Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Face-Lift 982

Guess the Plot

Coming of the Dukebarr

1. Oh God...oh God... Oh GOD...Yes YES YEESSS!!

2. In a wild west inhabited by humans, giant trilobytes, and various aliens, a gang of renegade Martians terrorize Tombstone. But the town may be saved by the . . . Coming of The Dukebarr.

3. Cara is outraged. She's thirteen years old, and she still has to have a babysitter? She's old enough to be a babysitter! But her anger is quickly forgotten when the Dukebarr shows up.

4. On a distant world, the dominant habitants have plundered the natural resources and driven the magnificent fauna to the edge of extinction. The last surviving Dukebarr pines for its recently deceased mate, from which only a few viable eggs could be harvested. If the species is to survive, it is up to Slaffus to gain the beast's trust. And a sample of its semen.

5. Angie needs a prince. What she gets is Dukebarr, a slobbery dog. Sure he claims to be an enchanted prince, can outwrestle dragons, command rats, and the harvest has tripled since he came. But Angie needs someone human to marry. Then she meets Earlpubb, the street sweep.

6. Everyone laughs at Joe for his obsession with aliens. But when the Dukebarr armada is spotted heading for Earth, Joe jams on his tinfoil hat and prepares to save the world.

Original Version

Dear Evil Editor,

Cara, a rebellious and stubborn thirteen year old, has recently decided that there is no Creator. Her beliefs, if discovered, are considered high treason and grounds for exile in her village. [Fortunately, she should be safe as long as she doesn't reveal her treasonous thoughts to the high priest or the apprentice priest or her father or her babysitter.] Desperate to protect his daughter, the High Priest of the village
assigns an apprentice priest to babysit his daughter and help recover her faith. [Having a babysitter when you're 13 is embarrassing enough, but...

Cara: It's time for American Idol.

Babysitter: Turn off the TV and open to Proverbs 3, Verse 5.

Cara: Before we start, let me get you some coffee. Arsen-- Er, cream and sugar?]

Needless to say, Cara isn’t pleased. But her anger is quickly forgotten when foretold signs of a coming apocalypse, the Dukebarr, begin to appear. [The Dukebarr? That word just doesn't have an apocalyptic ring to it. It sounds too much like jukebox. Put a quarter in the jukebox and play "Duke of Earl," Father.] [The thesaurus lists numerous synonyms for apocalypse: Armageddon, cataclysm, catastrophe, decimation, devastation,end of the world. Note that they all have four syllables. Even a made-up word for apocalypse is required to have four syllables. You can't express something apocalyptic in two syllables.]

Cara begins to question her beliefs as her society starts to crumble around her. [Just so I've got it straight, she was questioning her belief that there is a Creator, and she's now questioning her belief that there isn't a Creator?] When the Dukebarr finally arrives her village is devastated. The surviving townsfolk shelter in nearby caves, praying for redemption. Cara, however, realizes something is amiss. [So she's now questioning her belief that she was wrong to question her belief that . . . never mind.] How [Why] can no one remember the attack? Why do people have claw marks on their arms? [Invisible cat army. It's the only explanation that fits.] And why will no one believe her? [What is she saying now that no one will believe?] Cara is on a mission to discover the truth [Whatever the truth is, the book can only be improved if you make it an invisible cat army.] and rescue her village from further devastation, and she’s the only one who believes it’s possible. [Or at least that's what she believes today.]

COMING OF THE DUKEBARR is a completed 53,000 word fantasy for young adult readers. I have one published short story in Byline Magazine.

Thank you for your time and consideration.



I wonder why O'Neill's play wasn't titled Coming of the Iceman.

Young adults tend to be in high school. I would think they'd rather read about kids older than 13. Is there a reason this isn't considered middle grade?

The setup paragraph does its job, but the next paragraph is general. What happened? Are they still in danger? What does Cara plan to do about it? Does she have any allies? Is there a villain? Give us specific information.


AlaskaRavenclaw said...

I saw this on another site, and commenters there advised the writer to change the story from MG to YA because of the content.

