Monday, February 05, 2007

Face-Lift 270


Guess the Plot

Sunshine Kids Make Money

1. Ten-year-old Sam and his nine-year-old sister Trixie are sick of lemonade stands and dog-sitting. They need some real dough to support their gummy worm habit. Good thing their mom doesn't know about the fake panel in the basement wall--the one that hides their printing press.

2. Although he's an adult, Ivan signs up for a door-to-door sales program called The Sunshine Kids, to try to make some extra money. But when his sales route leads him to a dead body, he decides solving the mystery would be even more fun.

3. A gang of nocturnal art students, the "Sunshine Kids" figure how to make money. Lots of it. They design fabulous bills and print as needed. This works great because no one knows what real money is supposed to look like anymore and Sunshine bills are a lot more attractive than what the Treasury makes. Can Special Agent Dunbar put a stop to it?

4. Julia Pettigrew says the sun shines out of her kid's nose. Boris Llewellyn says he'd pay to see that. Hilarity ensues.

5. After courageously unmasking the 911 widows as the opportunistic whores they are, Ann Coulter is back with a new hard-hitting investigation into the seedy corruption of this “non-profit” organization for child cancer patients. Find out how the Sunshine Kids are raising your taxes, destroying your liberties, and why it’s mostly the fault of the terminal children themselves.

6. Three enterprising children set up a stand on the beach, selling SPF 43 sun screen at a 200% markup. They make a killing and retire millionaires at the age of nine.


Original Version

Dear Agent Thingy:

I would like to invite you to consider representing my darkly comedic novel SUNSHINE KIDS MAKE MONEY. The book is rather difficult to describe, but here's my best shot: (In pitch form, of course.)

The nameless twenty-something narrator doesn’t really like people. He doesn’t like cars, either. He hates fish and likes to smell everything. He has a subscription to EQUESTRIAN DREAMS, but doesn’t own a horse. [So far you're describing Evil Editor.] He hates Tuesdays and loves Wednesdays. His grandpa left him a house when he died. His grandpa was killed by a lawnmower. He has no idea what alcohol is and he hates small talk. Coca cola commercials frighten him and he talks to his toaster.

[Nameless Twenty-something Narrator: This English muffin isn't even lightly browned! I set you on dark, and this is what you give me? I should have gone with the toaster oven. Sure, it was more expensive, but I'll bet it could have toasted an English muffin. Two at once, in fact. You do this on purpose. Wednesday's my favorite day, and YOU'VE RUINED IT! THIS ISN'T EVEN WARM ENOUGH TO MELT BUTTER!! Was it something I did? Okay, I haven't emptied your crumb tray in ages, and you're probably feeling a little scummy. And there was the time I put a bagel in you and it got stuck. Hey, it's not like my life is without minor irritations. You don't know what I have to put up with. Like pedestrians at crosswalks who amble across the street when they don't have the WALK sign, preventing me from going right on red. If they're in such a big hurry they can't wait for the light to change, WHY AREN'T THEY RUNNING?! HURRY UP! Either you're in a hurry or you aren't, MAKE UP YOUR MIND! People get shot in traffic arguments in California, so don't think I won't run you down, and I'm not kidding!! I'LL KILL YOU!!! I'm gonna give you another shot at toasting this muffin, because I know they take longer than regular bread. I don't know why they take longer, it's one of the unsolved mysteries of the universe, that and why my car keys ARE ALWAYS IN THE POCKET ON THE SAME SIDE AS THE HAND I'M HOLDING THE GROCERY BAG WITH!!! Another thing I have to put up with: people who get the good seats up front at the basketball game and stand up whenever anything mildly exciting happens, forcing everyone behind them to stand up. SIT DOWN!! What's the matter, CAN'T YOU SEE?!!! ARE YOU BLIND?!! YOU WEREN'T HAVING ANY TROUBLE SEEING A MINUTE AGO! Somewhere behind you is someone with a broken leg or a sleeping baby or in a wheelchair who can't jump up EVERY TEN SECONDS!! YOU PAID FOR YOUR SEAT, SIT IN IT! What's that smell? Smells like fish. Disgusting. Have you been toasting fish?!! Did Grandpa put fish in you? That senile old bastard. No, wait, he's dead. I killed him with the lawnmower. Hey, it was an accident. SHUT UP, YOU WEREN'T THERE!!! Oh, and do I have to bring up people at rock concerts who yell and whistle in the middle of songs? The performers are surrounded by powerhouse speakers, with blinding lights in their faces. They can't hear or see you, SO SHUT UP!! Sit down, shut your face, and show some appreciation for the hours of rehearsing the performers put in just so they could put on a quality show. I didn't pay seventy bucks for a ticket to listen to you, WHISTLING AND SCREAMING RIGHT BEHIND ME!! See what I mean? You don't have to put up with that kind of crap. No, you just sit motionless on the kitchen counter, like the big glass jar with grandpa's head in it. You don't even do the one thing I got you for. And after I freed you from the cardboard box that you'd probably still be trapped inside if I hadn't come along. Maybe if you had to watch Coca Cola commercials, or put up with some of these drivers who can't make a right turn into a driveway without practically coming to a complete stop, so that I, who was a half mile behind them when they started slowing down to turn, end up slamming on my brakes or swerving to keep from ramming them, you'd appreciate me more. GET YOUR CAR OUTTA THE ROAD!!! MOVE IT! STEP ON THE GAS PEDAL!! For Christ's sake, where's the ding? Where's the pop-up? WHERE'S MY FRIGGIN' MUFFIN?!!!

