Thursday, September 17, 2009
Guess the Plot
1. They'll call you -- no matter where you are or what you're doing. You don't need a phone to do business with them. Or sanity. And when they're done, you will be too. Shall we do lunch, or would you like to start running?
2. Lady Chumley attempts to rally her kin to resolve the troubles of the day, namely, the matter of Fred, the price of chicken, and that vampire thing in the basement.
3. 10-year-old Angela doesn't believe college students collect little kids--until she looks in her sister Kimmy's closet.
4. Anna, AKA Torture Lady, tries to impress Ana, AKA The Salvadoran, but Ana doesn't respect her. What's a girl gotta do to make friends at summer camp?
5. Thomas Fredericks wants to save a corrupt world. He decides to start a cult, gain power and influence, and force the world to be more peaceful. Can he lead his people long enough to effect change before it all falls apart in violence, scandal and disgrace?
6. Mark Freeboon hasn't spoken to anyone who isn't a Lego since he was two. They are his people. They love and protect him. And tell him he will go straight to hell if he doesn't do what they say. Like liberate their brethren from FAO Schwartz.
7. The puppet master of Croydon wows audiences in London with the antics of his spry little creations -- until Inspector Birks proves the toys are actually vampires that prey on pigeons and stray dogs at night.
8. My People, Jeanette Morton's memoir of oppression and woe--which reveals all the horrors and foibles of her family's past--hits number one on the bestseller lists, only to be derided and ridiculed by her next-door neighbor, an ignorant witless tart with six trunk novels under the sofa and a brain the size of a pea.
13-year-old Anna Brooke wants to be brave, to make a difference in the world. Going to the Conservation Leadership Institute’s summer camp is one small part of her plan. So of course when she sees a big kid shaking a little kid she makes him stop. She didn’t mean to get nicknamed Torture Lady. [That's like a cop arresting a shoplifter and they start calling the cop "Serial Killer."] [Even if it made sense for Anna to get the nickname, wouldn't it be Torture Girl?] Or to be introduced by that name to Ana Reyes, the Salvadoran refugee girl who has the poise and courage Anna craves. [Your main characters are named Anna and Ana? Whether you've done this so there can be hilarious incidents of mistaken identity in the book or just to make your proofreader's life miserable, consider that it may be more confusing to readers than it is to the camp counselors.] [Or is it because all your character names are palindromes? That I could live with. Are we about to meet Bob and Hannah? Interesting palindrome thoughts:
1. You can't have palindromes without repeated letters, yet "palindromes" is the longest word in the English language that has no repeated letters.
2. Palindrome? Shouldn't the word be "emordrome"?
3. There should be a superhero named Palindrome who captures criminals and then lets them go.
4. Emit no SOS on time. I just made that one up.
5. I would buy a book that had a one-sentence palindrome hidden in every chapter.]
Anna spends the rest of the week trying to prove herself to Ana, and incidentally to herself. She sticks up for James, who’s accused of being gay; she tells off the kid who grabs her butt; she tried to get her new best friend Allison, who shares her liberal ideas but has considerably more money and tact, to admit that some of the rich kids at camp are bullies. [This place sounds even more miserable than Camp Swampy, where my parents sent me every summer, with its two-hour vesper services and Counselor Bob's nightly nude camper inspections.] Soon many of the campers won’t speak to her--including James and Ana. Naturally, Anna tries harder. The camp petition drive doesn’t go according to plan either, but it does reveal enough of Ana’s past to shake Anna’s assumptions about bravery, and her understanding of what you have to do to make things change. [Not clear what you mean by a petition drive revealing Ana's past. Make it clear or just say, When Anna learns the sordid truth about Ana's past . . . ]
My People is a bittersweet, sometimes funny MG novel about the courage to grow up. I’m submitting it to you because (insert long list of real good reasons.) [A list of reasons for submitting to a specific person should have a range of from zero to one items.] (Pages, synopsis, whatever they say they’ll take) are attached. Thank you for taking time to read and consider this submission.
[--EE, this is a WIP, so there is no word count.]
Does "My People" mean Anna's people? Because no one at this camp seems to be Anna's people.
Shouldn't a middle grade book about summer camp have some monsters or a guy in a hockey mask? Something to make kids want to read it?
The list of things Anna did that supposedly caused everyone to stop talking to her doesn't sound like such bad stuff. Telling off a kid who grabs her butt makes her a pariah? She sticks up for James, and he won't talk to her? It seems to me that a camp that focuses on leadership rather than fun and games would attract a better clientele. Or at least would have counselors preventing stuff like bullying and taunting and turning fellow campers into social outcasts.
The main theme is coming through, but mainly through lists of things that happen. Make it feel more like a story than a series of unfortunate events.