Monday, July 14, 2014

Face-Lift 1208

Guess the Plot

Not Fully Human

1. Okay, okay, not at all human. It's a dog. But those cute expressions and the thoughts I feel certain he's thinking have convinced me he's just like you or me. Like the way he stares at me when I'm eating, as if he's looking into my very soul. He's always there for me when I need a friend, unlike my cheating bastard husband. I mean, which one is really the animal?

2. Sixteen year old Hunter has never truly belonged in her Colorado High School. So when fae prince Jukuluyuh appears to tell her she's really, half-fae, she gets as bored of this goddamned plot as everyone else and shoots his pansy ass.

3. Genetically altered with Neanderthal DNA and kept in a holding center with other human/Neanderthals, Mea escapes and vows to help all Neanderthalia have equality with the humans who buy and sell them.

4. Sharee longs to shed her gills and tail to be able to walk on dry land like a regular girl, but then wouldn't life be dull if she could no longer lure ships onto rocks and watch sailors drown. What to do?

5. Ethiel, a half human, half demon hybrid has stayed too long in the human world and is losing her powers. She planned to return to the netherworld months ago to rest and recharge, but she did the dumbest thing a hybrid could ever do. She fell in love. Now with that foolishness over, she heads home, but when she reaches the gates, all the guards see is a human. She consults the inter-world hag, who tells her love is changing her DNA and if she doesn't gain access to the netherworld soon she will--horrors!--become completely human.

6. It's another day in the life of a cyborg everyone thinks is human. Watch him bathe out of boredom, try to eat, admire human women, sort of smoke a cigarette, and parkour with ease around DUMBO. Until he meets Jeanette. What's love? Do they feel it?

Original Version

Genetically altered with Neanderthal DNA to correct multiple life threatening defects, Mea Gifford is faster, stronger, and has heightened sensory perceptions. [NFW.]

Two years ago, a plague linked to genetic engineering led to violent unrest. To quell the violence, all NFH were made wards in Holding Centers. [As you have yet to mention anything with the initials NFH, I'm forced to visit, where the most likely candidate is Neighbors from Hell. Although, based on the first paragraph, I'm inclined to go with Neanderthal-Female Hybrid.]

Mea and Carrie Mathews, her friend and fellow NFH look after each other at the Ardmore Holding Center  [AHC]. So when Carrie discovers management’s plan to sell Mea on the black market, they escape to Paradise Valley, Texas.

Expecting a short stay, Mea is unprepared to find friends, a budding romance, [But should she tell her new crush that she's a Neanderthal? Or should she risk that he'll find out from someone else? If this is her dilemma, I can suggest a better title: I married a Neanderthal.] and a job she loves [as a wooly mammoth rancher].

Everything is perfect, except Paradise has a missing teen problem, and that is a problem she can’t ignore. [Is Mea a teen?]

Brashly pursuing leads, Mea triggers a deadly game of cat and mouse which results in her capture and torture [Apparently she was the mouse.] when she interrupts the plans of her creator, Dr. Sean Adams and the Assistant Director of the Ardmore Holding Center, Dr. Dianne Meyers to experiment on and sell NFH. [Is there a big market for pet Neanderthals?] [The one place they escape to just happens to be the place from which the mad scientists are kidnapping Neanderthals to sell to . . . those who want Neanderthals?]

Pushed to her limits and with her abilities suppressed, Mea fights not only to free herself and the teens, but to stop Dr. Adams from covering his tracks by killing everyone in Paradise. [All of which would be easier for Mea if they hadn't captured her and suppressed her abilities. Is she imprisoned? How can she fight to do anything?]

NOT FULLY HUMAN, a Young Adult novel set in an alternate universe in a timeframe slightly ahead of our own. The novel is complete at 78,000 words.


It sounds like Mea could have found a better place to escape to than Paradise, which seems to be where Adams hangs out. Is he there because Paradise is where all the escaped NFHs go? If so, they need a witness protection-type system that sends each escapee to a different remote place, not a valley they can congregate in. Apparently, the speed, strength and sensory perception that Neanderthal DNA gives NFHs also gives them Neanderthal intelligence.

DNA experimentation goes on in our universe and in our time. What is it about this book that requires an alternate universe/time setting?

We need Mea's age and why she chose Paradise to escape to. Also, who buys NFHs on the black market, and why do they want them? As slaves to do the housework? As soldiers to help take over the world?


Anonymous said...

NFH r all o' us:

"Genetic evidence published in 2010 suggests that Neanderthals contributed to the DNA of anatomically modern humans, probably through interbreeding between 80,000 and 28,000 years ago with a population of anatomically modern humans." -wikipedia

khazarkhum said...

