Sunday, December 11, 2011

EVIL EDITOR CLASSICS


Guess the Plot

Portal to Murder

1. Damien discovers a portal to another world where he can murder anyone, without getting caught. He figures, Cool, man, and embarks on a manic blood binge.

2. It was the perfect crime, the victim killed in a locked room. Detective Anna Hicks can come up with only one explanation: a portal to the ninth dimension.

3. Michael Spinner traveled through time to kill the man who ruined him. Just his luck, detective Jennifer Castle happens to be the nexus of time-travel itself.

4. A bottle of Windex reveals a shadowplay of long-ago betrayal in Helen's clouded bedroom mirror. Will Helen solve a murder...or become a victim?

5. Excessive debt from recreational shopping breaks Dorothy’s spirit. The Nordstrom’s annual shoe sale becomes her portal to murder as she goes on a killing spree of pushy women shoppers.

6. Desperate for original submissions, a blogging literary agent snaps, when her admonitions to “drop the portals, folks” fails to discourage a timeworn sci fi device.


Original Version

Dear Evil Editor.

Homicide detective, Jennifer Castle, is faced with the impossible: [She must play the trombone and the violin simultaneously?] several people, including an unborn baby, have been killed by a weapon that couldn't possibly exist. [A unicorn horn?] [Evil Editor likes to guess; did I get either of those right?] To solve the case, she is forced to reevaluate her concept of time in order to catch a vindictive killer from the future.

Michael Spinner has been given the opportunity he craved: to travel back in time and kill the man who ruined his life. [Why does he have to travel back in time to kill him? Wouldn't it be easier to just kill him now? Or did someone else beat him to it?] But things go horribly wrong [Thanks to a minor miscalculation, when he appears in the past, he's thirty-seven miles out in the Pacific Ocean, in shark-infested waters.] when his actions unwittingly pull Jennifer Castle into the case. [Technically, can actions do anything unwittingly?] The one woman who can defeat him. The one woman who just happens to be the nexus of time-travel itself. [Is the nexus of time travel itself always a person? If so, how is it determined which person?] Can he kill her, [Busy day, when you have to kill both the man who ruined your life and the woman who's the nexus of time travel itself.] or will her death mean his own destruction? [Good point. If he kills her, some murderer she otherwise would have captured two years from now may stay at large and end up killing him.] [If Evil Editor were in this position, he would skip the killing and make a fortune wagering on sporting events that he knows the results of.]

Irrevocably connected to time travel by the circumstances of her birth, [As she was forced to reevaluate her concept of time to solve this case, one might think she only recently became the nexus of time travel itself. If she's been the nexus of time travel itself since birth, wouldn't she have reevaluated long ago?] Jennifer finds herself caught in a battle that might not only ruin her present, but destroy her future. [We used ruin and destruction in the previous paragraph; let's go with annihilate and vaporize here.] [Her big problem in the future will be getting credit. Whenever she phones to apply for a card, it goes:

Jen: I'd like to apply for a VISA card.
VISA: Okay, great. Name?
Jen: Jennifer Castle.
VISA: Date of birth?
Jen: 4/24/02.
VISA: Uh, is that 2002 or 1902?
Jen: Neither. It's 2302. For I am the nexus of time travel itself.
VISA: (Click.) ]


My 100,000 word novel, Portal to Murder will appeal to fans of cross-over mysteries like Michael Crichton, James Rollins or J.D. Robb. [I had no idea Crichton, Rollins and Robb were all fans of crossover mysteries; as for whether your novel will appeal to all three of them, only time will tell.]


Revised Version

Homicide detective Jennifer Castle is faced with her toughest case: solving a murder committed with a weapon that can't possibly exist. Only by reevaluating her concept of time can she hope to collar a vindictive killer from the future.

Michael Spinner has been given the opportunity he craved: to travel back in time and kill the man who ruined his life. But his scheme goes horribly wrong when Jennifer is pulled into the case. The one woman who can defeat him. The one woman who just happens to be . . . the nexus of time-travel itself!! Can he kill her? Or will her death mean his own destruction?

Irrevocably connected to time travel by the circumstances of her birth, Jennifer finds herself caught in a battle that could eradicate her future.

My 100,000-word novel, Portal to Murder should appeal to fans of cross-over mysteries. Give the word, and I'll have it to you last month. For I am . . . the nexus of time-travel itself!! Thank you.


Notes

As suggested earlier, if Jen was irrevocably connected to time travel by the circumstances of her birth, it's unclear why she must now reevaluate her concept of time to catch a killer. Was she unaware she was the nexus of time travel itself?

It's a bit brief, but if you answer a few of Evil Editor's questions, it might fill out nicely.


Selected Comments

busywriter said...Give the word and I shall have it to you next month, as I am the nexus of time travel itself! OMG! That was perfect! I should have thought about adding that before sending the query out. Thanks Evil Editor, you are my hero!


Evil Editor said...You sent the query out and then sent it to Evil Editor? Is there some way you can go back in time and reverse that?


Elvira Pepperdine said...I have plans to go back in time and smother Billy Joel in his cradle. Then, those year where my upstairs neighbor pounded out Billy Joel songs on the piano like a relentless Billy Joel playing automaton will finally be put to REST, and I can sleep again! I can't wait to see what songwriter replaces Billy Joel in my new, improved Billy Joel-less past... man, this could go on forever! But that's okay, I have a time machine!


Jeb said...This query did manage to avoid something annoying that was present in several other recent queries: the theme- (and cliche-)ridden opening paragraph with nary a character's name or action on which to hang our hopes for the tale.

That epistolary style might be another of those 'arcana of successful query letters(tm)' known only to deep, dark insiders, but I doubt it. Miss Snark [beautiful and terrible as....despair] says, "Give me six sentences of less than ten words each that tell me WHO is doing WHAT to WHOM and WHY I should give a rat's ass."

Please reassure me that my Best-Beloved Snark is correct, and that grandiose opening paragraphs are the waste of words they appear to me. I would be hard-pressed to pen an equally pretentious paragraph without the tongue piercing my cheek and staining the query letter with my life's blood, which would not only be messy but unsanitary. I want my letters read, not disposed of in a hazmat sack.


Evil Editor said...Evil Editor wants to know what your book is about. So does Miss Snark. Beyond that, Miss Snark might enjoy hearing about any great success you may have had as a writer while you were laboring under the handicap of not having Miss Snark as your agent. Evil Editor might want to know if you can put together a coherent, well-organized letter without straying off the subject. And while I won't care what you say beyond your book description, I may care how poorly you say it.

4 comments:

Dave said...

Ah "The Nexus of Time Travel" is back and yet so fresh in my memory. Could it be Deja Vu or simply time travel.

I slept wrong last night and woke up with a sore nexus this morning.

AA said...

Dave, you gotta get Doctor Dillmore's Nexus Cream. It's the only stuff that really works. Just remember that you're not allowed to say the word "nexus" out loud at the pharmacy. There's a coupon on the back of each label, but since it expires just before the product was invented it isn't much help.

AlaskaRavenclaw said...

I'm not an emotional person, but every time I see someone surround a name with commas for no @#$%ing reason, as in

Homicide detective, Jennifer Castle, is faced with the impossible

I burst into tears.

batgirl said...

Published by Damnation Press, I see. The publisher's blurb doesn't mention any nexus, but does mention time travel.