Monday, October 07, 2013

Face-Lift 1159

Guess the Plot

The Adventures of Parker Rhodes

1. When an alien comes to Earth, proclaims itself the sole ruler of the universe, and releases a pack of dog-like creatures who try to eliminate all human life, it's up to teenager Parker Rhodes to send the megalomaniac packing.

2. Fighter pilot, concert pianist, dashing spy and gifted surgeon. Not to mention sexual athlete. Postal worker Parker Rhodes sits on his enormous behind all day and dreams of adventures.

3. In this modern-day retelling of Huck Finn. Parker is a runaway fleeing the meth-dealing pimps who want her in their stable. Jim, a fellow runaway and sometime boy-toy, befriends her. They learn life on the streets sucks.

4. Instead of stealing his best friend's dad's car, singing "Twist and Shout" on a Von Steuben Day parade float, and catching a foul ball at Wrigley Field, Parker wants to amp it up. Nobody's going to remember Ferris Bueller after Parker Rhodes's day off.

5. Yessir, being a valet at Pigeon Forge is tougher than Uncle Sammy's steak, but someone's got to do it. And when your Mom named you for where you were conceived, you know a life of adventure parking cars is yours for the taking.

6. Parker Rhodes is a little gray mouse
Who lives in the walls of a little pink house
He rides on the back of a poodle named Boo
And they have to hide from the cat Ahh-Choo

Parker goes on hunts for things
Like chocolate, bread, and diamond rings
He brings his finds to his hidden lair
But will Ahh-Choo ever catch him there?

Original Version

My 60,000 word novel, The Adventures of Parker Rhodes, is a young -adult sci-fi/fantasy book that follows a teenage boy on his journey to saving the world and becoming a hero in the process.

Parker Rhodes is a 14 year old boy from the small town of Wakesville, MD who is having one of the best days of his life. He just got accepted into the high school of his dreams and had an encounter with Danielle Rochester, a girl he has had a crush on since the 6th grade, but soon the day would take a turn for the worse. Upon returning home to deliver the good news to his mother,

[Parker: Guess what, Mom? I've got great news!

Mom: What is it?

Parker: I got laid by Danielle Rochester!

Mom: This calls for a celebration!]

Dorothy Rhodes, Parker is shocked to learn from the local news that the alien had [has] returned.

Parker lives in a world where aliens are old news, and widely adored. [Then why was Parker shocked to learn that some alien was back?] Three years prior an alien, which had been dubbed the Omega, crash-landed on earth [As you capitalize "Earth" everywhere else, may as well do so here.] and took the human race by surprise. [If this is a world where aliens are old news and widely adored, why are we all so surprised when an alien shows up?] During its stay, the Omega gained worldwide fame and acceptance, becoming the Earth’s biggest celebrity while its ship was being repaired, learning Earths [Earth's] languages and paying close attention to all of earth’s strengths and more importantly its weaknesses. Soon it was time for the Omega to return to space. After a huge event in the small town of Wakesville, MD, the Omega disappeared into the stars and also from the memory of man-kind. [mankind] [Three years after it was our biggest celebrity we don't even remember it? Who is it, Lady Gaga?] [If this is a world where aliens are widely adored, it's hard to believe we've forgotten our favorite alien ever. I still remember My Favorite Martian after 50 years.]

Now the Omega has returned, and is promptly greeted with open arms and adoration by earth’s inhabitants’ [inhabitants] and the Vice President. [Do we now remember the Omega, or do we think it's a new alien?] That is until the Omega turns on the human race by proclaiming itself as the sole ruler of the Universe, killing the Vice President [Anyone who spent three years studying us ought to know that our reaction to the killing of the vice president would be a lot of yawning.] and detonating a bomb, destroying the small town of Wakesville, MD. The Omega releases a pack of dog-like alien creatures from its space ship which attempt to eliminate all human life on the planet. [That would have to be a pretty big space ship if it holds enough of these creatures to wipe out all seven billion of us.]

