Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Face-Lift 655

Guess the Plot

Nother World

1. Whenever some pipsqueak race discovers radio communication, Zack's job is to exterminate them. Otherwise in a few million years the Nargons' TV reception will go straight to hell. Zack backs his truck into orbit over the little blue planet and thinks, Nother world, nother dollar as he releases the gas.

2. Kidnapped during the night by an old man, Annie Watkins is taken to a world where leaves are the size of minivans. Her greatest fear is that the old man has brought her here to do the raking. Or that a bird the size of a building will think she's a worm. It's just a nother day in . . . Nother World.

3. Theft of the letter 'a' has crippled the land of Literaria. With Wordmn, Cptin Book and quwomn out of commission, it's up to the mysterious superhero known as Bibliophile to save the day.

4. The Zap! Splat! computer game is actually a test of speed and cunning designed to identify the team of hotshots who will guard the InterGalaxic ship from hostile aliens. The winners are all in fifth grade so General Benson sends along their geeky teacher, unaware he is actually a spy from Planet Xi93j, where everyone's last name is Nother.

5. Socialite Marilyn Rose Hathaway becomes homeless and reduced to only a fraction of her income when her husband is arrested and convicted of securities fraud. With nowhere to go she just takes off. Her car breaks down in the Appalachians, complete strangers take her in and she falls in love with the rustic sanctity of a whole . . . Nother World.

6. English major Bob Nother realizes his work of literary genius -- Meditations on a Drippy Faucet -- is too good to ever sell. He pens an idiotic screenplay for revenge, starring himself as a mad dentist who takes over the world using a ham radio and trained vultures. Incredibly, Disney picks it up and brings Bob to Hollywood, where he becomes the toast of the town.

Original Version

Annie Watkins is melancholy on the eve of her thirteenth birthday. The impending phone call from her estranged father has her so upset that she wants to disappear for a day. Her mom is no help in the matter, with her constantly cheery demeanor. [Nothing is more annoying than someone who's constantly cheery. We can only comfort ourselves in the knowledge that such people, deep inside, are miserable.] Little does Annie know, that one simple wish to vanish will come true in a terrifying way. In the middle of the night she's kidnapped by an old man and taken to a strange world that shouldn't exist. [Leave out the mom sentence, creating better transition between the surrounding sentences.]

Kendee Woode doesn't mean to cause her trouble, but the human girl holds the key that will lead him to a magical charm. It must be found to keep the Faeries safe from the Fyre King and keep the two worlds separated. [Faeries again? That's three times in three days. Projecting the frequency of Fairie stories in our small sampling over the entire field of fantasy writers, I estimate that the average agent will get about 7000 Faerie stories this week. It's the perfect time to submit that vampire novel no one wanted last week.] Kendee is devastated by his own daughter's disappearance and a horrible betrayal, but he tries earnestly to help Annie adjust to her surroundings regardless of his own trepidations. [She has the key, he has her. Get the magical charm and send her packing. Helping her adjust to Nother World is a waste of valuable time.] In a world where the hawks are as big as buildings [, sharks are the size of cities,] and the leaves are the size of mini-vans, she fears she'll never survive.

At the same time, Kanne Woode unwillingly takes Annie's place among the humans. Creating chaos while she fumbles along feeling like a giant, her ignorance leads her to Sheriff Walker and his jail. With plenty of time on her hands to think, she realizes that maybe she was a fool and the Fyre King doesn't love her at all; why would he ask her to betray her family and poison her King?

[Fyre King: I love you, Kanne; as soon as you betray your family and assassinate your king I shall destroy the Faerie world and--

Kanne: You love me?!!]

After the final battle in Nother World, [Who's battled whom? I don't remember anything about a war.] Annie meets the only Winde Faerie that exists. The only trouble with that is, she died in the battle and that's how they meet. [Whattaya mean, that's how they meet? The Winde Faerie died in the battle, and Annie met her after the battle? Apparently being dead in Nother World is a lot like being alive.] She faces a choice with big consequences; her life as she knew it, or the lives of her new friends. Kendee treated her like she was a daughter to him, minus that whole kidnapping thing. [Okay, okay, I'm a kidnapper. It's not like I'm a serial killer.] It's a feeling she wanted to have with her own father, given the chance.

'Nother World' is the first of an upper middle grade fantasy series of four novels. It has a completed word count of 54,000. I have also completed the next two in the series. [I call them Yet Nother World and Even Nother World, and I'll soon begin work on Christ, Not Nother World.]


I'm not crazy about "Nother World" as the name of this place.

I don't have a clear grasp of the exchange. If a human went to the Faerie world, I would expect her to feel like a giant (as in Gulliver in Lilliput), and if a Faerie went to the human world I would expect her to feel like a bug. Instead it's the other way around. Which means Annie shrinks to Faerie size and Kanne grows to human size when they trade worlds, right? Or do they just inhabit each other's bodies?

What happened with the key and the lucky charm? Does Kendee get the charm? Getting the charm is the main point, and you drop it like a burning snake.

