Friday, March 14, 2008
Guess the Plot
The Taj Mahal Romance Repair Agency
1. From the outside it is looking like ordinary Indian restaurant. But those couples being strangely attracted to its most exotic menu are finding its warming food and most philosophical waiters are exceedingly putting the spices back into their troubled relationships. Also, a chapati.
2. Three clueless Indian virgins are starting running an agency specializing in the fixing of the ailing romances for some other Indians lacking the clues, but are quickly getting sucked into some most amusing misadventures.
3. Arranged marriages can be most great for the families, but for the couple thrusting together without the spark of the romance, getting to know each other can be most traumatic. Jaswinder and Anjul have a plan to fix that with their newest business idea. But when they are setting their call center up in Lexington, KY, the miscommunications lead to hilarity on two sides of the world.
4. Sanjiv has made his fortune as a Kama Sutra instructor, and his mother is after him to seek the wife. Hilarity is ensuing when he meets his future in-laws. Can he be convincing Mr. Gupta that he is computer repairman before Mrs. Gupta is recalling "The Reverse Cowgirl"?
5. Bishakha's husband has died twenty years before, but she isn't seeing why death should be a barrier to romance. With help of the Taj Mahal Romance Repair Agency, she plans to hunt down her husband's reincarnation, and marry him once more. Also, a sacred elephant.
6. Getting to work for a top literary agent right out of Brown is Sissy Lions' dream. But no one is telling her she will be slogging through endless piles of romance novels rather than literary fiction. And now they wish her to be editing this tripe? Is there any escaping...The Taj Mahal Romance Repair Agency?
Dear Evil Editor,
Novel Query: The Taj Mahal Romance Repair Agency
Three clueless Indian virgins, seeing a business opportunity in teaching even more clueless youth in India how to interact with the opposite sex, decide to start an agency specializing in fixing ailing romances.
Armed with Western romantic-advice books and expecting to deal with broken hearts, they quickly get sucked into both romantic and criminal misadventures as their clients drag them into one scrape after another. Before long, the company motto becomes Stay Out of Jail. Or Stay Alive. [Is "Stay Out of Jail. Or Stay Alive." the new motto? If so, "and" would be better than "or." If it's two mottos, I'd stick with just one. Actually, those don't sound like mottos anyway. "Mission statement" might be better.]
The Taj Mahal Romance Repair Agency has the pacing of a James Patterson novel, the humor of a Janet Evanovich novel, and the cultural immersion of a McCall Smith [How come you use the first names of Patterson and Evanovich, but not McCall Smith? It's Alexander, though those of us in his inner circle call him Sandy.] Botswana-set novel. [According to . . . the author? If decisions on which manuscripts to request were made based on the authors' opinions of the works, all manuscripts would be requested. I've said it before, but it bears repeating, apparently: Leave the hype to the person writing the back-cover copy. If you declare that your work is like James Patterson's, Janet Evanovich's and Alexander McCall Smith's, there are three possible reactions from an editor:
1. I've never gotten around to reading anything by those authors, so I have no idea what you're trying to say.
2. I hate all three of those authors, so even though I was loving your query letter, forget it.
3. I worship those three authors. And you have the gall to compare yourself to them? The ashes I've placed in your SASE are what remains of your query, which I burned as a symbolic gesture in hopes that James, Janet and Sandy will forgive me for reading it.]
Thank you for your time.
What you've provided is the situation. Three unqualified people start a business, and get more than they bargained for. It's an intriguing setup, but we want to know what happens. The setup was two sentences. That leaves plenty of room to tell us about a couple of the romantic and criminal misadventures so we can judge whether we think they're as funny as you do. And so we have a lengthier sample of your writing.
If you must mention other authors, there are those who don't mind your saying something like fans of James Patterson will enjoy the pace of this book. But usually the editor has decided whether to request the manuscript before then anyway. He's unlikely to change from no to yes just because you claim it's Patterson-paced. And if he requests it and thinks that it's Ayn Rand-paced he won't believe anything else you've said.