Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Face-Lift 825


Guess the Plot

Thaw

1. He was a lumberjack with a lisp, trapped in the woodth with a killer. And he had only one weapon to defend himself.

2. Audrey froze when her mother died, but then she meets Ben and melts. Ben thinks it's a match made in heaven--until law-enforcing angels descend and try to kill him.

3. When an alluring door-to-door saleswoman cuts Tom Kremenchi a deal, he spends $500 on frozen steaks. But when Tom’s freezer conks out and he’s left with 100 pounds of thawing meat, he makes a grisly discovery. The packages contain human flesh. And now Tom’s on the meat hook… for murder.

4. 2012. The glaciers have melted, freeing bacteria frozen since the last Ice Age. Only Dr. Laura Griffith and her team can stop ancient diseases from "plaguing" humanity. But will Big Pharma prevent them from giving away their life-saving discovery?

5. Global warming is a disaster-- for everyone except the happy hamlet of Fugenfroozen in Greenland. They are excited about finally opening their fancy new beach resort. But the people of Aruba aren't happy about their tourists going away. Will Fugenfroozen survive the war after the . . . Thaw?

6. The mysterious Freeze of 2050 drove human beings underground for decades. Now the temperatures are rising again, and people are poking their heads above ground. The "mystery" is now explained -- and mankind's new overlords await.



Original Version

Dear Evil Editor,

Audrey Scott thought that after a car wreck claimed her mother’s life, the grief would keep her frozen forever. Her life became nothing but a series of blurry images, masking emotions too severe to expose.

Life threatens to get worse when a bank robber shoots her friend and then turns the gun on her. [Life isn't threatening to get worse, it's already gotten worse. It's threatening to end.] This near death experience puts the illusive Ben Tyler right in the middle of everything- and Audrey begins to melt. ["Everything" is vague. Does Ben show up before the guy pulls the trigger, and save Audrey's life? Does the robber spare Audrey and Ben shows up later?] [What does "melt" mean? That she stops grieving for her mother? That the blurry images her life had become clear up? That she falls for hunky Ben?]

What is it about Ben that changes Audrey so deeply? [I'm all for a quiz to test whether we've been paying attention, but unless the quiz comes at the end of the query, I think it should be multiple choice. Something like:
a.
He's only half human.
b.
He's her guardian angel.
c. He's a reformed serial killer.
d. He's a pimp with a heart of gold.
e. He's Morgan Freeman.]


He’s a Nephalim: Half Fallen Angel, Half Human. And when Ben reveals this to Audrey, [she says, "Look pal, if you wanna get into my pants, at least come up with a line that's semi-believable.] he inadvertently places them in a conflict as old as time. [Now that's old.] Law enforcing Angels descend, desperate to keep their immense secret, [What secret?] while opportunistic Fallen rise to recruit Ben at all costs. [Recruit him to do what?]

Will Ben be able to survive the Angels, [Survive? They're trying to kill him?] run from the Fallen, protect Audrey, [From what?] and discover what side he's truly fighting for?

Thaw: The Warming of Audrey Scott, [The subtitle doesn't thrill me. Are you worried readers need it to understand why it's called Thaw?] is my completed 37,000 word Young Adult novel. Told from both Audrey and Ben’s point of view, Thaw gives you personal insight into their battle for love and truth, and will interest fans of Stephenie Meyer and Maggie Steifvater. [I before E except after C. It's never good to cite an author while spelling her name wrong. I know the correct spelling because Ms. Stiefvater is an Evil Minion.] [You know you've made it when writers think dropping your name will help get them a contract.] [I wonder if anyone's ever submitted a query claiming their book would appeal to fans of Evil Editor.] I have worked personally with children and teens for the last 7 years, during which I interned with a Youth Ministry, writing various manuals and worksheets for them. At the moment I maintain a technical writing job at [for] a construction news report.

Thank you very much for your time and consideration, and I look forward to your reply.

Sincerely,


Notes

Does Audrey do anything besides freeze and thaw? Is she useful in fighting angel cops?

Is there a romantic angle? How old are Audrey and Ben?

If you're more specific it'll be more clear. And the four-part question at the end of the plot is a waste of space. Find a better wrap-up.

25 comments:

BuffySquirrel said...

Illusive or elusive? Neither seems really to fit.

Marissa Doyle said...

I had no clue this was a YA until you said so...that's not a good sign. You begin the query with Audrey, but the rest sounds more like Ben's story, with Audrey as catalyst (or worse yet, macguffin) for the plot.

37K is pretty slim for a YA. Probably too slim.

Anonymous said...

EE! Shame on you! How did you miss illusive? He should be elusive!

alaskaravenclaw said...

