Friday, February 06, 2009

Face-Lift 601


Guess the Plot

Wolves and Walls

1. Luna isn't rabid or dangerous, so why should she have to be quarantined with the other werewolves? She shouldn't, but even that would be better than what'll happen if the town's Civic Committee changes the law and gives wolfwomen the death penalty.

2. Terry Zygax is world-renowned for creating the worst role-playing game of all time, Wolves and Walls. Now homeless and addicted to modeling glue, Terry is faced with a chance at vindication when his small Wisconsin town is overrun by a pack of rabies-infected wolves, and only Terry knows how to stop them. Ok, it's walls. Pretty much any wall will keep them from getting at you.

3. Mazeworld Amusement Park is losing business as the extreme-sports movement spreads. Visitors aren't attracted to contemplation and puzzle-solving. But ambitious new manager Lupe has a plan to make hedge mazes more intense.

4. Tired of the deer getting into your vegetable garden? From his twenty years of experimentation and experience with wildlife, the author offers up his revolutionary method, using both natural and man-made approaches to the ungulate problem.

5. The last days of the Roman Empire. Legionnaire Hanno watches over the parapets of Hadrian's wall, where wolves and blue-daubed savages fight over the bones of Rome's civilization. Millenia later, an archaeology student discovers the potsherds his diary was scratched on, and is bored.

6. Successful game designer Brett is psyched about his new werewolf-based RPG - until he discovers he's offended the actual werewolf pack living in the local forest. Can he convince the lovely lycanthrope Leilani not to rip him to shreds? And can Brett handle a real adventure?

7. When Gemma the witch decides to open a nightclub for werewolves & vampires, everyone simply smiles. But the lichmaster who runs the zombie whorehouse isn't smiling, and soon, Gemma won't be, either. Can she save her dream?


Original Version

Dear Agent,

Luna Weaver, sixteen years old, has been hiding the fact that she is a werewolf from the age of eleven. [When once a month you become a raving lunatic, it's hard to hide it. And it's even harder to hide it when once a month you become a werewolf. Ba dum ching.] Now, the governments have decided that the rules are about to change: could the punishment for being a werewolf now be death?

Werewolves have historically been considered a diseased population and a threat to public safety, [Especially when they tear the throats out of people.] but not all werewolves are rabid or dangerous. Luna Weaver certainly is not. But she has been hiding the fact that she is a werewolf from the people of Wall-in-the-Wood for fear of being forced to live under the strict quarantine that the town uses to prevent the spread of the werewolf population. [Okay people, there's a full moon tonight, so follow directions and no one will get hurt. All werewolves stay behind this big wall. No climbing the wall and no walking around it to our side.] No one knows, not even her friends who live inside the quarantine.

When Luna is sixteen, a new Civic Committee is convened by the Civil Councils of the towns to form a ruling about werewolves. [Okay, settle down folks, and we'll start the meeting. First order of business: all these damn werewolves.] The towns have been using different methods of werewolf prevention, [I wonder if that's why they blew up the moon in that query earlier this week. Werewolf prevention. Could work.] but that is about to change. The Civic Committee could rule in favor of captivity, even death, and there is nothing Luna can do about it. Until she meets Seath Hunter, a representative from a city where being werewolf is a crime punishable by death, who has his own reasons for hating werewolves. [Is this an allegory for the civil rights movement? Is there a scene with werewolves marching peacefully and townspeople turning fire hoses on them?]

Seath is intrigued by the mysterious girl everyone knows but no one seems to know about, and he makes it his mission to uncover what Luna's hiding. [When people are making it their mission to find out what you're hiding, you're not hiding the fact that you're hiding something well enough.] When a fateful night in the woods reveals Luna's secret, the pair of unlikely friends decide to use Seath's place on the Civic Committee to attempt the impossible: ensure the freedom to feared and trapped werewolves. [What happened to Seath's reasons for hating werewolves?]

