12.17.2006

HH Com 122

When Sylvie Berman gets sick and tired of her friend Margaret’s constant bragging about her perfect son, wonderful grandchildren and State Senator brother-in-law she takes matters into her own hands. When she finally coaxes her 45 year old, unmarried son to visit, a joke she plays turns out to be not so funny after all. After convincing herself that her son Jeffrey will never marry and have a family unless she changes his lifestyle, she falls for her own joke and signs him up to run for election to the US Senate, without his knowledge or consent.

One by one her retiree friends get dragged into the plot, which twists and turns its way through one roadblock after another, until Sylvie finds herself trapped in a web of her own making. When Jeffrey mistakenly believes she is on her death bed, she confesses what she has done. Now Jeffrey has to decide whether to grant what he believes is his mother’s dying wish and rise to the occasion, or find a way to get out of his meddling mother’s tangled web.

When Jeffrey reluctantly accepts the path his mother has laid before him, he does so with one stipulation; if he wins the primary, he’ll run for office; otherwise he goes back to his old job and the life he has made. As Jeffrey’s life starts unraveling before his eyes, a new, exciting and sometimes dangerous one unfolds before him.


Comic novels are comic when they take something real and blow it up to odd proportions, or turn expectations on their ear (to use a very helpful cliche).

Your premise fails here because you've over reached by making him a candidate for US Senate. First, you can't run for office unless you sign a declaration of candidacy and that requires the actual candidate's signature. Second, take a look at the amount of money he'd need.

This MIGHT work as a premise if she ran him for mayor, particularly in a smaller town. Or Sherrif (which would be kind of fun for threatening that bilious Margaret with the perfect family)

Who's the main characer? Jeffrey or Mom? Focus on one in the hook and tell us the dilemma that s/he faces.

19 comments:

tandtb said...

As a matter of fact, Sylvie does find a way to get Jeffrey's power of attorney to sign his name and he is given hers. They each other's only beneficiaries and only first degree relatives.

Part of the twists and turns of the plot include a grand fundraiser beach party and a shoestring budget, which includes "borrowing" the opposing candidate's signs and altering them.

Although you don't think this works, it does and all the people I have had read it so far are begging for me to finish the ending so they can see what happens.

Thanks for the comments though. I'll work on my hook to see if I can't explain these points in future queries.

MichaelPH said...

When a commentator makes a snarky remark on this thread.... As the man types at his 'puter... As Miss Snark ruthlessly rejects...
I think we fell into a pattern here. Stop and rearrange and psst!have fun doing it...

shannon said...

Can I just ask that the first paragraph be reworked? As it stands, I struggled to make sense of it. It could more simply be put:

"When Sylvie Berman gets sick and tired of her friend Margaret’s constant bragging about her perfect son, wonderful grandchildren and State Senator brother-in-law she takes matters into her own hands and signs [her own son] up to run for election to the US Senate, without his knowledge or consent."

Ok, it's a bit of a long sentence and could definitely be tighter, but do you get the idea? Its obvious from the first bit that she was going to do something like this, but you took so long to say it I lost interest and only skimmed the rest.

The query letter, especially the hook, has to be tight. It is, after all, the first impression. If the opening paragraph waffles, I'm going to expect the manuscript to waffle too.

Anonymous said...

Although you don't think this works, it does and all the people I have had read it so far are begging for me to finish the ending so they can see what happens.


Way to be gracious, writer. I'm glad your relatives like the book. That doesn't mean anyone else would.

Dave said...

Reset the entire thing in ancient Rome Empire and it works perfectly.
Her name could be Drusilla...

Writerious said...

Hmm... the first paragraph is wordy, and I don't know what the "joke" is unless it's stated. What is meant by "falling for her own joke"?

Why is the last paragraph there? Is this a comic novel? I don't get that sense from the paragraphs above -- I mean, it could be the set-up for a humorous story, but the paragraphs themselves aren't conveying humor.

Although you don't think this works, it does and all the people I have had read it so far are begging for me to finish the ending so they can see what happens.

I'm sure they are. They're your friends. That's why it's important to get an impartial reading to make sure it works for people who don't know you.

tandtb said...

