Monday, March 01, 2010

Face-Lift 735


Guess the Plot

Love and Lies

1. Greg has spent years trying to find the best way to get a woman in the sack. Now he's got it narrowed down to two.

2. Andy's in love with Melissa, but she's torn between him and Rob. Rob, though, is in love with Shirl, who's mildly interested in Andy. And one of them is lying.

3. When a duke confesses to killing his mistress's brothers, their affair is over. But he later realizes that he's in love with her, so he tells her he lied and her brothers were actually killed by a vampire. Turns out the duke and his mistress are also vampires. Pretty much everyone's a vampire.

4. Thelma Love, mild-mannered IRS agent, only wants to meet the man of her dreams, little does she know her soul-mate is Gervais Lies, a French spy intent on stealing government secrets so the French can have as complicated and annoying a bureaucracy as Americans.

5. The unauthorized true story behind EE and Miss Snark's tumultuous romance and apocalyptic break-up, featuring stiletto puncture wounds, the real reason why EE keeps his hair in mutton chops, and the strange circumstances that led them to grow Whirlochre in their lab.

6. Jennifer's in love with Paul, but she thinks he'll dump her if he finds out her last boyfriend died under suspicious circumstances. Paul's in love with Jennifer, but he thinks she'll dump him if she finds out he's not a rich doctor. Have these lovebirds dug holes so deep they can't climb out?

7. Nick Natty, conman extraordinaire, finds love on the slopes in Colorado. When she finds out he isn't a team scout for the next winter Olympics, can she convince him he's actually in love with her twin sister who's moving to Alaska?


Original Version

I am writing in hopes of gaining your representation for my 95,957-word paranormal romance, LOVE AND LIES, a tale of love betrayed and then redeemed.

In LOVE AND LIES, [No need to tell us which book's plot you're describing . . . unless it's a book other than Love and Lies.] after the death of her mother in 1808, Dara became a duke’s mistress, something she’d sworn never to do, to support her orphaned siblings. [As God is my witness, I'll never be a duke's mistress. A peasant's mistress, maybe. An earl's or a prince's, definitely. But never a duke's.] Returning home after ending the affair, she finds her brothers dead and the duke claiming responsibility. [Your brothers? Yeah, I killed them. Hey, I'm a duke.] She tries to avenge them but instead ends up with a two-week hole in her memory and a new life as a vampire. Protecting her remaining sister’s descendents [sp.] became her only means of salvation. Now in the 21st century, the duke is back and has a confession to make. [You tossed the vampire angle off like it happens every day. Vampires are a major plot point; move your (revised) first paragraph to the end and open with a hook sentence that mentions vampires. Something like: This book has vampires!]

Anthony had walked the earth for a millennium in service of the vampire council when he bought Dara’s innocence in an attempt to stave off boredom. [Who's Anthony? Who'd he buy her innocence from? Usually vampires stave off boredom (and hunger) without having to fork over cash.] When her brothers were killed by another vampire, he claimed responsibility to keep her from hunting the true killer in hopes of keeping her safe and failed. [...keeping her safe. He failed, and...] That failure has haunted him ever since. A chance arrives for him to clear the air and make one additional confession: he wants her back in his arms for all time. [Hey Dara, remember how I confessed to killing your brothers a couple hundred years ago? I was lying. So . . . we good?] [When someone has spent 200 years thinking you murdered her brothers, you need to do something stronger than "clear the air."]


Notes

Too much switching between past and present tenses. Either put the 1808 stuff in past tense and the 21st century stuff in present, or put it all in present.

It might be better to explain why the duke takes responsibility for the murders as soon as you mention that he does so. Possibly this would mean opening in the duke's POV: 1808: When his lover finds her brothers murdered, the Duke of Earl takes responsibility; it's the only way to keep her from hunting the real killer, a brutal vampire.

Does Dara try to avenge her brothers' deaths by going after the duke?

19 comments:

Steve Wright said...

Is Anthony the duke? If he isn't, then I have absolutely no idea what's going on here. If he is, then... I have precious little idea what's going on here. There's just not enough information coming through.

Anthony tells Dara (can't help thinking of Dara O Briain, there, which doesn't help) that he didn't kill her brothers... who did? Who are these "other vampires", and where do they fit into your story? And what spurs Anthony into revealing this anyway? He must have some compelling reason to tell her this, after keeping quiet about it for two centures... mustn't he?

