Thursday, July 28, 2011

Face-Lift 935

Guess the Plot


1. When her guardian is kidnapped by the god of nightmares, Penny must develop the ability to manipulate dreams in order to rescue him.

2. The well-known Adobe web-building application must lead a band of elite software products to save the world from the evil Emperor Analog. When Adobe is unable to decide on a single partner, PageMaker and Illustrator fully integrate with her in a seamless, turnkey solution.

3. A lonely programmer's quest to sell his website creation program to the world. Versus an unscrupulous group of hackers who want to keep website creation exclusive, and will stop at nothing to...stop him. Based loosely on the story of Adobe Dreamweaver.

4. Larry and Sam set out to be the best web designers in Milwaukee, but it all goes bad in a bout of rum-fueled madness in which Larry kisses their first and only client on the lips. Mistook him for a girl, somehow. Turned out he's a vampire. And now, so is Larry.

5. Just as Jayna finishes the sixth in her best-selling series, writer's block hits. Desperate to fulfill her contract, she resorts to weaving single plagiarized sentences from other books into one unified novel. And she would have got away with it, if it weren't for the nerd fan wiki started by those meddling kids.

6. The true story of Tennessee Walking Horse Dreamweaver, her devoted family, and their long journey to a national championship.

Original Version

Dear Evil Editor,

Penny can't sleep. Well, it's not that she can't, she just doesn't want to. [Are you aware that your second sentence would be unnecessary if your first sentence were Penny doesn't want to sleep? Of course you aren't. That's the difference between a writer and a world-famous editor.] Dreaming of an ocean full of bodies and one helluva scary dude every night is no fun at all. A strange guy named Nyxon shows up and can hopefully explain her freaky dreams. ["Strange" is vague. Either delete it or elaborate.] [And why is she hopeful that a complete stranger can explain her dreams? Who even tells a complete stranger her dreams?] Instead, he tells her she's not entirely human. [People tell me that all the time. I don't think they mean it as a compliment.] Then, her family-friend-turned-guardian is kidnapped and there's not much Penny can do about it without this stranger's help. [Didn't Penny's family-friend-turned-guardian ever tell her not to talk to strangers? She not only talks to this stranger, she's become unhealthily dependent on him.]

Nyxon is part human and part dream god – an Oneironaut – and has spent years training to become a leader of his kind. Now, he's been sent on a mission to find Penny, whom the god of nightmares, Icelos, finds very interesting. [Has he been sent by Icelos, or to protect her from Icelos?] When Penny's talents of manipulating the dream world start to equal his own, Nyxon isn't sure he wants to help her hone her powers. [Just when I was thinking Nyxon helping Penny find her guardian was the main plot, you've abandoned it for this rivalry over dream manipulation.] [Last I heard, Penny didn't even want to sleep; suddenly she's a master dream manipulator?] Another thing he'd like to figure out is why he finds her so damn fascinating. [The god of nightmares finds her very interesting and the dream god finds her damn fascinating. If you thought Frost/Nixon was tense, wait till you see Icelos/Nyxon.]

With the help of Nyxon and the other Oneironauts, Penny must prepare for what she might meet in the dream world in order to save her guardian. In her dreams, Penny sees things that make her think Icelos is not just a small-time kidnapper, but something much worse. [A big-time kidnapper.] [How does she know Icelos is the kidnapper?] And, while she is just discovering who and what she is, the god of nightmares is plotting to make his sinister dreams become reality.

DREAMWEAVER is a YA fantasy complete at 60,000 words. It is the first in a planned trilogy, the second of which is my current work-in-progress [and the third of which is my future work-in-progress]. (A sentence or two about why I am querying this particular agent) Thank you for your time and consideration.


What I gather from the Google Dolls (That's what I call the women I hired recently to do my Googling.) is that oneironauts study and interact with their own and other people's dreams, as in The Cell and Inception. Not that they're any kind of god. I suggest calling your dream god a dreamweaver.

How old is Penny? When I hear that name I think of someone no older than eight.

Why didn't Icelos kidnap Penny?

Are you wedded to the name Nyxon? Everyone's gonna think of Richard Nixon. It's like calling him Hitlur. Distracting.

I would start with the kidnapping. Then Nyck shows up and introduces himself as? And reveals to Penny that her guardian was kidnapped by Icelos? And that she can save him if he helps her hone her dreamweaving skills? Which he'll do if she agrees to be his girlfriend? Am I getting any of this right? Basically, focus on Penny's problem and her plan and what happens if it all goes wrong. And try to work in who Penny is. Is she a high school student? Do these gods who find her fascinating look like teenagers or old men?


Ink and Pixel Club said...

I don't know that the informal language is helping your query. It's making what I assume should be serious moments feel less so. If a character is described as "one helluva scary dude," he's not really sending the shivers down my spine. But if you go with something like "a terrifying shrouded fisherman who casts his net into the sea of corpses night after night," you might inspire a bad dream or two.

I'm not clear on what's at stake here. I get that Penny wants to rescue her guardian, though I might care more about that if you introduced him/her/it prior to the kidnapping. But why is Penny so important? What is Icelos planning and what will happen if he succeeds?

AlaskaRavenclaw said...

YA Fantasy du jour: ___ discovers s/he is no ordinary teenager, but a ___.

