Friday, January 25, 2008
Guess the Plot
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1. The instant longshoreman Joe Dentmore saw the dude and the dame in the white coats running toward his forklift, he figured -- mad scientists! And how right he was! They're attempting to take over the world with the aid of a woman whose outfits scandalously fall off at critical moments. Can Joe stop them, or must he call in Team X97Z -- the zombie axemen?
2. Prayers finds herself trapped in a tower after eloping with Eagle, a reckless warrior. She is rescued by a renowned gypsy adventuress (who has finally found in Sorgaard a man worthy of her attention). Meanwhile, Eagle is betrayed by Prayers's cousin, a mercenary in the employ of Alexey Nikolayevsky, who has a secret grudge to settle against Sorgaard. Okay, okay, none of that really happens.
3. Karen is trying to break up, but apparently for Todd, this does not compute. As she rants, he whaps himself upside the head and a small door creaks open, revealing a slot. He pops out the old disk, inserts a new one, and starts reformatting his brain. This is exactly what she was talking about! His needs always come before hers!
4. Despite legions of armed military, no beans can leave the coffee warehouses of Columbia. The Sisters of Platitude are saving the world from moral decrepitude, which Dr. Gus "Chicken Face" Lombardi proved is caused by coffee (his analysis produced a chi square statistic that was significant to the .04% level). This will be the worst day of General Rodriguez's life.
5. Technophobe Lulu Nelson goes crazy when her cell phone runs completely down, her PC crashes, her power is shut off, and her boyfriend tells her he's postponing their wedding. After being accused of taking part in a vicious crime spree, Lulu is arrested. But she falls in love with her bail bondsman, who turns out to be a video game addict.
6. Washington, DC madam Scarlett D'Onofrio loves her android employees. Indistinguishable from real girls, they don't get VD, they don't sleep or eat, and they always turn in 100% of the client fees. When Genevieve locks up during a routine wireless firmware update, however, Scarlett discovers her brothel has been hacked by the KGB, who've been listening in on Washington's most sensitive conversations.
Please consider reviewing LOADING...PLEASE WAIT (98,124 words, co-authored), cutting-edge women's fiction layered over a fantasy romantic adventure.
More simply put, LOADING is the story of two women who share two worlds, told two ways. [Even more simply put: L = 2(3W).] [I can't help noticing that every time we simplify it, it gets harder to figure out what it means.]
In the virtual world of Epoch of Epics (story told in standard narrative), [I hate it when I'm lost before the first comma.] a young noblewoman named "Prayers" (Preces) [Why is Prayers in quotation marks and Preces in parentheses? Which one is her name?] finds herself abandoned in an unfamiliar tower after eloping with Eagle, a reckless warrior who has been living in her parents’ manor. [When your job title is "warrior," it's kind of wussy to be living on your girlfriend's father's manor. Though I suppose it's nice to have the butler bring you scones and tea every morning before you head off to battle barbarians.] She is rescued by her friend Lyres, a renowned gypsy adventuress who has finally found in the itinerant Sorgaard a man worthy of her sincere attention. Meanwhile, Eagle is betrayed by Preces’ [("Prayers'")] cousin Kent, a mercenary in the employ of the powerful Duke Alexey Nikolayevsky, who has a secret grudge to settle against Sorgaard. [I'm not making a chart this time. Get rid of some of these characters.]
In the real world (story told via email exchange), "Preces" is 42-year old Beth, [Damn. Looks like I need a chart after all.
Virtual World......Standard Narrative......."Prayers"......(Preces)
Real World...........Email Exchange............."Preces".........Beth]
[Nope, didn't help.] a chatty, soft-hearted executive wife in Virginia, whose virtual lover, "Eagle," [She has a virtual lover in the real world who has the same name as her real lover in the virtual world?] is her son's best friend. Linda, a successful Los Angeles attorney and lightly cynical single mom, is "Lyres," and her virtual flirtation with "Sorgaard" has provoked an invitation to meet his creator face-to-face, behind the back of her increasingly resentful non-player fiancé. At first neatly separated, their real and virtual relationships gradually tangle, dragging Beth and Linda into confrontations with addiction, denial, obsession and each other.
Electronic relationship is a subject about which I've published several academic papers (see my Auburn University faculty webpage, linked at the very bottom of this email), and in which there is an exponentially-growing interest. According to the Pew Internet Project, 70 percent of American adult women are online; [Did that project survey real women, or virtual women (most of whom I suspect are teenage boys)?] email correspondence with friends and family, like that between Beth and Linda, is the dominant use. [Unlike American adult men, whose dominant use is porn.] While the fantasy subplot is accessible to anyone with imagination, it offers a special hook for the 6-million-and-counting female gamers worldwide; stereotypes notwithstanding, women aged 35-49 are the single largest demographic in online gaming, and fully 60 percent of college women in 2003 were regular online role-players (Nielsen/Net Ratings). [Which explains why 60 percent of college men have to settle for porn these days.] A novel about women's interactions -- online, in the real world, and in the space between -- is cutting-edge now, but headed for the mainstream as computer-mediated communication increasingly becomes the norm.
When I am not teaching Auburn undergrads or indulging my new-found passion for fiction-writing (a prequel to LOADING is outlined and the first chapter complete), I'm engrossed in raising my nine children -- three of whom, incidentally, are active gamers. [In fact, Gary plays my studly masseur, Lance plays my buff tennis instructor, and little Joey plays Brad Pitt in my current game, Sim City 9: Rule of the Amazons.] Co-author ___________, a writer whose work has appeared in the Los Angeles Times and other periodicals, teaches grant-writing at UCLA. Like Beth and Linda, we met in the context of an online role-playing game and have never spoken or met face-to-face; we like to imagine our first-time meeting as an Oprah-worthy promotional event. [And it will be, when it turns out that "Linda" is actually twelve-year-old Jimmy Landry and a few of his buddies.]
Thank you for your time and consideration, and I look forward to sending you more of LOADING...PLEASE WAIT.
I believe that those who are into role playing would rather role play than read about the role-playing adventures dreamed up by fictional role players. Thus if a large portion of your book is the story of Sorgaard, Eagle and the Duke (Hey, that would make a catchy song title), we're in trouble.
Your story as I see it is about Linda (whose boyfriend is jealous of the time she spends in online role playing; to keep him from blowing his top, she doesn't tell him she's going off to Montana to meet a guy she met playing Epoch of Epics), and Beth, who's in the same E of E game, but unaware that her virtual lover, whom she's actually falling for, is her kid's best friend. These are the characters people want to read about. Those who want to read about Sorgaard and "Prayers" would rather you wrote a fantasy book about Sorgaard and "Prayers."
Dump the paragraph that isn't real, rework the one that is real so that it involves us in the conflicts of the characters (perhaps a paragraph about Beth's situation, a paragraph about Linda's, and a paragraph about the obsession/addiction/entanglement), and now you won't have to waste a huge paragraph convincing us there's a market for this. Unfortunately, I suspect too much of your plot exists only in the minds of Beth and Linda, and while fascinating to them, will be no more interesting to readers than the other ten million plots unfolding in online role playing games right now.
I could be wrong about that, but if not, it's not the end of the world; you'll just need to overhaul the book so that it focuses on the real world.