If you are from North Africa, Europe, or Asia, you're a Neanderthal. You'd never spot the average Neanderthal in a crowd, because we are them.

They were stronger, had bigger brains, art, music, clothing, leatherworking (we still use their tools), complex social groups, spoke, and buried their dead.

So it sounds like the good Dr is trying to improve humans.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for the critique. I will rework the query to clarify information that was confusing and add missing components.

Anonymous said...

Hi, I'm the author.

Most people have between 1-4% of Neanderthal DNA.

In the story Mea has a lot more, hence the added abilities.

Neanderthals had low light vision, better smell, better lung capacity and heavier bones.

An interesting fact- okay maybe only if you are me- is that they had larger brains. Scientist believe this was to accommodate a larger visual cortex.

Modern humans differ significantly from Neanderthals despite their genetic inheritance.

Thanks for the comments. I love talking about this topic.

InkAndPixelClub said...

The trouble with picking a real world, specific DNA source for your hero to be spliced with is that people can start to get very skeptical very quickly about whether such an experiment would really produce the results you suggest. No one knows what would happen if a person had his or her genes spliced with alien, fairy, or weredingo DNA, but people can make fairly educated guesses about what Neanderthal DNA might do to a person, if anything.

It took me literally until I'd finished reading the query to realize that "NFH" stood for "Not Fully Human," maybe because it's kind of a vague term that doesn't seem specific to genetically altered people.

Either expand Carrie's role in the query or dump her. Right now she's in one paragraph and doesn't seem to do anything that Mea couldn't do equally well solo.

Overall, I'd flesh out the query and slow down the pace a bit. What was the plague and do the NFHs still pose a real danger to society? Who are these black market NFH buyers? What is Mea's job? Who is her love interest? Why is she unable to ignore the missing teen problem? Does one of her friends go missing? Her potential boyfriend? Carrie, who's been missing from the query since paragraph three so we wouldn't have noticed? What is Mea trying to do to stop Dr. Adams?

Cil said...

I like the idea. I am not sure if EE agrees with this, but I would add some credits about your knowledge of the subject. Writing based on a scientific principle is harder as you can lose the readers interest if you make even a small mistake. That is especially true for this topic as the field is changing so much. The outlook on Neanderthals has changed a lot in the last 20 years, last I checked they had reclassified them as Homo Sapiens Neanderthalensis and us as Homo Sapiens Sapiens. That being said, using a YA protag will limit the amount of science you have to say during the book.

I would increase p1 to say what kind of mass genetic failing in homo sapiens2 lead to the need for neanderthal DNA.

In p2 (or p1) give an idea of the proportion of NFH in existence, and how they went from being a happy part of society to being labelled not fully human.

Is Carrie kidnapped? That would give a better reason for Mea to get involved and you could use her twice in the query. Also what are the good doctors plans? Are they working on way to counteract the plague so that the NFH can live in harmony again. They seem like major characters (villians, but major) and I don't have a feel for them. If they are only 2D mad scientists types I would drop their names and just add a line like, "Brashly pursuing leads, Mea is captured and tortured when she interrupts the plans of the organization that created her."

I am looking forward to the reworked query.

AlaskaRavenclaw said...

That being said, using a YA protag will limit the amount of science you have to say during the book.

I am not sure why this would be so.

Cil said...

I was meaning in comparison to having a scientist as the protag, like Michael Chrichton's general ploy to constantly inform the reader by using an expert. If the protagonist isn't an expert, you can get away with explaining only as much as they understand. However while saying that, it does have to be consistent with current scientific thinking and well thought out. The author's previous comment makes me think they have done their homework, so that should be made clear either in the query or the credentials.

khazarkhum said...

Author, I love our ancestors too and also find it fascinating. If you do this right, you'll turn loads of kids on to paleoanthropology.

Cil's right--we need to know why Neanderthals are being spliced back in. Why not Heidelbergensis? They're bigger than H sapiens. Or the Denisovians? Is there a compelling reason they pick Neanderthals?

SB said...

Where did they get Neanderthal DNA? I admit to not knowing much about this subject, so please excuse me if it's obvious.

khazarkhum said...

SB: We've got plenty in us. Synthesizing it would simply be a matter of replicating it. Plus, the Neanderthal genome has been completely mapped. Since Neanderthals had light to red hair and pale eyes, maybe they're trying to reintroduce redheads into the population.

Dottie Davis said...

the neanderthal intelligence comment was classic EE! love it.

author, will you post a revision?

I can't add anything useful to the comments already made.

perhaps that's my neanderthal DAN rearing it's ancient head.

Author said...


Dear Agent,

I am seeking representation for NOT FULLY HUMAN, a YA novel complete at 73,000 words.

