Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Face-Lift 709


Guess the Plot

The Pearl Keeper

1. Of all the elves who tried the patience of Lady Willifrill, the pesky thieving Pearl Keeper was her least favorite, but her views change when her son James brings his witchy girlfriend round. The evil wench must be disposed of, pronto, and how better to do it, than by making a pact with the elves?

2. Fern, Jasmine, and Daisy find the buried treasure map of little known Caribbean pirate Red Boots at a garage sale and go to Bermuda in search of his buried 'pearl keeper', never suspecting the map is a fake -- created for a reality TV show that got canceled because the top five contestants all vanished when they reached the X spot.

3. A pale green pearl and the words “When you are seventeen, all will unfold,” are all Amelia Salasquez has of her mother. Now fifteen, starving, cold, Amelia struggles to stay alive until seventeen and wonders how much she could get for the pearl. Enter, a boy with talking oysters...

4. As lamps are to genies, so is the pearl to a dragon. An evil alliance plans to use the pearl to enslave dragons and take over the world. Only one person has what it takes to lead the mages into battle against the alliance: a girl named Misha. Obviously we're doomed.

5. Senioc sings with the whales as he protects the oyster beds from the encroaching humans. When he accidentally saves Kanya, a pearl diver, he loses his voice. Is inter-species love worth his dream of becoming a diva?

6. Nissy is the mermaid in charge of keeping Neptune's oysters happily making fine pearls. When young Danny Banks dives too near the pearls, she stops him before Neptune can order him killed. Can she get him home without arousing the King's suspicions? Also, a rasta dolphin.


Original Version

Dear Evil Editor,

I'm seeking representation for The Pearl Keeper, set in a world where humans invented technology to compete with the more magically-savvy races and the great dragons aren't so great after all.

When sixteen-year-old Misha rescues an ungrateful drunk from an oncoming subway train, she never expected a boy would sacrifice his life to save her instead. [Instead of what? She did rescue the drunk, right?] Nor did she expect him to turn into water. [When someone turns into water, is it really necessary to state that this was unexpected?]

Her savior, Skyler, is a dragon. [He was a dragon; now he's a puddle.] Contrary to popular belief, dragons aren't big, stupid monsters that eat feather-brained virgins and get skewered by knights. They're a brilliant, ruthless race whose human forms are deceivingly mouthwatering. [Tasty.] [What's the deceiving part? Either their human forms are mouthwatering, or they aren't.] [I'd go with "dazzling" or "radiant" instead of mouthwatering.] They just have one weakness: the pearl. As the lamp is to a genie, the pearl is a literal ball and chain for a dragon. [I'm not sure you've grasped the meaning of "literal." Just say ...the pearl is to a dragon.] An evil alliance known as Pandora plans to enslave the dragon race for world domination and [all they need is a few thousand pearls the size of bulldozers.] according to some silly, old prophecy, only Misha can stop it.

Thanks, but no thanks. [Hey, that's my line.] There's no way she can lead a band of mighty mages to battle and she'd rather not have Skyler's fate--or the world's--rest in her shaky hands. [How does she know she's the person in the prophecy?] That is, until she finds out Pandora murdered her mother ten years ago and she's next. [They should have murdered her mother twenty years ago and saved themselves a lot of trouble.]

Now it's personal.

The Pearl Keeper is a YA urban fantasy complete at 90,000 words. Thank you for your time and consideration.


Notes

What does this prophecy say? A band of mages will agree to be led into battle by a sixteen-year-old girl named Misha . . . no, not that Misha, the one who had the subway incident?

Does every dragon have a pearl, or is there one pearl that's the weakness of all dragons? Does Pandora already have the pearl(s) or are they searching? Does Misha have it? Why does Pandora want to kill Misha now, when they didn't want to ten years ago? Why don't they just swoop in, kill her, and take the pearl? Are the mages protecting her? We need to know at least some of these things.

All we know about dragons is that they're brilliant and ruthless and look like filet mignon when they're in human form. What are the powers they have that would carry Pandora to world domination?

15 comments:

Bernita said...

Nice stuff, but too many statements don't seem to follow.

The Author said...

Hilarious and spot-on. Kudos to EE.

It looks like the main problems are flow and not enough info.

The prophecy's about how only person can stop the big bad and a magical object picks the MC as the one who'll fulfill it. The big bad starts targeting the MC after they find out she's been picked.

Now if there's only a way to incorporate this...

Anonymous said...

If they're nothing like dragons, shouldn't you call them something else?

Barbara's Spot on the Blog said...

I like the story although the query needs some work.

Dave F. said...

Let's recite this as a mantra -- The world of James Cameron's AVATAR is "Pandora" and the race of beings is the "Na'vi." Those are going to be names like Star Trek's "Khitomer Massacre" or "Farpoint Station." Or "Tatoine" from Star Wars. Or the Cylons and Caprica from BSG. And no one would name a world Arrakis or name their princess Irulan.

Plus Lara Croft nearly opened Pandora's Box in her second guns and titties action movie.

If a major element of your story is "pandora" then it will look derivative or (just as bad) piling on to the current movie that just came out.

So please change the name of the evil alliance to something other than Pandora. There is no need to swim up river against a current like a salmon trying to spawn.