It honestly doesn't sound like either one to me-- too much focus on the religion and not enough on the action. I think the writer should try rewriting the query with the entire question of Cara's faith omitted.

I suspect Cara's faith is not really the center of the story. It sounds like the center of the story is that someone is committing violence and blaming it on this Dukebarr thingy, and that Cara figures that out and has to do something about it. But as it stands, that's barely hinted at.

Heather Marsten said...

Dear EE, I have been enjoying your posts. Out of curiosity I looked up Proverbs 3:5 "Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding;". In the height of my disbelieving days, that would not have convinced me to change my mind about God. Even a stronger passage like, "The fool, in his heart, says there is no God." wouldn't have worked for me.

Am curious if the babysitter knows of Cara's disbelief, did the HP take him into his confidence, in which case the secret could be out. Only one person can keep a secret.

I wonder what genre? If it is Christian fiction - might it be better to stick with Christian signs of the Apocalypse? If it is secular, then why a Bible verse?

I would like to know more how she is going to handle this attack of the Dukebarr.

Thanks for a wonderful website.

Faceless Minion said...

(blogger's acting strange -- if this is a duplicate, please delete)

I was hoping for GTP #6

I wasn't certain whether the Dukebarr was the sign of the apocalypse or the name of the apocalypse or a creature/thing that causes the apocalypse. You might want more details as to what actually happened.

I don't think this is what's happening, but I get the impression that the surviving townsfolk now live in caves and believe they've always lived that way and Cara believes they used to live in a village but only remembers there was an attack, not what happened. A bit more specificity as to what happened should clear this up.

I assume no one believes Cara because she has heretical beliefs that should get her exiled - why would she think people would believe her?

Is it that Cara's the only one who believes saving her village is possible or is she the only one who believes it is necessary?

It's obvious that Cara doesn't share the beliefs of the villagers - what do they believe?

Wilkins MacQueen said...

Hi Author, I hope you don't mind, I took a run at this.

Rebellious, stubborn thirteen year old Cara decides there is no Creator. If that gets out she’ll be guilty of treason and exiled. To protect his daughter, the High Priest of the village hires an apprentice priest to turn her around. Cara isn’t pleased with her father or the apprentice.

Signs of a coming apocalypse throw Cara’s village into chaos. When the apocalypse hits her village is devastated. The survivors find shelter in nearby caves. No one remembers the attack. The survivors have claw marks on their arms. Cara wants to save her village from further devastation but (add complication here).

I tried a rewrite to clarify the query for me. The query seemed to assume the reader knows the story. Is the apprentice a complication? Is she in love with him or he with her? If not, I'd leave him out.If so mention him again.

Reveal more plot/story.
Good luck

Evil Editor said...

If it is secular, then why a Bible verse?

The Bible verse isn't part of the query. It's part of EE's satirical means of showing what might happen if a 13-year old had a priest as a babysitter. You may ignore it.

AlaskaRavenclaw said...

I think it is not meant to be Christian, nor yet Muslim nor Jewish nor anything else but Dukebarrian, or the author would have said so. Which is why s/he is much better off leaving it out.

150 said...

I assume the priest is hot?

Mister Furkles said...

It can't be an invisible cat army because they would all insist on being the general. No cat has any respect for anyone else's opinion.

If the play were named "Coming of the Iceman", everybody would know the punch line of the joke. Okay, so there is a literary reason. Who cares about that. The audience is there for tarts and vulgar jokes. And they can feel really smug because they can afford to dress up and go to a play rather than hang out with a bunch of losers in a seedy bar.

Sorry, I don't have useful advice for the query.

batgirl said...

I kept reading Dukebarr as Doukhobor, but that would make more sense as the villagers than the invades.
I like the idea of the phantom invasion and the mysterious scratches, but the connection between in and Cara's crisis of faith isn't clear in the query. Can you clarify, author?

Also, minor point, how many priests are there per village, if each has a High Priest overall? Is it like Mormon elders, or more like an Anglican rector with a couple of curates?

batgirl said...