Toaster: Hey DIMWIT, did you ever consider shuttin' up for five seconds, and PLUGGIN' ME IN?!!!!!]

No one knows what’s wrong with him, because he’s never been to the doctor.

It could be the result of being raised by his insane, senile grandfather. [Is this a query letter or a psychiatric evaluation? Stop listing stuff about the narrator, and get to the plot. Does anything happen in this book? So far we know nothing (although the talking toaster was cool.)]

Maybe he’s just nuts.

Maybe not.

See the world through his eyes as he becomes obsessed with an immoral door-to-door sales program called The Sunshine Kids. During his quest to become a top sales person and win a mountain bike, he discovers a dead body in an alley near his house. He shifts his focus and becomes determined to discover the killer and solve the mystery. (Didn’t I mention that he loves mysteries?) [Amazingly, no; the one character trait you failed to mention is the one relevant character trait he has.]

The world he occupies is offensive, sick, dark, complex and maybe a little crazy. Okay, maybe it’s very crazy.

The first chapter has recently been published in an issue of the online journal EDIFICE WRECKED. I am a recent college graduate with a degree in History Education. My brother and co-author, ___________, is a professional actor/comedian in the Minneapolis area. He is also the In-Arena Game Host for the Minnesota Timberwolves. You can learn more about him at _____________. [If I contact him, will he tell me the plot?] I would be delighted to have you represent me. If you would like to read a sample of my novel please contact me at your earliest convenience at ________________. Thank you kindly for your time, and I look forward to hearing from you. [The credits paragraph is too long, considering it has little info an editor or agent will care about.]

Sincerely,


Notes

As one of the Guess the Plotters points out, there is an organization called Sunshine Kids, presumably not immoral, so you might need a new name for your own group.

J.D. Salinger revealed to me not long ago that the only reason he gave Holden Caulfield a name in The Catcher in the Rye was so he could start his query, "Holden Caulfield doesn't really like people," instead of "The nameless teen-aged narrator doesn't really like people." Also, when book reviewers describe your plot, they prefer to use the character's name rather than "the nameless narrator," which gets annoying after the third or fourth time. Guess the Plot writers also need names. Would it kill you to give the guy a name?

If you condense your opening into something like

Ivan Gotaname doesn't like people, fish, Coke commercials, or Tuesdays (maybe it's the result of being raised by his insane, senile grandfather, the one who got killed by the lawnmower). But he does love a good mystery.

