Thursday, April 02, 2009

Face-Lift 618

Guess the Plot

Morghan's Mahleala

1. Morghan has always bheen a loser, so she's thrilled to learnh that she's half elfh. She leaves Texas for the magicahll world of Mahleala. Butt when people and elves stahrt dropping dhead, Morghan reacts like any teenager: she ghhets annoyed.

2. For amahteur astrohnomer Morghan Morghunstein, finding a new comet was a dreahm come true. Named "Mahleala" after his childhood pet, the comet becomes a nightmare for the rhest of the world when it is found to be on a collision courhse with earth.

3. Homecoming queehn Samantha wouldn't give Morghan the time of dhay, having more interest in athletes than gheeks. Butt that all changes the dhay she happens to catch a glimpse of Morghan's Mahleala.

4. Out in the Jhungle of Bhorneo, Jhim Morghan and Hucklebherry Finnh discover diahmonds in the gravel and work day and night -- unaware those biting insects carry parahsites and they'll soohn be strhicken by the dreaded mahleala worm.

5. Morghan has a varhiety of exhotic mahlahdies which cause asphirhating. Will rhomance blohssom when she rhuns into Henrhy Harhahher at the pharmacy while whaiting for her inhaler? Or will she die young from her own dhisease, Morghan's Mahleala?

6. For years, at the behest of the King, Morgan has hunted the slippery Alphabetophile, hoping to halt the insidiouous processs and prahctice of languguage-littering and subsesequent desscenht hinto totoal meheanhinglessnesssss thhahat threahetheans thehehh hentire fhabrihc of shoshcietiey. Whililill Morghahan shucksheeedd?ddd????? or whillll Alphabetophile siwkdk aisckfjaioew vie!a?h!!feaissisi!

Original Version

Dear Agent:

All of her life, Morghan Roberts has been the worst sort of loser - quiet, awkward, the kind of girl who never experiences anything, except the constant beat downs she receives in school. So, Morghan can't help but to be excited when, on her fourteenth birthday, she learns that she's a half elf, gains her gift of creation, and finds that she must leave her normal Texas town for a magical world known as Mahleala.

But when an old elvish rite of passage goes horribly wrong, and Morghan and her friends end up seeing a dozen worker elves and humans suddenly drop dead on some ghostly panel, [I've been on a few panels where I wished I could die, but I'm guessing you have something else in mind . . . though I've no idea what.]  Morghan is thrown for a loop that she wants no part of. [No need to modify a cliche with another cliche.]  And when her best friend Azula becomes more tangled in the plot, dragging Morghan along, she's beyond annoyed - until the mystery begins to unfold. [This is all vague.] 

Morghan begins to suspect that the real question the group should be focused on is not the cause of the murders, [How does she know they're murders?] [Not sure what you mean by the "cause" of the murders. Motive? Weapon?] but the curse that could've been released as a result of the deaths. Anytime Dramagra, or dark magic, is involved you never know what mess you'll be left with, and Morghan's gut tells her this will be a nasty one. [How does she know what kind of mess is caused by Dramagra? She just got there. How does she even know Dramagra was involved?]

MORGHAN'S MAHLEALA is a YA Fantasy, complete at 74,000 words. I'm a member of SCBWI, and have contributed to the Houston chapter's newsletter "Picturing the Write Stuff". I'd be happy to send you a partial or complete copy of MORGHAN'S MAHLEALA for your review.

Thank you for your time and consideration.



What are Morghan's friends doing in Mahleala? I got the impression she had no friends. Are they her Mahlealahian friends? You don't suddenly have a best friend and a clique the minute you get to a new place. Is there a major passage of time you didn't mention?

How do you get to Mahleala? Is it on Earth? What's it like there? What did the victims have in common? Is anyone investigating? Give us some specifics.

Why is it "Morghan's" Mahleala? It's not like she's their leader. It's like calling it Dorothy's Oz. Is there a wizard? Wait, is there a mole man? The Mole Man of Mahleala would be a good title. Consider adding a mole man.


150 said...

