Tuesday, March 18, 2014
Guess the Plot
1. 1678. Jacques Callie has been working on a machine that will provide perpetual motion while creating endless piles of gold. All he has to do is balance the wheels, cogs, gears, humours and the spheres and he'll be set. That's what the owls tell him, anyway.
2. Bored with Victorian morals, Callie heads west in 1916 and gets involved in the Mexican Revolution. She rides with General Pershing's troops on the fastest horse in Mexico, on a mission to capture Pancho Villa. Also, movie star Lillian Gish.
3. When Lassie reaches that age of maturity when ED commercials make too much sense and low "T" is a problem, she decides to strap on a set and go to war. Screw Timmy, it's a call to arms, even if she only has legs. It's time for a revolution, a Callie's...uh-oh, never mind.
4. Tired of her parent's meddling, Callie hatches a plan to live with her gay BFF, Zak, until graduation. Then Daddy Dearest decides he's not paying for college, so Callie begins a youth outrage movement by taking him to court.
5. Callie, procrastinator extraordinaire, is chosen during the Harvesting as a divergent..I mean…dissonant revolution leader, believed to the be the right one to lead the nation toward the New Order of Enlightenment and Life (N.O.E.L). But can this indolent teen inspire the crowds when she has no motivation to run a comb through her hair?
6. Will Callie's Bible class believe that Jesus has been visiting her every Tuesday night bearing nachos and telling funny stories? If not, she'll take over the pulpit, and make the whole church believe with the robe He left behind.
The idea--place a somewhat naïve young female journalist into the macho, dangerous maelstrom of the Mexican Revolution in 1916. Then watch what happens. [But since it's always best to experiment on animals first, we start by placing a bunny in a cage with six hungry wolves.]
Callie’s Revolution is a parallel story of political and social revolution, and the personal revolution of an adventurous young woman.
Through her eyes we ride with General John J. Pershing’s troops into the Chihuahuan desert, go with Callie into a dark cave hideout, face to face with Pancho Villa, fly in a Jenny Curtis biplane with ace pilot, Casey Wilde, and watch Callie and Casey fall for each other. [I realize the book is already written, but with a little tweaking you can dump ace pilot Casey Wilde and have Callie fall for Pancho Villa. Here's a photo of Villa and Pershing, chumming it up in 1914:
The way I see it, Callie's in love with Pancho, but in her position as a journalist she's covering Pershing, who falls in love with her. This gives Pershing's mission to ride into Mexico and capture Pancho a romantic motive. He doesn't care about following orders or stopping Pancho's raids; he just wants to eliminate his competition. Callie spends the entire mission trying to talk Pershing into letting Pancho escape (It's like in The Princess Bride when Buttercup agrees to marry Humperdinck if he'll let Westley live. Very romantic.), and when Pershing refuses, she rides ahead to warn Pancho (she has the fastest horse in Mexico). Which explains how Pancho did escape.]
We follow her into the heart of Mexico, [Who is this "we" you keep mentioning? I'm more interested in what Callie does than in what "we" do.] where she is seduced by the alluring sensations of an exotic culture, is awakened to her sexuality, and undergoes a stirring encounter with the mystery of the pyramids at Teotihuacan.
Then, into the nascent Hollywood movie colony with D.W. Griffith and the Gish sisters, the nightmarish experience of filming in the midst of World War 1, [Better title: Bride of Zelig.] and a brief, and nearly deadly reunion with Casey.
We fall into her delirium as she is pulled down to the brink of death by the raging Influenza epidemic.
Callie is tested time and again and survives, with her Colt 45, the fastest pony in Mexico, and a relentless desire to live an impassioned life. She is no saint, and constantly wavers between desire and morality
A Native American connection is alluded to during her illness, and is fully revealed near the conclusion--she is half Comanche, by a mother she never knew.
With her long black tresses and amazing ability with a horse and a pistol, Callie Masterson is a new kind of heroine--utterly feminine, compassionate, and fierce. She grows and changes in huge leaps because of her curiosity about life and her inborn courage. She is strong, gutsy and resourceful, but it is perhaps it is her compassion that will speak most fervently to the modern reader. [If her compassion speaks most fervently, you might want to include an example thereof, rather than listing all these adjectives (feminine, compassionate, fierce, curious, courageous, strong, gutsy, resourceful, compassionate again, horse-savvy, gun-loving, black-tressed.]
Callie is a trailblazer, pure and simple, who demands rights that women would not fully achieve for another fifty years. She straddles two different worlds in 1916: her past is Victorian morality, her future, Twentieth Century emancipation. She leaps into her destiny on the fastest horse in Mexico [Yes, her horse is fast. We got it.] and never looks back. [Another paragraph just describing Callie. If you show us what she's like, we'll be more intrigued than if you tell us.]
It feels like you're describing a biography of a fictional character, except that it all takes place in a five-year period. I think you should focus the entire query on whatever most drives the plot. That could be the mission to Mexico, during which Callie earns respect as an adventuress/journalist, or it could be the romance with the ace pilot or it could be the remarkable compassion she shows when she resists shooting Pershing's sexist troops. Right now it comes across as just a list of lists. Tell us a story.
The Gish sisters and the flu and the allusion to a Native American connection are eating space you need to make us care enough about Callie to want to read the book.