Obsessed with winning a mountain bike in an immoral door-to-door sales program called The Sunshine Kids, Ivan stumbles upon a dead body. He drops everything, determined to solve the case.

That's as much of the plot as I know, but you know the main storyline, and now you have plenty of room to describe it.

My version makes it sound like Ivan is a kid. Of course, what's a twenty-something guy doing trying to win a bike? Why doesn't he just buy a bike? What's he doing in a program called The Sunshine Kids? Maybe Ivan should be a kid.

51 comments:

author said...

He's not a kid, but he has the mentality of one.

He doesn't buy a bike, because that would be too simple.

The program is called Sunshine Kids because about 10 years ago there really was an immoral door-to-door sellign program for kids called Sunshine Kids. They sent me a flyer when I was 10 or so. I think I made $150 that summer selling their crap. (I am aware that the new organization is a charity for kids with cancer.)

Giving the narrator a name just could kill me, yes. Besides, the book is mostly inner monologue, and how many times do you walk around going, "Evil Editor is going to read this submission now. Oooh, Evil Editor thinks this sucks. Evil Editor should call the agent who sent this and scream at them. Yes, that would make Evil Editor smile." Unless the Evil Editor has some mental issues, I'm assumign that, like the rest of us, you never really think your thoughts with your own name. Plus: the nameless part serves a thematic purpose. (Similar to the INVISIBLE MAN, not that my book is ANYWHERE close to being that amazing. My book isn't fit to wipe THE INVISIBLE MAN's ass. But that's beside the point.)

About the plot: I didn't mention much, because there really isn't much of one. The book is more so about the narrator and his crazy world than anything he actually does to serve a storyline. SO essentially, all those things I listed sort of are the plot. Maybe that means my book sucks and will be virtually unsalable as a result. But that's just the way it turned out, so I would be comfortable with that.

I hope I answered some of your questions. Your points may be correct. I just wanted to establish that I was aware of those problems, but simply ignored them for a reason.

Brenda Bradshaw said...

*steps slowly back from EE*

blogless_troll said...

I think what's really interesting here is can your brother get me Kevin Garnett's autograph?

author said...

blogless troll:

he probably could, yes

acd said...

I use my own name with myself, i.e. "Come on, Self, quit reading EE and get some work done." More importantly, especially were I to become the subject of a book, people occasionally talk to and about me.

Everything I ever read says to cut all cutesy lines about your book being hard to describe. Suck it up and describe it. If it's a peek into the mind of a child-man, say it. Likewise if it's a murder mystery. Surely something happens; list those, rather than your narrator's quirks.

Namelessness may serve a thematic purpose, but I'm betting it's not as profound as the one in Invisible Man. Consider whether you could serve the same purpose with an exquisitely generic name, or maybe a symbolic one. A telling nickname might work. You can show a lot about him by who named him. (I'm thinking of the twins in East of Eden here, whose parents didn't bother naming them so they had Chinese names for like two years.) Unnamed characters are almost always more annoying than they're worth.

I also didn't like "The world he occupies is offensive, sick, dark, complex and maybe a little crazy. Okay, maybe it’s very crazy." I'd take out the wembling and go to "complex and crazy," then add something to counter it: "but full of unexpected insight."

Good luck.

blogless_troll said...

Sah-weeeeet!

acd said...

But I loved the title.

Evil Editor said...

I'm assuming that, like the rest of us, you never really think your thoughts with your own name.

Nor does Holden Caulfield. Here's the opening; eventually, someone talks to him.

http://perso.orange.fr/chabrieres/
texts/salinger_catcher.html

(url divided into two parts)

Hell, give him a name in the query, and not in the book.

writtenwyrdd said...

Author, maybe I need meds, but I talk to myself using my name ALL THE TIME. Running dialog, pretty much every waking moment. Other people don't necessarily think the way you do.

