Thursday, October 11, 2012

Face-Lift 1077

Guess the Plot

Genesis List

1. A spaceship heads for the stars, carrying a cargo of humans to start a colony on a distant planet. Also, more scientific errors than the minions can be expected to stomach.

2. When Andrea got her first DJ job, she figured it was a chance to play all her favorite Genesis songs to a captive audience. But just when she thought it was going all right, she finds out she's wrong when she thought she was right.

3. After 16-year-old Rosina Casperelli finishes off a kingdom of super-powered beings and battles an ancient evil bent on enslaving her, she'll still have to deal with the most terrifying knowledge of all: her name is on the mysterious . . . Genesis List!

4. When the bodies of four women turn up in different parts of the city, homicide detective Zack Martinez puts it down to football violence. But when a fifth girl is found missing a piece of her scalp, it brings back memories of a chilling serial killer from the beginning of his career. He knows two things: If this is the Genesis killer, then they sent the wrong man to San Quentin; and the Genesis Killer knows where he used to live.

5. Archaeologists discover an ancient parchment, mysteriously untouched by the ravages of time, and race to decipher the mysterious writing. Will the National Science Foundation withdraw their funding when the parchment is declared to be God's to-do list, dropped by the careless deity during the first days of creation?

6. Being on the Genesis List means that Riatta will among the chosen few to survive the apocalypse. But when she discovers that all the females on the list will be imprisoned in "birth chambers" and will bear quintuplets every 10 months for as long as they remain fertile, she leads the other teens in rebellion.

Original Version

Dear EE,

Sixteen-year-old genius Rosina Casperelli has a soft-spot for strays. When she finds a glowing young amnesiac in the alley behind St. Catherine's, she quickly learns that she can't keep him safe from a secret kingdom of super-powered beings called HighBorn by hiding him in her closet. [If the HighBorn couldn't even find him in the alley behind St. Catherine's, I wouldn't worry that they'll find him in her closet.] [Also, if he has amnesia, who told Rosina the HighBorn are looking for him?] [Who is Rosina? A high school student? A superhero? Does she have any chance against a kingdom of super-powered beings?]

Pursued by the terrifying Night Huntsmen, it’s angst and adventure as Zina and her growing circle of friends seek safety on a legendary island and discover that they’re more than just names on the mysterious Genesis List. But are they ready to fight an ancient evil bent on enslaving them all? [Are we still in the same book? Is Zina Rosie's nickname? Are the Night Huntsmen HighBorn? Are the HighBorn the ancient evil bent on enslaving Rosina and her friends? Why does an ancient evil want to enslave Rosina and her friends? Where and what is the Genesis List? What's mysterious about it? What are Rosie and her friends beside just names on the Genesis List? How do they go about finding a legendary island? Once they're safe on the legendary island, how do they go about fighting the ancient evil? Is it just going to walk into their trap, or do they have to leave the island and go looking for it? What happened to the glowing amnesiac?]

Genesis List is a young adult super-heroic fantasy adventure, complete at 95,000 words.

Thank you for your time!


First of all, change the title to The Genesis List.

There's no transition from paragraph 1 to paragraph 2. What does the amnesiac in the alley have to do with the Huntsmen and the ancient evil and the Genesis List?

You're supposed to provide a summary of your story. The second paragraph sounds more like an advertisement.

Start over. Give us a 3-sentence paragraph telling us who Rosina is and what she wants and what book-worthy situation she's gotten herself into.

Then I want a paragraph telling us what she needs to do and what's keeping her from succeeding.

Wrap it up with a paragraph telling us what will happen if she fails and how she plans to overcome her seemingly insurmountable odds.

Be specific. Unless it's really lame, you definitely want to include what the Genesis List is.


150 said...

This is mostly premise, not plot. Just tell us what happens in clear, direct sentences. I'm getting glimpses of a story I'd like to read, but a glimpse is not enough. Read the archives or the examples on Kristin Nelson's blog for an idea of what a query should include. (Dilemmas, choices, and results, mostly.)

AlaskaRavenclaw said...

Yes! Be more specific! Being vague won't make agents want to read more. It'll just make 'em say "Next."

Are there connections between the boy in the alley, the growing circle of friends, and the island? If so, make them clear.

Cut out "angst", "adventure", all vaguenesses and all cliches. And half your adjectives. Add specifics. Cut your first paragraph down to something like:

When 16-year-old Rosina Casperelli finds a young amnesiac in the alley behind St. Catherine's cathedral, she realizes she has to protect him from the super-powered HighBorn. So she heads to Brimthwocket Island, where...

That gives you a lot more room to say the important stuff.

Also, are the Highborn, the Night Huntsmen, and the ancient evil all the same guys? If not, that may too many antagonists for one query.

Dave Fragments said...

This is a bit thin to sell a story in a query. I agree with the others on that.

Rosina finds an orphan or an outcast of the upper class. A boy who is Rosina's age and endowed with special powers. He's fleeing an assassin.

In all of that, somehow Rosina has to discover who the boy is or the boy has to remember some of his past. Amnesia is a two-edged sword in a story. Then they have to have a good reason to run.

You see, you cheated a bit here, in that a "glowing" boy already shortcuts the amnesia. It tells us that he is special and that he is different without Rosina and the reader discovering it.

I suspect that the assassin attacks them and the boy defends himself, remembering or discovering his powers. Then they learn of their quest (?) or where they might be safe.

After that, you have to reveal the mystery to the agent.

james said...

Sorry if this comment has nothing to do with the author's opening, but I am curious about a couple of the fake plots. I couldn't help but wonder if the 1st was written by khazar-khum and the last by Dave F.

Evil Editor said...

Wrong on both counts, though #4 was submitted by KK.

james said...

Sorry if I'm saying this twice, but the first time I may have gotten filtered by the ... SPAMBOT KILLER. Someone should write a story about that; Dave F. might be a candidate. Anyway, I really thought the 1st fake was by khazar because he had once mentioned that his dad was rocket scientist, and that the last was by Dave because it sounded so much like something he had opened with not long ago.

Evil Editor said...

Just to set the record straight, Khazar-khum's a she.

james said...

Oops! Humblest apologies. Either way, I think the name sounds really khool.