These events unfold in Wall-in-the-Wood, a town characterized by its stone walls and werewolf quarantine. [You make it sound like their tourism slogan is Vacation in lovely Wall-in-the-Wood, where all our werewolves are quarantined.] Wolves and Walls is 62,000 words. The full manuscript is available on request.

Thank you for your time and for your consideration,


Notes

Seath is a lot like Seth and Hunter is a shade of green and Seth Green played a werewolf on Buffy. Coincidence?

Is this YA?

I can understand Seath Hunter not wanting to kill Luna, as she's undoubedly pretty hot, but why is a guy who hates werewolves trying to give all of them their freedom? Wait, is this an allegory and the werewolves are the prisoners at Guantanamo Bay?

There seem to be a lot of werewolves. Shouldn't they organize and wait for the full moon and rip everybody's throat out?

What does the quarantine consist of? Is it voluntary? Are they under guard?

For the query you might want to just refer to the town council. This civic committee of the civil councils is a lot of "c" words to digest at once. It's like eating clam chowder over chocolate cake.

32 comments:

pulp said...

_The Werewolves of Wall-in-the-Wood_. I like that for a title.

In the third paragraph, her age & the possible death penalty are redundant.

What does this mean? "...ensure the freedom to feared and trapped werewolves."

It's interesting. I don't read paranormal and especially am tired of hearing about werewolf stories, but this isn't bad.

Moth said...

title is pretty distinctive. Too bad it reminds me of Neil Gaiman's children's book "Wolves in the Walls".

December/Stacia said...

Sorry. Perhaps I'm just confused, or a terrible person, but I don't understand why quarantining werewolves during a full moon is such a terrible idea. Are these weres capable of regular human thought while in wolf form? Do they go about their normal business, or are they actually wolves who kill livestock and people? You say "not all" werewolves are rabid or dangerous, which implies that at least some are.

Or are they quarantined all the time, in which case I see the problem more. I guess they are all the time, since you mention her friends who live inside the quarantine, but the quarantine doesn't really sound like a quarantine if she has friends who live in it that she keeps in contact with. It sounds more like a segregation than a quarantine.

If not every town has werewolf quarantines, and the wolves hate it so much, why don't they move?

How has Luna been able to hide her condition? Wouldn't her parents notice, at least? If wolves are such a threat, wouldn't people be on the lookout for them during the full moon?

Why is the Civic Committe being formed now? What happened to make this suddenly a bigger issue? How long have there been weres? You mentioned that they've "historically" been considered a diseased population, which implies they've been around for a considerable amount of time, so why are the councils only now getting around to thinking maybe they should standardize their treatment of them?

What world is this? Because the idea that a bunch of town leaders could order the deaths of thousands of people who lead normal lives outside of three nights a month seems a bit much, at least in our society. And how big is the world, how populous?

Why don't the weres go form their own town?

All these questions may be answered in the ms, but as it is the query only makes it sound like there may not be answers to it. I think even a simply sentence or two explaining the world itself would help quite a bit. Along with explaining why Seath would suddenly decide his previous reasons for hating wolves don't work for him anymore, and why there seems to be no one at all willing to say "Hey, maybe we shouldn't just slaughter people for being weres, when segregating them seems to work just fine."

Also, I'd consider changing the heroine's name. "Luna" is pretty common for werewolf MCs.

Just my thoughts. Good luck!

Megoblocks said...

"First order of business: all these damn werewolves"

This reminds me of Lost Boys where grandpa says at the end, "One thing about living in Santa Carla I never could stomach, all the damn vampires. "

Dave F. said...

"Wolves in the Walls" is a child's picture book with 56 pages. This manuscript is 62,000 words without illustration.

And "Wolves in the Walls" was performed on stage in Britain (actors in costumes).

150 said...

Not only did Neil write Wolves in the Walls, but his book Stardust features a town called Wall--so yeah, my mind leapt directly to him too. It's okay to have similarly-named books if it's a cliche or common turn of phrase, but in this case, using those same two words would just sound derivative.

If there are werewolves everywhere, I assume Seath Hunter has met a fair few, so I can't picture how one night with Luna would change his mind. Surely a few of the other werewolves must be hot sixteen-year-old girls. If she saves his life or something, you'd better say so.