Eric said...

Also, you should definitely use a stronger tag than "Now it's personal." That originated with Jaws 4: The Revenge (not a good pedigree!) and quickly became a satirical cliche for parody movie trailers and sequels. (Unless you want to set a campy tongue-in-cheek tone, in which case, fire away.)

Now on the other hand, if you can work the phrase "Electric Boogaloo" into your revised query, I'd be impressed.

Portuguese cunt said...

Ugh. Is he a boy, a dragon, a human, or a puddle of water? Or was he secretly the hobo all along?

Saying that he's attractive after-the-fact makes it even more dumb. Is he an attractive dragon or an attractive puddle of water.

A agree with the Eric that "Now it's personal" is a dumb line.

It's horribly clich├ęd...Steven Segal-ish. Just say no.

This query needs a good sweep.

Sarah from Hawthorne said...

Dave, for once I disagree with you. Pandora's Box is classic Greek mythology and Avatar's use of "Pandora" is a reference, not a new, world-building name like Arrakis or Tatooine. The author's got just as much right to the name as Cameron does. (But I could just be taking my Avatar-rage out on you. SO... MANY... ADS...)

I would second cutting the "this time, it's personal". Also, look out for your contradictions. You tell us "the great dragons aren't so great," then two paragraphs later describe the dragons as brilliant, ruthless, and mouthwatering.

Right now your third paragraph is just straight up background facts. Can you reveal all this through plot? i.e. "Instead of a big stupid monster, Skylar is ruthless, brilliant, and mouthwateringly sexy in his human form. He's only one weakness: the dragon pearl. As the lamp is to a genie, the pearl is a ball and chain for a dragon; and thanks to Lucy's act of heroism, Skylar's pearl has chosen her as its new guardian."

I hope you post a revision, I really like the idea.

Joseph Lewis said...

I'm a little burned out on these prophecies that somehow require under-qualified children to lead powerful warriors and wizards into battle. There should be a more logical, more compelling reason for Misha to lead them. For example, her mother subliminally taught her all sorts of magical secrets. Or gave her a map only she can read. Or something.

The Author said...

Thank you for all your comments! I was going to post the revision in my next comment before interest in the query wanes, but this might take a day to rewrite.

The prophecy cliche is an issue readers frequently bring up. In the story, while the MC is the chosen one, she's also replaceable. As in, if she dies, another chosen one will be picked, then another one, and so on...

I incorporated this in a previous draft of the query and the others liked it, but they also said it bordered on too much info. What, o Evil Minions, is your opinion?

_*Rachel*_ said...

That negates only Misha being able to stop it. I'm not sure which way would work best; the latter is more accurate, but the former can be expressed more easily, even if it is a common expression.

When I hear Pandora, I automatically think Greek mythology. Derivative, sure, but not as criminally. One might almost call it high class, since it's a classical allusion.

Phoenix said...

IMO, multiple chosen ones water down the stakes. It might be a different twist on an old chestnut, but different doesn't always equal better.

So, Pandora kills her mom and 10 years later here comes Misha. And if they kill Misha it'll be another 10 years before the next chosen one steps up? Which comes first: they run out of chosen ones or world domination? I've got my money on the dragons.

Even Buffy got sloppy with its 'when one slayer dies, another is trained up to take her place' theme. And then, of course, Whedon just caved completely at the end.

So no, I wouldn't mention it in the query (In a race against generations, Misha is number three. If she fails, the world has only another 17 chances to get it right.).

The Author said...

The revised query isn't really much longer and all I did was switch a few words here and there...but hopefully it incorporated most of the issues that were brought up. Thanks in advance for all the help!

Dear EE,

I'm seeking representation for The Pearl Keeper, set in a world where humans invented technology to compete with the more magically-savvy races and the all-mighty dragons aren't so all-mighty after all.

When sixteen-year-old Misha rescues an ungrateful drunk from an oncoming subway train, she never expected a boy would sacrifice his life to save her. Nor did she expect him to turn into water.

Her savior, Skyler, is a dragon. Instead of a big, stupid monster that eats feather-brained virgins, he’s ruthless, deadly, and disarming in his human form. His only weakness? The pearl. As the lamp is to a genie, the pearl is to a dragon. An evil alliance known as Pandora plans to enslave the powerful dragon race by stealing their pearls for world domination. Then a prophecy ordains Misha as the only one to defeat Pandora.

Thanks, but no thanks. There's no way she can lead a band of mages to battle and she'd rather not have Skyler's fate--or the world's--rest in her shaky hands. That is, until she finds out Pandora murdered her mother ten years ago and she's next.

Evil Editor said...

How is Skyler still in the book after he sacrificed his life?

Why does Misha need rescuing by Skyler? After she gets the drunk out of the subway train's path, does she get her foot caught or something?

How does anyone know the drunk is ungrateful? Seems like with two rescues and a guy turning into water, there's too much going on for anyone to pay attention to whether the drunk was grateful.

Put an ellipsis or a dash after "ago" in the last sentence.

"Then" a prophecy ordains... suggests that the prophecy was just made. Who made this prophecy?

The Author said...

Thank you, EE! I feel like I have a much clearer idea of what to do now!