Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Query 29

Three Broads and a Fraud

THREE BROADS AND A FRAUD is an 85,000-word comedy about three audacious sexagenarians whose wild imaginations create havoc when they venture on vacation to a remote African island.

Dotty’s meets a stranger who seduces her mind with pristine beaches and majestic mountains to holiday there. She persuades her two friends, who’ve never left the shores of England, to accompany her. While discussing their holiday, they encounter retired Major Milestone, who sends Dotty’s hormones tangoing: his interest is to glean surreptitiously their itinerary. He knows the stranger and guesses his ulterior motive. The onus is on him to provide his clandestine protection.

From the outset of their travels, nothing is a promised. Dotty is nervous and expresses her concern. She guarantees her friends a foolproof escape plan. They trust her judiciousness until she steers their only means of transport down a chasm before they leap to safety. Their next attempt finds them in an opium parlour, which lands them in a notorious jail: Dotty mistook it for a perfume factory. Meanwhile, Milestone’s frustrations explode as the women are about to blow his covert military operation and risk the lives of his personnel. He surprises them and explains his modus operandi for his protection. To their horror, they learn the stranger Dotty trusted, is head of the island’s opium cartel and his intention was to use them as hostages against the military’s destruction of is crop. Embarrassed, she must devise a secret plan to capture Milestone’s heart after her reckless stupidity. With her record of harebrained ideas, her friends are doubtful.

Comments

OK. Deep breath, author. I think that you're panicking a bit trying to cram your story into a short query and that's leading to some awkward phrasing and odd word choices. You need to relax a bit and let the story tell itself -- don't try to force it.

What does that mean in concrete terms? Take the phrase "his interest is to glean surreptitiously their itinerary." That could be simply stated as "all he wants is to find out their itinerary."

I love the age group for your "broads" and the story seems, plotwise, like it could be a really fun romp. I also love your title. My concern is that if the writing in the story mirrors what's in your query (and the synopsis, which I'll post tomorrow), even if we get your proposal pieces in good shape the first pages won't pass muster with an agent. Please be sure you take a long, hard, objective look at your manuscript and be sure it's edited to a tee before you submit it.

My Revision

I padded this version with a few details from the synopsis to help demonstrate some of the humor. My rewrite helps clear up the grammar issues, but it feels long and synops-y to me, even though it still fits on a page and runs about 311 words. Other suggestions?

Three audacious sexagenarians with wild imaginations create havoc on a remote African island when they mistakenly get caught in an opium war in my 85,000-word comedy, THREE BROADS AND A FRAUD.

A chance encounter with a silver-tongued tour operator has incorrigible Dotty Crowdy dreaming of majestic mountains and pristine beaches. Now all she has to do is convince her two best friends to leave staid Britannia behind and join her on an island adventure off the coast of Africa.

The promised holiday turns south quickly: their luxury touring vehicle is a war-torn rust bucket, their fresh supplies consist of a goat and a crate of live chickens, and it's monsoon season. When a mix-up convinces Dotty and her blue-haired friends they've been kidnapped and will be forced into making sleazy pornographic movies, Dotty devises a foolproof escape plan. The only one escaping, though, is their tour bus, which takes an unmanned swan dive off a cliff.

Their luck holds true when later they find themselves escorted to jail after Dotty mistakes an opium parlour for a perfume factory. Major Milestone, a British patriot who has Dotty's hormones doing the tango, bails the ladies out, but after a few bottles of celebratory champagne, the flighty women are once again seeing conspiracies and questioning the major's motives.

That is, until Dotty learns Milestone is heading up a covert military operation to close down an opium cartel led by the mysterious stranger that encouraged her to visit the island in the first place. Seems the plan was to use her and her friends as hostages should the military move to destroy the crop now in full bloom. A smitten Dotty devises one last harebrained scheme to help Milestone capture the drug baron while she concentrates on capturing the major's heart.

Thank you for your time. I look forward to sending you the completed manuscript.

Sincerely,

13 comments:

mickip said...

Phoenix this is brilliant. Love the way you have turned the query around. I have struggled with this bluddy thing for over a year. I promise the writing doesn't mirror the MS. That was the easy part......

fairyhedgehog said...

Phoenix's query is a lot easier to follow than the original but she's left in long words like "audacious" and "sexagenarian" which came across to me as learned rather than funny. I'm not even sure how bold two of the women are; they seemed rather hesitant to me.

It's still not easy to see what the main plot is, although it seems to be:

Three women go on holiday, not knowing that they are hostages for an opium dealer. They are rescued by a man and the Main Character falls in love with him. Can she get him to fall in love with her?

If I've got that right, then Dotty is rather passive in the main plot.

Sorry, these are turning out to be rather random musings. If any of it helps, fine, but if not then just ignore it!

Dave F. said...

I don't know. I still didn't thrill me and that is odd because nearly every time your words do thrill me. It felt flat and a few phrases bugged me. This is still a little too long but that's just a minor problem. Just a suggestion:

When a silver-tongued tour operator charms Dotty Crowdy with visions of majestic mountains and pristine beaches, Dotty the Incorrigible convinces her two best friends to leave staid London and join her on the island adventure of a lifetime off the coast of Africa.