How does Luna have friends inside the quarantine zone?

Hebe said...

I like your voice. When the voice is good you get a free pass on some content issues but why risk it.

Why can Luna hide her werewolfiness ? A brilliant talent with depilatories? What hidden reason does Seath have to hate werewolves? -- is it the fabulously unusual hidden plot twist I am longing to see in print -- His brother was a werewolf that turned into a kitten, a poached egg or some inappropriate higher power so his parents disowned him leaving Seath with survivor guilt? Inquiring minds want to know.

BTW - Name suggestions -- Beamer Weave ? -- Like moonbeam, denotes a kinder werewolf.

Seath doesn’t sound very wolfy. How about: Voll der Mond (full moon) = Sol Dermond. Sol = sun, Luna = moon

“Their love eclipsed the qualities of light and dark and saved”......well, you know, whatever needs saving.

Or maybe Latin - Clarence (clear luminous), with a last name denoting a dark unhappy childhood -- or whatever his big secret is.

You’ve got some good stuff, with a few changes, (you've got some great comments to work with,) it could be compelling. Good luck with the pitching.

Sarah from Hawthorne said...

I agree with pretty much everything December/Stacia said. If you're doing a variation on werewolves where some are dangerous and some are not, a sentence or two up front to explain the rules would be helpful.

The mind boggles as to how a child can possibly hide werewolfishness without the aid of friends or family. At 16, maybe. At 11, no. Perhaps it makes sense in the book, but for the query you may want to leave out the age that all this started at.

Speaking of age, how old is Seath and what exactly is it about Luna that makes him change his mind about werewolves?

talpianna said...

Is this Adam's autobiography?

Dave F. said...

Sorry just to throw this out and then run off for the weekend (It's not snowy, not iced up and I won't get stuck in my driveway (like I did four times in January) besides, family wants me).

But, how many children have hidden their sexual orientation, love affairs and pregnancies, alcohol and drug abuse from parents?

I find it completely plausible for Luna to hide being a werewolf for years and leave her parents and the others clueless.

Phoenix said...

I agree with Stacia. I'm afraid I'm not getting a clear understanding of what werewolves are and how the human population regards them from the query.

They're considered diseased and a threat in your second 'graph, but in P3, some towns call being a werewolf a crime. And if the Committee may rule in favor of captivity or death, does that mean the town that kills them would have to stop killing them if the ruling is to just keep them in captivity? And if they are already being quarantined, how is that different from captivity?

And others have ably pointed out there is no motivation in the query for Seath to 1) befriend Luna if he thinks she's hiding something or 2) suddenly decide werewolves are not a danger. So his motivations need to be elaborated on.

And since you leave open the issue of just how many werewolves may be rabid and dangerous, a little more background on the biology or philosophy of your werewolf population would be in order, I think. If 95% of the were population is rabid/dangerous, then the battle to tolerate the ones who aren't is going to be even greater.

(And if the ruling is in favor of giving werewolves freedom to be what they are without persecution, will the towns have to pay restitution to those werewolves who were incarcerated or to the families of weres who were killed? That could color their thinking as well...)

Phoenix said...

Oh yeah, seriously loving GTPs 2 & 3!

Hebe said...

If Luna is the kind of werewolf that changes every night and bites the heads off the family pets, then Yes, I do think this might be a difficult thing to keep from the folks. But, if there is something going on like a once a month small mustache episode or "gee I forgot the shave my legs" kind of thing" then OK she's home free. I was kind of hoping it was a full blown howling at the moon transformation so that she decided to pretend to become a young republican and go to training sessions once a month,(really going to a nearby town to harass the pets of strangers). I just want to know how it happens... because it sounds like it could be an unusual plot twist that could sell the book.

chelsea said...

I don't think we need to know that Luna has been hiding her identity since age eleven in the query. The fact that she's hiding it is information enough. And thank you Dave for pointing out how easy it is for teens to hide things. A clever teen could easily find a way to hide her werewolf nature, even if it meant chaining herself down for one day a month.

