Saturday, August 26, 2006
Guess the Plot
Over Their Heads
1. When Professor Hanson spends the entire period spouting complete nonsense and nobody in his General Relativity course notices, it's just as he suspected -- the material is "over their heads."
2. When he gets into salt water, Garrett sprouts gills and a scaly tail and becomes a merman. What will his girlfriend Frances say when she finds out?
3. Angus McPhee is inspired to teach partial differential equations, representation theory, and algebraic topology to fourth-graders. But is this quest too quixotic even for so dedicated an educator?
4. Susan makes a dreadful mistake when she enrolls her "special" twins in a program she thought would help them with their learning disability. The other students, budding young astrophysicists all, are not amused.
5. Carol and Tim could never understand why their dinner guests always ran away screaming. Why didn't the guests just keep their eyes downcast, if it was so upsetting to see the mounted heads of Carol's deceased relatives?
6. The memoir of MIT professor-turned-comedian Stanley Menschowitz and how his career based on the humor of quantum physics never really took off.
It's 1905 in a small seacoast town in Maine. Frances Schmidt, one of the few female graduate students of her era, has traveled north to read Garrett Hathaway's huge library of books about mermen and mermaids. [I'm not sure whether to express disbelief at the claim that a huge library of books about mermen and mermaids exists, or at the claim that someone wants to read all of it.] Armed with her grandmother's cookie recipes, she's ready to charm Garrett and to best her academic nemesis, Norbert. [She needs to charm Garrett why? Has he invited her to read his library of books, or is she just showing up unannounced?] [Learning all about mermaids and mermen is going to help her best Norbert? What is this, a science project? Wait, I know where this is going, she shows up at the grad school science fair with a merman, figuring first place is in the bag, but then Norbert walks in with a centaur.] [It's just a hunch, but if the first woman graduate student at the University of Maine insists on writing her Masters thesis on mermen, I'm guessing they won't let another woman into graduate school for forty years.] But when she falls in love with Garrett, she doesn't realize that he's hiding a terrible secret. [Once you've revealed to a woman that you own an entire library of books about mermaids and mermen, and she hasn't slowly backed out of the room, chances are she can handle any other secret you're keeping.]
No one knows that Garrett Hathaway is a merman. [I would like to retract my previous statement.] When he touches salt water, he sprouts gills and a blue, scaly tail. [I always wondered how Aquaman could swim really fast without a fish tail. I mean, the guy had just feet. You'd think he would have had enough brains to put on swim fins.] Despite his growing love for Frances, he is certain that she will see him as a monster if she ever learns the truth. [She'll learn the truth when he takes her home to meet his parents and she discovers that his father's a fisherman and his mother's the flounder in the bathtub.]
Over their Heads is a completed YA romance novel. [How many 15-year-olds are gonna read a book about a 22-year-old woman who's in love with a fish? Maybe she should be in high school.] Under my pen name, my short stories have appeared the magazine Night to Dawn, the anthology In the Outposts of Beyond, and on a can of Story House Coffee. [Evil Editor has the complete set of those. My library has one wall of books and three walls of coffee cans.] When I'm not writing fiction, I'm a historian with a PhD in the History of American Civilization from Harvard. I have published an essay in the Journal of the Early Republic, and I am under contract with ABC-Clio to write and edit a book about the Industrial Revolution.
I would be delighted to send you my sample chapters. Thank you very much for your time.
Not clear why that last sentence in paragraph 1 begins with "But."
Not clear how reading books about mermaids will help her best Norbert.
Also, I'm not sure what the time frame is, but she seems to fall in love awfully fast with this guy, considering that she's probably been granted a limited amount of time to read his library, and is probably spending most of her time reading.
Fortunately, it's fairly brief, so you have space in which to expand your plot description with additional information.