Monday, August 12, 2013

Face-Lift 1145

Guess the Plot

The Protectors

1. One Tuesday, in the ladies' room at work, Raquel notices a man wearing only the same color paint as the walls, watching her wash her hands. He's her Protector, and he's not the only one.

2. A colorful gang of condoms-cum-superheroes guard their charges from villains S'Phyllis and Gonno'rhea. But one thing The Protectors can't do is stand alone.

3. Twins Sam and Janice stand up to the bullies harassing the good kids of class 5H, and soon the ugly thugs are all quivering wrecks. But this sort of protection doesn't come free; the twins find that their classmates' lunch money is good for all sorts of treats. Now who will protect the class from the protectors?

4. Johnny and his friends patrol and secure their territory. Lately, giants have swooped in, plucked out valued citizens, and returned them completely used. Now Johnny's love Lorraine has come up missing. Johnny will get her back, but not without the help of his buddy's . . . the protectors.

5. Jacob Snodgrass owned the only pest control business in Sioux City until Alex Marten's Pest Control opened its doors. Jacob is ready to fight dirty, until he learns Alex Marten's really a striking blonde from Duluth. Will they compete for the pest control business, or join forces to become . . .The Protectors?

6. An elite squad of highly-trained wizards and warriors is hired to protect the Egyptian Princess Tah as she makes her way from Thebes to Memphis. Only one problem: Princess Tah, a daughter of Bast, is a kitten, while her protectors are all mice. Can they all survive the grueling boat trip up the Nile?

7. Leah is a plain ordinary girl. Except, of course, for her super power. She joins the Protectors, whose mission it is to rid the world of demons and boring singers, but it's Leah who is instrumental in saving mankind when the chips are down.

Original Version

Dear Evil Editor,

I am seeking representation of my YA novel THE PROTECTORS, which stands complete at 72,300 words. It is the first novel in what will become a four book series, and will appeal to lovers of Kelly Armstrong’s Darkness Rising series and Jamie McGuire’s Providence series.

Leah Hawthorne was an ordinary girl, plain in every way except for one, [:] she could see into the future. You’d think having that kind of talent would be like a cool super power, but for Leah it was the exact opposite. Her life was ruled by strict regulations set by her overprotective, control freak of a brother, John, to keep her secret safe. [I was expecting an example of how her power wasn't cool, how it backfired.] [What regulations are needed besides "Don't tell anyone you can see into the future."?] [Can Leah prevent a future occurrence once she "sees" that it's going to happen? If so, this power could be useful in the cause of Good; why keep it secret?] In the weeks that followed her eighteenth birthday she thought things would change, that John would loosen the reigns [reins] a bit. But with the arrival of three strangers all vying for her attention, her life was about to become more than she ever expected. [More what?] [Are the strangers vying for her attention because they have romantic interest, or because of Leah's power to see the future? If the latter, John has done a pretty lousy job of keeping her secret safe.]

Attempting to gain control of her own life, Leah joins the Protector Agency, [I hear that's why people join the Central Intelligence Agency: to have control of their own lives.] a team of angel/human hybrids destined to fight in the war against Donovan [AKA Mellow Yellow] and the demonic [Hurdy Gurdy Man.] Leviathan Order. [An order of demons choosing Donovan as their leader is like the X-Men dumping Dr. Xavier and choosing Cat Stevens as their new leader.] [If the Protector Agency is a team of angel/human hybrids, how can Leah join? She's an ordinary girl, not an angel/human hybrid.] But, with the added strain of trying to keep her relationship with John open and her own personal insecurities will she be able to break the chains of fear that Donovan so tightly wrapped around her, [When was this? Has she ever encountered Donovan?] and become what she was always destined to be, a Protector? [So she isn't already a Protector, even though she joined the Protector Agency? Is she in an entry-level job, like their receptionist or housekeeper?] [Why is it that you never see the human employees of groups like the Avengers and Justice League of America? They must need their case files organized and their headquarters floor polished. Not that they couldn't do that stuff themselves at super speed, but would they want to? When it's Batman's turn to clean the refrigerator, would he complain that he shouldn't have to since Superman could do it in a couple seconds? Who gets the fish stench out of the break room couch after Aquaman's been sitting there? How would you like to be the Avenger whose turn it was to clean the bathroom next, and you see the Hulk walk out holding a newspaper?]

Thank you for your time and consideration.


The first plot paragraph doesn't suggest what kind of book this is. It sounds like Here's what happens when an ordinary high school student can see the future. Then it suddenly morphs into Here's what happens when an ordinary high school girl becomes a key player in the war between angels and demons.

I see no point in bringing the three strangers into the query. They don't do anything. What do they want? Are they suitors? Are they Protectors? Are they members of the Leviathan Order?

John doesn't do anything either. The only setup needed is that Leah can see the future. She wants to use this power for good, but someone (who?) wants her to use it for their own nefarious reasons.

What happens? Leah joins the Protectors is all we get. Is she expecting to have a minor role in saving the world from the Leviathan Order, but it turns out the other Protectors are useless and Leah's the key to saving mankind?

Change Leah's name to Jennifer Juniper, set the novel in Atlantis, and I think you've got something.


Veronica Rundell said...

Hi author,
Besides the issues EE raises, I'm concerned that Leah doesn't do enough in her story. She's controlled by her brother, then she's controlled by these Protectors.