I think the first two paragraphs can be shortened a bit. Maybe something like:

"Sixteen year old werewolf Luna Weaver has always managed to keep her identity a secret, but when the government expands their anti-werewolf legislation, Luna's life is suddenly at stake."

Are you using the word "rabid" figuratively or literally? If figuratively, consider a different word, because using the word rabid when talking about wolves makes me think of actual rabies.

I think a lot of the confusion people are having comes from not knowing which kind of werewolf Luna is. Some werewolves are humans who turn into actual wolves and some werewolves are humans who turn into weird wolf-human hybrids. The latter is often the dangerous kind, due to the fact that actual wolves really don't go around attacking humans unless directly challenged. Human misconceptions about actual wolves are really astounding.

"The idea that a bunch of town leaders could order the deaths of thousands of people who lead normal lives outside of three nights a month seems a bit much, at least in our society. "

Really? I would think a look at human history and current events would disprove that theory.

pulp, I'm glad to hear you're sick of werewolf stories. Look for mine about three GTPs from now. :)

talpianna said...

Isn't being a werewolf hereditary if it isn't caused by being bitten by one? In that case, wouldn't at least one of Luna's parents (or a grandparent if it's the kind of mutation that skips a generation) be a werewolf, so she would not need to keep it a secret within the family?

And then there's Peter David's very funny HOWLING MAD, in which a wolf is bitten by a werewolf and turns into a human when the moon is full...

Xiexie said...

Author, I think the rest of the minions have asked enough great questions for you to chew on.

Also, I just wanted to know if I was the only one who saw the name Seth, not Seath.

Now, the governments have decided that the rules are about to change: could the punishment for being a werewolf now be death?

I think that "now" could be changed to
Because of [insert reasons why], the governments have decided....

BuffySquirrel said...

Take away the dangerousness from werewolves and you're left with an animal wandering around looking for its pack. Don't Luna's family wonder why a wolf turns up every month and tries to snuggle?

December/Stacia said...

Really? I would think a look at human history and current events would disprove that theory.


Which current events are those, Chelsea? Have I missed a mass genocide of this nature taking place in the US? Or in any democratic nation?

Because last time I checked, a police shooting is cause for controvery and criminal trials, much less something along the lines we're discussing here.

I certainly haven't seen any news about [insert minority here] being lined up against walls on the edges of towns and shot by firing squads while onlookers cheered all over the US (I did say "in our society," remember). Or England. Or Canada. Or even France. Or any other democratic country I can think of. And Germany gave that one a try sixty years or so ago and is still trying to make up for it.

But you know, I'm stuck in rural England at the moment, so I could just not be up on my current events.

chelsea said...

I was speaking primarily of war. And torture camps. I think we probably just see them differently.

BuffySquirrel said...

Perhaps you need to extend your list of democratic countries to include Serbia.

December/Stacia said...

Perhaps you need to extend your list of democratic countries to include Serbia.

My point was NOT that such things never ever happen. I am aware of war and torture camps and all of the ugliness of which human beings are capable and I am not disputing any of it.

My point was that these things do not happen without any controversy, without anyone in the world saying it's wrong. Hence my repeatedly mentioning cheering onlookers. Seems to me bloody battles were fought in Serbia and Kosovo to stop events like those from happening; that hardly implies an entire nation, acting as one, smiling fondly at its leaders while they murder innocent people.

I would also argue whether or not Serbia is actually "a society like ours," which again was my entire point. Do such things happen, yes, of course they do. But if they do in your book, you need to clarify how and what kind of society and world you're dealing with.

Would I believe hundreds/thousands of innocent people being rounded up and killed just for being different in Serbia (which was NOT a democracy until recently), and everybody knows about it and nobody has a single problem with it? Yes, I suppose so, though I'd still find it far-fetched that nobody even thought perhaps it was wrong. Would I believe the same thing happening in Wisconsin or Nevada or New York? No. Not unless you have built the world properly, and this query doesn't, which is why the question came up in the first place.

