Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Face-Lift 1018

Guess the Plot

Amber Friction

1. Just as the substance amber has the ability to hold a charge, so can Amber Aurora manipulate the electrical energy within her body. Will this power help her become queen of an Alaskan village? It must, or no more females will ever be born. Which could cause friction among the males.

2. Luvsalot is trying to market a new type of organic sex toy. Will the all-natural Amber Friction meet the needs of the increasingly desperate divorced/pagan/hippie/vegan/ dildo demographic? Also, revived ancient bugs rampaging through San Francisco.

3. When a serial killer starts leaving his victims' body parts encased in amber all over the city, Detective Zach Martinez knows two things: the police's geological consultants are also his suspect pool, and he's definitely getting his wife a different semi-precious stone for their anniversary.

4. Amber is desperate (or ‘dispirit’, as she writes it) to be the next publishing billionaire. Her typing is terrible and her ‘spilling’ is ‘worst’. She writes stories about ‘cereal’ killers. ‘Butt’ her ‘friction navels’ are rejected by every agent. “It didn’t grab me.” They write. So Amber grabs them and adds ‘cereal’ killer realism to her next ‘naval’.

5. When Kate Goode dons the mask of Amber Friction, superheroine, she finds herself battling not just criminals but paparazzi, would-be corporate sponsors, and an overbearing mother bent on getting herself some grandkids, even if it means pushing Kate into marrying a mild mannered accountant who may or may not be a supervillain.

6. A bestselling author, attempting to prove that titles don't matter and that her fans will buy her next novel no matter what the title, uses a random word generator to name the book. Her career tanks and she's never heard from again.

7. A hard-hitting look at bias in law enforcement, based on the true story of when my beloved Georgie disappeared and the authorities not only refused to issue an Amber Alert, but actually said to my face, "We don't do that for cats, ma'am."

[Author's note, not part of query: Reason for the title Amber Friction: The modern term "electron" is derived from the Greek word for Amber. Amber was given this name for its ability to aquire [acquire] a charge (like friction from rubbing wool against amber). Aurora has the ability to manipulate the electrical energy within her own body, an ability she slowly learns to control. In a sense, she can aquire [acquire!] a charge, but she doesn't have to drag her socked feet against the carpet to do it.] [If she doesn't have to drag her feet on the carpet, where does the friction in the title come in?] [Is Amber her adoptive family's last name?] For those who aren't familiar with the feet-on-carpet electricity idea, this scene from Family Guy illustrates it.

Original Version

Teenagers don’t usually discover new races. Of course, Aurora Amber doesn’t exactly discover the Terraneans. They find her. [Thus I apologize for using an opening sentence that has nothing to do with anything.]

They rescue her during an attack on her adoptive family's vacation home. Their impenetrable armor and acute sensory perception pique her curiosity. By genetic default, she is the last female capable of becoming the Queen of their Alaskan colony. [Are you implying that there's a male capable of becoming queen?] [Lemme see if I've got this straight. Someone attacks Amber's adoptive family, and she is rescued by members of a new race who discover that she has the genetic makeup to become the new race's queen? Does it go like this:

Terranean 1: Holy crap! Walruses are attacking that Alaskan village vacation home! There might be people inside.

Terranean 2: Fortunately we have impenetrable armor. We must prevent a bloodbath.

Terranean 1: Hello, young lady. I see your family has been slaughtered, but at least we got here in time to rescue you and . . . You know, you look kind of like a Terranean. Mind if we swab your cheek for a DNA test?] Without a Queen, the remaining Terranean women cannot have female progeny. She has six months to declare a warrior who will consummate her reign and rise as King. Otherwise, the colony will hold a blood battle to choose for her.

Aurora is certain she can find a way to escape before then, [Is she a prisoner?] but there may be one Terranean worth staying for. Except Aeron isn’t Alaskan-born, and there are few who would kneel before an outsider. [I love you, but I could never marry you. My new people would never kneel before a Canadian.] Possessing an allure as lethal as Terranean venom, he provides a distraction Aurora can’t afford. Because she wasn’t the only one to walk away from the incinerated remains of her family’s vacation home. [The Human Torch and Electro also survived.]

Being the last female capable of restoring the Alaskan colony may give her the right to be Queen. But it’s also the reason someone wants her dead. [And while killing Aurora Amber might be easy, it won't be easy killing the superhero known as . . . Static Electricity Girl!] Killing the only chance for more women to be born makes no sense unless you're trying to wipe out the race.

Complete at 105,000 words, AMBER FRICTION is a young adult thriller with series potential. A biology and chemistry background has allowed me to utilize science and nature as inspiration for this series. I appreciate your time in considering my query.


Is this set in Alaska on Earth? The idea of a vacation home seems pretty modern unless you're royalty, but these days when a new race is discovered they're usually primitives living on a secluded jungle island, not Alaskans with impenetrable armor and acute sensory perception.

Maybe Amber Aurora would be a better title. It sounds cooler, at least until readers discover that it's just a character's name.

Where does the power to manipulate electricity come in?

This might work better if it began: Amber Aurora is the last hope of the Terranean race. Unless she becomes queen of her Alaskan village, no Terranean women will ever be born again.

This leaves lots of space to get specific about who doesn't want her to become queen, and why, and what she plans to do about it, like touch them and give them shocks.


