Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Face-Lift 835

Guess the Plot

Invisible Romeo

1. Mercutio scores an invisibility potion on the tough streets of Verona. He offers the concoction to Romeo so he can sneak into the Capulet home undetected. Once inside, he learns secrets that could finally bring down the family enemy; however this would mean betraying Juliet.

2. Carmen has finally met the boy of her dreams. As it happens, he's invisible. Also, a vampire. When Carmen gets trapped in a school fire, she fears no one can save her . . . unless . . . can a vampire go out in the daytime if he's invisible?

3. In the two years since her failed suicide attempt, Julia has put her life back on track. When she finds love in a new boy, her last boyfriend--the successful side of the suicide pact--comes back to haunt her and make her his forever.

4. Fiona is lonely and miserable at the dorms her freshman year. With no friends or family, she's stuck there over Christmas vacation. Making things worse, the dorms are supposed to be haunted by the ghost of a student who hung himself in the lobby. Fiona doesn't believe it...until the strange love letters start appearing on her pillows.

5. Romeo seems like Juliet's dream come true. He's handsome, charming, and he calls her "my precious." But at the wedding ceremony, he slips the Ring onto his own finger instead of hers, and suddenly Juliet is facing an . . . Invisible Romeo.

6. Anna's ability to time travel lands her in Shakespeare's home town and she begins to manipulate the writing of Romeo and Juliet. Soon Juliet is the antagonist and hates Romeo so much that he's considered "invisible".

Original Version

Carmen is an ordinary girl living your average everyday life...[My average everyday life? Lemme give you an idea of my average everyday day:

8 AM -- 5 PM: Playing basketball with balled-up query letters, putting up with Mrs. V's crap and burning manuscripts.

5:30 -- 5:35: Arrive home, inhale a few breaths from a tank containing pure oxygen mixed with the scent of cotton candy.

5:35 -- 6:00: Strip naked and work out on the balance beam.

6:00 -- 7:30: Continue long-term project of digging a secret tunnel under my house, connecting the lounge to the conservatory.

7:30 -- 8:00: Wheel of Fortune.

8:00 -- 9:00: Phone calls to Bruce Willis, Snoop Dogg, Tiger Woods and Lady Gaga to give them advice.

9:00 -- 10:00: Mud wrestling with my pet anaconda.

10:00 -- Bedtime: 8 pints of Cherry Garcia.]

that is until she meets the boy of her dreams. Mychel is a vampire--an invisible vampire--[The only time you can see him is when he's standing in front of a mirror.] and has been tormented for the past two centuries by a crazy stalker named Muriah who is of the same species. [And believe me, stalking someone who's invisible ain't easy.] One day Mychel crosses paths with Carmen, nearly running into her and exposing his existence. [I can't tell if he exposed himself or nearly exposed himself.] After that one day, a fascination grows within him about this small but seemingly strong girl. Muriah isn't too happy about this though, in fact she is outright appalled that the guy she is convinced will marry him [Marry him? Who's him?] is making googly eyes at a human. Per usual routine, Muriah tries to black male and brown nose Mychel into marrying her, [Unless that's a clever way of saying she gets Mike Tyson to force him to marry her, you mean "blackmail." And get rid of the brown-nose part, as the rest of this sentence doesn't describe anything related to brown-nosing.] by threatening the life of the girl he seems smitten with--Carmen. Eventually, Carmen finds out about Mychel and Muriah, and Muriah's worrisome antics become more persistent [Is threatening the life of the girl Mychel is smitten with a "worrisome antic"?] as she fruitlessly tries to persuade Mychel.

Then one day, while Carmen is at school, her worst fear is realized, she is trapped in a burning building with no way out. Being a hopeless [incurable?] Pyrophobiac [Why is that capitalized?] trapped in a chem lab fire, she begins to worry [believes] that it's all over and that since it is daytime, Mychel won't be able to do anything to save her. [Then she realizes that all chem labs are well-stocked with fire extinguishers and have sprinkler systems, and that the fire department is just up the road.] From his home, Mychel sees the smoke at the school and recognizes the area immediately. [That's . . . the chem lab! And Carmen has chemistry third period!] Fearing for Carmen's safety and unconcerned of [for] himself, he races to the school to search for her. Little does he know that this is Muriah's doing and Carmen won't be safe until he agrees to marry her.

Invisible Romeo is a 10,719 word, unfinished fantasy novel. [Apparently you ran into a case of writer's block and decided to work on your query letter while waiting for inspiration to strike? Not the worst idea--if this plot description covers what will eventually be the entire book--but if it covers only the 10,000 words you've written so far, that's not good, as the query should summarize a larger portion of the book.]


A 200+ year-old guy smitten with a high school girl? Shall we assume he was 17 when he became a vampire, and that he hasn't aged physically or emotionally since then, or shall we just go, "Ewwwwwww"?

I guess it doesn't matter if he looks like an old man, as he's invisible. But I don't understand what Carmen sees in him. Ba dum ching.

