Tuesday, July 30, 2013
Guess the Plot
1. A family deals with blame, loss, and the banality of existence after daddy puts the Pekingese in the microwave.
2. Tess hates Christian summer camp, and all the girls are mean. One night she finds a black briefcase in the woods. She lights up the girls' cabin and doesn't look back.
3. She's 17 years old and undefeated as a cage fighter. The promoters have fixed her next fight so she'll lose, but she's not hanging around for that, not when the fate of the galaxy is at stake, and her nuclear superpower could turn the tide. They call her Ripper!
4. Johnny Fissal likes his coffee hot. His meeting at the NSA went long and his blood/caffeine level has gone as tepid as his favorite beverage. He needs the microwave now, but the cold-eyed and salacious Miss Fusion is heating her frozen dinner with little regard for others. It's time to get . . . nuked.
5. Nick Conner is not your typical ninth-grader. He loves Mozart, history, and "Dr Who". He also loves Amy Bingleberg, but she doesn't even acknowledge his existence. With the Spring Fling dance coming up, can he convince her to go with him...or will his heart be . . . nuked?
6. Earth has been nuked to ash, and the only survivors are some Chilean miners who were trapped underground before the war started. It's the end of the human race, true, but is it also the beginning of the race of mole men?
Activate the thing? Check. [Do random stuff? Eh, maybe.] Control the killing? Not even close. [Hook the agent? Dream on.]
Most times when powers manifest, there's speed, agility, strength and that's it. When Eli calls her powers, the thing takes over. A puppet in her own skin, killing's no longer a choice. Fingers tighten, the wrist flicks and death is a seventeen year old girl. [The first sentence of this paragraph should spell out that with other super-powered people, killing is a choice. Otherwise it doesn't feel connected.]
The promoters call her Ripper. Two enter the cage—one leaves on a stretcher. [That sentence doesn't belong, it isn't connected to the rest.] Eli has what it takes to make a fighter great. Cold. Calculated. [Calculating.] Expendable. She's undefeated, until she's conned into a match she can't win. Her life belongs to them, they'll take it if they can. [She's their biggest star. Their golden ticket. Money in the bank. James Bond to their Albert Broccoli. Kill her off? No way.]
On the run with her sister, the Syndicate thinks she's dead—best stay [keep it] that way. Employers are touchy. Fail to give notice, they put out a hit. But they aren't the only ones who want her. In a galaxy at war, [I feel like I should know before I'm halfway through paragraph 4 that the stakes are galactic rather than personal.] everyone must choose a side [.] Her power can turn the tide. The Watchers will hide her—[Now that it's starting to rhyme, I think you should take advantage of your staccato style and put the query in the form of a rap song:
Everyone gotta choose a side.
Eli's power can turn the tide.
The Watchers gonna help her hide.]
if she'll win their war. [The ability to kill with the flick of a wrist, while useful in cage fighting, may come up short in a war for control of the galaxy.] They offer control. They offer purpose. They offer a team. What they can't offer her is the truth. [She can't handle the truth.] She's different for a reason. She owes it to herself to learn why.
But some truths should stay buried. What she discovers on a remote planet leaves Eli wondering if she's chosen the right side. There's more to her powers then she ever imagined: a scientist's mad dream, the legacy of a dying race, the fate of a galaxy. [That doesn't help me know what her power is.] Defined by a choice she didn't make, Eli must give up everything to save the sister she'd die to protect and the boy they both love. [The boy they both love sounds like an important plot thread. Maybe he should be featured more prominently in the query.] If she succeeds, she'll be a hero. If she succeeds, she'll be dead. [The incentive to succeed just dropped like an anvil on a coyote.] The greatest danger is the one within. [Not clear what that means. Is she pregnant with Satan's child?]
Dystopian sci-fi for Young Adults, NUKED is Sense and Sensibility in outer space, if Marianne was a foul mouthed, cage fighting fighting orphan. As requested in your submission requirements, below are the WHATEVER AGENT ASKS FOR. Complete at 85,000 words, NUKED is available at your request. In spite of the comparison, neither Jane Austen nor her works were harmed in the writing of this book. [I wouldn't be so sure; it's hard on the ribs when you turn over in your grave.]
Thanks and Regards,
This reads like narration by the main character at the beginning of a noirish movie. If the book isn't written in this style, you don't want to give the impression that it is. If it is written in this style, I recommend toning it down in the query and the book. It sounds like a parody of itself.
I would drop the first three paragraphs at least. We don't need to know she's a cage fighter. Start with Eli's power. How it's the key to winning a war and both sides want her. Is her dilemma that both sides have their good and bad points? Or is it that she doesn't care who wins the war, she just wants to use her power to impress her sister's boyfriend, because she loves him?
If you want to convey the idea that your plot is like Sense and Sensibility, show us that in your summary. Don't tell us.