Friday, October 01, 2010

Face-Lift 828

Guess the Plot

Whispers in the Dark

1. Leisha is distracted from her mission of tracking a drug ring by a menacing voice that only she can hear. Is she losing her mind, or are revolutionaries from other planets attacking her sanity in a coup against the artificial intelligence programs that control their lives?

2. Every night after she turned out the light, Sonya could hear them under her bed, from behind the closet door . . . damn these time-share telemarketers anyway.

3. In the Cherokee nation of early America, Shines Like Sunshine and Walking Hawk are young and in love. But jealous eyes watch from behind every tepee and totem pole, envious of their simple joy. Can Walking Hawk escape the murderous clutches of his mate's ex-boyfriend, Whispers in the Dark?

4. Iggy the busboy must descend into the basement of Bud's Diner. This time he's on a mission to listen to the wireless for an important breakfast order from the French Underground. But the chatter he hears sounds more like a Guy Fawkes plan to blow up Parliament. Has he entered a time tunnel? Or does the free world now depend on himself and savvy waitress Loretta Muldoon?

5. The kingdom of Roth'na'hersh is threatened. Dark forces of the Fae are rising up like a bad tv dinner. Thirteen-year-old Drychmae has a magic sword, a hankering to kill her some Fae, and mysterious voices telling her how to go about it. But can she believe those . . . Whispers in the Dark?

6. As he wanders in the dark on Halloween, hillbilly boy genius Buddy Boone hears whispering voices and realizes he's near the spot where Fred Jones, bootleg distiller, vanished during Prohibition. And he sees a foggy figure in the shrubbery. Plus his iPhone spectral apparition meter app is buzzing.

Original Version

Whoever said that technology makes life easier was full of it. [And whoever said it doesn't has never tried to get a message to his sister in Hawaii.] For the Colonized Planets, the Artificial Intelligence programs monitor and assist the Colonies, allowing them to remain united and simplifying most daily tasks by administrating the System. With travel, communications, and information networks all automated, humans have very little to worry about. The AIs aren’t quite what they seem, however, and one person knows exactly what they are. [That one person is me, the author, and I'm not talking.] [Dump that paragraph. Anything in it that's essential can be woven into the other three plot paragraphs.]

Maj. Leisha O’Davoren is an undercover operative in the Peacekeepers, the law enforcement organization charged with service and protection for the Colonies. She is very good at her job, especially since she can access the AIs without a computer. [Unless you consider the iPhone Artificial Intelligence System Access app a computer.] [The first half of that sentence is repeated in the next sentence; the second half isn't needed, as we don't know why accessing the AIs without a computer is such a big deal.] Secure in her abilities and her job, she heads off to her next assignment, only to be attacked as soon as she hits the planet.

Nothing about this operation goes according to plan. Leisha is distracted from her primary goal of tracking a drug ring by an attractive stalker, programmed assassins, and a menacing voice that only she can hear. [Does the menacing voice whisper in the dark?] [Pssst. Get a frigging nightlight, lady, or I'll kill you.] With her sanity under attack, she tries to focus on her job, which is easier said than done when she’s ordered to investigate her shadow, a hacker named Wynn Corriden. [An undercover operative who's very good at her job wouldn't have trouble focusing just because she has to investigate a hacker; I'm guessing her focus problem has more to do with the programmed assassins.]

When the System is hijacked by revolutionaries, Leisha is forced to team up with Wynn to return control to the AIs. However, when the true power behind the coup is revealed, she finds that enforcing the law has little to do with doing what’s right, especially if it means a sacrifice that leaves her broken and alone. [That's a pretty vague closing sentence. Change it to: However, the AIs aren’t quite what they seem; they are sentient tools of the Bourgeoisie underground, intent on making human life more difficult by incapacitating all TV remote controls and microwave ovens.]

Whispers in the Dark is my third novel and is complete at 87,000 words. [There's no point in mentioning your other novels unless you name them and are confident that when the agent/editor Googles the titles he/she will be thrilled that someone with your accomplishments has queried him/her.] Thank you for your consideration.


It isn't terrible, but by cutting out the boring stuff you leave room to throw in another interesting tidbit or two about what's going on. Like, who's the power behind the coup?

If you get attacked the minute you hit a planet and the attack fails, the attackers are incompetent. I mean, if I order my squad of assassins to kill Joe Shmo when he gets off the L bus at Broadway and 5th, I gotta figure at least one of them is gonna get him.


_*rachel*_ said...

Delete what EE told you to delete, and try to work the rest so it's more specific as to what happens without getting overwhelmed in Capitalized Terms.

It's not horrible, but it's got more vagueness than zing.

M. G. E. said...

This one has wandered a bit into synopsis territory.

I was so overwhelmed by trying to keep track of the rapidly changing plot points that I felt jostled from side to side.

So THIS but then THAT and now THIS but OH.

The effect left the query with a feeling of diffuse focus. Nothing really stuck out, nothing popped.

In fact, this query read a bit like a literary plot-line, where tons of things are supposed to happen so the character-focus of the story can shine forth. But you don't want that feeling in a scifi story.

So, back to basics. Start with the hero. What's she trying to do. Who's trying to stop her?

GTP3# = great twist in the end :P

sylvia said...

Oshit we're using the same name.

Have we both borrowed Leisha from somewhere without realising or is it just a very weird coincidence?

arhooley said...

"Administrating the system"? I suggest administering.

Anyway, I have the following elements:

- the Colonized Planets
- the Colonies
- the System
- the AI programs
- humans
- the Peacekeepers
- a drug ring
- revolutionaries
- the true power behind the revolutionaries (someone mentioned above?)
- Wynn Corriden, a stalker
- Leisha O'Davoren, an undercover Peacekeeper who is secure in her job because the unemployment rate is very low in the year 3062 plus she speaks Spanish.
- programmed assassins
- a little evil voice

And here's the plot:

Leisha is not what she seems, and her mission is not what it seems. Her stalker is not what he seems, and the revolutionaries are not what they seem. The AIs are not what they seem. The right thing is not what it seems. It also turns out that Leisha is one mission away from being broken and alone.

I suggest that you simplify and demystify.

Anonymous said...

Nobody counts trunk novels and there's no rule that requires you to confess their existence so whatever you're pitching now is your 'first' one, like EE says.

150 said...

Are you both about the same age?

Word ver: Fropike. Now there's a name.

Zombie Deathfish said...

Wait... Attractive stalker? Please tell me that isn't Leisha's first reaction to him? "My, this mysterious stalker certainly is attractive! Hope he's not the rape-and-murder kind of stalker, because that would suck."

mb said...

Loved the variety and creativity of the GTPs.

alaskaravenclaw said...

I had a lot of trouble following this query, and now that I see arhooley's list I understand why.

Rewrite it (the query, not a's list) and focus on the character and major plot points-- no subplots.

And Zombie Deathfish is right-- lose the attractive stalker. There's nothing attractive about a stalker. Try out "attractive rapist" or "attractive murderer" and you'll see the problem.

Stephen Prosapio said...

how about "attractive publisher who rejected my manuscript"? nah. that doesn't work either.

The query is well written but there was just "something wrong" I couldn't put my finger on. I think arthooey nailed it. There should really only be one two at MOST elements "that aren't what they seem" in a query (or even a story for that matter) otherwise it gets jumbled.

Keep going with this. Don't get discouraged. It may sound like you're getting "ripped" here but you're not far off!