Wednesday, August 08, 2012

Face-Lift 1060

Guess the Plot

Mark of the Phoenix

1. In the year 2013, illegal immigrant Jose Calderon's pregnant wife is captured by the Arizona border patrol and branded with the mark of the phoenix, a one way ticket to the SS-style concentration camps in Phoenix, AZ. Can Jose save the day using his world-class parkour skills?

2. As a publicity gimmick for his tropical resort, "The Phoenix," Jacob Watah gives arriving guests a wash-off tattoo of an image he bought from a hag in the old marketplace. Soon, everyone discovers the tattoos won’t wash off and they’ve become minions to the evil god Ramon!

3. Jimmy’s buddies get him drunk on his twenty-first birthday then take him to an all-night tattoo parlor. He wakes up with a fire bird on his chest. Two dwarves and an elf point at his tattoo and tell him he is chosen to save Mystic Earth from the space dragons. If he won’t serve, they’ll kill him so another may take his place.

4. Sam Weber was nicknamed "The Phoenix" because he was constantly re-inventing himself. He was also the most successful grifter on the circuit. He meets his match in rich, beautiful Melinda Crowder, aka "The Ball-Crusher", who's none too pleased to discover she's become his next mark.

5. Merit, one of Ramses II's many daughters, carries a secret: a strange birthmark on her side. Priests, magicians, and even Pharaoh himself debate: is she simply a little girl, or the Phoenix reborn?

6. When she was five Bree was marked by a phoenix, so she's supposedly destined for greatness. But now she's seventeen and still hasn't done dick. When her sister is abducted, the kidnappers demand the long lost Celestial Crown. Can Bree find the Crown and ransom her sister, thus fulfilling her destiny?

Original Version

Dear Evil Editor,

Seventeen-year-old Bree is special, in all the wrong ways. She's the daughter of the king of the fae, but because she's half human she can't survive living in the fae realm. When she was five she was marked by a phoenix, [In the human world?] showing [Portending? Heralding?] that she's meant [destined?] for something great [Greatness.] [That's as specific as the mark of the phoenix gets? Sometime before you die you will do something that someone somewhere will consider great?], which she doesn't believe for a second.

The only problem is, the fae do believe it. When a group of exiled fae kidnap her sister, Chloe, they tell Bree that Chloe will die unless she finds them the long lost Celestial Crown, the original sign [Emblem? Validation?] of royalty in the fae realm that was [Better to leave out those words so we don't think it was the realm that was forged by the phoenix.] forged by the very phoenix that marked her.

In order to save her sister's life, Bree has to dethrone her own father. [If the kidnappers are exiled fae, how does dethroning the fae king save Chloe?] [Also, is Chloe the king's daughter?] And Bree will do anything to save Chloe.

THE MARK OF THE PHOENIX is my YA fantasy novel, complete at 75,000 words.

Thank you for your time and consideration,



I would just start with the fact that she was marked by a phoenix, destining her for a totally vague form of greatness. The fact that she can't live in the fae realm just leads to questions. For instance...

I don't see how a teenaged girl who can't live in the fae realm can dethrone the king who is in the fae realm. Does she have an army she can send to do the job? Wouldn't it be easier to send an assassin to kill the king?

Being marked by a phoenix may mean you'll do something significant someday, but does it mean you can find the Celestial Crown? Is everyone that particular phoenix has marked capable of finding the Celestial Crown? Because if the Celestial Crown happens to be in the fae realm, you would want the person you blackmail into finding it to be someone who can survive in the fae realm.

Why do these exiled fae want the Crown? If they want to dethrone the king, it seems they'd be thrilled to have Bree do the job for them, even if she doesn't find the Crown.

If I'm one of these exiled fae and my buddy says, Maybe the great something Bree is destined to do is find the Celestial Crown and give it to us so we can take over the fae realm, I might reply, Yes, and maybe the great something she's destined to do is give us the Crown, take back Chloe, kill us all, and take back the Crown.


Anonymous said...

That's a vague and sketchy description. Sounds like your prose and your plot need more work. Maybe that's just a query problem. Maybe not.

AlaskaRavenclaw said...

Have we had this one already, or does it just feel that way?

Writer, judging from the queries we've seen, the world's high schools are teeming with students who are the offspring of a fairy and/or have the mark of the chosen one.

That doesn't mean you can't sell this. Readers are eager for stories that have been done before, and while editors are less eager for them, editors do have a vested interest in giving readers what readers want.

What you need to do in the query, though, is show us how your Fae/Mark of the Chosen One story is different from the rest.

Anonymous said...

There is goal and stakes in this query (fulfil the McGuffin quest to save sister's life, even if it means pissing off dangerously powerful Dad), but there are also a lot of unanswered questions. It's tricky to write a query that doesn't bring up a ton of questions, granted, but – I think the reader fails to suspend disbelief when the goal and stakes aren't compelling enough.

Which for me means the emotional arc isn't clear. As AlaskaRavenclaw says, everybody's the child of the faery monarch. But what will make readers fall in love with your version is if you have a great character.

How old is Chloe? Did Bree grow up with her? (How many half daughters are hanging around anyway?) Why can't Bree just ask Daddy for the crown thingy – or ask Daddy to have his minions rescue Chloe? Can you make it come across that Bree is (I’m guessing) horrified, frantic, and in no state to think things through?

PLaF said...

Instead of saying Bree is special, tell why. It’ll help me decide if I want to go along for this ride. Opening with the fact that she’s half fae is a good first step. Adding she’s marked by the phoenix ups the ante.
If her initial conflict is that she’s marked for greatness and doesn’t feel like she can live up to her destiny, then you need to expose her misgivings. “Which she doesn’t believe for a second” falls a little flat in the emotional content department. Also, does she know she’s half fae or does that revelation come out in the story, much to her surprise?
Is the reason she was marked by the phoenix the reason the fae believe she’s the one destined to find the crown? The connection here is a little vague. Also, do all fae believe this or a rogue few? And how does deposing the reigning king solve anything?

BuffySquirrel said...

So...what part doesn't she believe? That she was marked by a phoenix? That being marked by a phoenix heralds greatness? If those around her believe both those things, on what basis does she refuse to believe them? Because of her upbringing among humans, perhaps, humans notoriously not believing in anything remotely magical at all.

If being half-human means she can't live in the faery realm, does being half-Fae mean she can't live in the human world? There would be a certain ruthless logic to that, although it would then be hard to imagine where she does live. As EE says, it's also pretty hard to imagine how she can achieve anything in Faerie, what with the dying the minute she arrives problem.