Friday, June 03, 2011

Face-Lift 913


Guess the Plot

The Goddesses: Discovery

1. Look out gods, there's a new force on the horizon of power - goddesses! These females won't be taking any backtalk from washed-out losers, they're here to turn the world upside down.

2. Four goddesses make an alarming discovery: an evil god named Hikakanen is stirring up trouble. The goddesses spring into action, convincing a boy to take on the evil one. What, you didn't expect goddesses to get their hands dirty, did you?

3. Betsy has tried everything to rid her house of pests-- exterminators, traps, fumigation. But it's no good-- there are droppings in the kitchen again, and under the fridge she discovers... goddesses. A whole nest of 'em.

4. While on vacation in France, teens Lydia and Loretta discover a cache of ancient carved stone goddesses. Instantly enchanted, they bumble through a magical portal and land in a world where they are scullery maids in Venus's kitchen.

5. Jane and Nat meet in college and discover they grew up within blocks of each other. Also, they both have tiny sets of wings growing off their feet. Clearly, that FTD man who visited both their mothers so often wasn't just bringing flowers. Lesbian half-goddess half-sisters. How Greek.

6. Security guard David Hogan works nights at the Smithsonian. When the decommissioned Space Shuttle Discovery is sent there for display, David starts hearing female voices. Is he crazy, or has something sinister been brought back from space?



Original Version

Dear Evil Editor,

In Guen’s opinion, quests are supposed to be heroic; Willow just wants to discover new flora. Junebug wouldn’t mind learning to fly like her namesake, and Shark wants her powers to fully develop at last. [Is this a query letter or the storyline of The Wizard of Oz II?]

None of these four goddesses are prepared for the truths and deceptions awaiting them in the mundane world of their home country. [What are these truths and deceptions? Why don't they know what's going on in their home country? Have they been on vacation?] Hikakanen, an ancient and evil god, has begun to stir trouble in the south. [Stir trouble? What's he doing, spreading rumors?]

Unless the goddesses can convince a young boy, who might be of the avatar race thought destroyed long ago, to use his powers [What are his powers?] against Hikakanen, all hope will be lost. [All hope of what?] [What if the kid isn't of the avatar race?] [Great message for all the teenage girls reading the book: Four goddesses are powerless to stop the villain, but a young boy can handle it.] [What I don't get is why the goddesses get to be in the book's title when their only contribution to saving the world is convincing someone else to do it.]

At 80,000 words, The Goddesses: Discovery is a fantasy for teens, focused on the enduring power of friendship.

Thank you for considering my work.

Sincerely,


Notes

This is a list of characters followed by a lot of vagueness. What's the story? Be specific. Provide fascinating detail that makes us want to read the book.

If the book focuses on the enduring power of friendship, maybe the query should as well. I don't see anything about friendship. I don't see any indication that the characters even know each other.

What makes them think this boy is a member of a race they don't believe exists? And if they thought the race was so weak that it could be destroyed, what makes them think one child from that race is so powerful?

14 comments:

alaskaravenclaw said...

The same advice as for many others: Sum your story up in one sentence, maximum length 20 words, and build your query outward from there.

The title's not going to work. It suggests "series" even though you don't mention a series in your query.

BuffySquirrel said...

What happens?

Anonymous said...

Avatar fan fic?

Anonymous said...

What EE said. What's the point of having these females as your main characters? Do they flutter around until shit happens and then hide out and cheer on the boy-hero while all the action takes place? Because that's what it sounds like. That might have been exciting stuff for heroines to do a while ago. Not any more.

Dave Fragments said...

It's tough to write 250-300 words about six characters and make sense.
Try only starting out with a 25 word limit and see where you have to restrain the description. Obviously, in a one page query, you can't name all of the characters.

Maybe:

"When an evil wizard tries to take over their country, four demigoddesses find a young boy willing to take their offer and fight the wizard."

or maybe:

"A young boy with a dubious past meets four demigoddesses who will make him king and hero if he fights the evil wizard trying to destroy the kingdom."