Parker manages to survive the detonation of the bomb by hiding out in the basement of his home, but quickly discovers his mother is missing and fears she has been captured. A small band of military personal, [personnel] led by General Carter, also manage to escape the devastation of the bomb but are rendered helpless as it seems the aliens are unaffected by Earth’s weapons. Now Parker on a mission to find his mom, must team up with General Carter and his men to find the aliens [aliens'] weakness. The secret of the aliens’ defeat, an allergy to phthalate[comma] an ingredient found commonly in children’s toys, is discovered with the help of [when] Billy, a five year old boy dressed as a Wild West sheriff and separated from his parents, when he shoots his toy six shooter and surprisingly kills one of the aliens. The tide of the invasion turns in favor of earth as [Earth's militaries arm themselves with pop guns, spud guns, and Super Soakers, and] most of the aliens fall. The Omega, showing off its super human strength and speed, still prove [proves] to be too much for Earths [Earth's] heroes until a shot meant for the Omega hits Parker as well, a mistake that could have taken Parkers [Parker's] life but instead gives him the same powers as the Omega and proves to be the key to overcoming the alien threat and driving the Omega from the Earth. With Parkers’ [Parker's] new found powers, he now stands as Earths [Earth's] best hope to defeat the invaders if they ever decide to return, that is if he can learn to control them first.

I am a first time writer, but this is a story that is three-years in the making. [Coincidentally, it's three years since the alien first arrived here. Is this a true story?] Over time this story has grown, along with my imagination and has evolved from a game I played as a kid to a world all its own. [I used to play hide and seek as a kid, a pastime that evolved into my book Where's Evil Editor? Sort of like Where's Waldo?, but more challenging, as I don't wear a red and white striped shirt in every picture so you have to look for my muttonchops.] This is the first in a series which takes the protagonist across the universe [How long does it take him to get across the universe?] and follows the growth of a hero. My hope is that this book takes you on the same journey as I have taken, filled with wonder about the fate of the world and the hope that a young boy has to save it.

Thanks for your consideration.


First of all, this is not going to appeal to a young adult audience. I'm thinking 8 to 10 years old.

Secondly, there are way too many errors, especially with apostrophes. One assumes the entire book is filled with missing or misplaced apostrophes.

Wouldn't the sole ruler of the universe have better things to do than wipe out humans?  Doesn't he have billions of galaxies to tend to?

Did the shot meant for the Omega that also hit Parker come from a toy gun? Why would a toy gun give Parker super powers? How could a toy gun have taken Parker's life? If it's not a toy, why were we shooting it at the alien, when we've already figured out that only toy guns can kill it? If you're going to release creatures capable of wiping out all human life, what's the point of first killing the vice president or of blowing up Wakesville? Why would General Carter team up with a 14-year-old kid to find the aliens' weakness? Hard to believe no weapon known to our military has any effect on a dog-like creature. Readers expect logical explanations for everything that happens. Do you have them?

The query is too long as it is, so better to leave out what you haven't explained than to try to explain it all.


Veronica Rundell said...

Hi Author!
First, you've written a book, so....congrats!
Second, writing a query letter is difficult. More so than a book, because it has a whole different purpose--it's a business letter. And this one will not do.
The glaring errors in simple grammar will get an auto-reject fired off faster than the speed of email.

Sad, but true.

Also, the ultra long form here is more like a synopsis...and even then it raises more questions about the logic of your story than entices the reader to want to spend time in your fiction.

So. Start over with the query, and probably the novel. Work that rag over with a grammar glove until it sparkles. Make sure each and every sentences is tight.

For the query it should be short. Like 25% of what you have here. It should also be a logical progression of statements that lead the reader into your world without it sounding unreal.

Read the archives. They are invaluable. Best of luck.

khazar-khum said...

Lose the last paragraph. It makes you sound like a child. Unless, of course, you literally are a child, in which case you must state your age. As in, "My name is Parker Rhoads, I'm 14, and I wrote this book." Then it will be a selling point.

The death of the Veep depends on who the Veep is. I can't see many tears being shed over the majority of men who have held that position.

As EE says, three years is far too short for he most stupendous event in the history of humanity to be forgotten. Three hundred years? Maybe, though a quick glance at the way Native Americans were treated and how well that's remembered by all sides should give you something to consider. If you're looking for a Cargo Cult-type response, you need to show what about the Omega was promised and what wasn't fulfilled.

