Monday, October 02, 2006

Face-Lift 205


Guess the Plot

The Seventh Treasure

1. One-eyed Hank and his pirate crew are tired of hiding their ill-gained booty on deserted Caribbean atolls and having them found by geeky kids with metal detectors. So this time, they're setting sail for the banking mecca of Grand Cayman--NO ONE'S gonna get their paws on THIS treasure.

2. Deborah Henning discovers the plans for a Doomsday device built with the world's most valuable artifacts. The construction is nearing completion. She now has to race the villains to reach... The Seventh Treasure.

3. Treasures one through six were meant to make Joanie Silsby fall in love with Felipe Lundt. But the seventh one has a different purpose.

4. Ginny Cloober loves the Easter Egg hunt every year. But this time the seventh egg contains more than a chocolate candy center. It contains the key to the universe. Too bad she's only four years old.

5. Grumpy knew there were enough treasures for all of them. He just didn't want to share. It was easy to kill Sneezy, Dopey, Happy, Bashful and Sleepy. But Doc was going to give him trouble.

6. The first six treasures were easy enough, but Finnegan Edwards isn't sure he wants to go after the seventh. According to his map, it's buried in the local cemetery.


Original Version

Dear Evil Editor,

Finnegan Edwards had big plans for the summer before his seventh grade year, plans which included hanging out with his friends, visiting the beach, and spending hours sprawled out in front of the TV. Then his dad got a new job and the family moved from Ohio to Beacon, South Carolina, and Finn’s plans accidentally became a lot more interesting- and much more dangerous. [Mainly because the beaches in South Carolina have sharks. In Ohio, the beach is . . . wait, there is no beach in Ohio.] [Okay, Lake Erie? I guess swimming in Lake Erie can be dangerous--you could die in an oil fire.]

While weeding the back yard garden, Finn unearths an old shoebox containing a diamond necklace and a decades-old map. Accompanied by his annoying little brother, Caden; his skull-collecting neighbor, Alex; and Idona, a teenaged girl with purple hair and a temper, Finn hunts down the remaining treasures. The journey leads him around his new neighborhood and into a baffling mystery.

The first three treasures are obviously expensive: a diamond and pearl necklace, an emerald ring, and a jeweled brooch. Then Finn and his friends find a broken watch and what appears to be a human hand, and they realize that some treasures may have more than just monetary value. [Wrong realization. What they should realize is that the watch broke when the sword came down on the pirate's wrist, cutting off his hand as he was hiding the fourth treasure. The pirate ran off, while the swordsman stole the fourth and fifth treasures, replacing them with the watch (which could have been used to determine the time of death, except the pirate didn't die) and the hand (which should be nothing but bone by now, as its location was on the decades-old map, so obviously it isn't really a human hand, but a leaf from a maple tree, a California buckeye tree, or a hand fern. The sixth treasure, by the way, holds the key--literally. It's a small metal box containing a figurine of a goose. Inside the ceramic figurine is a mysterious key which will be needed to access the seventh treasure.] [While it was easy for Evil Editor to guess where the plot was going, the book is for middle grade kids, who will never see any of this coming.] But who buried the stolen items and why? [Are we sure they were stolen? My Aunt Lois used to bury her jewelry all around the neighborhood.] Are they being followed by a mysterious blonde-haired woman or is Finn just imagining things? Finally, what will they do once all of the treasures have been collected?

Avoiding a suspicious neighbor, secretly digging up back yards, and making sure they aren’t being followed are just a few of the challenges the four kids must face. What worries them most is the last location on the map. The seventh treasure is buried in the local cemetery, and Finn isn’t sure that he wants to know what it is. Someone else does, though, and the four treasure hunters are forced to surrender what they have found - and dig up the resting place of the map’s strange author.

The Seventh Treasure is a completed 30,000-word middle grade novel. I would be happy to send a synopsis and sample chapters. Thank you very much for your time.

Sincerely,


Revised Version

Dear Evil Editor,

Finnegan Edwards had big plans for the summer before his seventh grade year, plans that included hanging out with his friends, visiting the beach, and spending hours sprawled in front of the TV. Then his dad got a new job and the family moved from Ohio to Beacon, South Carolina, and Finn’s summer became more interesting - and more dangerous.

While weeding the back yard garden, Finn unearths a shoebox containing a diamond necklace and a map showing the locations of six other treasures. He hunts down the treasures, accompanied by his annoying little brother, Caden; his skull-collecting neighbor, Alex; and Idona, a teenaged girl with purple hair and a temper. The search leads Finn around his new neighborhood and into a baffling mystery.