AlaskaRavenclaw said...

There's a curious custom in Alaska of reciting, to anyone who asks and many people who don't, the date on which one first arrived in Alaska.

"9/17/84!" people will merrily inform you. That's because, aside from Alaska Natives (eg Athabascans, Iñupiaq, etc) damn near no one was born here.

So I don't see Aeron losing points for not being Alaska-born.

Other than that, this sounds exactly like the Alaska I know. I mean, assuming the Terraneans are mosquitos, yes? "Blood battle" is putting it mildly. Author, what was your arrival date?

Anonymous said...

GTP#4 read like a New Zealander writing phonetically.

Faceless Minion said...

I got the impression that the Terraneans are sentient ant men, which made me question why the MC would be attracted to one.

The Capitalization of Queen (and King) is Odd.

As described, the plot sounds more SF/F paranormal romance with elements of Chosen One than thriller. If it really is a thriller it might help to concentrate on the thriller elements. Bad example, but maybe something like:

Amber is "saved" by Terraneans--a hidden race of advanced psions/elves/ant men--after someone torches her family's vacation cottage in Alaska. Now they're going to force her to be queen of their colony so that their own race will survive the mysterious plague/serial killer/genetic mutation that has doomed them to go extinct and threatens the rest of humanity as well. Lucky for her, her (previously annoying) ability to develop a tatic charge in a fraction of the time it takes most people can be trained by the Terraneans advanced teachings to defeat the said mysteriousness.

sarahhawthorne said...

I think the problem I'm having is that this is a rather dry recitation of plot events. There's no sense that we are living these events with Amber.

For example, you say this: "They rescue her during an attack on her adoptive family's vacation home. Their impenetrable armor and acute sensory perception pique her curiosity."

Try something more like this: "One minute Amber Aurora is doing her English homework. The next she's being dragged from the flaming wreckage of her house by giant man-mosquito monsters, who insist on calling her 'Your Highness.'"

arhooley said...

Why do I care about these Terraneans? Do I care whether Amber becomes their queen and saves their race?

I envision her lying helplessly, bloated with ten million eggs, while little Terraneans feed her Prozac, fatty foods, and dangerous hormones.

Faceless Minion said...

tatic -> static


khazar-khum said...

Are the Terraneans shapeshifters? Do they live underground? What about Amber makes her ideal?

Anonymous said...

I'm choking on the "genetic default" in the original query, it gives the mental image of rejection of a donor organ, but apparently with more testing the bedsprings.

Maybe I'm just a prude, but IMNSHO, YA shouldn't be too blatant about that sort of thing.

BuffySquirrel said...

Why can't any of the other Terranean women become queen? It's fairly common in colony insects.

The reference to her not being the only person to escape doesn't work for me, because I have no idea what it implies. There's a rival for queen? Or someone who wants to stop her becoming queen? It especially makes no sense with that 'Because' at the beginning, which implies there's some connection with Aeron's allure, yet the connection is never made.

If someone from her family wants to kill her, and by extension all Terraneans, why have they waited until now?

You seem to have a lot of A names. I sympathise, but maybe change some of them?

Each part of the query should follow logically from what came before. I think you have some work to do with this one in that respect :).

Anonymous said...

Thank you all.

It is obvious from the comments/suggestions that nothing is clear. I'm going to scratch this, much as it pains me, and start from the beginning.

The Terraneans appear human and live, for the most part, beneath the earth. Within the Alaska mountain range as is the case with this particular colony. There is a reason why only she can become Queen, but it starts to get too technical for the query. There are no eggs. Aurora's role within the colony isn't to repopulate it herself. Again, something that gets really technical for a query.

Aurora can manipulate the electrical energy within her body, but she doesn't understand how to do it right away. The full extent of her ability isn't even completely clear by the end. As I think about it now, that's probably a good reason not to name the book after it. :/

The main conflict comes into play very early, so I'm going to try to work the query around the events leading up to the attack on her family's vacation home. Thanks again everyone for your time.

sarahhawthorne said...

"The main conflict comes into play very early, so I'm going to try to work the query around the events leading up to the attack on her family's vacation home."



Sorry for the dramatics, but don't do this. The answer to making your query clearer is NOT to go back and put in more backstory, but to start with the main conflict and pare away all unnecessary details and plot digressions.

Focus on Aurora. In the words of QueryShark:
Who is she? (An Alaskan high school student who discovers she's the last Terranean Queen.)
What are the stakes? (She must pick a mate - and a king - in six months. Not only that, she is being targeted for assassination.)
What are the consequences of her choices? (If she doesn't pick an acceptable mate, she'll be forced to marry whomever the colony chooses for her. And if she is killed, the entire Terranean colony will die off.)

That is the spine of your story. What is missing is how Aurora plans to deal with her situation. Does she have to play a political game of wits and words? Does she have to physically fight to defend herself? What does she do?

AlaskaRavenclaw said...

Speaking of spines-- if it's in the Alaska Range, it's a cabin, not a cottage.

The Author said...

@ Sarahhawthorne

"One minute Amber Aurora is doing her English homework. The next she's being dragged from the flaming wreckage of her house by giant man-mosquito monsters, who insist on calling her 'Your Highness.'"

I like this. I would totally read it.