Thursday, April 19, 2012

Face-Lift 1019

Guess the Plot


1. When retired chemist Roger Gusty begins converting his farts into ghosts, his love affair with octagenarian heiress Madeleine Crinkly takes a disturbing new turn. Set in a crumbling mansion, this hair-raising tale literally stinks.

2. Dolores knows she's going to die. That's because she's a Mysta, or "Mystic Sista," one of a sisterhood of urban psychics. Her daughter Rosalie is having trouble accepting the inevitable, so the Mystas take her on a road trip. Psychic revelations ensue.

3. Supermodel "Mysta" starts having memories of a past life as a Valkyrie warrior goddess. Then her friend Kieran declares that he's actually an ancient warrior. Kieran's brother, a Navy SEAL shows up, and both brothers want Mysta. But can she figure out which one of them is possessed by a demon who wants to wreak havoc on mankind?

4. Mystie, a Bostonian with a secret, finally achieves her lifelong dream of becoming a parochial school teacher. But her new career is in jeopardy when her nosy students figure out that Mystie is actually a Mysta.

5. Evil Elf Lysander Farklebean finds true love in a fog when the vaporite maiden Mysta helps him navigate to the Ivy Isle, thereby escaping the clutches of the angry King Comytell, father of the spiteful Princess Pearly, who wants Lysander's head on a platter, because he snatched the golden virginity she was keeping in the cupboard. But how long can the new happiness last?

6. In a nearly empty strip mall, the only occupied storefront is for a laser-tag arena, Mysta. Not much happens there, until smoldering corpses drilled with neat, cauterized holes start piling up in the parking lot.

7. Mysta is the fad of the moment only no one can agree what exactly it is: A drink? A drug? A celebrity? Only Pansy knows it's an invasion from another dimension where mind control satellites, death rays, and fate controlled by astrology are real.

Original Version

Dear Evil Editor

An attack by a jilted rock star-turned-stalker nearly kills Supermodel Mysta. After surgery to repair her crushed larynx, she’s sure the drugs [The drugs? "Her painkillers" or whatever would be more specific.] are causing memories of a past life as Myst, Valkyrie warrior goddess.

Until she displays paranormal powers related to this previous existence. ["Until" suggests that she stops believing the drugs are causing memories of a past life as a Valkyrie warrior goddess when she displays paranormal powers. I would expect these powers to confirm that she has goddess DNA.] [Also, what are her powers?]

The assault reunites her with old friend, Kieran Sigard, [Change his name to Koren Sierkegaard.] who assures [her] he is her prior love, the warrior Sigvarðr. [Did he just find this out, or has he been keeping it from her? Did she tell him about her memories before he told her this?

How that conversation went if she told him first:

Mysta: I've been having these strange visions or dreams or memories of myself as a Valkyrie warrior goddess named Myst.

Kieran: I . . . see . . . Hey, guess what, I'm an ancient Icelandic warrior myself. So you have nothing to worry about. Excuse me, I just remembered there's something I need to tell your doctor before I disappear forever.

How that conversation went if she didn't tell him first:

Kieran: I'm glad you've recovered form the attack on your voice box. By the way, I'm the warrior Sigvarðr, your love from a past life.

Mysta: Welcome to Earth. I have just one question. What's that little thing over the "o" in your warrior name?]

She longs for the passion they share–[Who are "they"?] that is until his Navy SEAL brother arrives. Lieutenant Commander Kaelan Sigard [Giving your children two such similar names may not be uncommon, especially if they're twins, but giving two key characters in the same book such similar names is going to cause confusion.] is temptation incarnate, and offers protection when assassination and kidnapping attempts are made. [It's always nice to have a Navy SEAL visiting you when assassins attack. Especially if, in a past life, the Navy SEAL was Thor.] That isn’t the only thing he offers, but his indifference regarding a lasting relationship compels her to keep her distance. He thrives on a challenge, refusing to give up. This sparks a dormant [awakens a latent] rivalry between brothers, mixing a recipe for disaster as [and] they begin a deadly competition to win her. [Define "deadly."]

