Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Face-Lift 945

Guess the Plot

Angel's Wings

1. Angel-in-training Serissa uses her spare time to investigate how she died, and learns that she and her angel mentor were involved in a web of betrayal. Did the Big Kahuna know about this, or is He slipping in His old age?

2. Competition in Buffalo's hot wing industry is hot. Maybe too hot. That's what Angel learns when he comes into work and finds his manager head-first in the hot sauce. Angel needs to solve the crime but his chicken disguise won't keep him hidden for long.

3. If Zeke can save one more innocent person from temptation, he can fulfill his basic training as a guardian angel and earn his wings. Too bad new charge Amanda Jeffries is not making this one easy.

4. It's 1942, and Angel Rodriguez is determined to enlist in the US Air Force and become a bomber pilot. There's just one hang-up: he's only ten.

5. Archaeologist Hensley Carpenter unearths a fossilized set of wings near Bethlehem, setting off a theological battle between religious fundamentalists who say it proves angels exist and environmental fundamentalists who say it proves giant condors once inhabited the Middle East.

6. When the California Angels baseball team unveil their new uniforms, which include actual wings, opposing managers complain that this will give them an unfair advantage. Later, when it's revealed that the Angels can't actually fly, and that the cumbersome wings give them a huge disadvantage, the objections are withdrawn.

Original Version

Dear Mr. Editor,

Life sucks. Death isn't much better. Fifteen year old Serissa Williams knows that first hand. [Shouldn't that have been "Life sucked."?] After dying, Serissa awakes in the afterlife and is presented with two choices: spend the rest of eternity doing nothing, [Is this heaven or hell?] or recieve [i before e except after c.] an Imprint and become an angel. [Do we need "receive an Imprint and"? I don't even know what it means.] She picks the wings and becomes an Angel-In-Training. [Typical schedule of Angel-in-Training:

8 AM - 10 AM: Harp lessons
10:00 - 10:15 AM: Morning break
10:15 - Noon: Glee club
Noon - 1 PM: Lunch (angel hair with diavolo sauce)
1 PM - 3 PM: Flying lessons
3 PM - 3:15 PM: Afternoon break
3:15 - 5 PM: Praising God (who tries to remain humble)
5 - 7 PM: Dinner (babyback ribs)
7 - 8 PM: Jeopardy and Wheel of Fortune
8 - 10 PM: Acting lessons for appearances in film and TV
10 -11 PM: Polishing other Angels' halos]

Assisted by her dark and sexy mentor Kieran-- an angel with attitude-- [God appreciates attitude--but not too much attitude. You saw what happened to Satan.] she begins to learn the ropes of being an angel all the while trying to figure out how she died in the first place. Soon, the threads of memories begin to unravel and she discovers that her death and Kieran's past are deeply intertwined in a web of love, betrayal, pain and death. [If the threads of memories unravel, I wouldn't expect her to discover anything. Use "untangle" if you insist on the thread metaphor. Or just say the memories return.]

Angel's Wings is a YA Romance Fantasy novel of 50,421 words. This is my first novel and it would be a great honor to me if you would consider it for publishing. [Drop that sentence.] I recently started a blog as well which has some samples of writing already up. It's petranova.livejournal.com. [And those two.]

Thank you for your time.


Your plot, which was all one paragraph until I broke it up with my angel-in-training schedule should be broken into two paragraphs there. And you'll still have room for a third paragraph to tell us what happens after Serissa regains her memories, which I assume is the book's main plot thread.

I'm not crazy about the opening sentences. You might consider opening: Fifteen year old Serissa Williams awakes in the afterlife and is presented with two choices: spend the rest of eternity lounging around doing nothing, or become an angel.

Of course you could change "doing nothing" to something that sounds a bit less boring. If doing nothing and being an angel are the only choices, there'd be billions of angels. Unless angel boot camp is a real killer.


Wilkins MacQueen said...

If this is your first run at the query I want to commend you. You avoided a lot of snags and I liked the overview/snapshot.

Having said that, I'd love it if you engaged me more in the characters and plot.

I'd like to be swept along with the mc and the dark guy. More passion in the writing, some intrigue between them.

I think if you follow EE's suggestions (ok orders)and can crank it up a notch, well who knows. A little more energy is what I'd like. More show and less tell.

I enjoyed this and think you've got something in it.

Need to connect to your mc in a stronger way and need more complications with Mr. Sexy.

Good luck.

Anonymous said...

Shouldn't that have been "Life sucked?"


As a general observation, albeit with observational bias, isn't present tense OK?

AlaskaRavenclaw said...

Dear writer, this sounds like half the books in Barnes and Noble's TEEN section.

Now is that a bad thing?

For someone trying to break in, yes. Because those books are already written, and publishers have a long roster of authors who will write more of them on request. Publishers are looking for the Next Big Thing.

Here's the thing about breaking in: You don't have to be as good as what's already out there. You have to be better.

It's kind of like the Olympics.

So what makes this book different? What makes it stand out?

Anonymous said...

10 -11 PM: Polishing other Angels' halos...

Uh huh. That's the trouble with boarding school...

Anonymous said...

Here's the thing about breaking in: You don't have to be as good as what's already out there. You have to be better.

Well, unless you're fortunate enough to be riding the coat-tails of a fad like HP or Twilight, in which case you don't even need to be as good.

