Friday, March 22, 2013

Face-Lift 1113

Guess the Plot

The P Word

1. Featuring Pugh the porpoise and Poppy Platypus, this self help guide assists children with poor or no bowel control by raising awareness of encopresis. No brown trousers jokes...this is serious.

2. Seth is proud of his African-American heritage, but after rescuing a Basque girl from a sadistic lacrosse player, he falls for her. Will his pride or her prejudice keep them from becoming yet another interracial couple?

3. In Allison McQueen’s world, uttering “peace” gets you interned as a subversive. Half of her world is at war with the other half and they've been at it for 176 years. Allison’s PhD is in the history of war – but her passion is the history of peace negotiations. She’s determined to bring about peace but needs help and she can’t trust anyone.

4. In a place where people purloin pasta, pizza, and pretzels to survive, Penelope's parents prepare her for a paying profession...prestidigitation. Soon Penny is patella-deep in a police program to protect the populace from pinched pocketbooks.

5. Young Johnny is growing up fast. But every morning and every afternoon comes that one challenge in his life, The Potty. And each time, he has to try to do... The P Word.

6. Peer pressure. It's two words, but it's one idea, so you could call it the P-word. Especially if you hyphenate it. Anyway, it's the theme of the book, and it's set in high school and there's a suicide, but you probably already figured that out. That's all I'm saying except the main character is named Jeananne.

Original Version

Dear Evil Editor,

I’d like to offer my 60,000 word new adult novel, THE P-WORD for your consideration.

Black pride and white guilt is still a theme we see in today’s society. Our president is half black, claiming his father’s race with little regard to his mother’s. [Are you saying he claims to be half-black, and thus has little regard for the white race, whereas if he had high regard for the white race he would call himself half-white?] We don’t call this discrimination of skin color; it is love of race. [And you know this because he said so? I was thinking maybe he liked being thought of as the one and only black president instead of one of the 43 white presidents. Just as James Buchanan is often referred to as the only president who never married rather than as the 15th white president.] [By the way, is this a query letter or are you one of those people who get paid to visit websites and make incendiary political comments?]

This pride is where the story takes place. [Pride is more of a theme or a driving force than a setting.]

Seth grew up in the inner city of Oakland. Raised by his mother who taught him love of self, pride of race and righteous prejudice. Seth is a talented, ambitious black man, believing himself superior, until his curiosity is peaked [piqued] by Lina, a small town Basque girl. Against himself, [Huh?] and the promises made, [What promises? Did he promise his mother he wouldn't get involved with a Basque girl?] he is drawn to her and she becomes a catalyst for a system of characters. [A catalyst for some sort of action makes more sense.]

Lina Gilchrist was born with a “kick me” sign on her back. She hoped college would be different but her first week at the university put her on the radar of the star lacrosse player, with a dark obsession. [An obsession with Basque women?] Fortuitously, Lina also made an impression on Seth which complicated his life as he continually found himself rescuing Lina. [College is tough enough without having to continually rescue a Basque girl from a sadistic lacrosse player. My hat is off to Seth.]

In the vein of Jane Austen’s, PRIDE AND PREJUDICE, that touches on a theme that is prevalent in **America, yet rarely represented authentically in literature. [That wasn't really a sentence, unless the first "that" was supposed to represent "my book."] [So Seth is Mr. Darcy. I can see that. He rubs people the wrong way because of his seemingly superior attitude. Lina must be Elizabeth, although I say that only because she's the female protagonist. I never saw Liz as having a kick-me sign on her back. The lacrosse player? William Collins. Obviously.] [It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a talented, ambitious black man in inner-city Oakland must be in want of a wife, preferably one from the Basque region.] These character’s [characters] transcend stereotypes, push the boundaries of friendship and circumstances, having those taboo conversations that offend and ultimately break their hearts.

Thank you for your time and consideration on my debut novel, PRIDE, PREJUDICE AND PROMISES. [Actually, the title is The P-Word. Or at least it was a few paragraphs ago. If you've changed it to Pride, Prejudice and Promises, that's going to remind people of Pride, Prejudice and Zombies.] [By the way, is the P-word "pride," "prejudice," "promises," or "president"?]

**One in 10 (5.4 million couples) are interracial according to the 2010 US Census. [This is relevant (if at all) only if interracial couples seek out books about interracial couples, and your book is about an interracial couple, neither of which is clear.]


Time to start over. Nothing about Obama, interracial couples in America, or Jane Austen. Your job is to summarize the story so effectively that we want to read the book. If you want us to know the book's theme, let it come across in the plot description.

Start by introducing your main characters. Raised in inner-city Oakland by a mother who instilled racial pride in him, Seth Rogan enrolls at Johns Hopkins, expecting to become the first African-American Nobel-Prize-winning microbiologist. There he encounters Lina Gilchrist, a Basque girl being bullied by the school's star lacrosse player. It's love at first sight, and I don't mean with the lacrosse player.

Now we need to know what happens. Presumably Seth and Lina become an interracial couple, but run into various obstacles like his pride and promises and prejudice. What big event brings the conflict to a head? Must Seth decide between love and career? Between Lina and Mom? What's in the way of reaching his goals, and what's he planning to do about it? Tell us the story, and make us care about Seth and Lina.


150 said...

No, I like the query the way it is. All the dumbassery is right up front so nobody has to waste their time.

Unknown said...

Oy. 'Righteous prejudice' to one is 'bigotry' to another. I'd lose that phrase forthwith. Also, dump the census stat and send this through the spell/grammar check twice. And once more for good measure.

There's no such thing as a system of characters. And, there's a wealth of literature that addresses interracial/cross-cultural relationships--hundreds of books on a simple genre search--so the angle isn't unique or lacking.

This query preaches at me, and that sucks because I love the concept. Good students find each other at college and fall 'in like' despite cultural differences--a solid storyline that could be interesting with the right twists. Plus, Basque is exotic, and I can imagine the hilarity when poor Seth gets his first bite of pickled tongue.

The title (either of them) too many wrong ways to take it. Be more specific.

Please tell us more of the plot. For example, why is Seth's mom so anti-other? Does Seth live at home still?
I mean, kids often pick schools that will be too far for commuting just to get away from their nosy I wonder why Seth's mom has a role here.

Real world alert-lots of LGBT kids come out at school, when they are FAR away from parents who might disapprove. And, when mommy and daddy call they pretend all is 'normal'. I could imagine Seth acting the same way if he truly likes Lina, yet fears his mom's bad opinion.

If the racial tension is so high, I question why Seth chooses to get involved with Lina at all. Seems as if she wouldn't be his 'type'. For a character who is all about black-pride, Lina's not a logical choice for Seth. You need to make this sound plausible.

Best of luck.

AlaskaRavenclaw said...

If one in ten American couples are interracial (and I'm surprised it's that low), then it stands to reason that the topic of interracial luv is rather humdrum, so your story needs something more to carry it.

Obama actually makes quite a fuss about his Irish heritage.

Polenth said...

A book where racial tensions exist because black people are too prideful and prejudiced against white people is not what I'd call authentic. Evil Editor is being nice in suggesting you hide all that, so the agent doesn't know it until they pick up the book. But they're still going to find out when they pick up the book.

none said...

Lina might need a different surname as 'Gilchrist' originates in Scotland, not the Basque region.

khazar-khum said...

IS Seth's Mom a child of the Black Power movement? If she is, and that's how it sounds, then Seth will have to work mighty hard to get over what she inculcated in him.

Now, why a Basque girl? That's a pretty small group, even in California. Or is this based on real events?

If that's the case, say so.