Wednesday, October 21, 2009
Guess the Plot
1. Janet's best dog ever was Waldo, a well-trained poodle. It was a tragedy that he went missing. But if Janet can't stop lamenting the loss of her dog and notice Digby, the handsomest taximan in Glasgow, she'll never know happiness.
2. A young puppy shows up on a widow's porch one morning and worms his way into her lonely heart. As Wilma cares for Jo Jo, she realizes that Jo Jo is no ordinary dog, but the leader of a pack of werehumans.
3. Vic hates everything about Mr. Grim's Boarding School for the Criminally Deceased, including the constant feeling of being lost and of course the part about being dead, but the very worst part is that the dining hall doesn't serve nachos.
4. Angela is sick of wearing mismatched socks. Determined to discover what happens, she sets her dryer to fluff and climbs inside. Transported to the world behind the Internet, she'll uncover the true origin of sock puppets. Can she escape a world-wide mob of mis-matched hosiery?
5. In 1939 Max and Roberto took a shortcut on their way from Las Cruces to North Dakota and were never seen again. Sixty-nine years later a squad of commandos on a desert training mission discover two men pushing a car toward Los Alamos -- two men named Max and Roberto who claim they just escaped a horde of space aliens. This is their story.
6. Bridget Abraham always knows where she is: not in the location she wants to be. When her husband gives her dog tags and a GPS for her anniversary, she decides to get therapy. But can she find the counselor's office?
Dear Evil Editor,
According to the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, "each year in the U.S., thousands of teenagers commit suicide. Suicide is the third leading cause of death for 15-to-24-year-olds." [For those interested, here are the top ten causes of death among 15-to-24-year-old American teenagers:
10. Sibling murder.
9. Living in Afghanistan.
8. Brain cancer from cell phone overuse.
7. Video game violence.
6. Living in Iraq.
4. Amusement park accidents.
2. Rap music.
1. Texting while driving.]
My young adult novel, The Lost, explores this deep and disturbing issue. It's a cross between Jay Asher's Thirteen Reasons Why and Gabrielle Zevin's Elsewhere. [If I haven't read those books, that means nothing to me. If I have read them, I should recognize the similarities from your plot description, without needing to be told.]
Occupants of Mr. Grim's Boarding School for the Criminally Deceased have at least one thing in common: they each took their own lives. [life] [Why isn't this your first sentence? It's a novel, and you open with statistics that make me think it's a depressing nonfiction book.]
Sixteen-year-old Vic has been at the school for awhile. Vic is dead, she knows that much, and she's lost all hope of leaving the school where colors are dull, the rooms are always changing, and the classes revolve around others[apostrophe] past lives, but not her own. [Who are these others the classes revolve around? Historical figures? Other people in the school?] There are no windows and no nachos (Vic's fav). It's high school, but worse. She's stuck in a wandering, unsatisfying, lost existence. She doesn't remember who she is so she spends her time showing a Phase One (a new boarder) the ropes [As a simple matter of tact, it's best not to show new boarders the ropes until you're sure they didn't hang themselves.] while trying to ignore the flashes of memory popping up in her head. As the old memories consume her, Vic is overwhelmed with her past choices, desperate to understand her former self. [Shorten this paragraph. Keep the specific, lose the general.]
When Ty, a past football player, finds a lustrous red rose, a sign of a world outside of the dust-encrusted school, he rallies Vic and the others to plan an escape. She partners up with some of her peers as they try to find a way back to the life they willingly left behind, but Mr. Grim's Boarding School is less like an educational institution and more like a prison, full of secrets of its own.
Will Vic find a way to see her family and friends again? Will she remember why she chose to end her life? [These questions aren't needed.]
The Lost is dark, but also filled with hope. The manuscript is complete at 40,000 words. May I sent a partial or full manuscript? Thank you for your time and consideration.
Lose the suicide stats. It's the story we're looking for.
Mr. Grim's Boarding School for the Criminally Deceased makes me think it's for dead people who were criminals or were killed by criminals. I don't think you're trying to give the impression suicide is a crime. Maybe it should be for the self-dispatched.
An amusing name for the school will give the impression the book has plenty of humor, and you say it's dark. Is it also funny?
If you must mention other books, just say your book will appeal to those who liked the other ones, not that yours is a cross between them, which sounds like you set out to produce a hybrid of other people's works.
Ty rallies the students and Vic partners with her peers. It might be better if Vic does the rallying or leads her peers. I assume your main character is the heroine, not a follower, so don't give the wrong impression in the query.