Thursday, June 13, 2013

Face-Lift 1134

Guess the Plot

The Unlove Spell

1. Liz could get a chance with Travis if he just fell out of love with Miss Perfect Maddison. So she sells her soul for the unlove spell which backfires and makes her completely unlovable, even to her parents. Unloved by all and without a soul, she then sets off on her future career in law.

2. Shazina has discovered the recipe for destroying true love, but will she use it to turn Janelle's head her way? Also, a hot boy sidekick.

3. Searching for some missing fellow witches, Marling comes face-to-face with Viktor, the only man in the world she can love (because the unlove spell she cast on herself prevents her from loving all others). But just because she can love him doesn't mean she does. Does she?

4. Helen loves Denny who loves Hermoine, who loves Lenny, who shares Hermoine's love but Hermoine's parents want their daughter to marry Denny. Fairies get involved, where it all goes haywire, and they all end up with the wrong person.

5. Prince Rudolph is set to marry the homely, nasty-tempered Princess Quincella. Court sorceress Alli Acahaman brews him a love potion to make the marriage work. Unfortunately, when he drinks it on the wedding night, he falls in love--with the Princess's fluffy gray cat. Hilarity ensues.

6. Kaley thought her spell would only keep the dorks away, but soon she realizes all men keep her at arm's length. What's a prom queen to do when she's completely unlovable?

Original Version

Marling Ellis was a young witch working, blogging, searching for her identity and drinking cocoa alone in New York City. Falling in love seemed unlikely, especially with a sexy Russian writer like Viktor Arson. [Why "especially"?] Only problem is, Marling’s a little impulsive. Okay, VERY impulsive. [This makes it sound like Marling impulsively falls in love.] Four days into her relationship with Viktor, Marling placed an unlove spell on herself so that she could never fall in love with anyone else. [Not clear whether that means never fall in love with anyone ever again, or never fall in love with anyone except Viktor. Was she in love with Viktor?] The next day, she dumped him... [Why? Impulsiveness explains why she does things without thinking them through, but there needs to be a reason she thinks about doing them in the first place.] and not long after, she gave up on magic. [Why?] [I see no reason this paragraph shouldn't be in present tense. The plot may take place 5 years later, but as long as you transition into it by saying "Five years later..." you'll be okay.]

Five years later, Marling’s not falling in love; [Of course not. The unlove spell. If she were falling in love, that would be news.] she’s falling asleep at the desk of her day job at Moonhorse Publishing [Obviously she's an editor.] (or sneaking to the bathroom for phone calls). [People who work at publishing companies spend all their time on the phone. No need to sneak to the bathroom, unless it's to get a few quiet moments away from the phone.] And Viktor is a world famous writer of books about magical beings. The twist? He’s a magical being too—half fae, and a prince no less. [When did she learn this?] Which is bad. Bad, bad, bad. According to the magic history books that Marling never bothered to finish reading, the witches and the fae have been at war with each other for a long time, and loads of witches have recently gone missing. [Is that last part in the magic history books?] Together with her hipstery Type-A former magic tutor, Kyran, Marling embarks on a bungled adventure to Russia to rescue the missing witches [It's not a bungled adventure until she bungles it.] [What makes her think the missing witches are in Russia?] and come face to face with her former lover to finally decide…does she really love him? Or is it just the unlove spell? [Is what just the unlove spell?]

The Unlove Spell is a romantic urban fantasy with a heavy dose of comedy, and is approximately 72,000 words.

My name is ______________. [No need for this if you remember to put your name after the "Sincerely,"] I’m the author of dark comedy Death and Mr. Right (Spence City, 10/2013). I have extensive professional marketing and branding experience, and have built a platform for The Unlove Spell since its inception, through the use of various forms of social media. [The rest of this paragraph isn't needed.] I use tumblr, twitter and Facebook to connect with fans, share snippets of my work and answer writing questions. I regularly take part in book-related and sci-fi themed events where I meet potential readers, and I teach a popular writing class at conventions. I also conduct interviews with creative professionals. Some of my recent interviews include #1 NYT Bestselling author Jennifer L. Armentrout, goth rocker Aurelio Voltaire and fashion designers Dmitry Sholokhov and Fabio Costa.

I read on your website that you’re looking for women’s fiction in the urban fantasy genre. I believe The Unlove Spell would be a good fit for you. I look forward to hearing back from you soon!



What was the point of the spell? Apparently after knowing him four days Marling was in love with Viktor, and used the spell because she didn't trust herself not to fall in love with someone else? (Kind of silly considering Viktor could dump her the next day.) Then she dumped him and five years later she can't figure out if she loves him or if she's having those fluttery feelings because he's the only person the spell doesn't prevent her from loving?

Wouldn't it be better to put the unlove spell on Viktor? So that he will love no one but her? As it is, even if she realizes she loves him, it's been five years. He's moved on. He's found a lover who isn't such a loon.