Regarding the query, I'm with EE that this is a lousy query. I believe Miss Snark thought so, too. But I really did love the beginning on the COM. If I recall correctly, MS said that she wanted to read more despite your query. So don't be surprized that EE doesn't care for this one. It's not conventional.

Since there isn't much plot to talk about, you might focus a bit more on what plot there is just to convince any editors or agents out there that you have a clue. But I liked the quirky intro to the character, myself; I wouldn't lose that because it works for some of us.

I'm glad you have reasons for your choices; just don't let your choices become do or die ones. Maybe a little bit of flexibility is in order. Or, write something else, get published, and when you show you can sell, bring this novel out.

stick and move said...

If there isn't a plot, and the storyline is basically just the disconnected and incoherent thoughts of a crazy man-boy, why would I read this? Does it serve any purpose? Does it offer any compelling insights into the human condition? Is there a point to it? If it is supposed to make me feel better about myself because this crazy bastard's thoughts and inner dialogue are more whacked than my own, I can get that by reading the newspaper. Does the nameless crazy bastard do anything to overcome his condition?

You're aware of the problems and you've ignored them for a reason. Bravo. You might want to state the reason you've ignored them.

Anonymous said...

It seems so odd to mention you have a co-author yet otherwise write the query as if you were definitely a solo act and nameless Brother is not to be represented, I'm wondering if the brother is actually a real person. Or if maybe you are the dream.

Theo Katz said...

This is another one that made me wonder what planet I'm from -- Miss Snark liked the opening, the snarklings were falling on the ground in adoration, and I totally missed the appeal. To me it's just a recitation of quirks.

I'm sorry I have nothing constructive to contribute to this discussion.

Anonymous said...

The snarklings typically fall on the ground in adoration of anything Miss Snark likes. And if she happens to think something is funny, grab an umbrella, the snarklings will be snorting out all forms of beverages in order to show how much they appreciate the same type of humor, and therefore must be just like her and have probably written something that she will fall in love with.

Dave said...

Something this offbeat could be lots of fun to read. Hell, if A.Burroughs can write "Running with Scissors" this might work.

Now to business!

I used to work doing research in a laboratory. The HOT-SHOT PH-D researchers used to say:
"My work can't be planned or described. It's too cerebral. It's too complex."

TO BE BLUNT - that attitude is trash, sophistry, and a waste of everyone else's time. And that's the kind version of being blunt.

Well, I helped implement two sets of work plans over those guys - a Conduct of Operations order and ISO 14000. It took a few years, but they all, every last one of them, described their work in generic terms. YOu can too. They were just as certain about their work as you are and (I got news for you, ducky) - just as wrong.

You have a murder mystery with an eccentric character. What problems does he have to surmount to solve the mystery? How does his character change during the effort?

You've fallen in love with the tone and words of your work. I do that too. Step back.
In a query letter you need to describe your writing, not imitate it. It's a selling job rather than a the creation of pretty words.

merper said...

The first 700 words from miss-snark's take are here:

http://www.blogger.com/comment.g?blogID=8115089&postID=116819750928807631

I don't see any reason to read a book without a compelling plot. I mean take Deeply Dreaming Dexter. That guy was severely disfunctional at times, but the plot was so very compelling that it made you look past that.

Maybe you're talented for being able to write like this, but I don't know why I'd want to listen to disfunctional ramblings when I could just go poke a hobo out on the street and hear the same.

pjd said...

TO BE BLUNT - that attitude is trash, sophistry, and a waste of everyone else's time. And that's the kind version of being blunt.

Naw... it's just lazy. It's a way of convincing [insert own name] that [insert own name] doesn't need to do all the work that those regular folks do. [Insert own name] is far to clever for that, and anyone who doesn't understand how clever [insert own name] is clearly is too dim to understand even if [insert own name] did explain.

Well, OK, I guess it's lazy and all those other things Dave said. Dave, your comparison to the lab PhDs is apt. I see the same thing with super-smart computer programmers.

Major kudos to whoever wrote the Coulter GTP. I laughed out loud in the Phoenix airport. Even the two little birds flying around inside the terminal stopped their hopping around to look at me with caution.

blogless_troll said...