Basically - we need more plot information here.

(Also - no offence intended to the author - but when is this fad for romantic vampires going to end, already?)

Stephen Prosapio said...

Where to begin? First be careful that what you're writing is really what you mean to say.

"Dara became a duke’s mistress, something she’d sworn never to do, to support her orphaned siblings."

Even with the comma, that reads more like she's swearing not to support her siblings that way vs becoming the duke's mistress.

There are other areas of confusion as well with the timeline that EE pointed out. It sounds like one timeline is her POV and one is his? If that's the case be clear about who the protag is and what he/she wants.

Dave F. said...

How about opening with something like:
"In 1808, Duke Tony the bloodsucker, killed Dara's brothers and made her his vampire mistress. For 200 years she has shielded her family's descendants from the Duke until (?) he reveals that he is not the vampire who killed her brother but he knows who did and that they are all in peril."

I am guessing that the conflict in your story takes place in the 21st century. Focus on that.

Dave F. said...

In 1977, I remember my Aunt living in New York City discussing the SEXY, os so very SEXY, absolutely burning, scorching the stage hot stage version of Dracula with Frank Langella on Broadway. It became a movie in 1979.

Vampires are always sexual creatures, always romantic. If they weren't, they just be just another ugly bloodthirsty vermin like "BEN" the carnivorous rat. He got a pretty song...

Kings Falcon said...

I don't understand the stakes (pun intended) for either character. The story seems to be:
(1) Dara becomes Anthony's mistress;
(2) He happens to be a vampire and ends up caring for her;
(3) She ends the affair for some unknown reason;
(4) Her brothers are killed;
(5)Anthony tells her that he killed them in a misguided attempt to protect her;
(6) She seeks vengence on Anthony but instead becomes a vampire herself;
(7) She dedicates herself to protecting her sister's descendents from something;
(8) 200 years later, Anthony tries to win back her love.

Is the story told in 1808, present day or both? If the story is in the present day, then points 1-7 are all set up.

What happens if Anthony succeeds in winning her back? What happens if he fails? Is there anyone or anything trying to keep them apart? In other words, why should I as a reader invest a few hours of my life in this story?

I'm sure all these questions are answered by the story, but they need to show up in the query too.

Anonymous said...

Opening in the duke's POV, as EE pointed out in the last paragraph, sounds way more interesting. Now THAT'S some conflict: taking responsability for her brothers' murders in order to keep her from great danger. Now THAT'S a character making some sacrifices! This would definitely catch my interest in a book jacket blurb.

_*rachel*_ said...

When the 21st century came in, it felt like a smack on the head. You need to start there or mention it earlier.

I like EE's idea of starting with why Anthony claims he murdered the two guys. Which is actually pretty fascinating. You should definitely start there if the story starts there.

*drawing sentence trees to the music of manly guys wearing kilts and singing about drunken sailors*

Angie said...

I agree with all the prior points. It seems Anthony is the most interseting of the two IMHO. At this time I don't really identify with Dara, because I don't know what her conflict is, what is at stake? Also clarifying the time line on this would also help.

And to Steve -love ya- but the world is not going to get over vampires. They've been around too long, and since they're immortal they'll be around a lot longer than us (couldn't resist).

Author said...

Revision:


I am seeking representation for my completed urban fantasy Blood Rage.

In 1808, Dara MacKechnie became Anthony Caldwell’s mistress to support her orphaned siblings after the death of their mother. Returning home after ending the affair, she finds only her sister alive, while her brothers are dead and her ex-lover is responsible. Her attempt to avenge their deaths leads to a two-week hole in her memory and new dietary dictates that include blood on a regular basis. Protecting her sister’s descendants over the next two hundred years became her only means of salvation.

Anthony had walked the earth for a millennium in service of vampire society when he bought Dara’s innocence in an effort to stave off boredom. When the leader of the vampire group called the Aristocrats killed her brothers, Anthony tried to save her life by claiming responsibility rather than allowing her to hunt the true killer. That failure has haunted him ever since, prompting him to watch over her in secret.