If I had a dime for every publishing professional who fell in love with a sexy writer I wouldn't be working for a living. Why is it so unlikely that Marling would fall for a sexy writer?

I think the voice is good. It captures the humorous tone of the novel. But it feels disorganized. The first paragraph is all setup, and I expect the second to take us through the plot, but instead it's mostly the setup of the situation five years later. Tell us a story.

If Marling is the name her parents gave her, I'm pretty sure she'd be going by her middle name.

Do we need an unlove spell? She falls in love with a Russian writer whose book she's editing, but he returns to Russia. Five years later she's had nothing but failed relationships, and goes looking for the only man she'll ever love. It's more romantic if she goes to Russia looking for her true love than for missing witches. A witch who's given up on magic might as well not be a witch.


Unknown said...

Hi author!
While this concept sound fun, I'm having a bit of trouble with the content.

A former witch is going to Russia to save missing witches, who may or may not be alive, and she can do this how? She didn't finish her training and she's not been practicing for 5 years. It's like me dusting off my grade-school clarinet and auditioning for the philharmonic.

She is a publishing person who doesn't read books to completion (which totally sounds plausible), but if she neglected her witch studies as described how does she learn of the witch/Fae rift?

Why Russia? Plenty of ex-pats live in NY. How in-tune is Marling with the witch news network after self-exile for five years? Also, a continent away...dunno. Setting shifts feel outré for urban fantasy.

How is Marling supposed to woo fairy prince Viktor? That seems like a big part of the story to me. She has to recognize her feelings, but there's no indication that he'd reciprocate if she declared her affection.

Basically, I can't get behind a heroine who's so flighty that she'd put a ridiculous curse on herself, inexplicably dash her chance a love, give up on her talents on a whim, only to become a publishing house recluse.

If this is who Marting is, she's TSTL.

I *hope* she is not, and that this query is terribly unflattering to her character. You know, like those tabloid photos of Jessica Simpson with no makeup on...

Fix this girl up and give us something to root for here. Marting needs you!

Anonymous said...

Hi Author,
For me this is a compelling love story, if you decide to ditch the magic and go with the story which can stand alone.

Considering Evil is perhaps (and I could be wrong) a touch jaded in editor/love matches and stories thereof I haven't read anything (but I live in Asia) along those lines.Evil is clearly swamped/over run with them critters.

I'd love to read this without the magic. Too many problems with it. Just a few thoughts to chaw on.

Good luck,
Wilkins MacQueen

150 said...

I like the voice, but I can't follow this at all. Try to rewrite with an eye toward cause and effect.

AlaskaRavenclaw said...

I guess the problem I'm having with this is that casting the Unlove Spell doesn't show us that Marling is impulsive. It shows us that Marling is TSTL.

And that's not going to help us root for her.

Anonymous said...

I could almost see the plot setup making sense if she was trying for an ordinary love spell and she flubs it leading to the ending of her relationship and her giving up magic.

khazar-khum said...

There's an awful lot of things going on, none of which are fully explained. Marling gives up being a witch. How? Isn't that an essential part of her nature?

She was a witch when she fell for Viktor, but didn't detect his fae ancestry? Again, how? If the Witch/Fae dynamic is an issue, then she must at some physical level be a witch, so we're right back at problem #1, ie, how can she quit being something which is inherently a part of her?

You're going to have to rectify that conundrum for Marling to have a fighting chance.

Evil Editor said...

She gives up on magic. It's like Samantha on Bewitched. Who, when push came to shove, used magic. And push came to shove every five minutes.

batgirl said...

As everyone else says, nice voice, but the chain of events is a scatter of broken links.
I sort of feel that the whole backstory business with Victor can be left until he shows up in the plot - Marling goes to Russia and discovers that the man behind the disappearances is the fae prince she loved and dumped. The unlove spell seems more like a complication to the plot than something that moves the action.

CavalierdeNuit said...

I think you're too wrapped up in the excitement of your own book. This is not a bad thing, but it does makes it difficult to objectify. Read EE's notes and the comments, and apply them. You will have a much stronger story.

K said...

Thanks for the comments, everyone! It's been very helpful. Actually, since I submitted this, not only did I rewrite the query letter (twice!) but I changed/cut the beginning by a lot so that the story begins in real time, rather than in the past (which is something I noticed someone commented on here). Also, at the suggestion of my editor, I've changed the circumstances of the actual spell being placed to make them more of an accident, as Marling has never been good at magic in the first place. (Was not the top of her class, that's for sure, but she could tell you quite a lot about the personal lives of a few of her fellow witches!)

Thanks for your help, though, and I realize that the query is confusing as it stands. Many of the things you asked about are fully explain in the story... not so much in the query! I will go over it again very soon and shine it up some more! :)