Thursday, March 01, 2007
Guess the Plot
1. A new Phoenix nightclub serves up hot food, hot waitresses, and hot action. When the diamonds on the murdered girl in the ladies' room also turn out to be hot, it's up to Detective Dani DeMarco to cool the situation down and clear the club's name.
2. When every house in her neighborhood except her own burns down, Dani Darrell becomes an arson suspect. Can she escape the hot seat while also fanning the flames of her new relationship with the mysterious hunky German, Hans?
3. Thirteen-year-old Dani likes low-slung jeans, designer thongs and the latest boy bands. But when her mother gets a Chadwick's mailorder catalog and decides to burn all of Dani's clothes, a toxic cloud engulfs the neighborhood as Dani learns the meaning of Hell.
4. Not satisfied with the dark and somber colors of the Inferno, nor it's nine circles, Dani redecorates in pastels and adds anterooms complete with kitchens, bars, and novelty items.
5. It's Chili Night at the House of Paco's Taco House and Dani, the new chef, has just got a new shipment of the Red Savina Habanero at 577,000 SHU. Will dinner be a spectacular affair, or will the guests require transplants in the morning?
6. Dante's Inferno retold as a 12,000 line rap epic. Dani Tay is led through the circles of hell by the Notorious V-ir-G. It turns out that Lawrence Welk is at the bottom. Also, some bitches.
I read on your web site that you are interested in women's fiction. I am hoping you will consider my novel, Dani’s Inferno, for representation. It runs 69,000 words.
Dani Darrell habitually dates the type of men who give women post traumatic stress syndrome. [In fact, her last four dates have been with Mike Tyson, a molten metal Terminator from the future, Evil Editor, and that Jared guy from the Subway commercials.] The day after the Berlin Wall falls, East German Hans Walgesang appears at the PR firm where she works. He brushes aside questions regarding how he managed to get to the U.S. so quickly. His goal is fame, even though he admits to having no talent.
[Hans: I want to be famous.
Dani: That's what we're here for. What do you do?
Dani: Hmm, that narrows it down to TV game show host, lead singer for a heavy metal band, or serial killer. Wait, any chance you could marry Joan Collins?]
Dani tells herself that this lanky man with scarred knuckles [He spent an entire week trying to claw the Berlin Wall down, only to discover that it was scheduled for demolition the next day. Boy, was he pissed.] and Baptist-preacher-meets-punk-rock hair is most likely a criminal, but being around him ignites something besides her constant anger. And that’s a promising change of pace for a woman who lives in a neighborhood where all of the homes are burning down, except hers. [Thank God she went with brick.] [Her neighborhood is in flames, she's either the next to lose her home or the chief suspect, but whenever she's around this jobless, talentless criminal, things are looking up?] If Hans could flee the communist bloc, maybe Dani can escape an arson investigation, locate her missing father, and bring her secret artistic dream [Which is what?] to roaring life. [There's no connection between these things. If Hans can hop a plane from Germany to America, then I should be able to find my father and escape an arson investigation? It's like saying, If Tiger Woods can win the British Open, then I should be able to open a chain of Italian restaurants and find my missing sock.] She’ll have to break a few laws to get what she wants. [Which is what?] But Hans is the perfect partner, [How can she know this?] even if he hasn’t told her what really brought him to Seattle. [He's searching for the perfect skim hazelnut latte.]
Dani’s Inferno is my first novel. I’ve completed the advanced fiction writing program at XXXX and my essays have appeared in [name of large newspaper]. I look forward to hearing from you. Thank you for your time and consideration.
If this is to make any sense, it needs to explain:
What does Dani want?
Why does she need to break the law to get it?
Why is Hans needed to get it?
Is that how it works with PR firms? You walk in and declare you want fame, and they make it happen?
Which came first, the title, or the burning houses plot? Is this part mystery, with Dani trying to discover who the arsonist is? Do all the houses burn at the same time, or one at a time? If the former, that's a lot of arson for one day's work. If the latter, you'd think after the third or fourth house, the cops would get wise and stake out the neighborhood.
You don't need the first sentence about traumatic stress syndrome. It has little to do with the rest of the letter. You could start: The day after the Berlin Wall falls, East German Hans Walgesang appears at the Seattle PR firm where Dani Darrell works. Or you might consider starting by saying all the houses in her neighborhood have burned down, Dani's a suspect, her dad's missing, things seemingly can't get any worse--until a talentless but hunky German walks into her office. I'd want to know if this is mainly the story of Dani satisfying her artistic aspirations, or of her romance with Hans or of her life behind bars before defining how it should start.