Or you're good enough to sit in the middle of the mid-list and bring in a modest income from readers who just want more of the same and are none too fussy so long as the cover looks good.

Evil Editor said...


Present tense is standard for a query. If the narrator is speaking in general terms (saying life sucks for everyone), present is fine here. However, if she's saying that her life sucked and now she's not crazy about the afterlife either, I think past tense for her past life is less confusing. Obviously she wouldn't say My childhood sucks . . . and my adulthood sucks too.

Note that I merely asked if sucked was right. And that I recommended dumping the opening anyway.

Anonymous said...

Life sucked.

Past tense because she's dead and past tense kind of drives that home. Gives me a sense of where the mc is in time.

Present tense misleads because she's dead. Her life sucked.

Won't matter if the opening is changed.

Anonymous said...

Note that I merely asked if sucked was right. And that I recommended dumping the opening anyway...

No. No, no, no, no.

Evil Editor never merely does anything. If I wanted merelys, I'd go to some other, hack editor's, blog.

And if I wanted meerkats, I'd go to youtube.

vkw said...

I think this is well-written but I don't think it's much of a query.

Here's the story as I read it: (I'm easily bored and tend to skim . . .so maybe I missed something).

15 year old girl becomes and angel.

She goes to school. As the song "hot for the teacher" resonates through her head, (because her angel teacher is hot), she begins to have memories. Memories of being alive and in love and in peril with hunky teacher.

So what? What happens? Is that it?

The plot is: Angel Sirrisa remembers her past life with hunky angel teacher through disjointed memories of love, lust, betrayal and eventual death. She's 15 so that makes it YA novel and she's an angel so that makes it a fantasy. Since it is a romance, we know there is a happy ending.

But we really didn't know that there wasn't going to be a happy ending, and we really didn't know anything interesting happens at all because the purpose, the conflict, the plot is not mentioned.

Anonymous said...

Life sucked.

Past tense because she's dead and past tense kind of drives that home. Gives me a sense of where the mc is in time.

Present tense misleads because she's dead. Her life sucked.

Won't matter if the opening is changed.

Disagree completely, but you're right: It doesn't matter.

journeytogao said...

Since YA isn't my thing I can't say I'd want to read the book; but it seems to me you've done everything necessary to get a request for pages.

HOWEVER -- press the fricking F7 key or whatever launches spellcheck on your computer. It's one little damn key.

none said...

When the anonymice start disagreeing with each other, it's enough to make you fetch the traps. Get usernames people!

More details, author. Specifically about what happens.

R.T. said...

This is great, a lot of fun. It is a light and funny plot, yet also serious.

I think the query is fine. It intrigues me, the average reader. Perhaps a tad more plot description to know if this story makes sense. (b/c it takes some effort for an agent to request a synopsis, and their eyes are tired, make it easy for them).

AlaskaRavenclaw said...

BuffySquirrel, I was thinking that...

Anonymous Botched said...

Rats! I was looking forward to giant condors....

Chelsea Pitcher said...

I think you've got quite the nice set-up here. I do agree that you could add another paragraph with a hint more about what happens, but you don't need much.

The story sounds fun. I didn't have an issue with "sucks".


Chelsea Pitcher said...

Also, I think you could use "YA paranormal romance."

Kathleen said...

I think Serissa Williams as a name is too close to Serena Williams. Maybe that's just me.

Also, Anonymous Johnson is right!

none said...

Well, when Serena Williams gives up tennis for SFF, that might be a problem XD.

It might be nice to see at least some reference to Native Americans, tho.

Anonymous said...

Hi Anon,
Curious here, why do you disagree with past tense of suck referring to life which is over.

Not looking for a fight just interested in your rational. Thanks!

Evil Editor said...

I don't think it's wrong to use present tense. Most of the queries on this site are written entirely in present tense. But it's also not wrong to put backstory in past tense and then pick up the plot in present.

For instance, If the plot is:

When Bill was fourteen he killed a man. Now thirty, he confesses his crime to his fiancee.

This could also be written:

When Bill is fourteen he kills a man. At the age of thirty he confesses his crime to his fiancee.

In my opinion, the latter version is fine if Bill kills the man in the prologue or the early chapters. But if the book opens when Bill is thirty, and we see the confession but not the killing, I would use the first version, putting the killing in the past tense.

In the query, there's no evidence that the book begins while Serissa is alive and that we witness her life sucking.

I could see a query opening: I died three weeks ago. This is what happened.

I couldn't see one opening: I die. Three weeks later I decide to tell what happened.

In any case, actual problems with tenses in the book are far more worrisome than whether the plot is summarized in the preferred query tense. Just ask all the agents who rejected Harry Potter because the query began in past tense.

Chelsea Pitcher said...

I was thinking the "Life sucks" was more a general statement, not particular to Serissa:

"Everybody knows that life sucks. But for Serissa Williams, death isn't much better."

Just my take on it. I totally understand the other interpretation, though.

batgirl said...

What, everyone focusses their pickiness on suck vs sucked, and no one mentions that rounding up your wordcount to the nearest hundred is better than giving it exactly?
The rationale (it has an e) is that every word processing program has a different way of measuring wordcount, and typesetters have a totally different way, so the exactness doesn't help.