Monday, July 19, 2010
Guess the Plot
1. When Death takes a holiday, he leaves his scythe in a safe place behind the dresser. But Elizabeth, the put-upon perfectionist cleaning lady, finds it and goes on a "holiday" of her own. Can Death get his job back?
2. Elizabeth is having one lousy fifteenth birthday, mostly because of the hitman who killed her. Now she's awakened in the morgue, and the hitman wants to turn her from the living dead to the dead dead. It's beginning to look like she won't make it to her senior prom.
3. Thirteen years after the night Eliza found both her parents murdered, she's come back to her home town to witness the execution of the murderer. But when she contacts her dead parents via ouija board and they claim to have been killed by someone else, Eliza suddenly finds herself fighting for the freedom of the convicted killer.
4. Countless biographers have recounted the life and times of Queen Elizabeth. I'm the one you want to pay attention to, however. Only I maintain the proper history of the vampire herself, who, in the proper circles, was known only as Elizadeath. But as I translate the records from vampiri to English my own life becomes threatened.
5. Elizadeath is sick of her classmates’ cruel jokes—-her parents’ dyslexia is no laughing matter. But when new kids Warren, Fammy and Penelopestilence move in next door, Elizadeath finally makes some friends. As all hell breaks loose, will Elizadeath choose to save her repentant classmates from their impending doom?
6. As soon as they turn 18, sisters Elizadeath, Ebola Gay, and Eleamorgue plot to revenge themselves on their parents for giving them such morbid names by legally changing them to Daisy, Buttercup, and Rosebud...until one of them notices that with a last name like von Fatal, they're still screwed. Hasty marriages to guys named Smith, Johnson, and Baker ensue.
Dear Evil Editor,
Waking up in the morgue is just the icing on the cake. [Icing on cake is a good thing. The idea is that cake is good and icing makes it even better. For instance, if Evil Editor buys your manuscript, you're thrilled even if he pays you nothing, and if he offers you a seven-figure advance, that's the icing on the cake. Your situation is a bad thing topped off by one more bad thing. Sort of like:
Of course, you probably don't want to say, Waking up in the morgue is just the sudden downpour on the body snatching excursion, but you could call it the final indignity.] Elizabeth is having a rough day. [First she uses the wrong cliche, and then--the final indignity--Evil Editor mocks her query.] It’s certainly not how she envisioned her fifteenth birthday would end. She wishes she could comfort her grieving parents, but she can’t speak…yet. She would run away from the hitmen sent to dispose of her, if her legs could move. And she would tell her boyfriend everything was okay, [but she can't speak...yet.] if she hadn’t died two hours ago. Or did she?
Welcome to the strange new world of Elizabeth Davis. If she thought she had self-esteem issues before, becoming the living dead isn’t going to help. Rigor mortis, dull hair, and cloudy eyes are NOT cute. She’s not sure why this is happening, she doesn’t know who is after her or why, and she can’t BELIEVE how pale she’s become- “it’s so gross”.
Follow Elizabeth on her mysterious journey to find out what happened to her, [I've got a better idea. Tell us what happened to her.] how she can get her life back and whether she’ll ever make it to senior prom- if you can stand the smell. [Senior prom? Isn't she a little young to be thinking about that?] ELIZADEATH is a middle grade novel standing at approximately 38,000 words. Sample pages available upon request. I hope to hear from you soon.
It's good to put some voice into the query, but some of the voice is falling flat. "It's so gross," for instance, and "If you can stand the smell." The phrases immediately preceding these have the voice you want, so just drop these.
Once you've done that, the "Welcome..." paragraph isn't bad. The opening paragraph would be better if it were examples of how Liz is having a rough day. Something like:
Elizabeth is having a rough fifteenth birthday. First her boyfriend calls to say he can't make her party, then her mom pukes on the cake right in front of Liz's friends, and then the final indignity: she gets murdered by a hitman.
I wouldn't mind a few sentences about what happens after she wakes up in the morgue: Being dead is inconvenient, but Liz is determined it won't keep her from making it to the prom. First she'll have to deal with the hitman, though. He was hired to turn her into a corpse, not a zombie, and he's still on the job.