In the modern world, where non-humans are now open members of society, Dara serves as Head Vampire Liaison between the Vampire Council and the United States Bureau of Non-Human Affairs. When the Aristocrats emerge into the modern world and begin systematically murdering the vampire leadership Anthony now heads, he has no choice but to turn to his ex-mistress to solicit the Bureau’s assistance in tracking down and eliminating the murderers. There are only three small problems: Dara never learned the truth regarding the death of her brothers, Anthony has fallen in love with the woman Dara became after her conversion, and the old leader of the Aristocrats was one of their first present-day victims.

Blood Rage is a completed 95,500-word urban fantasy with a strong romance plot and the first in a projected series. Readers of books by Laurell K. Hamilton and Sherrilyn Kenyon are likely to enjoy this urban fantasy series.

Heather M said...

Hey wait, Author. There were some great suggestions in the comments. Why didn't you take them?

I could be totally wrong, but I have this feeling you're making the same mistake I previously made: thinking a query has to start at the beginning of the book. It doesn't. A query is not a book in miniature; it's nothing but an attempt to prove you have an interesting plot. You have more than one point of view in your book, right? You don't need them both in your query. You don't need the entire progression of major events in your query. You don't need anything in your query except the heart of what's most interesting about your plot.

You have an interesting plot. A man let his lover believe the worst about him in order to protect her. And he failed, and she was vampirized, and she continues to hate him. And now he's trying to win her back, while they're both embroiled in a war against evil assassin vampires. That's interesting.

So take EE and Rachel's advice and start the query with Anthony's act of sacrifice. Don't worry if that's not where the book starts.

I like your new title.

Matthew said...

The new title reminds me of Blood Rayne, a below average video game and the absolute worst movie of all time. I'm not exaggerating. It is the worst movie ever made.

The 3 Worst Movies of All Time:

1. Blood Rayne
2. Alone in the Dark
3. House of the Dead

So...I liked the first title better.

I felt the revision was rather bland. I agree with Heather's advice.

Steve Prosapio said...

What Heather said.

josephrobertlewis said...

It sounds to me like the query should start with the modern-day action:

Vampires are openly part of modern life, but the evil vampires have begun assassinating the good vampires. To stop the killings, vampire Anthony must work with vampire Dara, his ex-lover who blames him for her conversion and the deaths of her family.

And then add a few plot points describing what happens when they work together to solve the case.

You don't need the paragraph about Dara's backstory. You don't need the paragraph about Anthony's backstory. You really just need a clearer version of your third paragraph with more of that "strong" plot you mentioned.

Elizabeth L said...

Ultimately made a huge change, discarded almost everything, but that's partially because the whole thing got (mostly) rewritten in the past month. The original focused too much on backstory. Gave a lot of thought re the comments about starting w/his POV, but since 90% of it's from her POV, kept the order.

In the modern world, where non-humans are open members of society, Dara MacKechnie serves as Head Vampire Liaison between the Vampire Council and the United States’ Bureau of Non-Human Affairs. It provides her with a healthy income and great job satisfaction. Most of the time, her biggest problem is how to avoid throwing up before a press conference or media interview. Her orderly life rapidly degenerates when a group calling itself the Aristocrats emerges into the modern world and begins systematically murdering members of the Vampire Council headed by her ex-lover, wealthy industrialist Anthony Caldwell.

When his friends and colleagues begin to die as part of an all-out assault intended to destroy the very people he has worked for centuries to protect, Anthony has no choice but to turn to his ex-mistress and her employer. He hopes to solicit the Bureau’s assistance in tracking down the murderers since he knows, but cannot identify, there is a traitor on the Council undermining his efforts to find the Aristocrats. There is only one small problem: Dara thinks he killed her brothers at the conclusion of their two-year affair.

If the Aristocrats succeed in destroying the Council, the delicate peace forged eighty years ago between humans and vampires, and by extension, between the humans and all non-humans could be destroyed. A desperate triumvirate forms to take on this menace: Anthony and Dara (who realize the passion between them has not disappeared), and the man responsible for Dara’s death in 1810, the former leader of the Aristocrats.

Tom said...

Tricky. How to show the twists of a complicated plot in a couple of paragraphs. You are getting there, but not quite yet.

One question. Was Dara 'converted' or killed? Converted makes it sound like she became a Baptist.

_*rachel*_ said...

