Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Face-Lift 1017

Guess the Plot

Vis Decor: Alphi

1. On the planet Vis Decor, the light-skinned race rules the dark-skinned race. Light-skinned teenager Alphi wants to change all that. What sets this apart from similar books is that both races are marine animals!

2. An author's ingenious plan to give her book an incomprehensible title so that curious readers will pick it up backfires, as readers assume it's a mis-shelved Latin textbook and ignore it.

3. When it's time for rock star Alphi to decorate his new penthouse, he goes straight to Judy the Psychic for help choosing a theme. She says pirate shack in orange, olive, and fuchsia. All hammocks, no sofas. What a sensational look! But the guests keep falling off their seats or sliding together in a way that's a little too chummy.

4. The Vis Decor Co. are known as the baddest interior decorators in town. When a new outfit, Alphi Interiors, moves in on their territory, there's only one way to settle this. It's pistols at dawn... but the Alphi crew turn out to be werewolves.

5. Renaldo and his brother Gianni want to expand their posh decorator boutique. When they find runaway Al digging in the dumpster, they befriend him and bring him in. But will the newly-christened "Alphi" be a boon to their business, or will his scheming tear the couple apart?

6. The first in a series of books that teach children the Greek alphabet. To be followed by Vis Decor: Betty, Vis Decor Gumby, and Vis Decor Deli. Alphi, Betty, Gumby and Deli use colorful illustrations depicting items that start with the same letter as their names. Still trying to come up with a character for book 5, Epsilon.

Original Version

Dear Evil Editor:

Silence is the best form of censorship. In an underwater village on the planet Vis Decor, no one speaks [I don't think that has as much to do with censorship as with the fact that when they try to speak their mouths fill up with water and fish.] as the light-skinned Pures rule the dark-skinned Greys. [This is the same plot as Face-Lift 1015 except that the Black-skinned race are now Grey-skinned and everyone's skin looks like prunes.] [By "no one speaks" do you mean no one speaks out?] Only one sixteen-year-old Pure grasps this injustice-- [Even the Greys don't grasp it?] and her innocent call for equality whips her village into a mob. [Equality is fine in theory, kid, but who's gonna do all the menial labor?]

Forced to flee her own home, the only refuge left is her uncle’s –literally—magical city. But even the huge city with all its twirling buildings can’t keep her happy, [Does she have a name?] and her joy is shot dead [What joy? You just said she wasn't happy.] when the President--her uncle--brutally tortures a Grey. [Usually when you've attained the presidency of a place, you delegate the torturing to your underlings. And you don't invite your niece to enjoy the show.] There is no way out, no matter how much she tries to find one -- [A way out of the city? Of her predicament?] until the Grey rebels attack her own family. And when they do, she joins them. [Did they attack the family she left behind or her uncle?]

The rebels are the family Alphi longed for, ones who, above all, value her ideas. [Whose ideals she values?] But the declaration of war [Which side declared war?] sends everyone up in arms, and although Alphi is left crying for peace, she knows only a war can stop her uncle. [Sounds like her uncle has a bigger goal than quashing a rebellion. What is it?] The line between right and wrong has never been so blurred, [When you willingly join a group who are attacking your own family, I'd say you've decided the line between right and wrong is crystal clear.] and neither of her families will be able to guide her through the bloodshed yet to come.

VIS DECOR: ALPHI (118,000) is a completed YA high fantasy with strong series potential. I have been published in two separate editions of A Celebration of Poets.

Thank you so much for your time and consideration, and I look forward to hearing from you soon.



What's it all about, Alphi?

Dump the first sentence; it's not clear what it has to do with anything.

No need to describe the city as "literally magical" if that doesn't come into play in the query. If the Pures have magical powers that's more important to know than that buildings twirl.

Give Alphi's name up front, and focus on her from start to finish.

Is skin color the only difference between Pures and Greys? Instead of light and dark, make them dolphins and porpoises.

Is the uncle president of the city? Country? Planet?

The rebels aren't gonna trust the president's niece to the extent that she has the power to alter the course of a planetary war. (Unless they threaten to kill her if the president doesn't meet their demands.) Is this just a city of haves vs. villages of have-nots situation like in The Hunger Games? Or is it a major war?


khazar-khum said...

They're called Pures & Greys. OK. But...what are they? Deep Ones? Murlocks? Merpeople? Gungans? Bastard children of Michael Phelps & Flipper?

Right now I have names & no way to visualize what an underwater culture looks like. All I know is buildings twirl, which must play hell with the plumbing.

Your initial description of Alphi makes her sound average. But if her uncle is president, her family will be anything but. She actually is in a position to affect things. So we have an odd conflict between what you've prepared me to believe, and what's really happening.

AlaskaRavenclaw said...

@#$%. I wrote two long comments and blogger ate 'em both. Last try.

This query makes book 1 sound like set-up for the series. It needs to stand alone. Publishers want to know they can cut their losses if necessary without making a narrative mess on the floor.

150 said...

If the "Celebration of Poets" you're referring to is the student contest, I'm afraid it's not a valid pub cred. Don't mention it. If you want to gather pub creds (which isn't a requirement for query letters by any means) you can find valid, selective, and paying markets for your work at

none said...

We're having a run on these now?

The setup strikes me as problematic.

Are the Pures and Greys different species? If not, why are they different colours? They're living in the same environment so how did they come to evolve differently? Are the Pures from deeper water where there's less sunlight? If so, why have they come higher up? Aren't they risking skin cancer?

Or is it all some rather obvious analogy?

I can see why Alphi runs to the Greys. I can't see why they don't immediately use her as a hostage or even kill her. What use is she to them? Presumably they have their own leaders, or there wouldn't be a rebellion in the first place. What can she do for them that their own people can't?

AlaskaRavenclaw said...

Buffy, people are different colors without being different species. Also, dogs and kitties. QED.

I do have trouble believing that the protag wd be the only person who noticed, cared about or spoke out about the injustice. Not the way it works IRL.

khazar-khum said...

AR--this goes back to my post. She's from an influential family. Perhaps she's the first member of the ruling class to protest? Or only the most recent, loudest, etc.

Unless the Pure/Grey conflict is extremely recent, there will have been many protesting the situation.

none said...

Yes, Alaska dear, people are different colours because they are adapted to different environments. These people are in the same environment. Hence my question.

journeytogao said...

I was reading a discussion on another writing forum the other day about The Next Big Thing -- what will it be? Theory went that vampires and dystopias are getting satched out, same with fantasy. Maybe this race war thing is it.

PLaF said...

Is it only skin color that separates the Pures from the Greys? What else comes between them? Territory - the Pures live on the beautiful reef while the Greys inhabit the murky depths? Oxygen levels in the water? Your underwater setting is a setup for something really cool and you’re settling for something less.
Her innocent cry for equality – sixteen year olds are more likely to have impassioned cries of injustice.
I wondered at what it would take to so alienate me from my family as to join the rebel cause. OK, watching my uncle brutally torture someone might lead me to help that or any other imprisoned Grey to escape.
I’m not convinced that Alphi would be welcomed as a new family member to the dark-skinned Greys.
I think you have a few good elements here, but I’m not sure if I like Alphi enough to want to read this.

150 said...

Oh man, I hope not. Delgo tried to launch that boat in 2008 and that movie was and remains the worst stinker I have ever seen.

150 said...

No, you know what? I'm straight-up going to make the call. Ghosts. Ghosts are next. You heard it here first.

The Author said...

*starts writing ghost story, just in case*