Unbeknownst to Mysta, a demon is using one of the brothers for its own centuries-old nefarious scheme. [This just keeps getting better.] [Amazingly, this demon with a centuries-old nefarious scheme somehow doesn't seem as out of place as the Navy SEAL.] It blames her for being cast into the underworld, intends to steal her powers, and wreak havoc on mankind. [Can you really steal someone's powers? Powers aren't like false teeth, that you leave in a cup on the bedside table overnight. Ah, research reveals that a supervillain known as The Parasite stole Superman's powers once. And a mythical staff on exhibit in Metropolis had the ability to steal Superman’s powers and transfer them to some evil character. It was up to Batman to locate and rescue Superman. How humiliating for the Man of Steel to have to be rescued by Batman, with his silly toys like his batarangs and bat pellets.]

As the young woman deciphers [investigates] her past, a twist of events causes her present love to [Kieran/Kaelin] become[s] possessed by the very demon she must destroy. [Which brother is her present love?] This heartbreaking challenge [dilemma] could be her unraveling.

MYSTA, my completed paranormal romantic suspense of approximately 92,500 words, is the first in a series where the couple [What couple?] becomes a paranormal investigative team. In book two, while investigating the homicide of a friend’s relative, ties to the underworld are discovered, luring the couple [Mysta and Kieran or Mysta and Kaelan?] into a devastating trap. In book three, Mysta is a month away from delivering their first baby when she is abducted by those who wish to use her, and her child, for evil purposes. [Never mind books 2 and 3 for now. It has series potential is enough.]

My short story, MURDER IN MIDTOWN, has been accepted for an anthology to be published later this year.

Thank you for your creative criticism. I look forward to being publicly ridiculed soon.



At first reading, one could think, Why does this demon think this supermodel is responsible for casting him into the underworld? If you refer to the demon as a Norse demon, and perhaps give it a Norse demon name, it won't sound like an anachronism to those who consider demons a Christian idea. Did she cause the demon to be cast into the underworld? If so, say so instead of saying it blames her. You can say it wants revenge on her for sending it to the underworld.

It's a romance, but I'm not sure who the romantic couple is. It sounds like Mysta wants a lasting relationship with Kaelin and only stays away because he's indifferent. So when the brothers enter into a rivalry for her, Kieran might not want to be involved with her, knowing she has the hots for his brother. Which is why I can't be sure which brother she ends up with. And for some reason you're not telling.

I wasn't thinking Kieran had any interest in Mysta. Is he an old boyfriend or just an old friend?

We can do without the stalker/larynx bit. She doesn't understand why she's experiencing strange visions, but when she develops X-ray vision and super strength there can be only one explanation: she's the reincarnation of a Valkyrie warrior goddess.


BuffySquirrel said...

When supermodel Mysta starts recovering memories of a past life as a Valkyrie, she's convinced it's due to medication prescribed following emergency surgery.

Her conviction wavers when she starts to demonstrate paranormal powers, and when old flame Kieran Sigard reveals they were lovers in that former life, she's forced to the realisation that she is the warrior goddess Myst reincarnated.

The arrival of Kieran's Navy SEAL brother plunges Mysta into a deadly love triangle. For the brothers are being used by a demon seeking revenge on Mysta for casting him into the underworld centuries before.

In order to steal Mysta's powers and use them to wreak havoc, the demon possesses one of the brothers. Now destroying the demon risks the life of the man she loves, yet her own eternal soul is in danger if she fails to recover the memories that will enable her to cast the demon out once again.

Got a bit wavery on the dilemma there, because I'm not really sure what it is :). But eh.

AlaskaRavenclaw said...

Dear writer, there are two problems here as I see it.

The first, and I say this with love: reading your sentences is like trying to load the back of a van with enormous catatonic boa constrictors. They're awkward. They're very awkward. I think you need to work on them.

The second is your storyline. It really does help to sum your story up in a single sentence, under 20 words in length. But I don't know if it can be done with this story. At least not as you've described it. It seems to be headed off in too many directions at once, much like the poor snakes in my second paragraph.

150 said...

Well, shoot, Buffy's version doesn't sound NEARLY as ridiculous. The power of a good edit!

If the anthology is well-paying, include the title and publisher. If not, it's not a credit that will help you, so don't bring it up.

arhooley said...

Wow, what is it with these complicated Norse mythology plots? I expect to see Mysta with metal cups on her breasts and one of those horn-helmets.

Author, here's an example of an awkward expression you need to fix: "She longs for the passion they share." You can only "long for" something that you don't have. The sentence is jarring because of this contradiction. Maybe "she's reveling in her romance with Brother #1, until Brother #2 shows up." You need to look at each and every word you've written and consider whether it's the right one.

khazar-khum said...