The promised holiday turns south quickly: their luxury touring vehicle is a war-torn rust bucket, their fresh supplies consist of a goat and a crate of live chickens, and it's monsoon season. When a sleazy hotel booking causes Dotty and her blue-haired friends to think they've been kidnapped and will be forced into making pornographic movies, Dotty devises a foolproof escape plan. The only one escaping, though, is their tour bus, which takes an unmanned swan dive off a cliff.

If that weren't bad enough, Dotty mistakes an opium parlor for a perfume factory and the authorities throw Dotty and her friends in jail. Major Milestone, the British patriot who has Dotty's hormones doing the tango, bails the ladies out, but after a few bottles of celebratory champagne, the flighty women are once again smells the compost heap in the major's motives (?).

Dotty learns Milestone is heading up a covert military operation to close down an opium cartel led by the mysterious tour operator who organized her now disastrous tour in the first place. Seems the plan was to use her and her friends as hostages should the military move to destroy the crop now in full bloom. A smitten Dotty devises one last harebrained scheme to help Milestone capture the drug baron while she concentrates on capturing the major's heart and returning to London a new bride with the only question being should her wedding dress be white or poppy red (?).

mickip said...

fairyhedgehog the ladies are in their 60's. I was picked out for not mentioning this once before hence why sexagenarian. Initially they didn't trust Dotty's smooth talker, but she swayed their minds. You do have the plot right. Thank you for your comments.

mickip said...

Thanks for your comments Dave, the ladies go on a luxury camping holiday before they get the 'dowager's hump'. It is to be an adventure of a lifetime. No hotels in this one. Also there is no plan to marry at this point, that comes in the sequel when they land up in trouble, diamond dealers on a trip to Tunisia....

Dave F. said...

"dowager's hump" is osteoporosis and I would hope that women nowadays are taking measures to prevent that.

"Another Night in Tunisia" is one of my favorite songs.

And to borrow a phrase from (shhh, I didn't say this) Tim Gunn - make it work. Make it happy, cheery, fun.

fairyhedgehog said...

I wonder if something chattier could work:

Three old women are enough to cause havoc on a remote African island in my 85,000-word comedy, THREE BROADS AND A FRAUD.

Dotty may be sixty but that's all the more reason to get out and see the world while she still can. When a charming stranger plies her with tales of glorious beaches and majestic mountains she's easily persuaded to visit (name) Island, dragging her two best friends along with her.

What she hadn't planned for was being kidnapped as part of an opium war. Ever resourceful Dotty gets hold of an escape bus but it goes out of control and hurtles, empty, over a cliff.

Now her only hope is to seduce a retired Major who is onto the drug baron. He makes her hormones tango but she may already have lost the war to win him by her crazy behaviour. If she can't win him (then what? I'm not quite clear here what's at stake, because I think he's going to rescue her anyway.)

mickip said...

Fairyhedgehog, tongue in cheek, would you really say a 60 year old is 'old' ahem......... Maybe call them glamour grannies.

Dave thanks for the (shh) advice, I promise I won't tell. I really do appreciate the feedback - I did reply earlier but of course our power went off - the joys of living in Africa..... by the time the gennie kicked in, I lost the post.

fairyhedgehog said...

I'm 56. I'm OK with being called "old"!

Matt said...

I suggest you use Phoenix's version, but remove "I look forward to sending you the complete manuscript" and "her blue-haired" while changing "...island adventure of the coast of Africa" to "African island adventure."

Those cosmetic changes will bring the query to a palatable 297 words and give the visual effect of shorter paragraphs.

Phoenix said...

FHH (who really managed to shorten this puppy up) and Dave offer some really good suggestions. Now it's a matter of taking everyone's advice, using what works for the story, and putting your unique voice to it. So, so easy now (not). :o)

mickip said...

OK I have re-done the query. Hope this makes more sense.

Three audacious glamour grannies wild imaginations create havoc on a remote African island when they presume they’re sitting plum in an opium war zone in my 85,000-word comedy, THREE BROADS AND A FRAUD.

Incorrigible Dotty’s chance encounter with a silver-tongued stranger who she implicitly trusts, arranges a camping holiday for her and two friends after seducing their minds with majestic mountains and pristine beaches. Little do her friends expect the dangers Dotty’s impulsiveness will cause.

With the shores of England far behind, nothing is as promised: their luxury touring vehicle is a war-torn Landrover tied together with wire and it's monsoon season. When a mix-up convinces Dotty they've been kidnapped for devious deeds, she devises a foolproof escape plan, which finds their only means of transport take an unmanned swan dive off a cliff. Dotty’s determination to get them to safety finds them in jail after an involuntary visit to an opium parlour she mistakes for a perfume factory. Major Milestone, a British patriot, negotiates their release. After a few bottles of celebratory champagne, the flighty women once again see conspiracies and question the major's motives. That is, until Dotty learns Milestone heads a covert military operation to close down an opium cartel led by Dotty’s trusted stranger who encouraged them to visit the island in the first place. His motive was to use them as hostages when the military destroys his opium crop now in full bloom. A smitten Dotty devises one last harebrained scheme to capture Milestone’s heart as her hormones to the tango.

Thank you for your time.

Sincerely,

Sylvia said...

The first sentence is hard to follow: "Three audacious glamour grannies wild imaginations" requires serious parsing to work out what is modifying and what is being modified. I also think it's simply too much information in that first bit. I think I'd be tempted to name Dotty first and then introduce her friends further in.

Overly long sentences are an issue throughout this version, I think.