BuffySquirrel said...

If the Serbs didn't approve of what their leader was doing, why did they keep re-electing him?

But of course if you narrow the definition of the kind of society you think won't do such things to the kind of society that hasn't, at least in recent years, then yeah, you'll win the argument!

Author said...

Luna Weaver, sixteen years old, has been hiding the fact that she is a werewolf from the age of eleven. Now, the governments have decided that the rules are about to change: could the punishment for being a werewolf now be death?

Luna Weaver never met a werewolf who dreamed of hurting human beings, and Luna knows many werewolves – not surprising, as she is one. Luna has never hurt anyone. But she, with the help of her mother, has been hiding the fact that she is a werewolf from the people of Wall-in-the-Wood for fear of being required to live under the strict, involuntary quarantine that the town uses to prevent the spread of the werewolf population. No one else knows, not even her friends who dutifully live segregated behind the wall.

Wall-in-the-Wood isn’t the only town with a werewolf problem, but the towns have been using different methods of prevention since the last Civic Committee failed to create a universal plan a decade ago. However, a new Committee has been formed, which could rule in favor of captivity, even death, and there is nothing Luna can do about it. Until she meets Connor Hunter, a representative from a city where being werewolf is a crime punished by death, who has his own reasons for hating werewolves.

Connor is intrigued by the mysterious girl everyone knows but no one seems to know about, and he makes it his mission to uncover what Luna’s hiding. Their mutual respect and little bit of trust is put to the test when a fateful night in the woods reveals Luna’s secret. Connor is forced to confront the conflict between his new friend and his hatred for the werewolf who killed his best friend years ago.

As Connor faces internal conflict between his new friend and the memory of an old one, Luna must deal with a new choice in her personal life. She’s developed feelings for Toby, a werewolf friend in the Quarantine, and he likes her back. However, he persists in reminding her that she is a non-werewolf who deserves a happy life outside the Quarter’s walls.

While Luna remains troubled about her relationship with Toby, Connor joins in hiding Luna’s secret, and the pair decides to use Connor’s place on the Civic Committee to ensure the freedom to feared and trapped werewolves.

Wolves in Walls is a 62,000 word young adult novel. A partial or the full manuscript is available on request.

Thank you for your time and for your consideration,

_*Rachel*_ said...

paragraph 2: cut from “, and Luna knows” to “never hurt anyone;” it’s redundant. Then make the two parts of the paragraph connect. And no need for “involuntary;” it’s implied. Delete “dutifully.”

Phrase the town thing more clearly. “Soon Wall-in-the-Wood and its neighboring towns will meet to determine once and for all what to do with the werewolves: imprisonment or death?” Give or take. Change “until” to “then.” And I’m assuming that the convention is either in W-in the-W or Luna is her town’s rep, probably the former. You might want to say it, and you could spice it up by saying that all the extra people in town make it dangerous or something.

Her name’s Luna. What does he think she’s hiding? That was sarcasm, not a query suggestion.

If Toby’s in quarantine, how does Luna see him? I thought quarantine meant that about the only person who came/left was the doctor, if that.

I have no idea what you mean Toby’s trying to tell her. Is she guilt-tripping because he’s behind bars and she isn’t? That’s a bit more lucid.

Maybe you could wrap up with something like: “But even though Luna really does like Toby, Connor just promised to ensure that the werewolves are set free.

Would the Committee really go from considering death to considering freedom? And aren’t the names “Luna” and “Hunter” VERY obvious? Maybe I’m just a nerd, but luna is always moon, and that’s too easy when you’ve got werewolves in your book.

Still, it’s got potential!

Aimee K. Maher said...

I think the werewolves in your book should eat the Faeries in mine.

Aimee K. Maher said...

I guess the thorn in my eye here is this...fantasy is great, but it usually has an anchor in reality somewhere. We put dogs to sleep for biting the neighbor. Werewolves would be screwed. I'm having a hard time picturing a werewolf pound.

writtenwyrdd said...

