Monday, April 05, 2010

Face-Lift 750

Guess the Plot

Isabella Vampirella Gets Her Fangs

1. Bitten by a rabid bat, Isabella turns into a rampaging monster who hunts the dark alleys of the night to rip out the throats and drink the blood of her unsuspecting victims. Also, she has a pony!

2. Third-grader Isabella is determined to show everyone how grown-up she is, but how can she when she doesn't have her fangs yet? Be careful what you wish for, Isabella. When she finally gets her fangs, she also gets a humiliating lisp!

3. Brought to the dentist about a terrible case of upper canine overbite, a teenage girl devours the specialist when he refers her to an oral surgeon. A kindly hygienist then opines that Izzie might be a born bloodsucker. Mystery solved. They celebrate by feasting on the receptionist.

4. "Every time a bell clangs, a vampire gets her fangs." If Isabella can get Mr. Potter to destroy George Bailey's happy home, she can earn her fangs and become a real vampire. If not, she'll have to kiss immortality goodbye.

5. In the Young Contessas, Isabella learns to float and put on makeup without a mirror. She would rather be in the Young Counts and learn to control wolves and turn into mist. When a mad scientist kidnaps her friends, Isabella will need both sets of skills to free them.

6. After being dumped by “Ivan the Terrible” of Miami, Isabella and her friends plan a trip to Isabella’s dream destination—Transylvania. But when the ship is attacked by vampires, Isabella’s new date—Todd, a dentist—may have more work than he’d ever bargained for.


Original Version

Dear Evil Editor,

Isabella just knows her life will be perfect once she finally gets her fangs!

Isabella is eight years old and thrilled to be starting the third grade with her friends Betha, a witch, and Jack, a werewolf. After all, she’ll officially be one of the big kids taking classes in one of the towers of the magical school, not having lunch until midnight and getting to play on the huge playground deep in the woods. That is until her parents don’t let her walk to school by herself, the teacher assigns seats and puts Isabella near the back of the class and her obnoxious classmate, Talia de la Nuit, thinks she’s so mature just because she has her fangs. ["That is, until..." isn't working as a transition in this sentence. It sounds like you're saying she isn't officially one of the big kids taking classes in the tower, etc., because she's sitting in the back. Maybe this paragraph should read:

Isabella is eight years old and thrilled to be starting third grade with her friends Betha, a witch, and Jack, a werewolf. After all, she’ll officially be one of the big kids taking classes in one of the towers of the magical school. But when the teacher puts Isabella near the back of the class and her obnoxious classmate, Talia de la Nuit, thinks she’s so mature just because she has her fangs . . . well, the thrill is gone.]

Isabella is determined to show everyone how grown-up she is; once she gets her fangs too. But soon Betha discovers her magic, Jack finds his howl and Isabella is feeling seriously left behind as everyone seems to be growing up without her. When Isabella finally gets her fangs she discovers they come with a terrible price. A lisp! With the help of her family, Isabella gets the lisp under control before class on Monday and learns that there’s more to growing up then [than] just getting a set of fangs. [Like what? Getting rid of a minor speech impediment to avoid embarrassment? It's not clear to me what important life lesson she learned. Not having fangs and having a lisp seem equally unimportant to me; I would expect her to learn that some things are far more important than whether you have fangs, but whether you have a lisp isn't one of them. Especially when she gets rid of the lisp almost immediately anyway. Now, if Talia de la Nuit drains the teacher's blood, Isabella would learn that not having fangs is better than spending your youth in juvenile detention for murder.]

ISABELLA VAMPIRELLA GETS HER FANGS is a 10,000 word early middle grade novel aimed at readers of Junie B. Jones and The Magic Tree house series of books who may want something a bit offbeat.

Thank you for your evil consideration.


Notes


I like the title better without the last name. Also, if you insist on using the last name you might use one other than Vampirella, as this is the name of a character who has starred in her own horror comic magazine off and on for about forty years. The character is surely trademarked. Obviously you can't trademark any old name, like John, but this article suggests that because Vampirella is a series of works, and is identified with other stuff, like really sexy posters, the name itself is a trademark.

If you can spell out clearly what Isabella learns, focus the plot summary around that.

7 comments:

josephrobertlewis said...

Wow, I was really surprised to see this was a middle grade book since I am familiar with the original Vampirella.

I agree with EE, you need a stronger turning point in the conflict than "overcoming a lisp in one weekend!"

Stephen Prosapio said...

I dunno. I don't have a lot of reading or writing experience for kids of this age, but my nieces and nephew are in this category, and it seems they're evolving away from picture books to books with more of a plot/structure.

Also, we're again dealing with issues of "protag-ination". It seems writers are falling back (in their pitches anyway) to "This is my lead character and this is the stuff that happens to him/her." Since this is a coming of age story, there will be some elements of that, but the pitch isn't really centered on the uniqueness of the conflict either internal or external--which is the story--not the cutsie characters who've all been done before. I doubt you're going to get any attention with concepts as "Differnt kids go to a school of magic." Seems as though someone's done that recently...

Amy said...

Interesting! Vampires have moved from adult fiction to young adult fiction and now early middle-grade? I wonder if I'll be reading vampire board books to my grandkids.

I haven't the slightest idea whether it's a marketable concept (that's what editors and agents are for, not writers like me), but it's interesting.

In the interest of streamlining, I don't think you need to tell us both that she's 8 years old and that's she in the 3rd grade. One more or less implies the other.

There are some problems with the writing. EE pointed out issues with the second paragraph, and then there's:

Isabella is determined to show everyone how grown-up she is; once she gets her fangs too.

I don't think that semicolon belongs there.

I agree with what others have said. At first, I thought I was getting a sense of the book's conflict (she wants to get her fangs, and everyone is maturing faster than her), but I'm not clear on what she does about it. And then it seems to be resolved early, so I realized it must not be the book's primary conflict. She does get her fangs, and then there's the problem with the lisp, but apparently that's easily solved, so what's the conflict then?

I think it's a cute idea.

Kings Falcon said...

I like the idea but as people have noted your conflict doesn't seem strong enough for the story. Also, the conflict - getting fangs - is resolved by the passage of time and not something your MC is doing.

Take another look at what your conflict really is and write the query to that issue. If it really is about getting fangs, then you might need to replot the story to raise the stakes (pun intended).

batgirl said...

My son loved the Little Dracula books (and they weren't the only ones with child vampire characters) so I would probably have picked this off the shelf when he was 6 or so.
The setup is promising, but the story is slight even for a bedtime story. What are the (pardon me) stakes? Will her friends shun her, will she lose out on the spelling contest? If Monday morning is the ticking clock, clarify that in the query. "She must overcome her lisp by midnight Monday, or Dreadful Thing will happen."
Then, how does she overcome her lisp? That's the conflict, right? Does she do it herself, or does kindly old Gramp-vamp fix it for her? Even little kids want characters who take action.
But keep at it! You have a strong concept here, where the much-wished-for achievement makes things worse. So - let things get worse before they get better.

Anonymous said...

Fangs is a metaphor for breasts, right? And the lisp...

Anonymous said...

Yeah I would definitely nix the Vampirella for the sames reasons previously mentioned.

Also, while we're on the subject of names, Isabella was also the name of the main character in Twilight. I don't know if that's a big deal or not.