12.15.2006

HHCom 14

Teedle Beauregard kills her husband one summer day in 1963. His accidental death is a terrible loss, people say, as he had best hair in Hot Springs, Arkansas. And some whisper it wasn’t an accident at all, because of where she shot him. (A penis is a small target, after all.) To escape the stigma, Teedle hops a bus to New Orleans where she soon gets hitched again, this
time to a man with even better hair. She marries him the day he drops a bag of gold and jewels on her kitchen table, saying it’s hers. Good hair and a good provider! Never mind he’s an octoroon. Never mind he’s a bagman for a Mafia boss, and the jewelry is probably hot. Her improved situation is short lived, however, as her new husband soon disappears, taking the jewelry with him. Now Teedle must get a job to pay the rent, but her only work experience
is cutting off chicken feet at a processing plant back in Arkansas. A mysterious neighbor comes to her rescue, setting her up as a fortuneteller. While this doesn’t jibe with Teedle’s First Baptist upbringing, she’s a natural at it and becomes known as the Roach Lady, reading the future in the entrails of squashed palmetto bugs. Before long her clientele includes that
Mafia boss. Under his threatening gaze, she’s unable to see anything at all, so she babbles, making up a story that will come horribly true, a story that will shock the nation.



You were going along right fine and then you put one too many feet in the chicken processor. You have to know when to quit in a description or it becomes the Tammy Faye of synopsis.

This isn't a hook, it's a rundown of the plot.

Get out the astringent and lose the glitter and try again.

17 comments:

Anonymous said...

I loved the opening. (small penis indeed!) Then I get overwhelmed by story details from their on out. The way you end makes it sound like this ends up being some kind of thriller (but I'm not sure on that.)

One suggestion might be to stop after she escapes to New Orleans, and then do one quick paragraph showing the things that go wrong. Then give us a heads up as to what type of book this is or what the story is about. (what does the majority of the plot focus on? The mob bosses future or her string of bad luck?)

Still, clever opening. Sounds like a fun book. (I think)

zrduse

michaelgav said...

I like this. I wonder whether Teedle grows at all, which would make for a tough read if she doesn't. But that aside it sounded good to me. Of course, I am a bass player in a bar mitzvah band, not a publishing professional, so consider the source

Xiqay said...

I kind of liked this one, too, but then I know people who work in those chicekn processing factories in Arkansas.

Crystal Charee said...

What the other cats said. I dig the opening line.

HawkOwl said...

Meh. It's clearly a comedy, yet I'm not laughing.

MWT said...

I really like this one. Had me chuckling. It was great up until the last sentence, where "shock the nation" suddenly leaves me cold.

Anonymous said...

I liked this but I fear it's leading to JFK's assassination and turn into something I would not read.

December Quinn said...

I think it sounds clever. The hook needs work, but I bet the book isn't bad.

Anonymous said...

Thanks, everyone. I tweaked it, and maybe this is better?

Teedle Beauregard kills her husband one summer day in 1963. His accidental death is a terrible loss, people say, as he had best hair in Hot Springs, Arkansas. And some whisper it wasn’t an accident at all, because of where she shot him. (A penis is a small target, after all.) To escape the stigma, Teedle hops a bus to New Orleans where she soon gets hitched again, this time to a man with even better hair. She marries him the day he drops a bag of gold and jewels on her kitchen table, saying it’s hers. Good hair and a good provider! Never mind he’s an octoroon. Never mind he’s a bagman for a Mafia boss, and the jewelry is probably hot. Her improved situation is short lived, however, as her new husband soon disappears, taking the jewelry with him. A mysterious neighbor comes to her rescue, setting her up as a fortuneteller. Teedle proves a natural at it and becomes known as the Roach Lady, reading the future in the entrails of squashed palmetto bugs. Before long her clientele includes that Mafia boss. Under his threatening gaze, she’s unable to see anything at all, so she babbles, making up a future he’s already planned, knowledge she can’t be trusted with. His henchmen come after her, but her luck seems otherworldly as she leaves a string of drowned, shot, or bludgeoned mobsters from the Gulf of Mexico to Hot Springs, Arkansas. And it's only in Hot Springs, at her father's funeral, that she learns why killing them had seemed so easy.

