Thursday, September 01, 2011

Face-Lift 948


Guess the Plot

Planet Weird

1. It's a planet where the self-proclaimed most intelligent species passes down tall tales about super beings from generation to generation, until many of their descendants not only come to believe the stories . . . they will kill anyone who doesn't.

2. A purple alien from the planet Weird comes to Earth to study American politics and becomes the president of the United States. Also a hostile takeover.

3. When something dangerous starts possessing her fellow junior high students, Drazoral isn't affected because she's actually an Andromedan disguised as an 8th-grade Earthling. Should she go back to Andromeda or stay on "Planet Weird" and try to save her classmates?

4. Twelve-year-old Megan Conaway often tells her little brother that he belongs on Planet Weird. Imagine her shock when the king of Planet Weird spirits them both away one night to their "true" home, which is in danger of being overrun by the Normal People.

5. Alien Probe, the new ride at theme park Planet Weird, isn't exactly what patrons expect. They come out with no memory of what happened, and inflamed anuses.

6. Jim and Terry's sixth grade class are excited when they find that their field trip is to Planet Weird . . . until they learn they'll be in a cryostasis chamber for the next 73 years.


Original Version

Dear Evil Editor,

When Drazoral [That sounds like a sleeping pill] comes to Earth disguised as a thirteen year old human named Drew Vardaman, she only wants two things: a life free from the obligation of saving others,

[Drazoral: I'm sick of saving people. I wanna go where I can watch people die and laugh about it.

Draz's mom: Be careful what you wish for. We might send you to Earth.]

and to graduate the eighth grade so she can officially become an Earth-citizen. Being Drew isn’t so terrible, and although Earth is weird, Drazoral doesn’t plan on going back to Andromeda any time soon.

Since the halls of Planet Jr. High are filled with Wanderers and Earthlings, alike, [The first comma isn't needed. Neither is "alike."] Drew has to learn quickly how to become this new version of herself or risk exposure. But when something dangerous starts possessing the students, she finds herself standing at the same crossroads she tried to run away from: risking her life to save others or living life to save herself. [Not clear what "living life to save herself" means.] [In what way is her life at risk if she saves others? We need to know what's possessing the students. "Something dangerous" is vague to the extreme.]

PLANET WEIRD is middle grade fiction complete at 45,000 words. Thank you for your time and consideration; I look forward to hearing from you.

Sincerely,


Notes

Are Wanderers all from Andromeda or is that a term for any aliens?

So Earthlings have to complete the 8th grade to become citizens of their own planet? And Wanderers aren't allowed to become Earth citizens even if they live here and complete the eighth grade? Not very enlightened of future us.

This is all setup. We know Drixoral is an Andromedan disguised as an Earthling, and her fellow students are possessed. What does she do? What can she do? Is everyone on Earth threatened? Does the fact that Drowsoral isn't possessed mean she is immune to this possession? If she has the power to save the other students, does that mean the other Wanderers, the ones who aren't in disguise, also have this power?

If aliens can disguise themselves to look like Earthlings, wouldn't we have tests to make sure we aren't being fooled? Wouldn't we at least check to see if there's any record of Draz completing the 7th grade? If a Wanderer disguised as an Earthling completes 8th grade, wouldn't we demand to see her birth certificate, social security card, blood color before declaring her a citizen?

19 comments:

AlaskaRavenclaw said...

When I was a kid, back in the early Pleistocene, people went to jr high in some parts of the US. But do they still go to jr high anywhere anymore? Not sure, just asking.

I agree that Drazoral sounds like a sleeping pill.

This query left me with a lot of "huh?"s.

Among them:

Risk what kind of exposure? Is she there secretly?

If so, then why? What's to be gained by being an earth citizen and lost by being an Andromedan?

(And if she's an Andromedan, isn't she really trying to become a citizen of the Milky Way?)

Why is Draz on earth?

Does earth have a single govt now?

If so, does that govt grant citizenship to all 8th grade graduates, including earthlings? What happens to people who are just never able to master long division? Or is the 8th grade thing a mechanism in place for naturalizing resident, er, aliens?

If that's the case, then do they actually know Drew is there, in which case how is she risking exposure?

(I'm not asking the writer to answer these questions, but to rewrite the query so that they aren't raised.)

