Monday, July 15, 2013

Face-Lift 1140


Guess the Plot

The Death of Ava Stanton

1. When Ava Stanton unfollows Evil Editor on Twitter, she learns why he isn't known simply as Grouchy Editor.

2. Ava Stanton asks President Lincoln to free all indentured vampires. The vampires don't want to be freed. They like their hours, their pensions and the blood they suck from witless citizens. They drain Ava's vital fluids, but Ava persists, even after death. It's time to call in the werewolves.

3. Finding a body of a young woman in a government secret underground facility raises lots of questions. How did a shy freshman from Hawaii get there? Why is everyone who came in contact with the body missing? And most importantly, even though she's been stashed in the morgue, is she really dead?

4. Ava Stanton is having visions of the future, visions in which she dies. When one of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse enrolls at Ava's high school, she finally has someone who can help her. But there's one thing she didn't count on. She didn't count on falling in love with him.

5. The message is chilling: "I am going to kill Ava Stanton." But who left it in the mail slot of "Friendly Florist"? Which Ava Stanton? In what city? Or--is it a suicide note? Also, a handsome truck driver.

6. When physics student Ava Stanton joins Professor Nimble in an unplanned time jump to 1984, she sets in motion a chain of events ensuring that her parents never meet. Ava is never born, and the professor never travels through time. But he still remembers her, in his dreams. Can Ava communicate from the spirit realm and inspire the professor to save her from herself?



Original Version

Dear Evil Editor:

THE DEATH OF AVA STANTON is a YA gothic romance, complete at 65,000 words.

Ava Stanton is falling in love and it might kill her.

It’s been three day [days] since Ava Stanton started turning into a freak. Three days since the visions of the gray world and her death, started. She can feel the sword of the white[-]eyed man sliding into her chest. Hear the boy, with words flowing over his skin, screaming her name. She just has to pretend to not be crazy and fade into the background at her new school. [It was all sounding like this dramatic saga in a mythic world, And then you added "at her new school."]

Ava succeeds in hiding the visions, until Eli, the boy from her dreams, shows up. The images are growing stronger [Actually feeling a sword sliding into her chest wasn't strong enough?] and she is losing control. As she dives deeper into the mystery of the visions, lies of her family, and Eli’s connection, the truth unfolds. [Diving deeper into a mystery doesn't sound like the action of someone losing control.] She can see the future and the true form of immortals. Immortals like the white[-]eyed fallen angels, destined to kill her, and Eli, a Horseman of the Apocalypse. [When you said Eli showed up, did you mean he was the new kid at school or that he rode in on a fiery-red horse?]

She is falling in love with War and running out of time. The gray world is coming, along with her death and only Eli can help her. [But first he calls in his buddies, Conquest, Famine and Death, because when you're trying to convince a high school girl that she isn't crazy, you want as much help as you can get.] The words etched in his skin connect their fates. [What language was used when the words were etched in his skin?] She must change the future to save herself. [Of course if she saves herself, you'll have to come up with a new title.]

Thank you for you time and consideration.


Notes

Get rid of "Ava Stanton is falling in love and it might kill her."

The following paragraph is okay as an opening, but the other plot paragraphs are vague. You might consider scrapping the whole thing and starting something like: As if attending a new school weren't horrifying enough for 16-year-old Ava Stanton, now she's having visions of her death at the hands of fallen angels. Just when she thinks she's losing her mind, she meets Eli, a boy who claims to be one of the Horsemen of the Apocalypse. Suddenly Ava's mental state doesn't seem so bad.

Those last two sentences probably shouldn't be used unless you rewrite this as a comedy. Which I recommend. Otherwise just tell us what happens in plain English. And get more of what makes this appealing to a YA audience into the query. It seems like the story could as easily be about an adult as a teen.

"Gothic romance" made me think 19th century. Feeling like a freak at her new school made me think contemporary. Including when it takes place and Ava's age will help.

You'd think a Horseman of the Apocalypse would have better things to do than disguise himself as a teenager so he can hook up with a high school girl.

Is the romance between Ava and Eli or Ava and War? Are we mainly concerned with Ava's future, or the future of the world? Does War want to change the future?

13 comments:

Evilenna said...

Evil Editor,
Thanks so much for your comments. They made me laugh and were helpful!

khazar-khum said...

Is Eli War, Famine, Pestilence or Death? It would make a difference in his personality, I hope. I suppose War would be OK at a HS or college, with Famine hanging around places like Hollywood while Pestilence goes to the Gathering of the Juggaloes. Death tells himself he's too busy for romance, when in reality no one tells him it's his breath that keeps the girls away.





Evil Editor said...

