Friday, August 25, 2006
Guess the Plot
Until Death Do Us Part
1. The wedding is over. All the planning, the excitement, the spectacle is over. Mrs. Cynthia Lin wonders what to do now.
2. Conjoined twins James and Joseph share a liver, a pancreas -- and a girlfriend. But when Lily is found murdered, they vow to find a doctor to separate them, so they can fight a duel to the death.
3. True accounts of divorces from the most bizarre and hilarious period in the long and illustrious history of matrimonial failure: the late 19th century.
4. Wieder Braun has been married to nagging, thrifty, boring Frau Rosa for more than 50 years. And he's not waiting one more day for freedom.
5. Reverend L. J. Jones tires of the hypocrisy of young love. The divorce rate among couples he's married is 70%. So now he helps newlyweds keep their vows by parting them with death, mafia-style.
6. Tom and Larry couldn't get jobs at the circus... until they had themselves surgically conjoined to become the first Latvian Siamese Twins.
Dear Name of Agent: (Evil Editor in this case)
I am a recent graduate of North Dakota State University and have had the opportunity to write a proposal for an almost entirely unique book. I am confident with this statement because the book’s historical source has never before been read or written about. These original historical documents contain the bizarre and fascinating stories of America’s earliest known divorces. I would like to invite you to review my proposal and consider representing Until Death Do Us Part: The Strange True Stories of America's First Divorces. [Framing American Divorce is a boldly innovative exploration of the multiple meanings of divorce in American life during the formative years of both the nation and its law, roughly 1770 to 1870. --Description of a book available at Amazon.com, which also offers The Road to Reno: A History of Divorce in the United States, and A History of Divorce. Which is not to say that these books are similar to yours, merely that "unique" and "America's first divorces" may be overstating it, insofar as your history begins in the 1880's.]
I have easy and unlimited access to many of the oldest divorce court records in American history. They range from the 1880’s to the early 1900’s and are all original documents that have never before been searched through. [I stole them from the basement of the Stutsman County courthouse.] The proposed book is to be a compilation of entertaining and fluent retellings of the most unique, interesting, emotionally striking, humorous, and strange of these divorce cases. The book will also contain brief discussions of early American divorce and an overview of modern divorce. I searched through approximately 100 of the divorce cases for a historical research paper and discovered that many resemble micro soap operas. [That's true even today; the difference is, today you can file citing irreconcilable differences, whereas in the old days you needed specific reasons like He's sleeping with both my sisters, or She poisoned my stew.] The divorce stories in my small sampling from the 1890’s are tales peppered with exotic locales such as Australia, Europe, and India, humor, emotional and physical abuse committed by husbands and wives, adultery, shootings, crime, alcoholism, tragedy, family and class disputes, decadence, and any other such element of resonant storytelling.
The book will be, simply put, a veritable pantheon of intimate human-interest stories from America’s past. The stories have all certainly never been told before, and are arguably some of the first well-documented cases of domestic dysfunction in American history. [All right already. At least write the book before gushing over its magnificence.] They are narratives involving people from a wide variety of geographical regions, in particular the east coast. In addition, the book, although drawn from the country’s past, is still quite relevant today, given the current debates and discussions surrounding marriage, divorce, and the “American family.”
I graduated from Minot High School in 2001 and labored in choosing a profession to pursue. [I narrowed it down to historian, divorce lawyer, and scandalmonger. Then I realized I could have my cake and eat it too.] This was difficult because I have too many interests, the most immediate being literature, history, popular culture, and art. I decided upon a career in history education, as art and writing can both be enjoyed in my leisure time, therefore avoiding the suffocation of my creativity with career pressure. [Which is exactly the reason Stephen King and Nora Roberts have never quit their day jobs as a bag boy and a laundress.] My qualifications to write this book include first and foremost a B.S. in History Education from North Dakota State University. The degree, however, serves only as documentation of my interest and knowledge of history. My true qualifications for writing this book are my undying and undeniable passion for history, literature, writing, and the human experience. I also have easy access to the divorce files [You said that at the beginning of paragraph 2.] and a strong desire to pour myself into researching the files, with or without a book. Quite simply, I just enjoy reading them. [Quite simply, you are stark, raving mad.] [Seriously. The guy who ate 35 pancakes a day for 13 years in the last query had nothing on you, obsession-wise.]
I would be more than thrilled to have you represent me. If you would like to view my proposal, please contact me as soon as your schedule permits. You may contact me anytime by phone at _________ or by email at ___________. I look forward to hearing from you and wish to extend my appreciation for your time and consideration.
Dear Name of Agent: (Evil Editor in this case)
I would like to invite you to review my proposal and consider representing Till Death Do Us Part: True Stories of America's First Divorces.
I have access to many of the oldest divorce court records in American history, dating from the 1880’s to the early 1900’s. My book will consist of entertaining retellings of the most emotionally striking, humorous, and bizarre of these divorce cases. It will also contain brief discussions of early American divorce and an overview of modern divorce.
I searched through approximately 100 divorce cases for a historical research paper and discovered that many resemble mini soap operas. The small sampling from the 1890’s, which I used for my paper, is peppered with more emotional and physical abuse, adultery, shootings, crime, alcoholism, tragedy, family and class disputes, and decadence than would be found in the most dissolute of fictional works.
The book will be, simply put, a compilation of intimate human-interest stories, arguably some of the first well-documented cases of domestic dysfunction in American history. These stories, although drawn from the country’s past, are relevant today, given the current debates and discussions surrounding marriage, divorce, and the “American family."
My qualifications to write this book include a B.S. in History Education from North Dakota State University, and an undying passion for history, literature, writing, and the human experience.
I would be more than thrilled to have you represent me. If you would like to view my proposal, please contact me as soon as your schedule permits. Thank you.
It sounds like it could be interesting, but there's way too much hyperbole and repetition in the query. If it's now so short you want to add something, you might explain (very briefly) how it is that you have unlimited access to these records. Or include an example of a fascinating case, rather than a list of causes for the divorces.