Sunday, July 29, 2007

Face-Lift 387


Guess the Plot

Placebo

1. No one knows that Placido Domingo has an evil twin who has dumped the famed tenor in Lake Como, but will they notice the difference when Placebo steps into his brother's costume and tackles the lead role in Don Giovanni?

2. Niles Johnson wakes one morning in a cold, grey room to find he is next to be "tested" in the government's sinister plot to control the public. He has to take pills, a lot of them, and his fellow inmates assure him he'd better hope to God he gets a . . . Placebo.

3. Katia needs a break from her lover, Olof, and gets it with a new experimental drug. But Olof doesn't like the way she's suddenly ignoring him--especially since the drug is a . . . Placebo.

4. An enterprising teen combines some stuff from his hypochondriac mother's medicine cabinet and sells it on the internet as a breakthrough aphrodisiac - but when he learns that the concoction actually works, he is pursued by big business, the government, and the mafia who all want the formula he can't recreate to save his soul.

5. This could be a real book. With a real plot, real characters, and real entertainment. Or, it could be a placebo. If we told you which, it would ruin the experiment.

6. Romance author Miriam Worth finds herself pregnant after only one night with her editor. Is he a remarkable super man? Or is her birth control prescription just a . . . Placebo?


Original Version

Welcome to the shady supernatural side of suburbia, where ghosts and the living can live in harmony…but most often don't.

To say that Olof Karlsson is used to being the center of attention is an understatement. [It's been that way ever since the kids in his school discovered how to anagram his first name.] Slaughtered in the 1970s, an entire suburb is memorialized in his honor.

But Katia Belarova needs a break from ghosts—including her lover. An experimental drug provides respite, but Olof doesn't take kindly to Katia's non-acknowledgment. [Typical male ghost.] He's crazy in love…a little too much, if an abduction is anything to judge by.

Unfortunately, he's not Katia's only problem. Her sister is at the mercy of a supernatural organization with unethical practices. [The Central Incorporeality Agency] But Katia doesn't know what exactly her sister did to be institutionalized…and if she deserves rescuing.

Add to that the dilemma of whether to hook up with her best friend's lover or not, and Katia could do with a little rest…in peace.

[Additional info about what books this is sure to remind readers of and credits (see previous query).]

Notes

This is an improvement over the two previous queries (same author) in that some of the ideas have a logical progression, but it still needs more detail. We don't know enough of the plot and we have to guess what you're talking about here and there. The third paragraph shouldn't start with "But" because Katia hasn't been introduced and we don't know the connection between her and the previous paragraph. Is Olof her lover?

It's trying too hard to hook us with every sentence. I'd start the query: Katia Belarova needs a break from ghosts—including her lover. That's a decent hook. Then focus on Katia's story: Katia sees dead people; she's even fallen in love with one named Olof. Her psychiatrist tries an experimental drug, which ends the visions, but now Olof's unhappy. He can't stand that Katia no longer acknowledges him, so he kidnaps her, takes her to his old haunts, and replaces her drug with a placebo. Or whatever. If the query isn't focused, no one will expect the book to be focused.

7 comments:

dangling nitpicker said...

Slaughtered in the 1970s, an entire suburb is memorialized in his honor.

Slaughtering an entire suburb seems like a lot of work, even for a ghost.

ME said...

Way too many ellipses. The way you've divided your information into paragraphs seems arbitrary, to me. You have five; I see two.

Anonymous said...

I think I'm getting it. It's a DaVinci Code kind of thing: if we take all four queries and piece them together, the one true novel will reveal itself to us in the same way as the clues appear to the hero in the book.

Clever idea, but I suspect not all agents/editors will catch on to it and be able to piece it all together. Of course, those are the ones you wouldn't want to work with anyway.

Anonymous said...

focus focus focus

Ali said...

After reading EE's comments, I was able to piece together what the book might be about, and it sounds like an interesting concept. But from the query alone, I didn't get it: the connection between the experimental drug and respite from the ghost, why Katia needs respite from her lover. Was Olof slaughtered or was the suburb slaughtered? What's it mean to have a suburb memorialized in your honor? I don't know what a supernatural organization would be (ghosts as members? Humans dealing with hauntings?) or what kind of institutionalization Katia's sister is dealing with (mental hospital for ghosts? Prison?). And how is whether to hook up with your best friend's lover a dilemma? Call me old fashioned, but best friend's + lover = not available. Tossed in at the end without any details, the "dilemma" makes me think Katia's kinda slimy and perhaps not someone I'd want to read about.

writtenwyrdd said...

I feel a disconnect between cause and effect here. She sees ghosts. She gets rid of ghost through medication. Ghost is crazy in love and does something unspecified to get the girl back. Okay, but what's the plot? What is at stake for the main character? This is about her, right?

The rest of the stuff confused me, but based on EE's effort, it sounds like it could be interesting.

ello said...

It sounds interesting, but confusing all at the same time. There seems to have been several queries lately that have been getting the "trying to hook us with every line" comment from EE. I didn't know that was what it was until he said it but it sure makes sense to me. It makes the query feel forced and rushed - as if the tv announcer reading it aloud would sound wheezy and out of breath. Even a query letter needs to have its information paced just right, in order to maximize its effectiveness. Good luck.