It's not clear why Carmen is thinking Mychel won't be able to do anything to save me, when there's been no mention that they have any sort of relationship. She should be wondering if her chemistry teacher will save her, not some guy she barely knows and who isn't in the school. All we know is that she recently found out that he exists. It's also not clear why Mike is smitten when his only contact with Carmen was almost running into her. Does he follow her around? If so, Muriah isn't the only stalker in the book.


John A. said...

I thought this was a joke... and I agree with EE, there is no indication that Carmen and Mychel have any kind of relationship. Plus, Mychel? Muriah?! Please just spell conventional names the regular way. Screwing with spelling doesn't make your characters special - it makes you look like you have dyslexia.

Anonymous said...

Mychel and Muriah were born 200 years ago. Shouldn't they be Michael and Maria? Save the kooky spellings for Carmen and her contemporaries. How about Kharmen . . . Carmenh . . . Kha'rmen . . .

Anonymous said...

Hard to take this seriously with the "black male" and all of the comma splices. It's a big "small thing"--you know, what a sentence is. And of course, what it isn't.

150 said...

[The only time you can see him is when he's standing in front of a mirror.]

I died.

I must see pages of this.

BuffySquirrel said...

What, no 'wherefore art thou, Romeo?' joke?

(nobody needs to tell me wherefore means why, btw, or that I should put my comma in the right place, kthxbai)

((now i'm beginning to understand why EE skipped the joke))

Anonymous said...

Are you sure it shouldn't be called Invisible Edward?

Marissa Doyle said...

Finish writing this, author, and then put it away and read about 50 books. And then try again with a different story. I suspect that this is a first effort, and that's okay. Everyone starts somewhere. But I think you've got more work on craft and storytelling to do before you try again.

And it's a cardinal rule never to query on work that isn't finished. Only authors with track records can get away with selling on a partial. Just so you know.

Joe G said...

This is freaking insane. I'm dying over here. You almost don't need the annotations from EE. Is the twist that Muriah is actually Mariah Carey, well known cougar, international pop sensation, and part time vampire?

My favorite part because it just comes out of nowhere is:

Then one day, while Carmen is at school, her worst fear is realized, she is trapped in a burning building with no way out. Being a hopeless Pyrophobiac trapped in a chem lab fire, she begins to worry that it's all over and that since it is daytime, Mychel won't be able to do anything to save her.

I just keep picturing her sitting in the lab, watching the fire get bigger and bigger and thinking, "Maybe I ought to start worrying about this. I could call the fire department but if Mychel can't save me, why should I bother doing anything? After all, being trapped in a chemical fire at school is my worst fear."

I'm going to write a book called Hopeless Pyrophiliacs. It'll be about a firefighter with unusual proclivities.

Anonymous said...

"I guess it doesn't matter if he looks like an old man, as he's invisible. But I don't understand what Carmen sees in him. Ba dum ching"

I thought my co-workers were going to walk into the office to see why I was laughing so loudly I had to bite my tongue.

Ellie said...

I really liked GTP #3!

batgirl said...

Does Mychal need to be a vampire? Does he need to be immortal? How about he's just invisible, which would certainly put a crimp in the dating scene anyways.

The triangle with Muriah is reminiscent of the situation in Evermore (Alyson Noel), which has an immortal teenage alchemist (but visible), his reincarnated true love sulky teen girl, and his also-immortal stalker who's trying to kill the sulky teen.

Author, as others have said, there's no real point querying an unfinished story. I suggest you finish it, get some beta readers to go over it, and spend some time revising it. Practice and good beta readers make a huge difference.

batgirl said...

Wait, nobody's suggested that invisible Mychal and the guy who's an occlusion of a payphone should form a support group?

Phoenix said...

I'm going to assume the author knows not to query with a partial and that s/he is looking for feedback NOW when s/he has time to make corrections to the work based on what EE and the Minions note.

Completely aside from story, grammar, and character issues, this is a really SMART strategy. Find out how your story resonates BEFORE you waste hours writing what will need to be unwritten later anyway.

In fact, going forward, I think everyone participating in NaNoWriMo should write a query for the novel they plan to write in Nov and have it critiqued in Oct: NaQWriMo

I really love GTP #3!

putting up with Mrs. V's crap and burning manuscripts.
Have a little tact, EE. The MC is a hopeless Pyrophobiac -- must you mention your love for burning things right in front of her?

Ellie said...

Phoenix is wise -- I was astonished how my Nano novel started to crystallize when I tried to write a fake query for it and was confronted with a lot of "And she doesn't really like the sister, but she has a crush on the brother, and also her best friend is a kleptomaniac, and she can do magic, but she might want to be a scientist, and she's in a gang, and she also has a crush on a rival gang member, but really, it all works out in the end, after she solves the murders ...* "

Of course, I'm sure all my streamlining and refining will get undone come November, when I actually write the thing!

* - none of this, unfortunately, is exaggeration. I think it's what the kids today call a hot mess!

_*rachel*_ said...

If the first million words are just practice, then you've got 990,000 words left to go. But hey, NaNoWriMo's nearly here!