All that aside, and overwhelmingly:

What (specifically!) is Draz sick of saving people from, and what does she have to save people from now?

Possession may be 9/10 of the law, but it isn't specific enough as a threat.

Deserae M said...

Very glad I sent this to you first. But I'm new at this, EE--- do I attempt to answer your questions here in the comments or do I get my butt back into the computer chair and start making revisions?

Also, the name Drazoral isn't used often in the manuscript, but I don't like that it made you think of sleeping pills. Could potentially change it, but is it really that important?

Thank you for doing this. I truly appreciate it. I apparently write queries that are purely set up. Will remedy this by actually addressing what the character can do, and what's at risk if she doesn't.

BuffySquirrel said...

She can fake being human but she can't fake a piece of paper that says she's graduated eighth grade?

Evil Editor said...

I can answer some of Alaska's questions:

But do they still go to jr high anywhere anymore? Yes, though middle school is the term used in 10 systems for every one system that uses junior high (Wikipedia)


Risk what kind of exposure? Being exposed as an Andromedan.

Is she there secretly? Yes.

If so, then why? Because only Earthlings can become citizens and she wants to become one.

What's to be gained by being an earth citizen and lost by being an Andromedan? No idea.

(And if she's an Andromedan, isn't she really trying to become a citizen of the Milky Way?) Possibly there's a planet known as Andromeda?

Why is Draz on earth? She wants to become an Earth citizen. Apparently she's heard good things about Earth. Sort of like Nigerians wanting to become US citizens.

Does earth have a single govt now? Apparently.

If so, does that govt grant citizenship to all 8th grade graduates, including earthlings? Yes, but limited only to Earthlings, which is why Draz is disguised as one.

What happens to people who are just never able to master long division? They can't vote in the Earth elections.

Or is the 8th grade thing a mechanism in place for naturalizing resident, er, aliens? No. aliens can't become citizens. Otherwise there'd be no reason to disguise themselves as Earthlings.

If that's the case, then do they actually know Drew is there, in which case how is she risking exposure? They don't know. She risks exposure if she can't learn to act like an Earthling, because her classmates will notice.

What (specifically!) is Draz sick of saving people from, and what does she have to save people from now? a. Don't know. b. something dangerous possessing them.

Deserae M said...

Buffy: Haha! No, unfortunately she can't.

I guess there's just a lot more that needs to be addressed.... I've been submerged in the world so long, I've forgotten that I'm the only one who know its dynamics.

The basics are these:

Planet Jr. High is established just outside of Rachel, Nevada, the trailer town built near Area 51.

Most Earthlings (also called Terries) don't truly know that aliens exist, but there are the precious few who do. Some government officials... Some curious George's...

Planet hosts aliens from the Andromeda and Milky Way Galaxies. It's a gateway--- a sort of half-way house?--- and the requirement for getting permission to live on Earth is to learn Earth customs and live, undetected, for a year.

Earth doesn't have one gov't, but the rest of the universe operates under one law. So there's Intergalactic law versus Earth law... The Council enforces the first while the second is enforced by each individual Earth-country's gov't.

And Drew has great power, but hasn't learned how to use it yet... She ran away from her home planet before she could learn.

Not all of that will fit in the query, though. I have to sort out what's most pressong to note.

150 said...

Hi Deserae! If you start answering questions in the comments, we can suggest how/whether to include them in the query; if you post a new query, we'll see if that's any more or less effective. It works both ways. We're flexible like that. :)

I'd structure the query: Drazoral is sick of [saving ppl on Andromeda], so she comes to Earth in disguise, where she can assimilate as a citizen...if she can pass eighth grade. But [possessions are happenin'] and Drazoral [gets involved somehow], leading to [risks], and if she can't [enact her big plan], [consequences]. Fill in the specifics and we'll have a better idea what the book is actually about. Good luck!

Deserae M said...

EE- Judging by your ability to fill in the blanks, I'm guessing the missing components are why Drew left and why she can help, but doesn't want to.

Drew leaves because she hears a prophecy that says she'll have to die for her people, so she quite cowardly runs away to another frickin' galaxy...

She can help because she has a power that can kill the shadow (the something dangerous we're all loving), but doesn't want to because the source of her power is on Andromeda (yes! A planet within the galaxy. Will clarify) and tapping into it from Earth could kill her. Which is what she was trying to avoid in the first pkace... Dying, I mean.