Dreaming of an ocean full of bodies and one helluva scary dude every night is no fun at all.

It's also not very specific. Are we talking Chthulu here, or a werewolf, or a crazed white supremacist?

Ocean full of bodies had me picturing just bodies, no water...

And yeah, Nyxon-- best to change the name. Some of us styll haven't forgyven hym.

AlaskaRavenclaw said...

"a terrifying shrouded fisherman who casts his net into the sea of corpses night after night,"

I & P Club, write that story, wouldja?


150 said...

Another thing he'd like to figure out is why he finds her so damn fascinating.

I'm gonna go with...because she's hot? Wild guess.

Anonymous said...

I guess Icelos=Edward and Nyxon=Jacob. (Is Penny's guardian Carlisle Cullen?) It's okay to copy the plot of a proven literary property, but why copy its faults? Icelos/Nyxon's fascination with the passive, flippant Penny is just as baffling to me as Edward/Jacb's fascination with the flat, stuttering Bella.

I'd like to know more about Penny. Is she a self-exiling misfit, a lonely orphan, what? And how does that shape her choices? And yes, change her name unless her alternate identity is my great-aunt's socker spaniel.

sarahhawthorne said...

I thought this was actually pretty solid from a structural standpoint, in that the whole plot is clearly presented, but the informal voice does flatten the juice right out of the story. Sentences like "A strange guy named Nyxon shows up" read more like bullet points in an outline than 'back cover copy' that will pique your audience's interest.

Really think about what makes your book better than all the other girls-who-discover-they're-magic stories. You've got a decent start here, you just need to punch it up.

vkw said...

"What I gather from the Google Dolls", (if Charlie Sheen can have domestic goddesses for free, EE should be able to get Google Goddesses for a penny or two. I'm just saying. Of course, I think the goddesses have left the home . . . so maybe dolls are more committed.)

This query is a bit interesting, but the most pressing question for me is - who cares?

What's the point of being able to manipulate dreams? Who wants to do it and why? What benefit does it have to these gods and if they are gods of dream world - why can't they do it. Isn't that the point of being a god - the ability to do anything you want in the place you create and to do it better than anyone else? Is dream world a state or a place?

These vague statements of "the god is interested in Penny" so what? If I have a vague fascination for an ant . . . big deal. It's not worth writing about - but something tells me there is a point of writing about this story . . . but vagueness does not equal interest, it makes me annoyed and anything that annoys me, I avoid.

Ink and Pixel Club said...

ARC> I think I scared myself too much just thinking that up.

St0n3henge said...

"A strange guy named Nyxon shows up"
Didn't he resygn before they could ympeach him?

St0n3henge said...

vkw is right about why this is falling flat. Too much vagueness puts it in the "Why should we care?" category.

Fictional example: "My uncle has a ranch." Okay. Whatever. "My uncle has a ranch in Colorado." Interesting if you've ever been to Colorado or really want to visit. "My uncle has a bison ranch in Colorado." Interesting to almost everybody. Isn't that dangerous? How much can he get for a bison?

Here's another: "My uncle is an entymologist." Many people don't like bugs, so, ick. "He has a rare species of butterfly named after him." Wait- butterflies are cool. Rare ones especially. "It's the most endangered species of butterfly in the world. There may only be one left." Now we want to know all about this butterfly. Are they trying to find a mate for it? Can they clone it?

Here's what I'm getting from this query: Protag is not entirely human, along with thousands of other female protags of fantasy stories. She's visited by a "strange" guy. Now, how many strange guys are in your town alone? And each is strange in his own way, you'll notice. Now we have a guardian who's been kidnapped. That's it, just a guardian. Not even a "beloved" guardian.

Then there's a god of nightmares. He doesn't have any responsibilities besides finding girls "interesting." He's plotting to do something so vague it can't be scary to anybody. Protag can manipulate dreams, but how this can possibly help her find somebody who's been kidnapped, I have no idea. And there's a sort of love interest - the "strange" guy.

Now give me some idea of who these people are and why I should be interested. And- how does her dreamweaving tie into either finding her "guardian" or defeating the bad guy?

Stick and Move said...

Penny should stick with the Oneironaut. Because, like Lee Trevino said, even the God of Nightmares can't hit a Oneironaut, or something like that.

Evil Editor said...

These vague statements of "the god is interested in Penny" so what? If I have a vague fascination for an ant . . . big deal. It's not worth writing about

Actually, stories in which Zeus and other Greek gods were interested in humans are still read (and taught) today, thousands of years after being written. Not to mention that the bestselling book of all time is filled with stories of the Christian God taking an interest in humans.

Dreamweaver Author said...

Thanks for the critique, your oh-so-evilness and minions! It seems one of the big problems is vagueness. I guess I need to remember that vague does not equal enticing. And maybe another thing I should do is make it clear that Icelos is not interested in Penny in any sort of romantic way, so no one makes the Twilight comparison. The Twilight comparison seems to be par for the course if you write YA, it's a sad fact *sigh*.

Another thing, vkw brought this up, I need to get across why the dream world and controlling it is so central to the story. How does it affect the real world? What could Icelos possibly do in dreams that would affect reality? Am I getting that right?

Everyone's comments have been so helpful! Thanks again!

Evil Editor said...

Basically, we're more interested in what happens and what Penny does and what's at stake, than in what the world is like.