Tuesday, April 03, 2018

Face-Lift 1369

Guess the Plot

The Art of the Steal

1. Theodore Gobblin, although blind and missing both arms, crafts exquisitely intricate installation pieces from steel. You will laugh, you will cry as you follow his remarkable journey as he overcomes adversity and... What? Steal? Never mind. 

2. When a bunch of kids break into a house during a power outage, they are delighted to find more cash and jewelry than they dreamed of. Stealing it was easy. Fencing and laundering is a little harder. So they turn to a mobster for help. Turns out it was the mobster's boss's home they broke into in the first place. Oops.

3. Art gallery manager Lucy Highgrove’s just signed a 2-year lease on a snazzy apartment when the gallery owner dies suddenly. Lucy’s sure to lose her job. Unless . . . Setting fire to the gallery means insurance might keep it open. But the night she chooses, someone more dangerous than Lucy has the same idea.

4. When one of her paintings is stolen, an art student is secretly thrilled that someone likes her work enough to steal it--until she learns the thief only wants it to cover up the masterpiece he's planning to smuggle out of the museum.

5. That total hellbitch from Johnson High, Kaycie Matterson, has written a how-to manual for taking guys away from 'undeserving' girls. Everything's just peachy until Lora Roberts decides to apply Kaycie's foolproof method against her, winning over hunky Chad Arnold in the process.

6. Mayfaire Woddy liked to consider himself a gentleman burglar, until the lithograph (Dante's Hells, 13/666) he stole turned out to be demonically possessed. Now he must find and steal the other 665 prints and the original lithographic plate used to print them or end up a red streak of ink in the picture.

7. Rody is a modern day pirate. Music, art, dance moves; they've all fallen sway to his wiles. Yet when someone plagiarizes his stolen work, he discovers that sometimes it takes a thief to catch a thief. 

Original Version

Dear Evil Editor,

Four years ago, free-spirited artist Emily Sanger turned her back on her family, their fortune, and their overbearing expectations in order to pursue an art degree. With only one semester to go, she becomes the victim of a robbery and a suspect in a murder investigation.

By launching an investigation to clear her name, Emily learns that what looks like a drug smuggling operation is actually an art heist. [Art students don't launch investigations. Just say "While trying to clear her name..."] [Also, once you say Emily is a suspect in a murder investigation, I expect to hear who got murdered and why the authorities suspect Emily. Not that drugs are being smuggled from somewhere to somewhere, except they're not really being smuggled, someone is cleverly hoping to avoid getting arrested for stealing art by making it look like he's merely smuggling drugs.] A disgruntled museum curator has kept a masterpiece painting hidden within the museum for decades. [Brilliantly, he's hidden it in plain sight--it's hanging on the wall.] [Has he been disgruntled for decades? Usually when you're disgruntled, you're looking for more immediate relief than you'll get from a plot that takes thirty years to unfold.] He’s used her painting to smuggle it out of the museum and finance his multi-million dollar retirement.

Emily is determined to stop him but he’s been planning this heist for years and she only has days to thwart it. When all the evidence suggests Emily is guilty, [Of murder?] friendships begin to fracture. [We've been best friends a long time, but that was when I didn't know you were a murderer.] And time is running out. A shipment of artwork is headed for Barcelona in just a few days – a legitimate shipment that includes the smuggled masterpiece.

About to be arrested for a crime [Murder?] she didn’t commit, Emily calls her aunt for help. Running home might keep her out of jail, [If they're after you for murder, running home isn't gonna keep you out of jail. It's the first place they'll look. Unless they assume that you're not stupid enough to hide out at your aunt's home, in which case it'll still be the third or fourth place they look.] but it will mean giving up everything else. In jail, at least she could paint license plates. [That sounds like a clever wrap-up, though research shows that only North Carolina's plates are made by women, and the painting is done by a machine. Plus, a "free-spirited artist" would consider license plate painting torture. That Emily turned her back on her family to pursue an art degree doesn't suggest that if she returned to them she would have to give up everything. Wouldn't she be able to paint something more creative than license plates at home? Did her family disown her for going off to college?

I am a full-time aspiring author and former sales manager. I have a B.A. in Art, which was the inspiration for this book.

The Art of the Steal is a not-quite-cozy mystery complete at 90,000 words and will appeal to readers of K.J. Larson’s “Pants on Fire Detective Agency” novels. [If you must compare your book to someone else's, it would be a good idea to spell the author's last name correctly.] May I send you the finished manuscript? Thank you for your time and consideration.

Best Regards,


You've got a mystery in which there's been a murder. You need to tell us who got murdered and name a couple other people who had a motive to commit the murder. Whether a disgruntled museum curator gets away with smuggling a painting to Barcelona seems secondary when your main character is a murder suspect. If, in the book, the art theft has precedence over the murder "subplot" that's most likely a problem. 


Anonymous said...

Past tense means it's already happened. If the curator already used her painting to smuggle out a different one worth millions and finance his retirement (para 2) there isn't a way to stop him barring time travel.

You mention it's only a plan in para 3, and that's probably what you mean, but at that point you're changing what you've already said. Also, this info could probably be merged back up into para 2 so it doesn't need to be repeated.

Unless the murder and art theft are very closely related, in which case you might want to give a few clues as to how, you might want to take one of the crimes out of the query (and possibly out of the book). As is, it blurs the focus/direction of the story.

I assume she runs back to the family more for the lawyers their fortune can buy than anything else, but it does somewhat contradict the idea of 'free-spirited.' Maybe we're using different definitions.

Good Luck

khazarkhum said...

Museums have these things called storerooms, where they bury perfectly good art that, for whatever reason, isn't on display at the moment. It makes more sense if the curator finds this hidden gem, sells it, and then uses Emily's painting to disguise it. How does he plan to do that, anyway/ He's going to have to be very careful to not screw it all up.

Does he plan to sell Emily's art, too?

St0n3henge said...

Here's what you have happening:

Emily persues an art degree.
Then she becomes the victim of the theft of one of her paintings.
Then she becomes a murder suspect. Somehow. It either is or is not related to the theft of the painting.
Emily either is not held or gets bailed out. She launches an investigation to clear her name and discover what appears to be a drug smuggling opperation. (How does she discover this?) But it is really an art heist. (How does she discover THAT? Do any of the criminals care that they're being investigated by an art student?)

Emily only has days to thwart this, because apparently, it will clear her name on the murder charges. (How?) Also, the police won't listen to her or help, so she has to do it by herself. She has friends, but apparently they don't believe her either?

Rather than try to thwart the art heist, Emily runs home to her Aunt's house.
(Leaving the state won't generally keep you from murder charges, unless you also change your entire identity. Even then, most people can't pull it off.)
And we end with our protagonist running home with her tail tucked between her legs.

If this isn't what you meant, change it. It is what you wrote. I know it's clear in your head, but a cold reading gives me this, and for the most part it makes no sense as a story. I assume the ms actually does.
Start with putting things in the order in which they happen in the story. And don't leave out key plot points. For instance, what murder? Of whom?

khazarkhum said...

Of whom? Professor Plum in the conservatory, by Miss Scarlett with an axe?

The murder seems almost tacked on to the plot. Is the plot thwarting the heist and drug sales, or solving the murder? Sure, the two can be intertwined, but the way it's reading now it sounds like the murder is an afterthought.