Tuesday, February 07, 2012

Face-Lift 989


Guess the Plot

Sora Finch

1. "Sora Finch. Then I sora pigeon. Then I sora another finch. Then I sora shitload of sparrows." David Beckham takes us on a stroll through some of the world's greatest ornithological spotting grounds, mate.

2. 8-year-old Sora Finch's life has been the same routine of begging and scraping since she can remember. When an old man, Jode, turns up and offers to pay her if she'll learn to read, life gets almost cushy. That is, until Jode is found slaughtered on the dockside and the king's men are looking for her...

3. Ella gets out of Boston for a day, and returns with green skin, an implanted microchip and no memory of what happened. "Sora finch," is all she says, uttering the phrase over and over.

4. Sora Finch lives in a skyscraper community because living on the surface is too dangerous, what with bloodthirsty stray dog-creatures roaming about. Then Sora befriends a captured stray and steals a hovercraft to take him below before her father can kill him, but she crashes and gets captured. Ever have one of those days?

5. Sora's talent on the violin has brought her fame, but her travel schedule keeps her from making any close friends. She'd like to go to high school, but her parents have gotten used to living the high society life--and banking Sora's paychecks. Then Sora meets Charlie. Conflict ensues.

6. Is it a code name? An anagram? A message from beyond? No one's sure, but when the words "sora finch" appear in the sky, panic engulfs the world's population and wars break out across the globe. Hopefully it doesn't turn out to be the name of some fat guy's sled.



Original Version

Dear Evil Editor:

Born and raised in a skyscraper community 800 feet in the air, thirteen-year-old Sora spends most of her time tumbling along the walkways that connect the eight towers of Cumulus City. Everyone knows not to look down but Sora can't help it. [It seems every super-tall building has an observation deck so people can look down. Why is looking down a bad thing?] She wants a closer look at the blood-thirsty strays (dog-like creatures) that forced society to move to the sky decades ago. [Looking down at dog-like animals from 800 feet up isn't going to provide a close look.]

When her father, a stray hunter, catches one alive, Sora's curiosity leads her to the cage, where she discovers the beauty in the monster she's been taught to fear all her life. As Sora develops a secret friendship with the creature, the scientists decide it is too dangerous to keep alive. The night before the death sentence is carried out, ["It's too dangerous to keep alive . . . But let's not kill it until Thursday."] Sora, with the help of her two best friends, "borrows" a hovercraft and flies the stray out of the community to safety. [Do they let the stray out of the cage, or do they take the cage to the hovercraft?]

When the hovercraft crash [hyphen] lands in the center of a traveling town, [What's a traveling town?] Sora and her friends experience their first taste of the world below. They are immediately held captive [captured] by a boy named Trick, who lives among the strays. Sora convinces the boy that they mean no harm but before Trick will let them go, Sora must help with his mission, a mission that will pull her back into the sky, where she will confront her disapproving father [His daughter freed a bloodthirsty creature and stole and crashed a hovercraft, and he "disapproves"?] and discover the power that lies within her compassion.

Sora Finch is a middle-grade fantasy complete at 40,000 words. Thank you for your time and consideration.

Sincerely,


Notes

Human befriends creature. It's a time-tested plot, from Frankenstein to Beauty and the Beast to the Julia Roberts/Lyle Lovett marriage.

There's gotta be a bigger attraction to the walkways than just trying to catch a glimpse of strays, if Sora spends most of her time tumbling along them. What exactly does "tumbling along" them mean?

People have moved into skyscrapers to avoid strays, and even though we have guys whose job it is to hunt strays, we haven't been able to take back the surface for decades? What are we hunting them with, squirt guns?

11 comments:

BuffySquirrel said...

The query could do with some tidying, but it reads to me as if there's a good story here. I almost wish it was for adults.

The dilemma Sora faces needs to be stronger, imo. Maybe it is in the story; needs to be so in the query, too.

AlaskaRavenclaw said...

Yeah, I was stopped dead by the word "tumbling". Possible meanings that came to my mind were:

1. Sora is into gymnastics.

2. The walkways are very poorly constructed.

If one of those isn't your meaning-- and even if it is-- find another way to say it.

And put that thesaurus where it belongs. (If it's hardcover, you will need to rip the covers off to make it recyclable.)

Anonymous said...

What EE said. I'm not quite getting it.

BuffySquirrel said...

If you capped Strays it would work better. Otherwise 'stray hunter' is ambiguous. Plus SFF types seem to like these cappy things. *looks at WIP*

hmm

Jo-Ann said...

Hi,
I quite liked the premise. I didn't have a problem with "tumbling", because I assumed they were narrow walkways, being buffeted by the sort of wind you get that high above the ground (is the jet stream 800ft up?).
Either that or kids start hittin the booze pretty young in that society ;).

But unless the dogs could fly, or Sora carried her binoculars around with her, I too wondered how much of a look she could get.

Is your traveling town a circus-like community? (I've got circuses on the brain right now- I'm researching them for my own MG story - look out for a query soon!) I guess the name Trick kind of implies performer, although I couldn't help questioning how trustworthy he might be. You state he has a mission for Sora back in her home town, and I'm wondering if elaborating on the dilemma this puts Sora in might strengthen the query.

BuffySquirrel said...

I assumed the travelling town was as in Mortal Engines, or that strange book by Christopher Priest, the name of which eludes me, in which towns literally move around under their own power. But I could be wrong. I mean, it *has* happened.

Mother (Re)produces. said...

Oooooooooooh, I quite like this.
Are the 'traveling towns' just nomadic settlements? If so, might want to say that so it's clearer. If it's something specific to the book, might want to capitalize it as Buffy suggested with 'strays' and explain it just a wee bit more.

I have to admit, the tumbling walkways didn't bother me, but when I got to EE's comment about them hunting the strays with squirt guns, I was nodding. If it's more of an "elitists in the clouds who want everything controlled vs. travelers in villages who are fighting to keep things less controlled" thing, that's not coming across.

Author said...

Author here. A different approach. I tried to make it better, more clear. Appreciate the feedback!

Dear Evil Editor:

In Cumulus City, citizens are forbidden to go below the 30th floor of any skyscraper. Try telling that to thirteen-year-old Sora Finch, who sneaks to the ground level night after night, longing for a closer look at the blood-thirsty Strays that forced society to move to the sky.

When her father, a Stray Hunter, catches one alive, Sora's curiosity leads her to the cage. As she develops a secret friendship with the monster she's been taught to fear, Sora discovers her ability to communicate with the Stray telepathically. She feels the monster's pain and longs to free him from the scientists' experiments. With the help of her two best friends, Sora "borrows" a hovercraft and flies the Stray out of the community.

When the hovercraft crash lands, Sora and her friends experience their first taste of the world below. They're immediately captured by a boy named Trick, who lives among the Strays. After Sora convinces the boy that they mean no harm, together they go on a journey to find the Stray's family, with the hunters nipping at their heels. Soon, Sora is forced to choose between the world in the sky that she's always known and the new one stretched before her.

Sora Finch and the World Below is a middle-grade fantasy complete at 40,000 words. Thank you for your time and consideration.

Evil Editor said...

This is much better.

I'm not sure why they would set the thirtieth floor as their lower boundary. Presumably they can block entry to their world at whatever floor they wish.

No need to capitalize "hunter" just because what they hunt is capitalized.

Are the "hunters" nipping at their heels hunting Strays? Or are they trying to rescue the kids?

BuffySquirrel said...

Much better. I'd go with 'she'd been taught to fear' rather than she's. But then I'm an interfering old sqrl.

150 said...

Title's improved too. I think this one has legs.