There's too much information that's not important to the main plot, which is: Annie is kidnapped and learns she holds the key to saving the Faerie race. What does she have to do? Why does she have the key? What are the obstacles? Don't tell me she just turns over the "key" and Kendee does all the work. Annie's your star. Focus the camera on her.

If Kanne and the Wind Faerie have nothing to do with saving Faerie, we don't need them. If they do, make it clear how.


Anonymous said...

[Nothing is more annoying than someone who's constantly cheery. We can only comfort ourselves in the knowledge that such people, deep inside, are miserable.]

Isn't this the truth!

[Faeries again? That's three times in three days. Projecting the frequency of Fairie stories in our small sampling over the entire field of fantasy writers, I estimate that the average agent will get about 7000 Faerie stories this week. It's the perfect time to submit that vampire novel no one wanted last week.]

No kidding! I hate fairies. And, I am not keen on elves either! (unless they look like Orlando Bloom) Next week its going to be elves. I'm not one of those disillusioned cheerful people that are secretly miserable. I am secretly cheerful.

Enough about me -

Nother World - you don't need the entire first paragraph. This line "Kendee treated her like she was a daughter to him, a relationship that she wanted for with her estranged father." will take care of all that.

So -

Melancholy on her thirteenth birthday, little does Annie know, that one simple wish to vanish will come true in a terrifying way. In the middle of the night she's kidnapped by an old man and taken to a strange world that shouldn't exist.

I would explain Kanne Wood better

Something like -

To hide that Annie has been kidnapped, Kanne Wood a _______, unwillingly takes her place with the humans. (but we need to know why the fairies would bother to hide Annie's kidnapping from the humans to begin with)

And, then the problems EE noted.

Eric P. said...

I think you need a few more names that end with e. Just revise to Sheriffe Walkere, the Kinge, and Nothere Worlde, and you'll have a complete set!

Sarcasm aside, at very least I had a hard time keeping "Kanne" and "Kende" separate and had to re-read a few times before I got them straight.

Also, you have some antecedent issues with your pronouns, especially in the third paragraph. "She" and "her" and "him" could refer to any of three or more people, depending partly on the (unspecified) gender of the Woode Faerie.

By the way, what's wrong with the plain old-fashioned word "Fairy"? Aside from... um, maybe I just answered my own question. Never mind.

Anonymous said...

Could not follow. Maybe you could give us a simplified narrative line by telling the beginning and the end, and just state the middle is exciting. Example:

When a tornado drops Dorothy's house on a Witch in the strange Land of Oz, only the great Wizard can show her the way home. But he lives far away and the countryside is full of enemies and magical dangers -- Dorothy will need all the help she can get to survive this dangerous journey!

Matthew said...

I couldn't follow this. It jumped from character to character and event to event. Even if your story has three main characters, there is only enough room in a query to focus on one.

Wes said...

Don't be discouraged, author. Consider the comments by EE and others and give it another shot.

Matt Heppe said...

Hooray! They're not elves.

The title must go. MUST.

Others have hit the key points that need changing.


Aimee K. Maher said...

Holy burnin bloomers. Twice in two days. Well, when you ask to be thrown on the chopping block, the bits start to fly.

I guess I'm sort of surprised because this got me a few requests for partials. Although, now that you point out the flaws, I have gin thoughts and gun powder visions.

Just leave me my write hand, yes?

writtenwyrdd said...

Hey, EE, you have some more competition:

sylvia said...

[Faeries again? That's three times in three days. Projecting the frequency of Fairie stories in our small sampling over the entire field of fantasy writers, I estimate that the average agent will get about 7000 Faerie stories this week. It's the perfect time to submit that vampire novel no one wanted last week.]


blogless troll said...

I think next week it's Minotaurs.

_*Rachel*_ said...

I got Kendee and Kanne konfuseed, and I'm sure other readers will, too. The only plus to such similar names is that I could guess that they're related, like Dar and Darrin and Cor and Corin and Cole and Colin. If you recognize the book those're from, you're awesome.

With a title like this, you're just inviting GTP 3.

I'm a bit unsure about this query. Maybe it's just that you've written more about the world they're in and the relationships than the plot. Maybe kut Kenne and explain Annie's story more thoroughly.

Miss Pitch looks interesting, but she doesn't do short stories; I'll just have to lurk and learn until I'm ready to query. Then I'll have to see.

Eric P. said...

Rachel-- Yay, I'm awesome! (But then I just re-read it last week for about the ninety-sixth time or so.)

the keebler elf said...

And, I am not keen on elves either!

Hooray! They're not elves.

Then you can make your own fucking cookies.

Aimee K. Maher said...

I just

Joanna said...

I liked this very well down to the part about Kanne and the Fyre King, which seems rather large, drastic and confusing to drop in there without tying it in to what came before. But Annie's relationships with her father and with Kendee interest me. And I like the voice. I also confused Kanne and Kendee at first, but that's because I was speedreading--I didn't stick on Col and Colin, or Morgaine and Morgause, and if I was really reading the book I think I'd be able to keep the characters straight.

