Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Face-Lift 1109

Guess the Plot

The Ten Hands

1. The adventures of Whitney Cross, 19th-century Canadian superhero demon hunter who must defeat ten evil spirits while leading an X-men-like team toward the Biblical end of the world. Also, super-pirates.

2. Joe Vanderberg thought it was a sure bet when he wagered his firstborn's soul on a game of tic tac toe. Now he must play poker with the Devil himself to reclaim little Aidan from Hell. Can he win...the ten hands?

3. When PI Rob Horwood opens a parcel to find a severed hand, he realises there's a maniac on the loose. When a second hand arrives, he knows this person means business. By the time the ninth has arrived, he's figured out the murderer's system. But can he prevent the villain from severing... the tenth hand?

4. John and Maye Hand raise eight sons on their Ozark farm. They grow corn and hemp. Their sons are wild and they too grow corn and hemp but sell moonshine and marijuana. The law takes an interest in the Hands and the Hands take an interest in killing lawmen. This is the history of the Hands from John’s and Maye’s courtship to the final gunfight that kills the last of their boys.

5. When Kim Moon, proprietor of the massage parlor the Ten Hands is found dead in his burned-out Audi, homicide detective Zack Martinez knows two things. One, Moon didn't decapitate himself, and two, maybe he can get his wife to give him a massage with a happy ending.

6. Joon Merlin is a great pianist whom no one will work with because of his raging ego. His last chance for a concert career comes when an avant garde composer creates a dense piano sonata just for Joon - and four other handpicked keyboardists. Can Joon put his ego aside and share the stage? Or will he once again succumb to pianist envy?

Original Version

Dear ___________,

My story, The Ten Hands, is an 82,000 word supernatural adventure that combines science and religion in a new approach to the Super Hero genre. [Cool. I envision religious superheroes like The Cardinal, Lama Man and Deacon burning scientists at the stake. Is it set in the time of Galileo and Copernicus? If not, you can use time travel to go back and burn them alive. Each chapter ends with another scientist burning, the big finale coming hen they go after Charles Darwin.] This is a book for both Young and New Adults.

Whitney Cross, the girl who does not age, experiences the secret world of Heroes and Demons from the perspective of one with little physical strength of her own. During her adventures in the 18th and 19th centuries of Canada she is challenged with super-pirates, a life sentence in a Demon prison and ten evil spirits that pursue her across the centuries. [During the 18th and 19th centuries she is pursued across the centuries? Meaning across the 18th and 19th centuries, or meaning time travel? If the latter, does her team try to kill Hitler?] During her transformation from a regular young woman [Usually a regular young woman isn't introduced as "the girl who doesn't age."] into leader of a team of Demon hunting super heroes, she experiences unrequited love, challenges the prejudices of a paranoid society [Pretty much all societies are paranoid, and especially so when there are demons roaming around.] and learns that there is always a purpose for everything that happens, even the bad stuff. [For instance, when your house gets infested with the fleas your cat brought in, it's to aid the stockholders of pesticide companies.]

This is the first book of a trilogy and a part of a larger collection of stories [Usually best to confirm that people want to read one book before going overboard.] that uses the same world and a universal underlying plot, all building up toward the Biblical end of the world. The Ten Hands gives you a 19th century X-Men Origins story with action and moral undertones akin to The Chronicles of Narnia. [Really? Because to me it sounds more like Justice League of America meets A Wrinkle in Time.]

In the Brigham Young University-Idaho Fiction Contest (2011) my short story, The Legend of Chariot, was the top placing short story and runner up over all. Thank you for your consideration.



You call this a story, but you don't provide a summary of a story. You provide a list of general-to-vague events. You need to make us care about Whitney. What are her goals? What's stopping her from achieving them? What's her plan to overcome these obstacles? You need to make us care about her enough to want to read a whole book about her.

Why do the other superheroes accept Whitney as their leader? Is it the usual "weakest member gets to be leader because otherwise she'd never contribute" situation? Or does she actually bring something to the table?

Did she come into this world at the age of about 20, or did something make her stop aging when she got there?


Veronica Rundell said...

What's Whitney's superpower? Longevity? How does that help her become leader of the demon-hunting league?
How old is she supposed to be? Does she time-travel or does she simply live in these (18th and 19th century) periods?
How did she escape a 'life' sentence? If she never ages it seems she'd be rotting away in prison right now.
What are super pirates?
Is this a period piece, or does it move into present day?
What does she learn about life?
Who/what are the 10 Hands?

Right now this is how your story reads: Girl who can't age does stuff to fight demons. There's a religious message. It probably happens a hundred years ago (maybe more).

Does the end of the world happen in this story--or book 3? If the latter, cut it. Say: 'This book could stand alone, or be part of a trilogy' and leave it at that. Save the words for your plot summary.

Get specific. Tell us about the heroic, non-aging, super, demon- hunting leader you created. She's probably got a lot of great things going for her.

AlaskaRavenclaw said...

You've got a three-sentence summary of your plot. Which is fine. I queried my present agent with a three-sentence summary.

Here's what's not fine. Two of those sentences begin with "During." Your character "experiences" something twice, "is challenged with" (not by?) something once and "challenges" something once, all in the course of the three sentences.

The resultant voice reminds me a little bit of a job application letter, and a lot of the kind of report a teacher writes when she's documenting a child's behavior problems. It does not remind me at all of a YA novel.

Since Brigham Young is a biggish school, I'm guessing enough people entered this contest that a voice like this would've been knocked right out of the running. So I suggest rewriting the query in a voice more like the one you use for fiction.

Anonymous said...

Holy crap I know who wrote this story

Patricia Bennett Fine Art Painter said...

Sounds fun, would like to know more about 18th and 19th century Canada. Like the idea of the Biblical end of the world, although unsure exactly what that is. Also would like more clarification on what "demon" is, as it can be various shades of stuff.

Repectfully disagree with: everything happens for a purpose concept, unless the purpose is to be an interesting challenge (e.g. bad stuff happens to everyone, but it's how you deal with it)

Neat idea!

Alan Beardsley said...

(This is the Author). Love the feedback. This is my first time doing queries and it has gone through the wash several times already. This version was specifically for an agent who wanted a query in 250 or less, so yeah, it killed me to leave out most of the details.

The original title was going to be "The Cres Dak'mal" which translates into Hands of Death. Those are the ten evil spirits who turn men into demons and who are in conflict with Whitney. Whitney is the "leader" because she's the only one who can live long enough to carry on the constantly reoccurring battle, because the spirits can't die.