You have the kernal of a great idea, and also one for a good character. Now you have to make it work.

james said...

I never quite figured out if I liked the story or not. Mostly, it was the missing and misused apostrophes that distracted me. And I’m not an agent or an editor. If it tripped me up that much, imagine what it must be like for those agents, editors, and publishers whose lives and livelihoods are devoted to putting words on a published page.

You may have a good story. From what I’ve read, I think maybe you do. Just keep in mind, there are many other writers who have good stories, too. If their grammar and punctuation is better than yours, which one do you think those who can get your story published would choose? Give yourself the same advantage by doing a little homework so that your story shines, instead of just letting your punctuation glare.

AA said...

I'd like to go over some things EE has already said. These things also jumped out at me. I just want to show he isn't the only one who notices these things.

First, it is a synopsis of the story. A query letter must be shorter.

The many mistakes are noticeable and distracting.

I also noticed the part where they still hold the alien in esteem but have forgotten about him. You can't do both at the same time.

Other things: Phthalates are found in much more than children's toys. They are found in cleaning products, personal grooming products, fragrance additives, and consumer products such as shower curtain liners. Naturally they are also present in the environment due to manufacturing. So it seems unlikely to me that an alien with a deathly allergy to phthalates could last a day here.

Other really common chemicals/ environmental toxins: Glyphosate (Round Up), chlorine, fluoride, BPA, flame-retardant chemicals, chemical fertilizers, mercury, cadmium, barium, parabens. There's also way more radioactivity due to nuclear waste material than we've been led to believe. (In a couple of generations, we'll easily be able to tell Japanese people from other Asians by the extra arms.)

Author said...

I second Victoria Rundell's congratulations on getting your first novel off your chest and into print. Now for some questions from a reasonable outsider who hasn't been able to live in your head, where your story is logical and fully explained.

What becomes of Danielle? She's the best part of Parker's day and the object of his longstanding crush, but when the aliens come, Parker forgets all about her and sets off to find his mom. If Danielle is not a driving force in Parker's efforts against the aliens, you can take her out of your query.

Also, I think you could rein in or perhaps define the Omega's ambitions. Sole ruler of the universe? Just one guy? The Milky Way alone is about 100,000 light years wide, and this Omega wants the entire universe? A scope this unimaginably huge might have less impact rather than more. It would be menacing enough for me if the Omega was a roving intergalactic bully who declares himself the boss of every planet he touches down on. That's all that's necessary for him to threaten everything I care about and all the devastation my imagination can encompass.

By the way, it's kind of inconvenient for the purposes of this blog that I called myself "Author" when I got a google account. I can't figure out how to change it. Anyone?

AA said...

"Author"- Go to your Gmail and find "Account". You may have to click on your avatar. It will depend on which browser you're using.

Your account page will come up. You should be able to edit your profile and nickname on the right side of the page.

150 said...

Unless, of course, you literally are a child, in which case you must state your age. Then it will be a selling point.

This isn't quite true. Agents and editors won't pick up a book from a 14-year-old that wouldn't make it to at least last-stage consideration from an adult. However, they are more likely to offer constructive criticism or a gentle rejection if they know you're a minor.

Parker Rhodes is a 14 year old boy from the small town of Wakesville, MD who is having one of the best days of his life. He just got accepted into the high school of his dreams and had an encounter with Danielle Rochester, a girl he has had a crush on since the 6th grade, but soon the day would take a turn for the worse.

So much of this is unnecessary information that I'd assume the whole book is the same. I'd prefer something like:

Parker Rhodes is having one of the best days of his life. He just got accepted into the high school of his dreams and finally said hello to Danielle Rochester.

khazar-khum said...

Author--when you say they've 'forgotten Omega', do you mean they've forgotten what rat bastards they are and are only recalling the good things? This sort of thing does happen with unfortunate frequency. If that's the case, it needs to be clear.

Alpha Parker said...