Oh hey, off-topic for this entry, but I didn't want to scroll back pages and pages to find the 'occlusion of a payphone' query.

Here's a book with a ghost lover who lives in a lightbulb:

Faraci said...

Revision number 1.
Thanks everyone for your comments!

Dear agent,

Cara, a rebellious and stubborn fifteen year old, has recently decided that there is no Creator. Her beliefs, if discovered, are considered high treason and grounds for exile in her village. Desperate to protect his daughter, the High Priest confronts Cara about her beliefs, but she refuses to conform and runs away. She finds shelter with an old man in the hills, Bakinu, another non-believer who was exiled from the village years ago. By the time her father finds her she’s developed a close friendship with the heretic.

When Cara is dragged away from her new friend and forced to return home, an apprentice priest, Leolin, is assigned to babysit Cara and help recover her faith. He follows her to school and closely watches as she completes her chores, all while extolling the virtues of the Creator. Needless to say, Cara isn’t pleased. But her anger is quickly forgotten when foretold signs of a coming apocalypse, the Durstorung, begin to appear. The village animals are slaughtered. Lightning from clear blue skies burn down multiple houses. Cara is frightened by the events and is relieved when Bakinu arrives in the village, looking for shelter after his cottage was burned down. But before she can confide in her friend, the Durstorung comes.

The villagers flee from the devastation and shelter in nearby caves, praying for redemption. The Durstorung is a blur – no one can remember what happened or how, but they all believe the Creator has decided to end the world and there is nothing they can do to save it. The food supplies in the cave won’t last till the end of the week, and people have given up. Cara, however, realizes something is amiss. Why do people have claw marks on their arms? And why were the animals slaughtered like prey? She tells everyone that the Durstorung might be a magical beast and tries to organize a scouting party, but only the old man believes her. Leolin refuses to let her out of his sight, and Cara is furious. With time running out, Cara must find a way to defeat the Durstorung on her own to save her village from certain annihilation.

COMING OF THE DURSTORUNG is a completed 53,000 word fantasy for young adult readers. I have one published short story in Byline Magazine.

Thank you for your time and consideration.



angela robbins said...

Number 1 was the best--so awesome, I need a cigarette. Got a light, EE?

Unknown said...

Faraci, that was a huge improvement. I like how it gives a feeling on what the world is like and it also shows more of her journey and hardship so we can connect with her a bit.

The main thing that you could still improve is the voice. Does it sound the same in the book as it does in the query? It's feeling more like a distant synopsis than the voice of a book with a 15-year-old girl as the POV.

Aika said...

Faraci, that's so much clearer. You'll tighten, of course - the hermit friend doesn't seem necessary, for example. Here are a few other thoughts:

I think this is middle-grade in tone and in the plot/stakes (which are pretty simple), so you might as well keep her at 13 and pitch it as MG. It's not too long for that.

Do you want to use the word Creator, which could inadvertently make the query reader think of an existing real-world religion that often uses that term, or pick something that's unique to your world?

Is Cara going to prove the whole religion is wrong or is the book more nuanced? Cara the lone defeater of the beast sounds like the first; the accurate prophecy hints at the second. If you've got nuance, it might be important to show it clearly, so agents/editors don't think this is a preachy "message" story.

Jo-Ann said...

The revised version is an improvement. I think the Durso... word is stronger than Dukebarr, (even if harder to remember).
I had a chuckle at the apprentice priest "babysitting" Cara by stalking her. You dont need to tell us she's angry (hey, you said it was needless yourself!)
I think you spelt out the stakes much more clearly in this version. If you need to trim it down (I dont know that you do, not having totalled your word count), perhaps you could leave out the description of cara as stubborn and rebellious in the first line, as I think you show this in the query.
My only reservation (and this says more about me than you) is that I felt uncomfortable with Cara sheltering with an old man. I'm sure he behaved perfectly honourably, but if it gives me a slight "ick" feeling, then perhaps an agent may respond in the same way...