He's War. See 1st sentence, paragraph 5.

David B Goode said...

The story is compelling. I think clarity as to War/Eli's stake in Ava would be helpful. Also some transition between "losing control" and "diving deeper". It's obvious there is one, but including that in the query would be helpful.
And what's war's role in the school? Does he start fights or gang warfare? Is his supernatural presence felt? And does it point to Armageddon on the horizon?

AlaskaRavenclaw said...

Name-ending-in-A is new at her high school, where supernatural-boy shows up and falls for her, hard.

The problem isn't that this is somewhat derivative. Derivative can sell through the roof. The problem is that it *sounds* too much like Twilight, and that Twilight is over.

As for the actual query, I'm left wondering about Eli's motives. Why is War attending high school in, I can only guess, the Northwestern U.S.? Shouldn't he be partying down in Afghanistan, Syria, the Sudan, I-can't-keep-track-anymore?

Rewrite this so that everything makes sense. If you have to jettison some drama in order to do that, so be it.




CavalierdeNuit said...

To quote EE, this was also what I was thinking:

You'd think a Horseman of the Apocalypse would have better things to do than disguise himself as a teenager so he can hook up with a high school girl.

I like gothic stories, but not every heroine has to be in high school. Considering the subject matter, I think your book would work better if Ava were not in high school. She could still be a teen finished with high school, and thinking about college.

Better details of what is at stake would also help.

Is the gray world similar to the Nothing in The Neverending Story?

Mister Furkles said...

Your query says nothing about the story. It's all about how crazy Ava is and how crazy Eli is. But by reading your query we conclude that they don't do anything.

Your story should be about conflict. But there isn't any in the query. An agent will want to know what choice Ava faces. Bet it seems she has no choice. You say that she faces death. Well, we all fact death just crossing the street. You must be specific.

Rethink the rewrite. Look at good queries in the archives.

Veronica Rundell said...

Hi author,
Cut the 'freak' line. Ava isn't physically changing, she's having scary visions. The way it's written it sounds as if she's Teen Wolf or something.

How hard is it to conceal your visions? I mean my 16 y/o son has (undoubtedly) a staggering number of erotic fantasies a day. Yet I'm none the wiser...because they are in his brain. And, realizing that my knowledge of them would be...troubling...he wisely keeps that cesspool covered.

Here's the thing: I've read this query and it tells me a girl is in danger, and the person she's most in danger from is the one boy she 'loves'. Sorry, but to me this sounds a little yuck. I want her to save herself, and not end up in a bad relationship. Because that's what I'd hope for my own daughter, if I had one. If I was a teen girl, the message of falling for my probable killer really is one I would hope to avoid.

It doesn't sound gothic at all. It sounds like a contemporary paranormal YA romance.

As for derivative, it sounds like a YA version of Darynda Jones' First Grave on the Right.

The name, meh. She doesn't die. Reconsider.

More plot, please. Be specific. Be Ava. Tell it in her spirit.

Send a revision, because I'm hoping this query is a poor reflection of the book's plot.

Jo Antareau said...

Somebody pleeease write GTP #6.

The elements described in the query sound creepy, (in a good way) but they are only elements and lack a description of the stakes and a sense of what Ava has to do to avoid the grey world, whatever that may be. I'm sure it's something we dont want to see. Especially if it's associated with fifty shades of that particular colour....


BuffySquirrel said...

You'd think a Horseman of the Apocalypse would have better things to do than disguise himself as a teenager so he can hook up with a high school girl.

Yeah, but you'd think that about several-hundred-year-old vampires, too, but Twilight.

You'd also think that when you're forced to spend several hours a day at school five days a week, the last thing you'd want to do is read about it too in your spare time. But....

Totally not my category, YA.

khazar-khum said...

If she's falling in love with War, does that mean she's going to grow up to be a warrior goddess like Sekhmet?

Evilenna said...

Thanks everyone for the comments. They were all very helpful. Ava does die at the end. The Gray world is actually a supernatural realm. Ava is one of the sight and the fallen angels actually enslave her kind through magic called the Binding. Ava is the first unbound Eli has ever met. The Horsemen of the Apocalypse are actually the good guys, keeping the balance between good and evil till the end. So they want to keep the fallen from binding Ava. Anyway thanks for all the help!

Rusholme Ruffian said...

This is again masterful from EE:

"As if attending a new school weren't horrifying enough for 16-year-old Ava Stanton, now she's having visions of her death at the hands of fallen angels. Just when she thinks she's losing her mind, she meets Eli, a boy who claims to be one of the Horsemen of the Apocalypse. Suddenly Ava's mental state doesn't seem so bad."