Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Face-Lift 158


Guess the Plot

Forever Young

1. Samantha Young wakes up one morning with amnesia. She discovers that she and the other children of Eternity, Maine, have been here 350 years, thanks to the nearby Fountain of Youth.

2. Dick Clark watches as the sparkling ball descends in Times Square, or rather, what's left of it after the Second Intergalactic War. But no matter - even if the human race did cease using the old calendar 900 years ago, this will still be a Rockin' New Year's Eve.

3. Her marriage to Jonathan Young had ended, her life was in shambles, and the children blamed her. To top it off, Louisa's efforts to change her name seemed constantly undermined by Jonathan's powerful judicial friends. It seemed she was destined to be...forever Young.

4. When Mildred Mulder tries a new anti-aging miracle cream, she slathers on a double dose. After all, she could really use an overnight miracle. But more isn't always better as the infant Mildred and her horrified husband discover.

5. He meant to write "forever yours" at the close of his love letter to Melanie. When he penned "forever young," he doomed her to an early grave. Now he wanders the world, guilt-ridden and morose, too afraid to write another word, until he meets the perfect editor.

6. Fifteen surgeries, sixty-eight spa treatments and about a gallon of botox later, Kitty finally has her perfectly youthful face. Unfortunately, her friends will never know, as she has been kidnapped by conspiracy theorists and held as proof of alien life.



Original Version

Eight-year-old Samantha Young wakes up one morning with no memory of who she is or how she ended up in the village of Eternity, Maine. [Evil Editor woke up one morning with no idea what he was doing on his neighbor's roof.] Adding to her confusion is that all but three of Eternity’s residents are children. [Not exactly meaningful until you tell us how many of them are children. Three adults and five children wouldn't be weird.] None of them remember their parents either or how long they’ve lived in Eternity.

Samantha does her best to fit in with the other children in this strange town, but finds it impossible. While the other children blindly accept ditzy Miss Brigham’s lectures on the dangers of the outside world, Samantha questions her teacher until she ends up locked in a dark closet as punishment. While the others sit quietly to eat their meager lunches at recess, [They're allowed to eat their lunch at recess? What happens at lunch?] Samantha runs and plays until running into the frightening chief of police, Jonas Pryde. And while the other girls are content to sew, bake, and clean after school, [It's The Stepford Daughters.] Samantha would rather chop firewood and trap rabbits with the boys, which earns her a stern lecture from Eternity’s founder, Reverend Francis Crane.

She further incurs the reverend’s wrath by effortlessly picking the lock to the town archives in an attempt to find clues to her past. Among the ancient papers, she finds evidence that the children of Eternity [Maybe that should be your title. There are a million books called Forever Young.] have been kept imprisoned by the reverend for over 350 years. The only way for Samantha to free herself and the other children is to confront Reverend Crane and his henchman Chief Pryde at the source of their power—the fabled Fountain of Youth itself. [Which is next door to the nexus of time travel itself.] [Hey! Evil Editor does the jokes here.] [Which is next door to the nexus of time travel itself.]

Forever Young is the first of a four-part series of supernatural-themed mysteries for young adult readers that follows Samantha as she struggles with growing up and uncovering the truth about her past. [Not sure exactly what your definition of "young adults" is, but a book about an eight-year-old struggling with growing up may not appeal to them.] The complete 50,000-word manuscript is available upon request. Thanks for your time.


Revised Version

Eight-year-old Samantha Young awakens one morning with no memory of who she is or how she got to the village of Eternity, Maine. Adding to her confusion: all but three of Eternity’s residents are children, none of whom remembers their parents or how long they’ve lived in Eternity.

Samantha does her best to fit in with the other children in this strange town, but finds that all of the other children blindly accept ditzy Miss Brigham’s lectures on the dangers of the outside world. The girls are content to sew, bake, and clean after school, while Samantha would rather chop firewood and trap rabbits with the boys--which earns her a stern lecture from Eternity’s founder, Reverend Francis Crane.

She further incurs the reverend’s wrath by picking the lock to the town archives, seeking clues to her past. Among the records she discovers evidence that the children of Eternity have been imprisoned by the reverend for over 350 years. The only way for Samantha to free herself and the other children is to confront Reverend Crane at the source of his power—the fabled Fountain of Youth itself.

Forever Young is the first of a four-part series of supernatural mysteries for young adults that will follow Samantha as she struggles with growing up and uncovering the truth about her past. The complete 50,000-word manuscript is available upon request. Thanks for your time.


Notes

Okay, the children have been waking up in this town for 350 years. Since about 1650. Do they have amnesia, or has it been so long that they've forgotten everything? Is this the first morning they've awakened with amnesia, or do they always have no idea who they are? If they always have amnesia, does Samantha always question the situation, or has she been a Stepford girl until this day? If the latter, why is she suddenly questioning authority? If the former, why did it take her 350 years to decide to look in the archives? Is Samantha new in town? Why don't the adults have amnesia? The situation is interesting, I just want a couple more pieces of information, because some of it doesn't quite add up.