"This near death experience puts the illusive Ben Tyler right in the middle of everything"

I think you mean "elusive".

Or, for all I know, "allusive".

writtenwyrdd said...

Yes, be more specific as to the plot.

I'm really stuck by "illusive" because that means she must be hallucinating Ben...

Dave F. said...

The dictionary defines "illusive" as causing illusion; deceptive; misleading.
You want "elusive" -- cleverly or skillfully evasive: a fish too elusive to catch.

Aside from the facts that Audrey "freezes" and "thaws" which by that I guess you mean gets despondent, depressed and listless, and then becomes filled with life, happy and loving of all things, why is she the main character of the query?

Why can't we just go to the Hallmark store and pick up a greeting card for inspiration and happiness? And I've been through some pretty depressing losses in my life.

I'm not being mean. I'm reading the query and I see Ben as having the struggles of being half-angel and tempted by the Fallen Angels and pursued by the Heavenly Angels. It seems he is trying to walk a narrow path between doing good and evil. Does Audrey make him human? Can he make Audrey a half-angel?

Those stories are a lot more exciting and compelling than mere depression after your parent died. We all have parents and grandparents die. We all know that our parents will die.

I'm willing to bet that none of the minions have ever met a Nephalim, nor have they lived lives for hundreds of thousands of years trying to avoid both The Fallen and The Chosen to stay alive. That is where you should focus the query so it sounds unique.

Eric said...

This is a good setup, but I want to know what happens to the characters and why I should care.

I'm pretty sure you mean "elusive" not "illusive," unless your point is that Ben is not real.

Also, it's more commonly spelled "Nephilim," and it's plural (i.e. "one of the Nephilim" not "a Nephalim").

No references to Erick the Strange Angelic Man? EE, you disappoint me, though the Law Enforcing Angels almost make up for it.

arhooley said...

You might as well make Ben a dog for all his conformity to his species (angel). For one thing, as I understand it there have been no new angels created since the original ones, which means Ben must be thousands of years old. He certainly hasn't thought things through very well during that time, not that angels of any age should have such impaired reasoning skills as to have to try to figure out which side they're on.

These slapped-on alter-identities of vampires, angels, magicians, whatever, strike me as a lazy way of tapping into fantasy or creating unique characters. So many conventions or doctrines are violated to make these characters more human than other that an author might as well not bother. I know there's a certain appeal to "Wouldn't it be cool if angels were just like us except they could fly and they lived in cloud-castles?" I guess it's okay in a very limited way, but surely authors are capable of offering more?

Evil Editor said...

I don't see how any of you can claim Ben is elusive after he's appeared in only one sentence, a sentence in which he is in the middle of everything. If he's elusive, he would be outside everything, hard to catch, not in the middle. Find out what the author meant by illusive and suggest a better word. Don't assume it must be a (near)homophone.

lindsayjuarez said...

i (said author) meant that he is not usually the center of attention, like, he's there but no one know anything about him. he's mysterious (feel free to stroke your chin when you say that).

i know my query has a lot of work, but i just was stuck to i wanted to see where i could better it. i do need to suck it up and be more specific. i guess i just like being elusive - er allusive - ah sketchy. :0)

M. G. E. said...

I thought the idea of "police angels" was unintentionally hilarious :P

"Avenging angels" might be more characteristic thematically.

I think the biggest problem with this story is that it's clearly been crafted specifically to appeal to Stephenie Meyer fans. Resulting in the plot being perhaps a bit too similar in character.

Also, you seem not to have solved the one problem that Meyer did get right, which is answering why the supernatural character is so stuck on one girl, "why her?"

In Twilight, whats-her-face has some sort of special power which makes her immune to vamp powers, which ends up making Bella the most intriguing girl on the planet for Edward, which is why he risks everything.

So why Audrey? If your protagonist can just walk away when the going gets tough then your conflict has a fatal flaw.

Khazar-khum said...

Let's see. Instead of 'illusive':
Shadowy
Intriguing
Strangely angelic

Red said...

Thaw: The Warming of Audrey Scott, [The subtitle doesn't thrill me. Are you worried readers need it to understand why it's called Thaw?]



I have to disagree here. I thought the title came from those awkward post coital moments.

"That was great." Ben said as he unfolded his wings.

"I'm a little thaw but it wath totally worth it." Audrey lisped sexily.

Phoenix said...

Maybe if the author adds a simile to help define the meaning:

This near-death experience puts Ben Tyler, illusive as the occlusion of a payphone, right in the middle of everything.

What EE said. And Marissa.

