Wednesday, May 08, 2013
Guess the Plot
1. ...through SCIENCE! At least, that's what Toby Canola always believed. Then he took a job at UltraTech. Now he's packed up the SUV, stuffed the wife and kids in with the dog, and is heading out to live off the land in Wyoming...while there's still time.
2. Sam and Jenna it all until Sam's family curse came true and he barely survived his transition. Now she weeps all day and he kills at night. A werewolf in the family does NOT mean . . . better lives.
3. Marc wakes up in a mental institution and is told he killed his date Bethany by driving drunk. Suddenly life sucks. But the whole story's a sham! Marc's actually been kidnapped by aliens who replaced him with a doppelganger to prevent him from becoming the next Hitler, but then Marc discovers the aliens want planet Earth for themselves and it's up to him and Bethany to save us all.
4. Jai searches for a unicorn to harness it's power and save his sister. Shilli scours the forest for a human male to discover if the legends of their prowess is greatly exaggerated. They meet and lead . . . better lives.
5. An ad in Demonology Magazine is headlined "Better Lives." Just make a wish, provide some personal ID info, and sign on the dotted line. But you might want to read the fine print about what happens after death.
6. Everyone at Fenton High School thinks their life sucks, resulting in bad poetry and hormonal angst. Also, awkward teen sex scenes.
7. When a farmboy discovers he's got nine lives, he decides to spend them taking down the evil Empire of Kwhat, thereby impressing his girlfriend. When it turns out he was already on number nine, however, it falls to the girl to fix things up.
8. Ophiophobic Creek Flagstaff and insectophobic Trisha Winslow are doppers who long for more freedom to pursue their lifestyle. They hear Singapore is a laissez faire capitalist dream. So they fly there to open The Bong Shop and discover illegal drug trafficking is a capital offense. They flee into the Malay jungle. Will they find better lives with the snakes and insects?
9. Grandpa Curtis left the planet Saturday, and his old TV is getting incinerated Tuesday. Gloria and Bob are still stuck in the TV in a sitcom from the 60's. Can they escape and find their way into a new flat screen before Tuesday?
Dear Evil Editor,
Thanks so much for this opportunity for evil feedback on BETTER LIVES, my 94,000 word YA science fiction novel, inspired by Dickens's A Christmas Carol. [Trivia note: My research reveals that every TV sitcom and every cartoon series ever produced that didn't get canceled before Christmas has done an episode inspired by A Christmas Carol. Let me put it in terms you'll understand. If you watched nothing but Christmas Carol adaptations 24 hours a day, to see all of them would take you from now until Christmas. Of the year 2378. And that doesn't include the thousands sure to be produced between now and 2378.]
Seventeen year-old prep school student Marc Andrews knows he’s a bad person, despite his nerdy roommate Tim’s best efforts to reform him. [I'd go with "is" rather than "knows he's."] Marc steals a test, blackmails a teacher, and takes advantage of yet another girl. [Actually, this isn't grabbing me. Maybe it's the wishy-washy term "bad person." How about something like:
Marc Andrews attends an exclusive prep school, but he should be in reform school. He's stolen tests, blackmailed a teacher, taken advantage of more girls than he can remember . . . and that's just this semester.]
Then he meets Bethany. Not only hot, she calls him on his usual shit. He respects that. And he’s shocked to realize he genuinely likes her. But after their first date, Marc wakes up in a mental institution. He’s told he killed Bethany after passing out while driving drunk. Marc imagines life can’t get any more messed up…until [the ghost of Jacob Marley appears in his room.] [This is science fiction? It sounds like depressing litfic. When does the science fiction come in?] he discovers the loony bin’s a fake and he’s been kidnapped by aliens. [Ah.]
The aliens can see the future where Marc’s the President who starts World War III. After [Because] he proved himself unable to become a better person, they [they've] replaced him to prevent Earth’s destruction. Being an accidental murderer is [was] bad enough, but Marc’s shocked that he attains a Hitler-Stalin level of evil. [Or: Finding out he'd killed Bethany was bad enough; finding out he's destined to be the next Hitler is even worse!] And with the aliens’ empathy machine, he’s forced to experience his victims’ suffering from the averted future.
Marc’s initially grateful to his captors for preventing him from becoming a monster. That is, until he learns an alien faction, that includes the doppelgänger who replaced him, want Earth for themselves. And they’re conspiring to kick off Armageddon as previously scheduled. Marc can’t let the horrors he’s experienced happen for real. It’s up to him, with help from Bethany and Tim, to escape, save the planet, and maybe even become a decent human being in the process[.] [Then he wakes up, realizes the alien part was all a dream, and buys Bethany's grieving family a Christmas goose.]
I’m a member of the Northern Ohio SCBWI chapter and one of its critique groups. I’ve included (whatever writing sample and/or synopsis the agent wants). I’d be happy to provide the rest of the manuscript.
Thank you for your time and consideration.
Turned out we didn't need Tim in the query, as he did nothing except fail to reform Marc.
Despite the advance warning that it's science fiction, the appearance of the aliens is jarring. If you dump inspired by A Christmas Carol and open: I am seeking representation for BETTER LIVES, a 94,000 word YA science fiction novel in which aliens replace a teenager destined to become a 21st-century Hitler with an exact double, we might not be thinking, WTF? when the aliens appear.
Apparently the Armageddon the aliens are planning to kick off won't damage the planet they want as much as WWIII?
Seems like once they've replaced Marc, the aliens would kill him rather than keep him in a fake mental institution that he might escape from. Do they need him for something?
Is the doppelganger supposed to become president and then help the bad guys kick off Armageddon? If so, why don't they just replace the current president instead of replacing Marc and waiting 20 years for fake Marc to become president?
If the faction that wants Earth for themselves is gonna wait 20+ years to make their move, maybe they should be replacing whoever's gonna be China's leader in 20+ years.