The point I was making in saying that it "works" is that my main character has found ways around the obvious obstacles that would make it seem an impossibility.

Who said it was my relatives reading my work?

Still, I thank Miss Snark very much for taking the time to read and comment on my hook. Those comments were helpful and definitely give me something to work on improving.

It is very difficult to fit all the details to show how it works and why it is interesting both into 250 words.

Sorry that groveling isn't in my nature.

HawkOwl said...

When I was reading this I thought "I hope it's actually possible to do this in real life, because I want this novel to work." Miss Snark is probably right. And power of attorney is very cute but I doubt it would work because you don't get to use your power of attorney when the other guy is in a position to make his own decisions. I don't have much faith in this, but I'd still want to look at it and hope I'll be pleasantly surprised.

Anonymous said...

You have four sentences beginning with "when".

Did you try reading this aloud? (Just an idea.)

j.c.

Anonymous said...

I liked the idea of this story. Barring the legal problems already mentioned, I think it is rather different from anything else I've seen. (even if moved away from the national level, as MS suggested.)

However, the 'hook' seemed unfocused to me. It seems like it has two protagonists, and it would work better with just one.

I'm also confused by the last paragraph. I'm not sure if you are trying to say that this is a comic novel, or if you are trying to use comic novels as a metaphor.

RT

skybluepinkrose said...

I don't know if you've made this convincing in the novel itself or not, but I know this is an idea that requires a lot of legal and political research. Even if something *can* happen given enough twists and turns, that doesn't mean it will be plausible. Even running him for office in a small town would be hard, because you have to circulate and file nomination papers, and everybody knows everybody's business.

Xiqay said...

I have to say that I loved the opening of this hook (probably because I, too, have a friend who brags incessantly about her perfect child).

Take Miss Snark's advice and come back. This could be an enjoyable read.

Good luck

aries said...

The first time Arnold Schwarzennegar (sp?) ran for governor of CA, everyone and their mama was running along with him, including a porn star and Gary Coleman. So signing someone up to run for the US Senate may not be that farfetched or require a lot of research. Stranger things have happened. But none of this has anything to do with why the hook doesn't work. Not being able to tell who's the main character, Jeffrey or Sylvie, is much more problematic. Focusing on the one character and his/her conflicts makes the hook a lot more compelling.

Anonymous said...

I think the "comic novel" last paragraph is actually the first para of Miss Snark's comment.

Heather said...

Way to be gracious there.

Don't brag about how well a book works until you've finished it, because all you've got is an unfinished work.

Finish the story, then come back to us.

And learn how the American political system works.

Anonymous said...

If this were about Jeffrey, who finds he's being run for local office based on a propped up half-lie by his mother; and if some spunky or annoying female semi-antagnonist goes along with the plot just to make him suffer; and if the wacky hijinks that ensue involve Jeffrey's believing mom is dying and thus he needs to fulfill her dying wish...that might make me buy this book.

Anonymous said...

"Although you don't think this works, it does and all the people I have had read it so far are begging for me to finish the ending so they can see what happens."

Wow, pathetic. That's the way to brand yourself a total amateur. Accept that either your hook or your book has a problem, because you didn't ring the COM bell.

Or assume you know better and end up in iUniverse-world.

Writerious said...

I think the "comic novel" last paragraph is actually the first para of Miss Snark's comment.

Ah, I see that now. Thanks. It was in the same color as the rest of the hook, so I assumed that it went together -- but it did sound kinda out of place.

Anonymous said...

RE: Comments regarding whether the plot "works" - "learn about the American political system", etc.

I actually DID do the research to make sure my characters COULD do what they were doing. I also referred back to that research frequently on points of detail.

If you don't KNOW what you think you know, please don't criticize someone who HAS done the research.

Yes, there are numerous ways to get on the ballot. Each state has their own rules regarding election laws. What may be the law in your state, may not be in mine and vica versa.

The point is well taken though that obviously my hook leaves much to be desired in the way of conveying the details of the plot and how my MC achieved that. Given the word-count constraints, I'm not at all sure that COULD be done in 250 words without sounding like a telegraph. Hmmm...maybe a new approach?