BuffySquirrel said...

Author, if you answer our questions we will just poke more fun at you. Better to take the criticisms on board and amend your query as you see fit :).

I don't see any need to change the name of the sleeping pill, btw.

AlaskaRavenclaw said...

I dunno, EE-- I had plenty of illegal aliens in my class when I was a teacher. It was never a deep dark secret, everybody knew about it, hell most the time they'd tell you themselves. And truly nobody gave a hoot.

Thing is, they all spoke very highly of Andromeda. Home is home.

Writer, I'd say back to the drawing board. Don't waste time answering silly questions; leave that for the pros. But make it absolutely clear what's at stake.

Anonymous said...

Okay so is the school on Earth called Planet Jr. High? And there's other aliens going to the school too? The humans don't know there are aliens amongst them?

I didn't take the citizenship thing as Earth recognizes people who complete the 8th grade as citizens. I kinda took it as Drew's planet allows kids to go to school on Earth, and once they pass 8th grade they can stay there if they want to.

Is she actually older than an 8th grader, but can make herself look like an 8th grader because it seems odd that she was off saving people on her own planet when she was just a kid.

Matthew MacNish said...

My one disagreement with EE is that Drazoral sounds more like a cough syrup to me. It reminds me of Drixoral.

I think it's the ORAL part.

Anyway. I was confused by several things here. The main one is that Draz is a female alien, but she becomes a male human when she comes to Earth? Or am I just assuming Drew (Andrew) is a boy? That part sounds kind of cool to me, but I think you need to make sure you're specific and clear when you explain things like this in a query letter.

Evil Editor said...

Drowsy + Drixoral = sleeping medicine.

Drew can be short for Drusilla. And then there's Drew Barrymore.

Deserae M said...

150- Thank you. :)

Buffy- Ah, I see. Well I thank all of you minions for poking fun at this thing. It helps, believe it or not.

Deserae M said...

EE- Drucilla, huh?... That's actually a tempting alternative...

arhooley said...

I had to back up a few times on this: Since the halls of Planet Jr. High are filled with Wanderers and Earthlings, alike

I didn't know if we were on yet a third planet called Planet Jr. High (maybe not so far from fiction) or if this was Drew's school back on Andromeda.

Deserae, the answers you provide in the comments suggest an entirely different and much more interesting book than what I got from your query! What I get from the query is that WHAT DREW WANTS is to live an ordinary non-hero's life, the way Moses or Buffy the Vampire Slayer were at first. Again from the query, I can't tell what's stopping her. So you can see a different choice of plot points and conflict could help a lot.

Evil Editor said...

Drucilla can also be spelled Drusilla. However, I don't know if the nickname is Drew or Dru. Not that it can't be whatever you want it to be.

Deserae M said...

arhooley: That was really kind of you to say! So I have something, I just haven't properly versed it. I'm giving the really poor movie trailer version of something that is potentially better than I've let on. I'll definitely rewrite. You all have really good suggestions on places for me to open this up...

EE: I'm starting to like Drucilla/ Drusilla... The name Drew would stay but I'm starting to lean toward changing her Andromeda name.

Now to work on moving past purely writing queries based on set-up. I'm going for the revision, Minions; thanks for your help!

AlaskaRavenclaw said...

Author, if you answer our questions we will just poke more fun at you. Ain't it the truth.

Matthew, there was a law passed in 2008. All girls' names are now boys' names and all boys' names are now girls' names.

Deserae, here's a tired old piece of advice that is still good: Sum your novel up in one sentence, no more than 20 words long. Then build your query upward from there.

I don't mean that the resulting sentence should necessarily be included in your query. But writing the sentence will help you separate the essential from the inessential.

Wilkins MacQueen said...

Too much set up no plot. Andromeda reminds me of the strain but I'm old.

But when something dangerous starts possessing the students, she finds herself standing at the same crossroads she tried to run away from: risking her life to save others or living life to save herself

What starts possessing students? "Something" is lame.

Why is she at the same crossroad? Maybe she should have stayed home.

Same-same on a different plant doesn't cut it.

Why does graduation from 8th grade qualify her as a citizen?

To me this is unorganized, vague and there is nothing that interests me.

I think this is too immature for middle grade because mg needs a plot. Start over.

Sorry.