Wednesday, March 05, 2014

Face-Lift 1190

Guess the Plot

Obeah Women

1. You will if you ever want to have sex again.

2. Post-apocalyptic tale of Earth's repopulation. Cave dwelling survivors adapt to matriarchal rule and polyamory, while the Obeah women practice monogamy, with each other. At least, until the youngest of their ranks becomes pregnant.

3. Mayra hires an Obeah woman to put a curse on Mayra's ex-boyfriend. But the curse requires a sample of the ex-boyfriend's dried semen. No way is Mayra going to seek it the old-fashioned way. When her alternative plan backfires, hilarity ensues.

4. Chelsea, a small town high school girl bored to death in Ohio, dreams everyday of being a supermodel. When a group of tall, beautiful women invite her to L.A., Chelsea hops in their Vivid Entertainment tour bus. She's finally going to make it.

5. Every generation, a woman of the Obeah clan is born as the embodiment of the Goddess Mazoura, and all those in the clan must honour her and pay tribute. Hilarity ensues when three women simultaneously claim to be the embodiment of Godess Maz.

Original Version

When Mayra Finch hires a New Orlean's [Orleans] based OBeah [Obeah] woman to exact revenge on her cheating exboyfriend, [ex-boyfriend] she doesn't expect the hoops she'll have to jump through to make it happen. [It takes a lot of gall to expect your ex-boyfriends to remain faithful.] Given the impossible task of finding stray hairs,replicating footprints, and recovering dried semen she feels more like she's on a treasure hunt [scavenger hunt] than a revenge mission. [Always gather your boyfriend's hairs and dried semen before he dumps you. It makes those black-arts revenge missions so much easier.]

But when her exes [ex's] girlfriend turns up dead-in New Orleans of all places- [Why "of all places"? Where does the girlfriend live? Wyoming?] dried semen becomes the least of her worries. [Considering how brief this plot summary is, it's amazing that you managed to work dried semen into it twice.] Mayra is now number one on the police's suspect lists [If the police have more than one suspect list, either this guy deserved to die or the police need to switch to a smaller font size.] and the real killer will do whatever it takes to keep her there. [Including planting dried semen in her laundry hamper.]

Obeah women [Capitalize "Women."] [Should the title be Obeah Woman? I didn't get the impression there's more than one Obeah woman in the story.] is my 60,000 word Mystery/thriller. May I send you the completed manuscript?


If I were the cops, the victim's boyfriend or her ex-boyfriend would be closer to the top of the suspect list than the victim's boyfriend's ex-girlfriend.

Some details that might be worth working into the query:

What form of revenge was Mayra seeking? Death?
Why do the police suspect her?
How did the victim die?

The real killer must be pretty high on the suspect list to feel the need to . . . what? Plant the murder weapon in Mayra's car?

Keeping someone on top of the suspect list would require knowing who is on top. So clearly the real killer is the cop tasked with ranking the suspects. Even after Mayra turns out to have an air-tight alibi, this guy refuses to put anyone above her on the suspect list, while he inexplicably drops down about fifteen places on the list. But then he's found out when his DNA is found in traces of dried semen on the list.

A few minor punctuation errors might slip by, but there are those who will assume every page of your manuscript has as many errors as your one-page letter, and decide it's not worth the trouble.


Unknown said...

Hi author,
I am having trouble understanding how Mayra even made the suspect list. Usually this is reserved for familiars--people who knew/had access to the victim. That has not been established here.

Also, what sort of revenge Mayra plotted seems key. If she, say wanted him to be impotent, then the murder/death of his girlfriend would seem outside the realm of possible magical/mystical confounders.

How is this a thriller? Because Mayra is being framed? It sounds like the stakes may be too low for the genre.

We need more plot. Also, the grammatical/spelling mistakes are truly unforgivable. This letter is your "job interview"; don't show up with coffee stains and. Is matched shoes, K?

Best of luck.

IMHO said...

I was intrigued by the first paragraph -- Obeah woman, the possibility of witchcraft, and the New Orleans locale. But the second paragraph switches to an entirely different story -- and the query doesn't show how this murder story is any different from the thousands of other "my [ex/spouse/rival] is dead and the police think I did it and the real killer will do anything to frame me" stories out there. Let us know how/why the two stories intersect!

AlaskaRavenclaw said...

Writer, I'm going to guess based on the query that you need to work on the manuscript.

You need to make sure that there are no punctuation, usage or grammar errors in the manuscript. Not one. An editor I know says she never reads past the first error. I'd bet most editors probably do if they're fascinated by the story. But I bet many don't read past the third error. Certainly not the fifth error.

Then there's the matter of the story. The angle you introduce at the beginning is fascinating. Not my cup of tea, but definitely many people's. A woman tries to use obeah magic to get revenge on her cheatin' ex. That's a story in itself, as we can assume this backfires in all kinds of interesting ways, plus we'll get to see inside a world we don't know much about, etc.

From the query, it looks like the thriller aspect of the story is tacked on. Unlike your obeah story, it's fairly generic. Does it really belong in the story at all? If so, is it really what the story's about, or is it just there to give a genre label to the story?

I can't really tell whether the problem of these two storylines' failure to integrate is a problem with the query, or inherent to the manuscript.

Those are my thoughts. Now excuse me while I prove I'm not a robot.

SB said...

Yeah, I was so weirded out by all the 'dried semen' that I had trouble focusing on what your query even said.

I think it needs more information, especially why the character is suspected to be the killer. If you can't give me a reasonably plausible reason, I'm unlikely to be interested in reading your story. In my opinion, it should be the kind of reason that makes me suspect the character too (like found standing over him with a bloody knife, as a cliched example), because then I'd want to find out how she got in the situation without actually being the killer.