I checked out Edifice Wrecked like the query said. Turns out this is the bunny slipper/beer snob guy, which may put theo katz's mind at ease. Author, you have some talent, but based on your various comments I think the name of all your protagonists is [Author's name], which coincidentally, is also the name of your biggest fan.

Author said...

Blogless_Troll:

I think you'd be surprised to discover that I am nothing like my main characters. I am a quiet high school teacher who doesn't even like to kill ants. (It makes me feel bad.) I just like writing about social strangeness. Maybe I aspire to be these characters....who knows?

I am their biggest fans, though. That's true. I love freaks.


DAVE: I assure you that I don't think that highly of my book. At all. I write what I like to write, and I knwo that most people won't like it. But not because it's over their heads or anyhting, just because their sense of humor is not as sick and childish mine.


PLOT:
The biggest problem with focusing on the murder mystery is that it isn't really a mystery. The dead guy is a homeless man. Meybe no one even murdered him at all. I just use it as a device in the book to create a better understanding of the world in which the narrator lives.

THANKS FOLKS, you had some good suggestions. I may change a few things.

Dave said...

That might be true, PJD, BUT the author is making a voodoo doll of you to stick pins in (just about now! That pain!).

I don't say it's being "lazy." My researchers were far from lazy and the computer experts I knew were not lazy either.

Writing is a process of putting words to paper. A person plans, outlines and writes, edits, rewrites, revises and polishes. One day, a novel pops out. It's the same for every writer since Socrates and Plato. That's the process we all love and enjoy.

After that, the creative writing part is over. The person has to sell the novel to an agent or editor. That letter has to describe the plot of the novel and the characters in a way that sells if too agents and editors. It shouldn't describe the process or how much the author enjoyed the process.

Just remember, all writing may be unique to the author, but it is still the process of writing, revising, editing, etc... So as unique as the plot may be, as eccentric or unusual as the characters, it is still a novel with a plot, character development, and a story to tell.

December Quinn said...

Wow...I actually was interested, until the Author's first long comment about how, contrary to the fun quirky mystery implied by the query (although your MC sounds a lot like a very grumpy Adrian Monk), the book is in fact merely the plotless meanderings and observations of an unmotivated guy doing unlikeable things.

blogless_troll said...

Well that sounds a helluva lot different than your first comment.

Brenda Bradshaw said...

This is the bunny slipper guy?!

Tazer alert! Tazer alert!

Seriously though, if YOU can't describe your work, how is an agent going to describe it to sell it? I hear this alllllllllllll the damn time. "Well, it's kinda mystery and suspense and horror and sci-fi and well, I can't really describe it." Yeah, well, the industry professionals most likely toss a query if it starts like that, so LEARN to describe it.

Stick and Dave has some excellent points, as usual.

Author said...

Yeah, I've noticed that Dave is a quick one.

I can describe my book. I do in my query. It's about his oddness more than anything else. Plot (i.e. events/action) isn't always everything.

Many good authors use generic/meaningless plotlines as a vehicle for giving you a look into a character's life or mind.

Examples:

KING DORK- Great book. Frank Portman has even said in an interview that the plot was basically "created" later so the character had soemthing to do. It was all about the character and voice. The plot meant very little.

Same is true for CATCHER to some extent.

CONFEDERACY OF DUNCES- the guy just works odd jobs. It's all about the character, not plot.

VERNON GOD LITTLE- This one DID HAVE an interesting plot, but it could be argued that the book is enjoyable more so because of the character and how he interacts rather than what happens.

A GOOD MANY WONDERFUL YA BOOKS ARE LIEK THIS ALSO.

My book is not as good as these. I know that. But, they too, have plots that don't matter. They are books "really" about the character. "What happens" doesn't matter nearly as much as the person it happens to and how they perceive those events.

I am working right now and am very bored. That's why I feel the need to post this much.

:)

stick and move said...