Better--good enough I'll do a sample edit.

"Her orderly life rapidly degenerates when a group" to [new paragraph] "Then a group."

---

When his friends and colleagues begin to die, Anthony has no choice but to turn to his ex-mistress and her employer. There is only one small problem: Dara thinks he killed her brothers at the conclusion of their two-year affair.

But if the Aristocrats succeed in destroying the Council, the delicate peace forged eighty years ago between humans and non-humans could be destroyed. To keep that peace, Dara has to work with both Anthony and the vampire who killed and reanimated her in 1810.
---

The first paragraph is good, and where you're going with the rest is better. Try taking the [overly drastic] cut I made and adding a bit about the search for the murderers.

You're definitely getting better.spedne I admire your perseverance.

Is it bad to say I keep thinking of the Aristocrats as the Aristocats?

Sarah Laurenson said...

Here's my take in 100 less words. It clears up a few things for me - like which agency Dara actually works for. But it also leaves open the question of how much does she have to do with Anthony on a regular basis. Seems like she should see him all the time in her 'day' job.

You have some non-essentials in here with the whole non-human angle. Sticking to humans and vampires should be enough for the query (imo).

Modern times is the default assumption, I believe.


Dara MacKechnie works for the United States’ Bureau of Non-Human Affairs serving as Head Vampire Liaison between it and the Vampire Council headed by her ex-lover, Anthony Caldwell. This provides her with a healthy income and great job satisfaction even though Dara believes Anthony killed her brothers at the conclusion of their two-year affair. Her orderly life degenerates when a group calling itself the Aristocrats begins murdering members of the Vampire Council.

Anthony solicits the Bureau’s assistance in tracking down the murderers since he knows there is a traitor on the Council. If the Aristocrats succeed in destroying the Council, the delicate peace forged eighty years ago between humans and vampires could be destroyed. A desperate triumvirate forms to take on this menace: Anthony and Dara (who realize the passion between them has not disappeared), and the former leader of the Aristocrats - the man responsible for Dara’s death in 1810.

Joe G said...

The heroine's name reminds me of famed A Chorus Line alumni, Donna McKechnie!

You probably want to avoid anachronistic details like "She's the head of an important department but she always wants to throw up before interviews". I'm sure it's funny in the story but you're not illuminating anything about the character right now. Is she camera shy? Is she morally conflicted about her vampire existence? Leave out details that don't connect to other details.

I also wish this felt less like a summary I might read on wikipedia. I feel like you want to convey all the aspects of the world you've created at the risk of my eyes glazing over as I read.

Better to start with the crux of the plot. "For 80 years, vampires and humans have coexisted in uneasy accord thanks to the efforts of the Vampire Council and its head, wealthy industrialist Anthony Caldwell. Yet when a group of rogue vampires calling themselves The Aristocrats begin systematically assassinating the Vampire Council one by one, Anthony must look for help to the head liaison of the US non-human affairs bureau/terrific dancer, Donna McKechnie. Being a vampire herself, and Anthony's former lover, Dara should be willing to lend a hand, except for one complicating detail--she has recently come to believe that it was Anthony who murdered her family and "turned" her into a vampire 200 years ago. Can these mismatched lovers solve the case in a race against time?"

Etc--my problem with this summary is that I'm kind of picking the plot apart. Dara's problems seem so small in comparison to the real problems of the plot that they seem to hardly merit mentioning. After all, wouldn't it be her job to solve problems affecting the relationship between humans and vampires? Why would personal matters get in the way? Someone else has observed that realistically she would work with Anthony all the time in her position.

I think that's why we all keep focusing things on Anthony. Anthony has big problems--prevent a war between humans and non, resolve issues in past, get the girl. Dara's biggest problems seem to be that somebody's asking her to do her job and she's still kind of peeved over things that happened 200 years ago. It trivializes things a bit.

I think the best route to go would be to get the plot across first and then talk a bit about why Anthony and Dara have a complicated relationship, always remembering that this relationship ultimately should relate to or affect the plot.

batgirl said...

I know this is a really minor point, but can vampires throw up? I mean, the blood they consume doesn't get digested like a live person's meal, it somehow transfers into their veins, right? So what would she throw up?
Werewolves, sure, I bet they puke all the time, and probably on the good carpet, too.