Avoiding a suspicious neighbor, secretly digging up back yards, and making sure they aren’t being followed are just a few of the challenges the four kids face. What worries them most is the last location on the map. The seventh treasure is buried in the local cemetery, and Finn isn’t sure he wants to know what it is. Someone else does, though, and the four treasure hunters are forced to surrender what they have found, and dig up the resting place of the map’s strange author.

The Seventh Treasure is a completed 30,000-word middle grade novel. I would be happy to send a synopsis and sample chapters. Thank you very much for your time.

Sincerely,


Notes

Well done. Good specifics, enough characters and plot. It was a bit long, and the third paragraph wasn't carrying much weight, so out it went.

I'm not sure why we need any of it to take place in Ohio. Can it start after the move?

Speaking of hands being cut off, what's the deal with this guy?

14 comments:

Anonymous said...

...what's the deal with this guy?

It happens - brand loyalty is a big thing. One time I cut my own lips off because the store only had Coke and no Pepsi. ('Course, then I not only had no drink, I couldn't eat the potato chips either.)

Good query, author. Even without the hand from EE... Story sounds a bit tame compared to something like "The Goonies," but the grave-robbing spices it up a bit. I'm sure I would have enjoyed it when I was middle-grade.

Anonymous said...

When I was a youth I like reading Hardy Boys mysteries and Sherlock Holmes stories, so I think I would have read this one.

anon 1:31, the cure for Coke and no Pepsi is simple. Just buy a Coke, pour half of it out and replace the poured out Coke with water and, ta dah, Pepsi! -JTC

Athena (aka Author) said...

Thank you, EE!

The book does start a week after the move from Ohio- should I toss out the reference to that state? I only mentioned it because throughout the book, my MC wishes he had not moved to SC. And yes, the hand is not real- it's a prosthetic limb left by the guy who stole all the treasures.

I'm looking forward to all your comments. Thanks in advance.

Dave said...

Most likely the artificial hand is a claw. The ugly metal claws are still the most useful and adaptable because they have been around for years. An athromorphic hand can't grip a zipper but a claw can... most men have this burning desire to stand at a porcelain receptacle. I tried to say that as nice as I could. FIrst thing the therapists teach is to pick up a dime and the second thing the guys learn is, well...

I like the story. Is it spooky and creepy? Does it have action? My ten year old nephew wants action. . . And I don't know if these novels require a point or that you need to describe what he learns after this summer.

acd said...

I'd read any of these plots, honestly. #5 is a stroke of genius.

My only comment is that 30k sounds really short to me, even for a middle-grade. That's barely four thousand words per treasure. And in between that you're meeting the locals, avoiding a suspicious neighbor, making sure you're not being followed.... I don't doubt you can do it, because you did it, but I just wonder if there are elements that could use some expansion.

I'd request pages to see if they're as competent as the query.

BuffySquirrel said...

Finally, what will they do once all of the treasures have been collected?

Put them in a box under the bed and forget about them. They're kids.

I liked this, especially with the kids being spooked by the graveyard. That gives a scary thing towards which they're nonetheless inevitably moving.

Evil Editor said...

The book does start a week after the move from Ohio- should I toss out the reference to that state?

No. It's not a problem in the query, and would only have been a problem in the book if it was delaying getting to the story.

judy said...

Obviously "this guy" was a little overwrought.

Anonymous said...

acd: Before Harry Potter the accepted wisdom was that no kids' books could be longer than 200 pages. It's probably not too short -- kids' books do manage a lot of plot in a short space. That's why adults like me read them. You tell your story, you're done, and it's only 30,000 words? Great, I say.

Anonymous said...

I haven't been a middle-grade for a loooong time, but this sounds really fun and if a kid in my life were reading it, I'd probably steal it and read it too.

Good luck, author!

Malia said...

Good query, author. Best of luck.

"this guy" obviously wanted to give the butcher a hand. running and ducking

Anonymous said...

Sounds a little tame for me.

GutterBall said...

I don't think anything's wrong with this guy. I hate getting chicken when I specifically asked for goat.

However, as a writer (note: I didn't say author, heh), I would have cut off my foot instead. Just practicality, ya know.

nessili said...

Totally nitpicky--
How long ago was this shoebox with treasure and map buried? Was it only the map that was decades old? Because if the shoebox was buried decades ago, it would have totally rotted away (unless it was made of wood or metal, and I don't know of too many shoeboxes that are.)

Just a thought, but the thing that stuck in my head while reading this post.