Author, thanks for explaining and shedding some light on your writing. You must want people to read your writing, otherwise you wouldn't be constructing a query letter and sending it out for critiques on these blogs. If that is indeed the case, you also need to understand that just writing cool stuff isn't enough to get the attention of a publisher. I love creating characters, putting them in situations that allow them to show how cool, quirky, badass, whatever they are. For me, that's the fun part. The difficult part is constructing a plot that allows you to do this, and at the same time tells a story that's intriguing enough that people want to see and learn more about the characters. That's what makes it a story, rather than just a collection of characters doing cool, quirky, or badass stuff. Give your characters something to do and motivation for doing it, in a series of events that has conflict and resolution, and thus tells a story. Even a comic strip tells a story. If you just want to write stuff because it gives you pleasure, fine. If you want it to find a place on a bookstore shelf, let your characters participate in a good story.

DAF said...

Presumably, you sought constructive feedback and advice because you were prepared to consider it even if in the end you disagreed with it. Kudos for that. Sure, if after consideration, you don't find the feedback persuasive, by all means reject it and continue on your path, but you don't need to be defensive about the feedback you receive.

batgirl said...

I was reminded of The Fan Man, by William Kotzwinkle, to bring in a book from further back. My husband and his brother thought it was terrific, and sometimes went around saying 'dorky dorky dorky' like Horse Badorties does. I didn't get into it at all, and much preferred Doctor Rat. But certainly this genre has readers.
Oh yeah, and Horse Badorties often thinks of himself in the third person because that's just how he is, man.

Author said...

i wasn't being defensive at all. people questioned soem things i did, so i merely responded with answers. (even if they are wrong answers) and i really value all of the advice. i will take most of it into consideration when i revise my query.

Saipan Writer said...

GTP #5 is caustic--and I like that bitterness. Nice work!

I did guess the correct plot. And I'm disappointed no one pitted the Sunshine Kids against the Moonshine Kids.


Author,
You mention that many YA novels fall into this plotless hole. I read a lot of YA and I don't see that at all (except for Criss Cross). Compare your story to THE CURIOUS INCIDENT OF THE DOG IN THE NIGHTTIME--also about a maturing boy with disabilities (autism, I think), trying to solve a murder mystery-who killed his neighbor's dog? It has plot. It has character growth. It is one of the most fabulous books I've ever read and has a main character who is odd, difficult and portrayed sympathetically.

I think there's room for books like this on my shelf and a lot of readers' shelves. Good luck sorting out your story and your query.

BTW, I didn't like the title. It seemed too definite and didn't raise questions for me.

Twill said...

The problem is in the phrasing. The wrong question for you is "What is the plot of your novel?"

I would suggest, author, that the better question for you is "Please describe the arc of the book."

Presumably, your book starts somewhere and goes somewhere. Maybe it doesn't have a classic "plot", per se, but it has a beginning, a middle, and an end.

If it is a good book, then the end has some kind of resonance with the beginning. The narrator arrives in the same place he left, unchanged or changed, or the narrator arrives in a different place, changed or unchanged. The changes can be major or minor. But there has to be a resulting resonance that changes the reader.

If your story doesn't provide that, then it probably won't be read and recommended.

Try to describe that - the arc of the book.

pacatrue said...

Hiya author,

Some useless thoughts for you to dispense with as it pleases:

1) The bunny slippers opening, which turned into a beer discussion in the comments, reminded me of things like Ghost World and High Fidelity, in that both revolve around characters obsessed with meaningless things. In the former, as I remember mostly from the movie, it's 50s and 60s obscure kitsch, and in the latter, it's having the perfect musical taste. Ghost World seems particularly appropriate for you since at least one of its leads is particularly strange by normal standards.

If the stories were both only about strange people obsessed with trivial things, however, they wouldn't have so many fans - and wouldn't be as good. Ghost World for instance studies people trying to make a connection - and usually failing. We care about a kitch obsessed man - who if a beer lover might castigate you for being in the same room as a Bud Lite - because he is trying to become more than that, and our heroine is toying with him as a way to pass the time. (Or at least that's my take.) In other words, they are about strange people with trivial obsessions living a life and having important relationships that we all can care about.