Aimee K. Maher said...

So, first half improvements.

Burn the second half and eat the ashes.

I can live with that.

Ruth said...

(The horse and his boy, yes?)

Agree with comments here. Sounds interesting, but would make changes as other people have said - and can I reiterate the thing about Kendee/Kanne being WAY too similar?

Tintin said...

Kanne and Kendee don't throw me at all--but I've been busy reading George R. R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire series, where there are more variations on the name Robert than you can shake a stick at, lol. I've never had trouble keeping characters with similar names straight, though, and admittedly find it odd that other people do.

My interest with their names, which may or may not be a relevant concern for you, is how Kanne is pronounced. I'm saying it KAH-neh, to rhyme with the Dutch name Sanne, but for all I know, it's supposed to rhyme with Anne. So out of curiosity, how are we supposed to be saying it in our heads?

150 said...

Oh dear, you have this out through CreateSpace already. You can't withhold that information from the agent.

Aimee K. Maher said...

It's not available through Createspace, it's retired. I did that for friends and family.

150 said...

It's still on Amazon with two ISBN numbers, selling used, and the sequel is sitting there with two ISBN numbers as if awaiting preorder. I don't think you can just omit the fact that you used to have it on sale. I mean, I found it by Googling, do you really want some agent doing the same and then wondering how you thought you were going to get away with that?

Aimee K. Maher said...

The times they are a'changin, and if an agent is that much of a stuff that they can't appreciate I let it go to friends and relatives to get feedback, then whatever. Google happens. Live and learn. You don't dump a book because you left an unfruitful internet trail behind you. Unless you do dump it. That's up to you.

The copies for sale, all two of them, are a fluke. All I have to do is change title and name. Not really a big fright considering I'm used to being a no one.

Thank you for being the Google police and bringing the matter to the forefront, but I can't worry about it. I refuse.

Aimee K. Maher said...

You also haven't read the remainder of the query where I mention credentials and platform. That's a mighty big leap to assume I don't disclose.

Ruth said...

It might just be a courtesy to let the agent know. You don't want to seem like you're withholding information from the agent. If you're upfront about it, they may well not worry about it. But a lot of agents do google potential clients, and I suspect they'd be less likely to do business with someone that wasn't upfront with them.

However, I'm no agent so I'm not sure whether this would be a matter to bring up in the query letter. I do think you should bring it up at some stage, though.

Also, friends and family are the only ones that you can really guarantee will buy your book. If they've already got a copy, that means they're less likely to do so.

I don't think 150 was trying to be the google police; s/he was just pointing out that that's something you should probably mention to the agent.

Having had your book self-published isn't the kiss of death; just something that it'd be polite to mention to the agent, in my opinion.

Aimee K. Maher said...

I'm actually really glad this was brought up if I'm being honest. There's a lesson here. A big hate-mail lesson.

I submitted two partials by request last week, and don't think for a minute I don't understand that those agents can Google. I'm not an idiot, believe it or not. I've been scrambling around trying to get the books yanked from the net in any possible incarnation they could exist in. I've sent emails, snail mails, and hate mails for a longer time than I care to admit. It's no easy feat. I do know the books can't be ordered at this stage of the game so that's a saving grace.

Once you have a book on a site like Createspace, well, they automatically list you with Amazon and Target, or whatever site they affiliate with. Getting that listing removed is neigh impossible.

It's a real and horrible live-and-learn for people, and I think these websites that offer POD's aren't being totally honest and up front with their customers.

If people (meaning new authors) really knew what was at stake, they wouldn't be putting manuscripts on Kindle for extended family or obscure college friends to download. It is the WORST feedback and amateur tool imaginable.

The times, they really are a'changin, that's not just me sounding cutesy. I don't care what anyone says. There's a whole new slew of demon's to watch out for. What you may think is a first draft, can follow you around the internet forever. It's one thing to post a chunk on a website such as this (EE rocks!), but not the whole damn book.

I think it would be far more dishonest to change my name or my title so an agent COULDN'T find out my sordid past. Better to face the music than be thought of as a snake later.

Ruth said...

I don't think anyone was suggesting you change your name or title... just that you advise the agent at some stage in the process that this is out there. I don't think anyone's blaming you for having had the book self-published.

I hope my comment didn't come across as hate mail - it certainly wasn't intended as such. And I for one certainly don't think you're an idiot.

That really sucks about the experience you had with POD, and I'm glad you shared - I definitely won't be going down that path now!

Glad to hear you've had some requests for partials with this query, and I hope you get success. :)

Aimee K. Maher said...

Sorry Ruth, that wasn't directed at anyone in particular. It's more of an angry, spiteful, comment to the universe.

Anonymous said...

That title, combined with your synoposis and additional comments, makes me wonder if mere mortals can actually track all your details and complications. If you haven't had the benefit of a critique group, you might want to try one.