What, besides escaping John, does she actually do?

What happens if she does nothing? I don't get why she has to do anything, based on this query. I mean, she could stay home and pick Lotto numbers. Live in quiet luxury. Three dudes showing up doesn't seem to be enough of a reason for her to get involved in a demon war. (Maybe I'm chicken-hearted, but I'd think it over for a decade or so...)

What does one call a human-angel hybrid?

Also, how does one make a human-angel hybrid?

I read a bit of supernatural fic--so I get how demons create demon-spawn, but I'm confused about angels getting it on w/mortals. Kinda not sure they could stop praising God and helping humanity to do the this was a stumbling point for me.

Best of luck!

AlaskaRavenclaw said...

Kinda not sure they could stop praising God and helping humanity to do the dirty

It's my impression that they can. Madeleine L'Engle started it all. Or actually, I suppose, Genesis did. And as for how one makes a human-angel hybrid... well, that's how. :)

Writer, this is a super-saturated market. I'm afraid I'm not even going to comment on your query because of the market. Editors aren't looking for YA paranormal. Hone your craft for a few years. Write the million words you have to write before you're publishable. Things may be looking up by then.

Tk said...

Hi author, here’s what your query sounds like to me:

I am seeking representation for my 72,000-word paranormal YA novel, THE PROTECTORS. It stands alone, but has the potential to launch a four book series.

Leah Hawthorne can see into the future. You’d think it would be cool to clean up on the lottery and always pick the shortest lineup at the movies, but Leah’s overprotective brother John, fearful of attracting the attention of the demonic Leviathan Order, forbids Leah to so much as peek at the weather forecast.

So when she turns 18, Leah skips the coop. Revealing her powers to the angel-led Protector Agency lands her a job on the side she knows will win the cosmic war.
And then what happens?

The biggest plot hole with Prophets-of-the-Future is how they can have any agency, since they know how everything will turn out. Without specifying the limits on Leah’s power, the reader wonders why she can’t just pick the course of action that will make the good guys win the war and John treat her well.

Speaking of John, he should only be in the query if their tense relationship affects the plot – for example his overprotectiveness causes her do something reckless, or he tries to make her lose her job.

Is there any particular reason she can see the future? The story will sound tighter if you mention it (eg she’s an angel-human hybrid).

khazar-khum said...

Since John sounds more like a love interest than a brother, I wonder if he isn't one of the protectors himself, sent to shield her until she grows up.

Seeing into the future isn't all it's cracked up to be. Billions of things can happen that will affect what you see (the butterfly paradox). The best you can do is pick winners at Santa Anita or for the Lotto on Saturday. Anything more than a couple of hours out will probably not be visible.

Of course, there are things which anyone can predict, like how punching a cop is a bad idea, or how a date with EE may give you a case of Baby Muttonchops.

CavalierdeNuit said...

Oh my, I cannot stop laughing.

Author, are you a Donovan fan? Leah's love interest could be a hot young man who looks like him (the Donovan who has chained her also happens to be in love with her?)

Angel/human hybrids are called Nephilim according to Genesis 6:4.

I think your story has potential, but it needs some focus. Who is Leah's love interest? Obviously Leah's bro is bad, but does she spend time hiding from him? Is he so protective of her because one of their family members died doing the same thing Leah is trying to do?

Set aside a few hours to answer EE's questions. Study this.

Veronica Rundell said...

I guess my issue is this: Those people READ angel fiction, might be put off by angel sex.

They seem to be more interested the spiritual well-being of their characters and might not appreciate God's heralds to fornicate.

I'm willing to admit I'm wrong on that point. Frankly, I'm rather drawn to demon sex. The gals seem to like it...

Upon further pondering, I wonder what a lady might say to her demon lover when in the throes...Would be to spout off with the "Oh God"'s at that SPECIAL moment. And Lucifer is SUCH a long friggin' name.

Still, Author, we need more plot. I think TK set you on the right path. Connect the dots.

Dave Fragments said...

I Was going to say that angel/human hybrids are called Nephilim in the Bible but CavalierdeNuit beat me to it.
However, this plot reminded me of a movie trailer.
In which the "shadowhunters" those offspring of angels and man fight the evil warlocks and witches and their human followers.
It's YA and it has teen romance and all the elements of the supernatural
So if you want to sell your story, you will have to show an agent or editor more of the plot and what makes it exciting and unique.

AlaskaRavenclaw said...

Veronica, I'm not entirely sure, because I'll admit I clutch my skirts about me as I hurry past the TEEN section en route to the kiddylit. But it's my impression that among the many, many supernatural beings that are yearning to spend quality time with human teenage girls, eg vampires, werewolves, ghosts, faeireies, etc... yup, angels also want in.

IOW yeah. I think it's this whole sub-sub-genre, this whole Thing.

It doesn't have to make sense. It makes money.

It's also my impression that half the people who read this stuff then start writing it. But even an established writer would have a helluva time trying to shop a YA paranormal right now.

Veronica Rundell said...

True dat, Alaska.

If Leah were 22, just out of college, and a timid bedmate who may or may not be a closet vixen then this could go as New Adult Urban Fantasy. That's totally sellable...

BTW Author, new YA paranormal is still being published, but mostly these books are the sequels, or thirds of the trilogy under contract. A new author will face uphill odds in traditional publishing.

Not that they can't be published. just likely it will be a hard(er) road...