I have a feeling that your novel is also not only about a strange person with strange beliefs, but it's about him trying to live his life and find some meaning. (OK, that's a cliché way to put it but words are failing me.) We know from the list of quirks that the character is different from most of us, now we need to know why the rest of us should care. After all, author 2 could come along and write a book about a man who's afraid of Pepsi and loves Thursdays. Which brings me finally to:

2) Whatever is truly important about this quirky guy needs to be in the query. And, as others have said (particularly stick's last comment) all of these quirks will become more meaningful when they affect his life. Hating Tuesday is sorta funny by itself, but it's potentially a lot funnier / sadder / disturbing / moving when this useless hatred interferes with something very important to the character. If he loses the girl, gets beaten up by the criminal, or loses the lottery because he hates Tuesday... you get the idea. The guy isn't a list of quirks. They are the traits of a man searching for something, and now we care about those quirks because we care about the guy.

So it seems that when you re-do the query, use the mystery frame you've invented as a way to move your character forward. No, it's not important that it's a mystery, but it is important to have a frame. As said before, it's funnier when a quirky guy does stuff than when a quirky guy is just sitting around being quirky.

Marissa Doyle said...

Good lord. I can't believe no one commented on EE's amazing riff in the middle of that. Best part of the whole thing.

Brenda Bradshaw said...

Marrisa, that was my "slowly backs away from EE" part - it was frighteningly good. He snagged that mentality a little TOO well.

And I liked it.

blogless_troll said...

Hey, do I still get my KG autograph?

GutterBall said...

If they're in such a big hurry they can't wait for the light to change, WHY AREN'T THEY RUNNING?! HURRY UP! Either you're in a hurry or you aren't, MAKE UP YOUR MIND!

Amen, crazy toaster-talking guy. Amen.

We know from the list of quirks that the character is different from most of us, now we need to know why the rest of us should care.

And amen to you, too, Pac-Man. It's tempting to think that a character can be quirky enough to carry 380 pages on his own, but when it comes down to it, something must happen. Call it character arc. Call it a plot. Call it action. Whatever, but it must happen, or there's no point.

Give us a point, author, and we will come. Heheh.

Evil Editor said...

Hey, do I still get my KG autograph?

The best you can hope for at this point is Bracey Wright. One more snide remark, and you drop to Mark Madsen.

blogless_troll said...

Okay, okay. I get the point. No need to threaten me with a Madsen.

AUthor said...

Blogless:

How about I get you my brother's autograph? He's not KG, but he's famous around the locker room for looking almost exactly like Wally Szczerbiak. They players don't even know his real name, they just call him Wally and laugh.

E.S. Tesla said...

paca mentioned ghost world, but I think a better reference point would be art school confidential (another clowes).

Wait, I hear you say, the comic book wasn't a story. It was just seperate panels witch schtick.

Yes, yes it was.

BUT, when they made it into a movie, they added a murder mystery (that didn't make much sense). And yes, it was Clowes himself that wrote the screenplay.

In the end, the murder mystery was pretty crappy, but it was necessary to go from comic panel to movie screen. It wasn't important, it wall all about showing the characters and how they intereacted with each other, but without some sort of external force pushing things forward, it would've just been art school students masturbating and staring into a wall.

Anonymous said...

Clearly the name can't be revealed in the query because that would ruin the big twist at the end where the narrator is revealed to be... M. Night Shmalyan!

Anonymous said...

The query letter wasn't right. Those are hard.

I read the snippet of story that was posted on Snark, though, and I thought it was pretty good.

Trouble is, no agent is going to want to be "dissed" by a letter written in that tone, even though us readers might enjoy the book. I'd suggest a more humble, straightforward query letter. My opinion is that once agents get past the letter and reads the ms., many will dig it.

...dave conifer

blogless_troll said...

No thanks, author. The joke is over now.

