Tuesday, August 19, 2008
Guess the Plot
Keeping Back the Dark
1. If it isn't the monster under the bed, it's the one in the closet. Or it's the ghosts who glide over the grounds around the house. Whatever it is, something is always giving Brittany Clark the heebie jeebies, which is why she always sleeps with a few lighted flashlights around her. But when her dad flips over the cost of batteries, she has to find another way of . . . keeping back the dark.
2. Angela's life was normal . . . until her family moved. Now there are creatures hunting her in the dark, creatures so beautiful it's easy to forget she's in danger . . . until they start killing her.
3. When 17 year-old Misty is blinded in a freak photography accident, she vows to stay home until her sight returns. Can Kelsey, her new seeing-eye dog, help change her mind?
4. Desperate for an experience of spiritual light, Lacey spends months in an oriental monastery, meditating. But one afternoon she is engulfed by an experience of vast darkness. Fleeing into the civilized world, sleeping as little as she can, she's haunted by a strange, pointed face.
5. A team of European scientists hired by the manufacturers of Coppertone Sunscreen work to stop the Earth's rotation, so that their side of the planet will be forever bathed in sunlight. But when Dracula learns of their plan he realizes that he and his minions must engage in industrial warfare if they're to survive.
6. Werewolf hunter Chug Conners has tracked his latest quarry to Benson, but when he discovers the small town is home to the werewolf king and his minions, he realizes he's going to need help. Possibly from the beautiful werewolf huntress known as . . . the Huntress!
Dear Evil Editor,
The 5 weirdest things that Angela James has ever done:
1. Melted through the floor of the science room (uncomfortable, especially when you land in a mop closet. [But not so bad when she melts through the floor of the mop closet into the boys' shower.] [Also, close those parentheses.]
2. Broken into someone's house (but if they're not really people, is it still a crime?)
3. Attacked my brother's girlfriend (she was asking for it) [Your brother's girlfriend? Do you mean her brother's girlfriend? Are you in this book?]
4. Thrown a birthday party for an Icarus (what do you get the guy who's lived for centuries?)
5. Unintentionally used magic (unfortunately now the story of my life) [Your life or her life?]
Angela had a lot of ideas about what her eighth grade year would be like, and absolutely none of them are panning out. Moving hadn't been in her plan, and neither had dropping from "somewhat liked" to "nonexistent" on the social radar. But the one thing that really hadn't been on her agenda?
A blue, winged boy dropping from the sky to completely overthrow her perfectly normal life. [Though it seems like a combination of "overturn" and "throw for a loop," "overthrow" means something completely different.] [See chart in Face-Lift 545 for a discussion of the need to use an adjective to describe "normal."]
Now she has magic underneath her skin, threatening to burst out wildly with every swing of her 13-year-old emotions, [Is it the emotions that are 13 years old? If it's Angela, you've already told us she's in 8th grade, so we don't need her exact age.] and only the slightly odd Marr siblings understand because they're going through the same thing. And the winged boy? The one that ruined everything? He happens to be their sole ally – an emissary sent to guide them – but he's got emotional baggage, a nasty temper and secrets of his own. [Not clear whom he's their sole ally against. I would say: He happens to be an emissary sent to guide them . . . or mention who their enemy is before bringing up that they have an ally.]
Angela finds herself saddled with a secret life that has her worrying her family, racking up detentions at school, and even breaking the law … and those are the easy parts. There are creatures in the dark hunting her and the Marrs – creatures that can look like anyone and who are so exquisitely beautiful that it's easy to forget you're in danger until they start killing you. [Question for discussion: if you don't kill someone, can it be said that you "started" killing her? See, it's not like eating a meal, which consumes (Get it? Consumes?) a length of time. You can start eating a meal but not finish eating it. But you can't kill someone unless they die, and the transition from dead to alive takes place in a brief instant. If you start killing someone, do they not start dying? If you have a gun aimed at someone's head and you pull the trigger halfway and suddenly the ice cream truck goes by ringing its bell and you lose your train of thought and go running out to the street, did you start killing someone? Or did you merely start pulling a trigger? To illustrate, I've prepared two similar timelines:
One could argue that in Timeline 1, the creatures started killing Angela at 2:00PM. But did they start killing her in Timeline 2? Or did they merely start pummeling her? No matter which side of the argument you take, you must admit that the query would be more specific if it said: . . . so exquisitely beautiful that it's easy to forget you're in danger until they start pummeling you with baseball bats.]
Complete at approximately 90,000 words, Keeping Back the Dark is a fantasy fit into the real world, full of conflicts both supernatural and ordinary. This book — the first in a planned five-part series — blends danger, friendship, family and wit in a combination aimed at readers aged 10 and older.
I started writing at the age of seven, covering the gambit from never-to-see-the-light-of-day amateur novels to Harry Potter and Buffy fanfiction. [You probably mean the gamut, but odds are you didn't come close to covering the gamut. Also, it sounds like you're saying you were writing Harry Potter fan fiction at the age of seven, at which time Master Potter had not made his appearance on the world stage. In any case, the person to whom you're sending this letter won't care what you were doing at age seven, or even seventeen.] I majored in creative writing at Kansas State University, and I currently work as a copy editor while I take classes toward my secondary education degree.
Thank you for your consideration,
This is too listy. A list of weird things Angela's done, a list of aspects of her secret life, a list of events in her eighth-grade year. You don't need to hook us with every sentence. What's the story?
The list of weird things she's done gets across that the book will have supernatural elements, but if your list is going to include nothing that comes up in the query, it needs to be shorter. Possibly as short as just one item: The day Angela James melted through the floor of the science room into the mop closet, she realized eighth grade was going to be a strange year. Followed by . . . the story.