Then over top of that, add the main theme of the novel - Sword and Sorcery, D&D or friendship conquers all, or something else.

One of the things that puzzles me about the current query is that the demigoddesses have distinctly not-goddess desires right at the start. That makes me first think they are four young girls out on a shopping spree or disco dancing. Are they just coming of age and into their powers?

EmilyS said...

When it comes to novels with many POV's I have heard a lot of people suggest that you try focusing on one POV for your query. Then the voice is more likely to come through and it is less confusing.

batgirl said...

What makes them goddesses? What does the boy supply, other than incipient testosterone?
That said, I do like the suggestion of quirky personalities for the g's. Do they bear on the plot at all? If so, how?

no-bull-steve said...

Snatches the sign from 150's paws and jumps up and down as I wave it: BE SPECIFIC!

I find it hard to believe that whowever submitted this query has followed this site or even read any of the prior Face Lifts. C'mon kids, we all start somewhere (and early drafts almost always suck), but do some research before exposing your wares.

BTW - #4 is the story I want. #5 is flippin' hilarious! Fess up/take credit!

arhooley said...

Once again, I wonder what the point of being divine and immortal is if you're weaker than humans? Maybe these goddesses should be nymphs or mermaids.

Also, rather minor point, but the punctuation in your first sentence is sort of misleading. The semicolon suggests that Willow's interest in flora is some sort of consequence or proof of Guen's opinion. I see that you don't want to get too tedious by stuffing all four goddesses into one sentence or banging out four short declarative sentences, but I'd advise you to find another way to mix it up.

Author said...

Thank you all for your input, I've realized what a mess this query is. Going to ditch the entire thing and start from scratch, using your advice.

@Anonymous - I've never seen Avatar (I assume you mean the Airbender?), actually. And I hadn't even heard of it until after I wrote the first draft of this book (four years or so ago)

Also I can tell I need to make it clear that Hikakanen is a GOD. An ancient one who got exiled and is now out for blood. Not a wizard.

And, yes, Dave Fragments, they are just coming into their powers. Nice catch.

Evil Editor said...

I think it's pretty clear Hikakanen is a god from the sentence: Hikakanen, an ancient and evil god, has begun to stir trouble in the south.

And the first paragraph makes it clear that Shark is coming into her powers, and probably Junebug. (Not crazy about the names Junebug and Shark for goddesses.)

Thus I would worry less about those issues and more about including the answers to most of my questions with specific info in the new version.

Phoenix Sullivan said...

For your rewrite, Author, think about showing the relationship better between the goddesses and the "mundane" world and helping the reader to understand just who and what is in trouble from the god. Is the god threatening them as well as the land? Are the goddesses somehow physically tied to their homeland, or do they just want to save the people there so there'll be someone around to worship them later?

It sounds like the goddesses may be four elementals -- except I can't figure out the name Guen, who should be symbolic of fire if elementals is what you're going for. And although Junebug is a cute name for a goddess, have you ever really seen one fly? We have tons of them where I live and they are the most ungainly objects ever to launch themselves off the ground. And they are even less talentful at landings. So the goddess aspiring to fly like her namesake made me splutter a bit.

We all have to get that first query version out of our systems. Then it's on to several more revisions :o) Glad to hear you're getting right back on the horse!

AlaskaRavenclaw said...

I had the same reaction as Phoenix to the idea of flying like a junebug. Those things will buzz up, hit you in the face, then fall on the floor on their backs with their legs flailing in the air. Or at least that's the memory I harbor 25 years after sharing a college dorm with them.

Don't worry about what details people did or didn't get. (I certainly got that the guy with the long name was a god.) Look at the thing holistically. Get this into your next version:

1. Who's the protag?

2. What problem does s/he face?

3. How will s/he try to overcome it?

BuffySquirrel said...

Surely QueryShark is a goddess. At least, I'd maintain she is all the while she has her teeth in my leg.