Anonymous said...

From the perspective of an agent the quality of your book is important but if copyright ownership smells bad in the quey, that will probably earn you a form rejection regardless of plot, prose, etc. According to your query you have a coauthor. But only one of you is seeking representation. To me this sets off air-raid sirens of alarm. I don't see any way an agent can effectively represent half a book. Does the coauthor have representation by ICM or some other show biz mega agency that will complicate any book deals? Did he sign over all rights to you? Does he know you're trying to get this published? Did he tell you to do whatever and you're assuming he'll sign whatever when the time comes? If I was an agent I would automatically reject this query without reading pages because it sounds like you have no clue about the buisness / legal end of collaboration and I don't want to share your pain.

If there's a coauthor and you want to be taken seriously I think you need to use "we" and "us" instead of "I" and you need two signatures at the bottom of the query letter, not one.

Rei said...

The snarklings typically fall on the ground in adoration of anything Miss Snark likes. And if she happens to think something is funny, grab an umbrella, the snarklings will be snorting out all forms of beverages in order to show how much they appreciate the same type of humor, and therefore must be just like her and have probably written something that she will fall in love with.

I would like to see Miss Snark try something out, just for kicks. Should she ever lose her mind again and have another COM, she should pick a couple *bad* entries, praise them (after warning the author that this is just a test of her readership, so not as to create false hopes), wait for the comments to trickle in, then announce the results of the experiment.

I'd bet that you're exactly right. I saw a video from an experiment (from the quality of the videos, it was in the 70s or 80s) in which they showed a group of four people a line, and then far away from it they showed a series of four lines of different length. The participants had to state which line they thought was the same length as the original. It was a fairly easy puzzle to tell which line was correct, except for one thing: three of the people were actors, and they all would agree on a wrong answer. At first, the non-actor goes with the correct answer, but hesistates. After a couple rounds, he takes to always agreeing with everyone else on their wrong answer. The need to fit in with "concensus" proved more powerful than what his senses were telling him.

author said...

joke? wtf?

Brenda Bradshaw said...

That last "anonymous" sounds a lot like Miss Snark's voice. (Waves hi, either way).

Is this a record for the longest comment thread?

whitemouse said...

The snarklings typically fall on the ground in adoration of anything Miss Snark likes.

Huh. Well, I *heart* Miss Snark, but I don't. Half of what Miss Snark liked in the Crapometer, I thought was crap, and the things I liked best, she didn't.

Of course, if I was taking the test Rei described, I'd also be the lone dissenter, saying, "What? Are you guys blind or idiots? Explain to me how you're getting that answer."

Anonymous said...

Whitemouse, you obviously don't qualify as a "snarkling". I like the Snark blog also, but I refer to a "snarkling" as the group of sycophants that wouldn't ever dream of disagreeing with her opinion, and there are a slew of them. If she said, "I love to sit around Friday nights and shave my head with a cheese grater, while chewing on a wad of tin foil", there would be at least twenty snarklings that would say "You do that too? I do it all the time, it's my favorite thing to do when I'm not reading your blog and snorting out exotic beverages on my keyboard!"

Anonymous said...

I like to think of the beverage-challenged Snark club as "the snortlings".

Brenda Bradshaw said...

Hey now. I consider myself a minion AND a snarkling (and put them on my badge for Nationals) and I don't always agree with her.

I agree with whitemouse though - things she liked I thought, "You're kidding."

This comment section has gotten WAY off topic.

McKoala said...

Not crazy about the query, but would love to see you clean it up, 'cos as I recall your opening was pretty damn good.

sarkychick said...

"The biggest problem with focusing on the murder mystery is that it isn't really a mystery. The dead guy is a homeless man. Meybe no one even murdered him at all. I just use it as a device in the book to create a better understanding of the world in which the narrator lives."

Ugh. Good luck with getting a book published in which you have made no effort at all to connect with a reader's desire for plot, movement or satisfaction - or in fact, in light of the above comment, have decided to actively kick that desire in the teeth.