Hello, I am the author of The Adventure of Parker Rhodes

Thank you guys so much for the feedback, I am currently working to get all of your suggestions into my query while keeping a decent length. The issue I am running into is there is so much important information in the book it is hard to include it in the query (ex. The book follows Parker and General Carter separately, with them having separate but equally important experiences). Also a lot of the concerns brought up are explained in the book but they are either too in depth (ex. The reason the Omega feels he can proclaim himself as the sole ruler of the Universe is because long ago the Universe once flourished with resources *water, life, plants, oxygen* but a Universal war broke out and destroyed many of the planets resources turning the Universe into what we know today. Since humans were not advanced enough to join the war Earth was spared and all of its resources were left intact. The problem is as time went on the other planets forgot where earth was located. The beings of the other planets could use Earths, which was named amongst the planets as “the seed”, resources to gradually restore the universe to its former glory by distributing the resources to the other planets in the universe. Legend also spoke of a leader who would rise up and over see this restoration and prevent the planets from falling back into a universal war. The Omega, who discovered the seed, felt humans were wasting the earth’s resources with pollution and not living up to our calling decided the best thing to do for the universe is destroy us which is why he left to go get reinforcements) or I didn’t feel relevant enough to include because it would make the letter too long, (ex. The army men coated their bullets with the melted toy plastic which is how the bullet mistakenly shot Parker) and EE said it is long enough already.
The logic is defiantly there my challenge is including all of this information in a format less than a page, in order for the book to make sense all of it has to be there and that’s proving difficult. As far as grammar and punctuation goes, I agree wholeheartedly. I am not a writer, and I am in desperate need of an editor which I am in the process of trying to find. I just have a cool story to tell that is very in depth and fun, a story my nieces and nephews love to hear me tell and I feel it is something special I just need to get it to a place where people will pay attention to it.

Again, I thank you all for the help. Your straight forward critiques is exactly what I needed, friends don’t want to hurt your feelings so they turn into “yes” men. I need someone to say “that’s stupid” when its stupid and you guys have definitely done that. Keep it coming any help I can get I welcome it.

Evil Editor said...

If he's gonna wipe out every human, what's the point of first telling humans he's the sole ruler of anything?

You don't need to explain the history of the universe or anything else that would take a lot of space.

A space alien lands on Earth and releases enough vicious dog-like creatures to wipe out the whole of humanity. Now it's 14-year-old Parker Rhodes to the rescue!

There's your plot in two sentences. You may add up to eight more to provide additional detail.

It seems to me Parker should be the one who discovers how to kill the aliens, not Billy. I don't see that Parker is bringing anything to the table.

Sending us the query to get feedback on the plot is okay, but continuing to work on the query when the book needs a lot of work is putting the cart before the horse.

Kelsey said...

Hi Author,

Well, it's good to hear your enthusiastic appreciation of our feedback. So, in the spirit of being honest...

I am not published, but I know that getting a novel published is a long, hard slog. And writing a novel to a level worthy of publication requires years of skill-building, trial and error, study, etc. You say you're not a writer, but that you're excited about this story and want it to find a home.
If you're really not interested in learning the craft of writing, I'd suggest hiring (note--you pay them) a one-time editor who'll help you shape this one manuscript and then self-pubbing it.

The hard truth is, agents and editors are likely not dying to sink a ton of their time into fixing up your manuscript which may or may not make them any money.

Story-telling may be your passion, but publishing is a business.

This is not to discourage you if you are interested in developing your writing skills, but just know that it will probably take a long time and spelling/grammar is just the beginning.

Anonymous said...

Alpha Parker,

First, I had to laugh at the phrase "The logic is defiantly there" in your comment. This is a good example of why things like spelling are important.

Second, if you don't consider yourself a writer, then why do you think anyone would want to spend money or time on your story (either publishing it or buying and reading it)? I'm not a heart surgeon, but I know how to cut steak, so would you let me perform heart surgery on you? What if I have a professional to talk me through it? Sorry, but it really annoys me when people who don't care enough to put the time into learning the craft of writing act like as long as they can string enough words together, they can get a book published. Either you are a writer or you aren't. If you are, put the time into learning the craft until your story is worth publishing. (Or until you come up with a story that is.) If you're not a writer, then either move on and stop spending time on what is basically a casual hobby or just self-pub so your friends/family can have copies of your story. Writing is a profession. It takes skill and knowledge. Either put the time in to get good enough to join the ranks of professionals or leave the hobby in your home life where most hobbies belong.