Anonymous said...

Yes--the new improved version really works for me!

Anonymous said...

I love this (only read the old version).

I especially liked that when she wasn't trying to make up a fortune (just babbling) she actually said something that would come true.

I can tell that there are a lot of layers to this book.

It seems like one I'd like to read.

ACE

wonderer said...

I like the new bits at the end of the revised version, but you should still get to them faster.

Good luck!

Virginia Miss said...

OMG I love "Tammy Faye of synopsis!

Author, this looks like a good read but I think you need to trim the revised hook a bit more. Good luck

Anonymous said...

Get there faster, more trimming? All right then. Revision No. 2:

Teedle Beauregard kills her husband one summer day in 1963. His accidental death is a terrible loss, people say, as he had best hair in Arkansas. And some whisper it wasn’t an accident at all, because of where she shot him. (A penis is a small target, after all.) To escape the stigma, Teedle hops a bus to New Orleans where she soon gets hitched again, this time to a man with even better hair. She marries him the day he drops a bag of gold and jewels on her kitchen table, saying it’s hers. Good hair and a good provider! Never mind he’s a bagman for a Mafia boss and the jewelry is probably hot. Her improved situation is short lived, however, as her new husband soon disappears, taking the jewelry with him. A neighbor comes to her rescue, setting her up as a fortuneteller, and before long her clientele includes that Mafia boss. Under his threatening gaze, she’s unable to see anything at all, so she babbles, making up a future he’s already planned, knowledge she can’t be trusted with. His henchmen come after her, but her luck seems otherworldly as she leaves a string of drowned, shot, or bludgeoned mobsters from the Gulf of Mexico to Hot Springs, Arkansas. And it's only in Hot Springs, at her father's funeral, that she learns why killing them had seemed so easy.

Benja Fallenstein said...

Hi, author #14,

The humor didn't work for me, but since a lot of other people liked it, I'm the wrong person to listen to. :-) I like your plot twists.

I think that your revised synopsis still has a serious problem, though. You have four things in there, only two of which are connected at all: 1. Teedle shoots her husband. 2. Teedle marries a Mafia bagman who soon disappears. 3. Teedle becomes a fortuneteller and gets herself into trouble when her husband's boss comes for a reading (the Mafia being the connection to point 2). 4. When his henchmen come after her, she has a string of seemingly otherworldly luck.

From your description, it sounds to me like there is something that holds the whole book together. For what it's worth, I think it would probably be good if you figured out what it is and tried to structure your query around that :-)

In any case, all the best for your project!

Mig said...

Benja Fallenstein hit the nail on the head. You take to long to get to the heart of the story, which what I think the hook is, and that starts when the MC starts the fortune reading and gets messed up with the mob. Every thing else is backstory, and, though interesting, needs to be moved aside for the hook and some sense of what the conflict is in the story. Conflict? What is the conflict in this story. Answer that at the top.

Anonymous said...

All right then, I'm taking too long. So here's rewrite No. 3:

As the Roach Lady of New Orleans, Teedle Beauregard reads the future in the entrails of squashed palmetto bugs. Her clients include gullible old ladies with more money than sense, a debonair lawyer with a penchant for drawing religious figures on her stomach, and a fat Mafia boss who wants his fortune told for free. Under his threatening gaze, she’s unable to see anything at all, so she babbles, making up a future he has already planned, knowledge she cannot be trusted with. His henchmen come after her, but her luck seems otherworldly as she leaves a string of drowned, shot, or bludgeoned mobsters from the Gulf of Mexico to Hot Springs, Arkansas. And it’s only in Hot Springs, at her father's funeral, that she learns why killing them had seemed so easy.