Guess the Plot
1. "The curtains tickle." "The lights are blinding." "The lead actress's stilettos stab like hypodermic needles." For the first time, the world of the theater is presented from the perspective of the one who has seen it all... The Stage.
2. The story behind the story of one theatre producer's ambition to do the impossible: Schindler's List- The Musical.
3. Kaylen was assigned months ago to write, produce and direct the senior play. It's almost time for tryouts now, and she hasn't done jack. Maybe if she can convince everyone that the stage is haunted the show won't have to go on.
4. The only thing Joan wants in life is to be an actress on Broadway – she loves the exhilaration of performing live. Then Nancy gets the role Joan lives for, and Joan learns that the exhilaration of watching a rival die before her eyes is much more satisfying.
5. Five years ago, the stage in the Shnooblethwatz Theater was cursed by some stereotypically angry ghosts after the building was constructed on their graves. Now anyone who performs in the theater can only speak the words the ghosts recited on the stage. Can Taniqalla Boom-Boom, most recent addition to the company, break the curse? Or is everyone doomed to say nothing but scripted lines for the rest of their lives?
6. Rocket scientist Jeff Hutchens suspects that the solid fuel in the first stage of the new Mars rocket has problems. But his boss is under pressure to launch this week, not waste time with a burnout. His lover Sam can't wait to fly the bird, the press is screaming for action, and even the President wants the launch. Should Jeff do everything he can to have the mission scrubbed, or should he sit at Mission Control with fingers crossed?
Seventeen-year-old Kaylen has the opportunity to do what no one else at Alderpoint High School has done before - write, produce and direct the senior play in their new state of the art theater. [Of course no one's ever done this stuff in the new theater. The theater wasn't there before. It's like bragging that you're the first person in the history of the world to eat a slice of the cake you just baked.] [Also, I find it hard to believe the drama department wouldn't divide these three tasks among three people to give them all valuable experience.] Nailing it will get her out of her small town and into the theater program of her dreams. [Not to mention a possible Tony nomination.] Unfortunately, a summer of writer's block has left her without a script. [Then she has an epiphany: a play about a high school girl with writer's block.
Act I, Scene 1
Kaylen (Turning off television)
Act I, Scene 2
NicoleThat top looks great on you.
KaylenBuying clothes is way more fun than writing a play.
NicoleYou could be writing down everything we say for your play.
KaylenBorrrrring. I'll write the play tomorrow. Let's go to Mrs. Fields.]
With tryouts fast approaching, she looks for inspiration in the prop storage area. Instead she finds an old, fire-singed script of a play she's never heard of. Too proud to admit failure, she passes the script off as her own.
Things start falling apart at the first full-cast read-through. As soon as the actors finish, the stage curtains catch fire. Later that week Kaylen's assistant producer is found unconscious backstage, his face and hands covered with burns. She writes it off as bad luck [for the assistant producer,] until she catches her five main actors rehearsing on stage without her - in the middle of the night, standing in the shape of an inverted pentagram. [Seems like whether a pentagram is inverted or not depends on where you're looking at it from. And if it's just five people standing up at the points of the pentagram, it wouldn't look any different than five people standing in a circle. Now if they were lying down they could form an obvious pentagram.]
Convinced the script holds clues about the strange events, Kaylen examines it more closely and finds ties to Obadiah Baker, the town's founder. As she dives [delves?] deeper into Alderpoint's history she discovers multiple horrific tragedies involving fire - and the dates coincide with her show's opening night. If she hopes to save her friends, Kaylen must learn what happened below her school's stage over two hundred years ago and figure out how to stop it. [How can she stop something that happened over 200 years ago?]
THE STAGE is a ##,###-word YA Horror and a 2014 NaNoWriMo project (I know not to mention the NaNo part in the real query!) Thank you for your time and consideration.
How does Kaylen know that whatever happened over 200 years ago happened below her stage? Did all the fire-related horrific tragedies that happened in Alderpoint's history happen on the same location as the stage? Is it the stage or the script that ties all these tragedies together?
How come when she delves into Alderpoint's history and finds out about all these other tragedies, she doesn't find out about whatever happened under the stage 200 years ago?
It would be pretty unusual for the senior play to be written by a student. And for that student to be so unmonitored that the teachers involved have no idea she has no script started with tryouts rapidly approaching.
Are the burning curtains etc. related to the fact that Kaylen claims the script as her own? Or would they be happening even if she'd admitted it wasn't hers? If the latter, we don't need to know in the query that she does something dishonest. If the former, does that mean all the other tragedies that occurred on that date involved someone being dishonest?
Particularly for a query for a not-yet-written novel, this is pretty solid. There's definitely stuff that could be edited out and tightened up, like a lot of the setup of the problem, but you've got the basics down well.
Once the novel is done, I'd suggest getting a bit more specific about what Kaylen will be up against. Editors and agents are going to assume that Kaylen figures out the specifics of what's happening, as it wouldn't be very interesting if she didn't. So you can go ahead and at least start hinting at what she'll be facing in the end. A bit of info on a few of the other characters would help make the stakes seem higher. A group of unidentified friends in peril isn't as compelling as one friend we actually know something about in danger.
What does success for Kaylen look like? Even if she solves the mystery and defeated the evil script, she's still a plagiarist and her dream of getting into a top theater program is pretty well sunk.
I'm still concerned about Kaylen being given the role of producer/director etc. What makes her qualified? Does she show promise as a writer/director? It would make more sense if this is a play she's writing as extra curricular/head of drama club rather than a school assigned project. Maybe she has a rivalry with someone in the drama club that motivates her to want to write and produce?
Komal, our local HS had senior projects where kids spent a year developing and creating things. Kids built surfboards, raised animals, had fashion shows, all kinds of great things. I mentored a girl who produced and directed a play for kids. It was from a commercial play dealer, not her writings.
Perhaps Kaylen's Senior Project is to produce and direct a play, and when she finds the scorched script she decides to claim it as her own.
I have a hard time swallowing the idea that a school would allow a student to write, produce and direct the senior play and has had no supervision. They are at try outs and the drama teacher doesn't even know if there is a play? I'm sorry, I don't think that would happen.
You could possibly have her write something and then find the other script and decide it's so much better than what she has, she's going to swap scripts. That still leaves a plot hole, but it isn't as large.
I think the goals and stakes need to be more specific.
Good luck on the NaNo project. It's not easy, so a hat tip to you.
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