And, being constructive here not cruel, if you're going to admit in the query you write for a living, please make sure the writing in the query justifies that claim. Maybe others don't automatically feel this way, but I hold people who get paid to write every day to a higher standard when it comes to syntax, grammar and saying precisely what you mean in an engaging way. Tell me you get paid to write and all the niggling mistakes just leap out at me. I then tend to judge your work more harshly than I would judge that of someone who doesn't mention their experience.

Proofread carefully, self-edit ruthlessly.

If you can't do that for 300 words, how can I trust you can do it for 37,000?

Evil Editor said...

i (said author) meant that he is not usually the center of attention, like, he's there but no one know anything about him. he's mysterious

I know no word that conveys all that, but "mysterious" seems to pop up in every third query, possibly because it means no one knows anything about the character, possibly because he's a stranger who just showed up, which is a common occurrence in novels. I'd go with it over any of the usives.

Dave F. said...

I feel the need...

Let me go back to the CHINATOWN example. A woman hires Jake Gittes to find her husband's lover and Gittes, being a snake of a Private Invetigator, finds the husband and publishes the picture. That in itself is uneventful. It happens every day.
However, in the story, it turns out that the woman who hired Gittes is not the wife and the woman hae photographed and called a mistress is the wife. That creates mystery. That creates questions. That implies tawdry bedroom affairs. Juicy gossip.
When the husband turns up dead, then we all know something unusual is happening and we are hooked on the mysterious woman and why she did what she did.

There's a little more to the story but this is enough to illustrate my point. Someone is not what they seem.

In this query, Ben is only mysterious when his actions affects the other characters and he does something unexpected like appearing in between Audrey and the point of a gun and saving her. AS she's thanking him, he's not going to offer info about his status (unless he's dumb as a rock). There's got to be more that attracts her to him and eventually forces him to reveal his angelic nature.

As I asked earlier, at the end of the story, how does Audrey come out of this encounter with a half-angel? Does he get into heaven? Does she become a nun? Does he make her part angel? Do they buy a minivan, a cottage in the burbs with a picket fence and raise 2 1/2 kids?

Does Ben make things better or like Gittes, does he make things worse?

Anonymous said...

It sounded like literary fiction at the beginning. And I was hooked until Ben popped up. After the angels appeared, you lost me.

Next time be up front with what we're dealing with.

Zombie Deathfish said...

I feel the need to point out that "nephilim" is mispelt. Not sure why "human" is capitalised, or angel and nephilim, for that matter.

I also think 37k sounds very small for a YA novel.

BuffySquirrel said...

Sure would be nice if a woman in a story could solve her problem within herself instead of finding the solution in a man.

What? I can dream, can't I?

(for 'man' read, yanno, male vampire, payphone, cat, whatever)

How about esoteric? arcane? secretive? impenetrable?

Rebecca said...

You mention her mother's death in the beginning of the query, but from what I understand, it really has very little to do with the conflict of the story. Maybe start the query with the bank robbery, or even just the main conflict she and Ben must face together?

How does Ben's being a Nephalim change Audrey? He has super powers over her? And why would it be a struggle to decide which side he's truly fighting for, if the Angels are trying to kill him? Wouldn't that kind of automatically rule them out?

Also, I think YA novels usually have YA characters. Nothing in the query says that any of your characters are YA; they all sound like adults. That's why finding out at the end that it's 37,000 words, and for YA, is so jarring.

Good luck!

Angela Robbins said...

did anyone else hope it was GTP 3. of course it couldn't have been, it was to cleaver--i mean clever.
who wrote that one? it was hilarious.

this doesn't seem ya to me. the query doesn't convey that through the characters or set up until the line when you write it's ya. 37k sounds like novella to me.

pretty much what everyone else has said, i agree with.

writtenwyrdd said...

arhooley said "These slapped-on alter-identities of vampires, angels, magicians, whatever, strike me as a lazy way of tapping into fantasy or creating unique characters. So many conventions or doctrines are violated to make these characters more human than other that an author might as well not bother. I know there's a certain appeal to "Wouldn't it be cool if angels were just like us except they could fly and they lived in cloud-castles?" I guess it's okay in a very limited way, but surely authors are capable of offering more?"

well put.

Eileen said...

As others have mentioned focus on the story. I would cut the end where you talk about how you work with teens. Working with teens doesn't mean you would be better at writing for teens. It's a nice piece of info, but use the space in the query for your story- it will have more bang for your buck.

Anonymous said...

The word nephalim comes from Hebrew and is plural. Though many readers wouldn't pick up on it, it sounds weird to say he's "a" nephalim.

Anonymous said...

You need to multiply your word count by three to appeal to Stephanie Meyer fans, and that is just for the first book.