Friday, November 01, 2013
Guess the Plot
The Life that I Have
1. I was murdered a century ago, so you'd think I'd be dead, but I'm immortal. Since I never look any older I have to move to a new town every time I graduate from high school. That's why immortality is a curse, at least when you're 16. If I have to read Paradise Lost one more time I think I'll jam a stake through my heart.
2. I'm twenty two-years-old. I live down by the river in a broken down van with no electricity or running water. My disability and morbid obesity keep me unemployed, and my parents disowned me when I was expelled from rehab. But now I have a plan. And it will work, because Saturday Night Live needs a turn around.
3. I love all living creatures. I'm a caregiver at a wild animal rehab center. On the night of the winter solstice, both a werewolf and a vampire bit me. For twenty-eight days, I was myself. But under the full moon, I became a vicious blood sucking monster. I despair my life and wonder if I shouldn't have become a blood sucking lawyer like my father.
4. I work twelve hours a day shoveling out pigsties. When I get home I watch my 14-inch black and white TV that only gets one channel: Bravo. Which stinks, except when The Real Housewives of New Jersey is on. It's not exactly the life of Riley, but it's . . . The Life that I Have.
5. Terrorized by bullies at school and my abusive mother at home, I begged a vampire to bite me and give me power. Instead the vampire bit my mother, then passed out, drunk. So I found a werewolf, who promptly ran off with the vampire.
6. I get up in the morning, go to work, come home, eat a frozen dinner, watch TV all night, and go to bed. Hey, it's better than being enslaved by Rhodesian diamond miners.
Dear Agent I Want So Much To Impress
For Vivi Tell, immortality is a curse. Life is something she borrows, not something she owns. She's spent a century clinging to who she used to be. A sixteen-year-old girl who lost everything: her home, her family, her hopes. And maybe her soul. She has never stopped hating the handsome young man who took her 'real' life, even as she blames herself for what happened.
Vivi allows herself to love only one person, her adoptive mother, Diana. But every few years, they must separate to deflect notice of their shared 'condition.' [If you mean Mom is also immortal, I can see why they would have to move, but not why they have to separate.] Vivi's latest move, to Oak Village, Ohio, begins to bring [brings] changes to a girl who doesn't [didn't] believe she can [could] change. First she is drawn into a friendship with the tough, talkative Shoshannah Silver, a housemate delighted to find herself living with another Jewish girl. Then she attracts the attention of Ian Olmsted, the sweetly geeky vice president of the high school's Astronomy Club, who somehow manages to make a girl who knows she's all wrong feel like she belongs. Despite her own misgivings and Diana's outright forbiddance, Vivi decides to pursue the relationship.
But Vivi's new connections force her to keep secrets from everyone she cares about. [She was already keeping her biggest secret from everyone she cared about, and everyone else. I assume.] She can't share her new experiences with Diana. Shoshannah is hurt by her reticence. Even Ian doubts her trust in him. Those secrets become dangerous when her murderer reappears – with Ian – and Vivi begins a desperate attempt to protect the boy she loves from her own fate. Meanwhile, she herself is threatened when vigilantes who will make no distinction between killer and victim begin to close in on Oak Village – and Shoshannah becomes eager to join them. [When your best friend is eager to join vigilante killers, it may be time to cut the ties. Especially if you are the target of the vigilante killers.] Revealing the truth at last only makes things worse, as Vivi and Ian are each confronted with temptations she has never anticipated.
THE LIFE THAT I HAVE, a YA paranormal coming-of-age novel, is complete at 107,000 words. It is the bittersweet tale of how love and friendship bring a girl who doesn't believe she deserves to be happy out of the past, and into an uncertain present where she must fight for the very soul she's not even sure she has. [If you've shown this in your plot description with specificity, there's no need to now tell us with vagueness.] In asking what a person must accept about her circumstances, and what she can – or should not – change, it offers no easy solutions and no happily-ever-after. I think it would appeal to fans of Maggie Stiefvater's The Wolves of Mercy Falls Trilogy, Carrie Ryan's The Dark and Hollow Places, and Melina Marchetta's Jellicoe Road. [Ms. Stiefvater was an Evil Minion in the early years of this blog, and Ms. Ryan joined us when we discussed her novel The Forest of Hands and Teeth. Thus they are worthy of mention, but this third person has not earned the privilege.]
This is my first novel. I have been writing fiction since I could hold a pencil, but haven't been published since college. I grew up in Ohio and currently reside in the Boston area, where I work in civil engineering and do competitive racewalking in addition to writing (many of my best ideas have come to me during a long workout). [The Life I Have is more interesting than the life you have. Dump this paragraph.]
Thank you for your time and consideration.
Your refusal to include the word "vampire" is distracting. First I'm thinking, She's a vampire. Later I'm thinking, Why hasn't the word "vampire" come up? Still later I'm thinking, Few people can go this long without using the word "vampire," even if their book has no vampires; apparently she's not a vampire.
Does Vivi kill people and/or turn them? Is she responsible for her adoptive mother's "condition"?
This is well-written, but even without the bio, it's a bit long. The first paragraph could be reduced to:
For Vivi Tell, immortality is a curse. A sixteen-year-old girl who lost her family, her hopes, and maybe her soul, she has never stopped hating the handsome young man who took her "real" life a century ago, even as she blames herself for what happened.
Not sure we need Mom in the query. The main plot seems to be this:
Immortal Vivi moves to Oak Village and falls for the local astronomy geek. One day, to her horror, she sees her geek hanging with the bastard who immortalized her.
So, open with the setup paragraph, introducing Vivi and her "condition." Then a paragraph in which she moves, falls for Ian, discovers he's in danger of becoming as cursed as she is. Finally a paragraph about her plan to accomplish the goal of saving Ian, and the obstacle preventing this (vigilantes are after her).
I seem to have left Shoshannah out, along with Mom. Probably not a bad thing. A heroine, her love interest and a villain can usually carry a nine-sentence plot summary.