Quiet, awkward, boring, and frequently beat up is not even close to the worst sort of loser.

I think I'd stop at the "unpopular girl discovers she's half elf." Can you give us more details about the plot, or retool those first two sentences?

Not a fan of the title. Even simply "Mahleala" would be better.

Eric P. said...

#6 is a slapper.

Speaking as a copy editor, please, oh please, don't ever use "could've" in anything other than dialogue.

There are too many unanswered questions here, and not the good kind. Are "worker elves" anything like worker bees? What's a "gift of creation"? Who's in "the group"? Why, if she's only a half-elf, must she go live in the magic world (and why didn't she go there before she turned 14)? Do evil curses get unleashed any time people drop dead? What the heck is a "ghostly panel"?

Not that you necessarily should expound all of this in the query, but you do need to give us enough information that we'll have a clue what you're describing. Why are things happening and why does it matter?

I don't mean to be discouraging-- My gut tells me that there's an interesting story lurking behind this somewhere. I'd just like to know what exactly it is!

(And yeah-- it totally needs a Mole Man.)

Anonymous said...

Loved those GTPs. Does it mean silly spelling has been done to death?

Anonymous said...

This would be more original if a popular girl turned out to be an elf and grew big pointy ears.

pulp said...

Dramagra: the pill actors take when the Chekhov play is booked for two performances a day.

The second and third paragraphs are too vague. Talking around the plot makes readers irritated instead of intrigued.

There's a consistent voice in the query, which is nice.

Anonymous said...

Not sure your pronun and all that but I kept reading Mahleala as Maleea as in Malia as in the current president's daughter. How about Chelseelah? Less on one's mind by now.

Sarah from Hawthorne said...

It seems to me you are missing a strong hook, something that sets this ms apart from your average "magic kid" YA novel.

When you rewrite your query, ask yourself what makes your story so unique and compelling that it simply must be published?

none said...

Funny, I always thought the worst kinds of losers were rapists and baby-killers.

Obviously you're the author and so your character can experience nothing if you insist, but I wonder how you are so sure quiet, awkward girls don't have complex inner lives.

Unknown said...

Hi Author,

I hear Azula, and I think crazy fire nation chick from Avatar. Just so you know.

I agree you need to show what is different about your 11, er, I mean 13 year old who discovers s/he is magical story different from the others. One writer I know has often said "There are no new stories, only new characters." What makes your character special? Why do we care about her? What's at stake for her in this story? What is she up against? We still don't really know.

And I totally agree with EE that you need details instead of generalities. Give us some of the details that make Morghan who she is as well as what makes her who she becomes.

Adam Heine said...

Just in case you think Avatar is more obscure than it is, I had the same association with Azula as D. Lemma. For YA especially (Avatar's target audience), consider changing the name.

talpianna said...

How about, instead of a Mole Man, une Belle Taupe sans Merci?

Mother (Re)produces. said...

I have to ask, EE, did you add the stray 'h's to all the plots, or were they all submitted like that? Kind of scary if all the minions had the same thought upon reading the title....

Evil Editor said...

Many minions had the h-adding idea. I altered one or two that didn't, and didn't use one or two that did.

batgirl said...

The mention of panels and groups focussed on topics makes me think that Mahleala is like an Elf Consultancy firm, breaking into focus groups and attending conferences.
Which, actually, would be an awesome concept. Elves are famously imitative of humans - to them we're like the disadvantaged kids who create the slang and fashions the suburban kids imitate. So why not imitate our Culture of Consultancy? Morghan's loserishness turns out to be an asset, etc. etc.

batgirl said...

To be more serious (and potentially useful) perhaps the author could be more specific about what changes for Morghan? If she's a loser in the human world, while being half-elf, why is it better for her in Mahleala, even though she's half-human? What makes her special and beloved there? Why does she have elf-BFFs when she had no human BFFs?

Alternatively, consider skipping the whole 'ordinary girl discovers that she's special' opening (which is a bit hackneyed) and use the space for specifics about the problems that Morghan is faced with in Mahleala, and what's at stake as she tries to solve them.