22 comments:

Frightened Author said...

Curses! Since this one is now up, that means my query is next.

What was I thinking?! I was drunk, OK?! Completely pissed the whole time! And my mother made me do it. My evil twin mother. That's it! My query needs an evil twin in it! I'm going to go fire off a revision to EE immediately. American Standards will become American Dopplegangers.

Anonymous said...

Just wondering how young are your young adult readers? Most children like to read about characters who are slightly older than themselves. Or is this irrelevant?

xiqay said...

Well, I guessed # 6, but #1 was my second choice, so that's almost a correct guess. Loved fake plot #2 (how could I have forgotten Dick Clark when I crafted my own submissions for this query?).

frightened author--don't worry. It will be over quickly. And it will be helpful.

to the author of this query. I found the premise interesting. Reminds me a little of eerie novels like The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood. Except for kids.

But 8 is too young generally for a YA main character.

I also wondered during the query why an 8-year-old would have such determination, perserverence, drive to solve the story problem. Seemed inconsistent with her stated age.

Unless she ages during the novel? Or is coming of age with an adolescent mind trapped in a younger body due to the Fountain of Youth? Which would be most excellent.

Or it could just be that your story is mid-grade.

Answer EE's questions. It sounds interesting. Good luck.

braun said...

Intriguing... and freaky.

December Quinn said...

I agree. I'm intrigued. It sounds spooky and interesting.

BuffySquirrel said...

I'm blanking on what the evil Reverend gets out of keeping these kids forever young. Or why it's so terrible to be eternally eight years old.

Anonymous said...

Of course, she's really 358 years old...which should appeal to just about everyone, right?

author said...

Isn't someone going to make the obligatory comparison to "The Village"? (I've never seen it and don't want to see it but people keep bringing it up.)

Anonymous said...

Erm...The Village? I don't see what this story has to do with that movie, other than isolation from the outside world.

I also really wondered why the reverend would want all those kids around. Another question to be answered...

BuffySquirrel said...

I have seen The Village, and I'm not seeing much resemblance here, tbh. Unless anything that's set in a village can be compared to The Village.

sarah said...

Intriguing! I like this set up and think it could be a good read, though Evil Editor does raise some good points (which hopefully are addressed in the manuscript, especially the part about if they're really like 250+ years old, are they waking up with amnesia every day?). I also like the title Children of Eternity better than Forever Young, it just has more personality and intrigue. Good luck querying!

a YA reader said...

If your protagonist is 8 years old, the story will really need to intrigue me to keep me reading the book, just so you know.

kis said...

Holy crap, I can't get far enough away from my kids, and it's only been twelve years! Hey, maybe I could send them to Eternity. Oh, wait, that's where I've been threatening to send them every day since they got off school for the summer.

kis said...

But honestly, I do find the premise both creepy and compelling. Other than the nitpick about how to categorize this, I didn't think the original query sucked as bad as most, either.

Go with EE, though. Children of Eternity is awesome. Reminds me of Children of the Corn--in a totally creepy, non-copyright-infringing sort of way.

Anonymous said...

I would say make the kid a teen, like 16 or so. It does sound interesting if you can answer all those seemingly unanswerable questions that EE brought up. -JTC

author said...

Thanks everyone, especially EE for not being too tough on it.

I suppose it would have helped to mention that Samantha was found in the woods only a couple days prior to waking up. How she got there and her identity are of course part of the mystery.

I've been advised by other people that it's mid-grade fiction, so I'll go with that for my final answer.

As for her age, other people have suggested making her 15 or 16 or whatever. But the idea is it's supposed to be a SERIES, so if I were to do that I'd have nowhere else to go really. I decided to bump her age up a couple years, but not much.

I thought of using the title "Children of Eternity" or "Eternity's Children" but that puts the focus on all the children, so I'm working on finding something better.

Thanks again.

jfk said...

I think this sounds pretty cool, although ... eight years old? Hmmm. Still, if you've bumped up her age a couple of years, that'd probably do it.

On the series aspect: if Samantha confronts Reverend Crane at the end of this book, and he's the keeper of the Fountain of Youth, what's left for the other three books?

My other question is, why Chief Pryde mentioned in the query at all? Or is he going to be the major villain in the next book?

What do you want the focus to be on, if not the children?

Considering I generally loathe stories with child narrators, I'm thinking this one sounds good :)

braun said...

re: new title

How about, "Youth in Asia"?

Anonymous said...

EE is right - change the name to Children of Eternity. That's a fantastic title.

If the letter accurately describes your novel, I think you're still fleshing this out. However, if you can answer EE's questions, you may have something.

Doesn't seem Y/A to me. More Children of the Corn -ish...

bonniers said...

A couple of years should be enough for the age. I can believe a ten-year-old might be able to think of and carry through these ideas, but 8 was pushing my credulity.

It does sound creepy and interesting. Good luck!

Anonymous said...

re: new title

How about, "Youth in Asia"?

ummmm...how about no.

Min Yin said...

If you don't want the focus to be on *all* the children, how about just Child of Eternity?