sympathizing with the rebel cause. It's not like food tasters are high in the hierarchy of the ruling class. It was often a job given to a slave.
I prefer "king" to "Fijoldo." And "Tain" doesn't thrill me. It sounds like a combination of stain and taint.
We can do without the sister. We can probably do without the rebellion, but I may be saying that because I like a good mystery. Or because local is more interesting than global.