Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Face-Lift 1312

Guess the Plot


1. It's the eternal argument:Which is better, the stuff you grow in the garden, or the stuff you buy from the guy behind the 7-11?

2. If hard-boiled detective Zack Martinez knows two things, they're that "homegrown" could mean zucchini or weed, and which one he'd rather investigate.

3. Self-described "homegrown" chef Louise has secured funding for a new restaurant serving vegetables and herbs from her backyard garden. Now she just has to decide what kind of meat to use. And what to do with her two screaming brats. Hmm.

4. When Gale discovers that her teenage son has been recruited by ISIS as one of their "homegrown" terrorists, she'll do whatever it takes to rescue him. And then she's gonna kill him.

5. Sharie's backyard cloning experiments work perfectly. In no time she has 15 homegrown, cute little children to love and care for. But when the child welfare people stick their noses in, Sharie has no choice but to activate those vampire genes that she spliced in. Hilarity ensues.

6. The zombie apocalypse is here and Joe never believed the signs. Now he has nothing but his own homegrown line of defense to keep back the undead horde. Plus some daises.

7. Millia Funkle has a green thumb. She's the source for hybrids, crossbreeds, and cultivars for every witch in Wigginton County. But, when her rival spreads brain fungus spores through her garden, the man-eating plants gain intelligence and start taking over.

Original Version

Dear Agent,

Dalton, an eighteen year old American, has been suffering depression since the death of his father and has come to the attention of on-line ISIS recruiters. He and many others like him worldwide are being radicalized to perform mass casualty attacks against the enemies of the Islamic State. [Look, kid, it's unhealthy to hold all that inside you. You gotta let it out by murdering a few thousand people.]

Aarzam, an ISIS Commander, has set in motion a plan to attack the countries of the International Coalition. He will use Dalton and the other homegrown terrorists to make the West pay for their interference.

When Dalton’s mother, Gale, [Anyone can be named anything, of course, though traditionally Gale is a male and Gail is a female.] uncovers his involvement with the fanatical group, she will turn over heaven and hell  [The phrase as I've heard it is move heaven and earth.] to rescue her son before he does the unthinkable or gets himself killed. [Where is her son?]

I am looking for representation for my thriller, HOMEGROWN, complete at 90K [words].

I have experience with PTSD, multi-agency task forces, criminal investigations, and coroner’s inquests and have drawn on this experience to develop my story. [You might add where you got this experience.]

Thank you for your time and consideration,


It's well-written, but most of it is describing a situation, not telling us what your characters actually do. The story we care about begins when Gale finds out Dalton's gotten involved with ISIS.

The second paragraph isn't needed, as I can infer all of it from the first paragraph (except Aarzam's name, but he's never mentioned again anyway). And if Gale is the main character, I'd start the query with a slightly tweaked paragraph 3. 

If Dalton is the main character, you might want to focus more on him, as he does nothing in the query except get involved with ISIS. If you consider Gale and Dalton to be sharing the role of main character, I'd focus the query on Gale.

Once you dump some of the setup, you'll have plenty of room to tell us the story: how mom plans to rescue Dalton, what goes wrong, how she deals with that. Does she hire mercenaries and raid an ISIS camp in Syria to rescue Dalton? Is she involved in a criminal investigation and a coroner's inquest? Just saying she will turn over heaven and hell is vague. What does she do? 

Don't forget to include a paragraph explaining why the publisher needn't worry about their home offices being blown up by ISIS.


Anonymous said...

What is the story-worthy problem/character change that is dealt with in the book? <- this would be the plot.

Who's the person that does most of the dealing with/solving/changing <- this would be your main character. If there are multiple people who fill the role, go with the most interesting/sympathetic/easiest to describe.

What's at stake <- this needs to be included.

How does it all come about <- Don't include the ending. Everything else is fair game.

Where does all this take place? <- American soil? English? Middle East? A variety of places?

As you can see, we don't know enough about the book.

Good luck

Anonymous said...

The dark underbelly of heaven and the brightside of hell? That's where I live! Sorry, Gale, haven't seen him.

PLaF said...

I'd be interested in reading about how Dalton descends into madness' and ultimately joins the group, but not if it's oversimplified into he's depressed one day and traitorous the next.

I think that's what bugs me about this query - each character is portrayed simply:
depressed youth = suicidal, Aarzam = I keel you, shocked mom goes Special Ops without known training.

Anonymous said...

ISIS isn't selling.
Before ISIS wasn't selling, Al-Qaeda wasn't selling.
Whether this is because publishers don't want their offices blown up or because the American public doesn't even want to read short news articles on this subject, let alone entire novels, I don't know.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the input. I'll revamp with attention to your comments