The revised version is waaaaaay too wordy and there's too much backstory. I'd suggest you start along the lines of "Luna has a choice. A or B." Give us the stakes, make us feel the emotional cost and worry for either choice.

And I have to say that Luna as the name for a werewolf? Wouldn't the neighbors be a bit suspicious? In fact, wouldn't a name like Luna make them think, hmmm, with a name like that, perhaps we should cut her hand off to see if there is fur inside her skin? (A traditional way of revealing a were.)

Anonymous said...

It's a bit wordy but it sounds like you have a good story. I would make changes as follows:

Luna Weaver, sixteen years old, has been hiding the fact that she is a werewolf (since she was eleven, avoiding having to be quarantine like other werewolves in her town. There is now a push to change the law from segregation to death”)


(I don’t think this paragraph is necessary at all)

Luna Weaver never met a werewolf who dreamed of hurting human beings, and Luna knows many werewolves – not surprising, as she is one. Luna has never hurt anyone. But she, with the help of her mother, has been hiding the fact that she is a werewolf from the people of Wall-in-the-Wood for fear of being required to live under the strict, involuntary quarantine that the town uses to prevent the spread of the werewolf population. No one else knows, not even her friends who dutifully live segregated behind the wall.


Wall-in-the-Wood isn’t the only town with a werewolf problem, but (different) towns have been using different methods of controlling the problem for the last decade). A new Committee is formed, which is leaning for a universal plan of execution rather than imprisonment. Luna believes there is nothing she can do to help her friends who are werewolves until she meets Connor Hunter, a representative from a town where being a werewolf is a capital offense).

Connor is intrigued by the mysterious girl everyone knows but no one seems to know about, and he makes it his mission to uncover what Luna’s hiding. (Their respect and friendship is tested when Connor is forced to confront his feelings for Luna and his hatred the werewolf that killed his best friend years ago when her secret is accidentally revealed one night.)

(Meanwhile, Luna is developing strong feelings for Toby, a werewolf in Quarantine. He persists in reminding her that she is a non-werewolf who deserves a life of freedom (now here I am confused is she struggling to want to join him? Is that the conflict?, if so) while she considers revealing her secret so that they can be together.)

(Meanwhile, Connor decides to help Luna hide her secret and the pair conspire together to change the laws by using Connor’s position on the Committee.)

Wolves in Walls is a 62,000 word young adult novel. A partial or the full manuscript is available on request.

Thank you for your time and for your consideration,

(I would add what genre and audience and put it toward the top. So editors and agents know right off the bat if this is a story they represent)


Good luck

vkw

Unrepentant Escapist said...

You're using a lot of repetition. Now twice in one sentence, has been hiding, etc. Also, a lot of to be verbs (is, was). Try to use more aggressive verbs and cutting out excess (he persists in reminding her...how bout he just reminds her?) "And he likes her back" sounds a little juvenile. I'd shorten the query by sticking to the main character's plot arc. You're bouncing around a little.

For me, this isn't standing out amongst the sea of other werewolf fantasies begging me to read them. Werewolves everywhere are fighting for acceptance--How is yours different or special? The community council angle has potential. I think you need to start out with something a little more rambunctious and shorten things up.

Anonymous said...

There's too much information. Trim it down, a lot, and get to the heart of it. You can bring in Connor and Toby but focus on Luna instead of trying to give attention to all three. What's her story. Why should I care about her? What choices will she have to make?

Also, the first two paragraphs kind of repeat each other. Streamline those. And in the second paragraph, don't use "never" so much. It makes me not believe you. It also makes me think "never say never," all of these "never"s won't stay that way for long.

Matthew said...

You have Luna Weaver twice. You only need to put the last name once at the beginning or not at all.

More about Luna and less back story (A lesson I've learned the hard way)

Aimee K. Maher said...

"And I have to say that Luna as the name for a werewolf? Wouldn't the neighbors be a bit suspicious? In fact, wouldn't a name like Luna make them think, hmmm, with a name like that, perhaps we should cut her hand off to see if there is fur inside her skin?"

I just died and went to comment heaven.