Don't query until you're done.

Joe G--it's called Fahrenheit 451.

So true about NaNo. One of the great things is that I have to wait to write, which give my characters and story time to develop first. It's also less of a waste of words when my characters switch genre on me.

Lauren K said...

I sometimes write queries for novels I haven't finished yet too. It helps organize my thoughts. As others have said, don't send the query out until the novel is finished, edited, etc.
I found some of the names distracting too but that's not a big deal. The basic story sounds like it could have potential.
Good luck

M. G. E. said...

Aaaand vampires have officially jumped the (query)shark.

No. No more vampires falling in love with teen girls. Please. Not even with your "unique twist", whatever it may be.

Back when Tolkien published the LOTR series, do you ever wonder if there was a sudden rash of people querying agents with stories featuring magic rings that make you invisible, or mock-hobbits and the like? I can only imagine.

The query shows poor written skills; perhaps the author is really young or learned English as a second language and is still a novice... It's that bad. And the plot is worse than bad. And the word count... "clueless" doesn't begin to describe it.

Writing professionally either is not for you, or you have a very long road ahead of you while you improve your skills in the craft of writing in all of its facets before you're going to be published, or get paid for writing anything.

batgirl said...

I won't fault the author for writing a query for an unfinished novel - I've done that myself, for practice, and sent the resulting queries to EE (quick, guess which!) - but I'd suggest she present it as if it were a finished novel, with an estimated and ROUNDED OFF wordcount.
Author, I'm guessing you're quite young, and I hope you don't find this discouraging, but please remember you have lots of time to develop your craft. Almost all beginning writers create 'trunk novels', books where they experimented and took chances and learned better, then put away. Finish this book - you obviously love it - then write another and another. Practice. Read lots of other books, read books about writing. And good luck!

Angela Robbins said...

i wasn't really sure if this was serious when i got down to the paraphrased: this is a 10k word unfinished... part.
last time i knew, you don't send queries on unfinished work.
ee's jokes were so damn funny, i'm lol'ing at my desk at work and can't stop. the mike tyson thing was so friggin hilarious. And the entire not sure what she sees in him. ee, have you done stand up at the improv?
batgirl has me in stitches too. it's about time someone brought up the payphone again. i was missing him desperately!

that being said, it takes courage to post here with us minions. finish the novel, take the constructive things some of the minions have said and go from there.

word verification:
imess, imessed my pants reading this entry!

Not Normall Anonymous said...

Ohhhhhh man. I missed out on all this fun yesterday?!?!?!

No wayyyyyyy I'm putting my name on this comment just in case I'mma famous one day.

This is dreadful from the opening line:

Carmen is an ordinary girl living your average everyday life...that is until she meets the boy of her dreams.


Red said...

Why didn't anybody tell me that teenage girls loved being stalked when I was young and single? Or would I need to wait till I'm old and a bit creepy for success?

Joe G said...

Rachel, hah!

Wouldn't a query written before you'd really gotten much of the way into writing your novel just be a summary or a plot outline or, I dunno, a collection of notes?

Phoenix said...

Joe: I think it depends on whether you're a pantser or a planner. If a planner and you have an idea where your story's going, then writing the query early on may be an easier exercise than waiting until your story is bloated with all that extra baggage you just have to find a way to cram into your query. The query almost HAS to be focused.

If your a pantser, not so much. But it could help focus your writing efforts a bit more and force you to have an end in sight.

It may not be THE query you wind up going out with, but I think it would be a great first draft.

Unrepentant Escapist said...

I always write my queries before I finish, usually after I write the first 30-60 pages of a novel. Most of the time, the query only goes up to right after the inciting incident anyway, so it doesn't matter how your book ends. Plus, you can always revise the query later. Writing queries helps me focus my work by identifying the central conflict with the antagonist and the inter-personal conflicts with the other main characters. If I can't sum it up in 200 words or less, then it's obvious I've got a problem.

I'd cut the author some slack for sending the query unfinished since Evil Editor did ask for volunteers.

For the query itself: it's too busy, with too many characters. Simplify. Right now, it sounds more like Mychel's story than Carmen's. Focus the query on her. For example, "High school rugby player Carmen Alexis is happy with her new boyfriend Mychel, despite the difficulties that come with dating an invisible vampire. Sure, none of her teammates believe he exists, and she can't tell if he looks good in his prom tuxedo or not, but at least she doesn't have to look at his acne scars, either.

Life is bliss until his stalker ex-girlfriend comes and sets her chemistry lab on fire..." etc.

See what I mean? Make it Carmen's story, and give her a voice we can care about. Right now, the diluted focus makes all your characters flat and unlikeable. Voice matters so much more than plot in a romance. You're not going to hook readers with a burning building--you're going to hook them by the fact a character they care about (because that character makes them laugh, has a voice they can identify with, etc.) is in a burning building.

Does he need to be invisible and a vampire? Why not just invisible? I like that better, just because I'm sick to death of vampires and its the invisible part that intrigues me.