I admit I'm jealous of anyone who has a keyboard that permits the use of the medieval letters.

Anonymous said...

Yes, well, impressive use of accented letters, but mostly your readers of the English language version won't make use of them. We dunno what it means/is for.

What they said about delete the sequel plots but do tell who = demon and who = Romeo.

This has some great ideas, but the query sounds like maybe your plotline is a bit convoluted and the book might benefit from trimming a few subplots and episodes that you wrote early on and then sort of eliminated the need for, but didn't have the heart to cut.

AlaskaRavenclaw said...

Anonymous, the "accented letter" is an eth, once a respected component of the English alphabet, but, like thorn, it got fired in the Middle Ages, though it still finds work in Scandinavia. Both represent "th" sounds, hard and soft respectively.

BuffySquirrel said...

Ah, yes, and the next edition of the dictionary will be 'this thick'.

Wilkins MacQueen said...

Author, you have to start over.

Your best paragraph starts with "Unbeknownst" and it isn't great, but it is better than the others.

Inexperience is forgivable. This is sloppy and not ready for querying.

Please read the archives.

I doubt the manuscript is in better shape than the query.

Everything you need to know you can learn. I hope you'll get to work.

kbradley67 said...

Dear EE:

Okay, WOW. I guess I wasn't as ready to query as I thought. Some fine points made all around.

EE, I chose those names for their meaning, not thinking that the similarities could confuse readers. I will change them at a later time.

Now that my wounds have healed, I'm actuall willing to submit myself for more abuse.

So, is this an improvement or am I spinning my wheels?

Supermodel Mysta is in deep trouble.

An attack by a stalker sparks not only memories of a past life as Mist, Valkyrie warrior goddess, but the ability to shift into fog. The assault reunites her with high school friend, Kieran, who carries his own secret.

He is her prior love.

Mysta is ready to reignite the passion they once shared–that is until his Navy SEAL brother arrives, plunging her into a bizarre love triangle.

Lieutenant Commander Kaelan Sigard is temptation incarnate, and offers protection when assassination and kidnapping attempts are made. That isn’t the only thing he offers, but Mysta wants to remain true to Kieran, with whom she shared a past.

Kaelan thrives on a challenge, refusing to give up.

Unbeknownst to Mysta, a demi-god is using one of the brothers for its own centuries-old, nefarious scheme. It blames her, and seeks revenge for being cast into the underworld. The plan is to bind her with an ancient ritual that will share her powers, allowing it to escape, and wreak havoc on mankind.

As the young woman investigates, she discovers her past love is actually Kaelan, only to have him befall possession by the very fiend she must destroy.

This heartbreaking dilemma could be her unraveling.

Rachel6 said...

Hey, kbradley, nice rewrite! Your sentences are much sleeker, the plot is more coherently told...all in all, much improved!

I have two tiny nits to pick. The first is this clause: "only to have him befall possession by the very fiend she must destroy." May I suggest something briefer like, "see him possessed by..."?

The other was your final sentence, about her heartbreaking dilemma. IMHO, I think you can lose that sentence altogether. It's a little melodramatic, and it tells me what I've already figured out.

But hey, now I want to read your book!

AA said...

I'm not sure you should say "He is her prior love" if it turns out he isn't. Maybe he tells her he is?

"The plan is to bind her with an ancient ritual that will share her powers, allowing it to escape, and wreak havoc on mankind." Allowing what to escape? The plan? The ritual?

Also, too much passivity in the writing. (No, I did NOT mean passive voice, especially.) For instance:

An attack by

but the ability to

Mysta is ready to

brother arrives

attempts are made

allowing it to

only to have him befall

and so forth. It makes it seem like your story is full of attempts being made, things befalling people, people wanting to do things or being ready to do things, people arriving, things being allowed to happen, etc. What it doesn't show is whether or not anyone actually DOES anything.

This is not necessarily "bad" writing, but it does create emotional distance, and you don't want that.

AlaskaRavenclaw said...

Yes, the sentences are better, as Rachel says. I noticed the same thing AA did about the passivity. There are only a couple sentences of which your protagonist is actually the subject.

Rewrite each sentence with your protagonist as the subject. See where that takes you. It won't give you a finished query, but it will help you see how to focus the query on your protagonist.