Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Face-Lift 384


Guess the Plot

Rest in Peace, Dan Duggen

1. Though he died in the 19th century, Dan Duggen's ghost haunts the woods to this day. Four kids exploring the woods find clues and artifacts left by the ghost, who is leading them either to the truth about his death . . . or to their doom.

2. Dan Duggen listens to his own eulogy while in deep, drug-induced catatonia. The drug was administered by his loving wife while his three loving sons held him down. Can Inspector Fields solve the case before the casket is sealed and buried?

3. All the cool girls wrote little notes in Dan's yearbook. As he goes back through the book, copying out the phone numbers, he runs across a note that leaves him scratching his head: "Rest in Peace, Dan Duggen." It's signed by the daughter of the local axe murderer. Maybe Dan should have taken her to the prom after all?

4. After faking his own death, Dan Duggen learns that a distant relation has left him a stock portfolio worth millions. Now how is he going to get a fake resurrection without Cardinal O'Brien asking questions?

5. It was in the glove compartment: a faded photo of a handsome man named Dan Duggen and his prized '47 Studebaker. But when Brenda Braddock bought the car at auction as a gift for her father, she had no idea it came equipped with the photo . . . and a ghost.

6. He fell into Vat No. 5, but managed to swing his leg over the top and take a leak before he drowned. The late brewmaster Dan Duggen is lovingly recalled in this stirring tribute to his life and the dedication to beer that cost him his life.



Original Version

Ms./Mr.:

Four adventurous kids discover that the woods bordering their grandparent’s [Change to "grandfather's" or move apostrophe.] farm have a grisly past when their grandfather relates the tale of the phantom haunting the forest. During the days of railroad construction, a young employee of the railroad company disappeared after an argument with his supervisors. His body was never found and his friends suspected that the corrupt company he worked for was responsible, but had no proof. [Coincidentally, arguments with supervisors declined dramatically thereafter.] The ghost of the young man exacted his revenge on the railroad company by terrifying its employees and sabotaging construction, never allowing them to complete the railroad. The phantom is still seen haunting the woods to this day. [In fact, he's solely responsible for the fact that American rail service sucks, and for things like this and this.]

The kids are captivated by the story and after wrestling with their fears, decide to explore the woods in search of the ghost. The ghost leads them deep into the forest with a series of clues and artifacts that not only verify the story but also give them a new perspective on why he is here and what he wants. [He wants inner peace, which, according to legend, he will attain the day the Amtrak New York to Miami run passes by his woods on schedule.]

In its entirety Rest in Peace, Dan Duggen is an approximately 23,000 word middle-grade, ghost story that ties the past and the present together by telling the story of the turn of the century railroad worker, and the modern day kids who are torn between their longing for adventure and the fear of what waits in the woods.

I would be happy to send the full manuscript if you are interested.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Sincerely,


Notes

This is well-written and sounds like an interesting book, but Grandpa's story about the railroad worker is getting twice as much ink as the kids' story. Though you aim to be educational, I'm guessing the search for the ghost is your plot, and deserves at least as much querritory as Dan Duggen's story.

I'm not a railroad historian, but there was so much railroad construction in the 1830 - 1880 period, I'm not sure the turn of the century would be included in a period known as "the days of railroad construction." I suppose it's okay to use the phrase "turn of the century" even if it's not the most recent turn of a century? But be careful, each of the following happened at the turn of the century. Can you guess which century (1200 - 2000)?

1. “The Edifying Book of Erotic Chess,” in effect a manual of seduction, was published. 1400
2. Sweden's 17-year-old King Charles XII defeated the Russians at Narva 1700
3. Greece and Turkey sign accords to regulate commerce and provide for cooperation in preventing illegal immigration, promoting tourism and protecting the Aegean Sea environment. 2000
4. A clock was built in Augsburg, Germany, that shows a king riding in an elephant pulled chariot. His huge belly has a tiny clock placed where his navel would be. 1600
5. Invention of sunglasses 1200
6. Worcestershire sauce created 1800
7. The population of the world was about 400 million 1500
8. Creation of the hamburger 1900
9. Invention of women's corsets 1300


Answers appear after the event, highlight with your cursor.

8 comments:

Carolina Wren said...

This does sound like a neat story, but I'd like a little more info on the four kids. Is there an MC, a leader of the little group? Are they siblings or friends? Boys and girls or all one gender? What's their main obstacle in their search for the truth? Does someone know what they are up to and want to stop them?

I'm a little surprised by the word count. That's one short novel, even by MG standards.

Overall, I think it sounds like an interesting book and I'd want to read it. Good luck!

150 said...

I liked this kind of book in elementary school, so I'd probably have picked it up, but the query makes it sound kind of lifeless. Do all the kids get along? Are they doing this with or without permission? Is someone trying to stop them? If they get bored halfway through the summer and never solve the mystery, so what? If you've got stakes and conflict, I want to hear about them. I'm not sure conquering a fear of the woods is very compelling--at least not to me.

I've also noticed that books like this often use the paranormal aspect as a metaphor for, or parallel to, something going on in the protag's real life. If you're doing that, mention it. If not, 23k is pretty short--there's plenty of space for a subplot about, I don't know, the kids standing up to some kind of corrupt authority in their own town. One more layer of literary depth (and conflict!) wouldn't go amiss.

Excellent title!

takoda said...

I agree with Carolina and 150.

It sounds like a great start to a story, but a first draft only. The word count seems very low. Doesn't seem there's enough time to get to know the kids and be compelled to go with them on their adventure.

It's the kind of book I would've read as a child also.

Good luck.

Robin S. said...

I like the idea of this, and I really like the title.

EE, you're a master at finding photos, aren't you, and the guess the century stuff was a hoot. I had no idea sunglasses had been around that long.

Where can one obtain a copy of the chess manual?

K.B. said...

Oh, but I like #4 ever so much better. I was hoping that would be the real plot.

Anonymous said...

We seem to be getting a lot of queries in which sketchy males lure children/teens with trails of clues and artifacts.

Anonymous said...

I agree with k.b. Number 4 would make a great story.

Any takers?

Anonymous said...

I'd have read it back in my elementary days. I agree that the grandfather's background story could be pared down to leave room for the kids' stakes/conflict.

As an aside, the Minoan Snake Goddess (c. 1600 BCE--the turn of another century) wears a corset, predating those worn by the French by three millennia or so.