Following a bioengineered plague and the violent backlash known as the Cleansing, all surviving NFH (Not Fully Human), mostly children, are rounded up, marked, and placed in Holding Facilities (HF).

Sixteen years ago, Neanderthal DNA was transplanted into Mea Culpa Gifford to correct defects and save her life. She is strong, fast and fiercely loyal.

When Mea learns of a plan to sell her on the genetic black market, she escapes from the Ardmore Holding Facility to Paradise Valley, Texas. To remain free, she has to follow the rules and keep her sponsor at the Paradise Valley Police Department happy.

Mea manages both until she meets Michael Bran in a back alley brawl and learns he’s searching for his missing brother. As they become friends, Mea uses her job as Tracker to begin an investigation and quickly uncovers Paradise’s missing teen problem.

Determined to find out who is disappearing NFH positive teens, Mea follows every lead, until people close to the investigation start dying. Clearly in over her head, and afraid she’s been herded to Paradise, Mea considers running. It’s too late though. Dr. Sean Adams, a de-extinction devotee has arrived and if Mea doesn’t turn herself in to him, he’s threatening to kill people she cares for.

Caught between a faction that wants to turn back the clock and the black market, Mea fights to save her friends, herself, and ultimately the human race.

Thank you for your time and consideration. I look forward to hearing from you soon. My contact information is:


Cil said...

Author, I am glad you returned, I greatly enjoyed this query.

There are still a few problems, first I am not a fan of using acronyms, especially not in a query and for the term holding facilities. I will accept it grudgingly for NFH, but for holding facilities as well reminds me of a scientific publication.

The start of paragraph 3 was jarring, also the transition into paragraph 4.

'Disappearing NFH positive teens' was a weird way to explain this. Also De-extinction devotee is an odd phrase. Also not that scary, I would be more afraid of an extinction devotee, or a re-extinction devotee for the NFH.I also don't understand 'the faction that wants to turn back the clock,' and in this version the good doctor comes out of nowhere.

Evil Editor said...

I agree: get rid of HF. The only point in calling holding facilities HF is to save space by writing HF when the phrase comes up in the future. Yet the only time the phrase comes up again you go with Holding Facility.

One doesn't meet people in a brawl. Just say she meets Michael Bran , a teenager searching for his missing brother.

What does "NFH positive" mean? Is there a difference between Not Fully Human and Not Fully Human Positive? Is there also NFH negative? If so, what's the difference between that and human?

Mea Culpa? Is that her name? I don't like it.

Which faction wants to turn back the clock, and what is their goal?

InkAndPixelClub said...

Good to see you back, author.

"Mea Culpa?" Latin for "through my fault," commonly used to mean "i screwed up and i accept blame for it"? Did her parents hate her?

More than the backstory about the plague and the violence that followed, we need to know why NFHs are being quarantined. The connection isn't clear here.

Good job clarifying why Mea has the Neanderthal DNA. You may want to start the query with this and then explain that the price of this lifesaving treatment is life in a holding facility. Did the rounding up of NFHs start before or after Mea was genetically enhanced?

What is a Tracker and what are the rules? If you don't say, i don't know whether Mea is using her connections as a future police officer and trying to avoid getting to close to the local population or she's using her resources as a pizza delivery driver and must wear a rubber chicken on her head at all times.

Who are the other people close to the investigation?

I'm not sure why Mea suspects someone was pushing her towards Paradise Valley. I also don't know what a de-extinction devotee is and i still don't get why there is a black market for NFH if people are so afraid of them that they have to be kept in holding facilities. The whole query gets very vague towards the end and vague is not good.

It's getting there, but it still needs work.

Anonymous said...

Thank you all for the welcome back and the comments.

Answers: You can be NFH positive - meaning your mutations are switched on, or norms meaning that you have significant mutations but they aren't on. Since it's not significant, I have removed it.

Mea Culpa Gifford is her name. Her mother felt guilty about Mea's condition and was afraid of what the scientist were doing to her. During her labor she repeated the prayer. Since she died in childbirth, someone used that on the certificate of live birth. Since I won't explain in the query, I have deleted it.

Mea was genetically enhanced prior to the plague and the cleansing. After that bioengineering is banned. I have added that. This is why there is a genetic black market, it's easier to use what already exist.

I would like to take another shot at a revision and will post it.

Thank you for your time and insightful feedback.

Author said...

Based on the latest feedback, I would like to give this another try.

Dear Agent,

I am seeking representation for NOT FULLY HUMAN, a YA novel complete at 73,000 words.

Sixteen years ago, Neanderthal DNA was transplanted into Mea Gifford to correct defects saving her life. She is strong, fast and fiercely loyal.

For the last two years, like all Not Fully Human (NFH) survivors of the plague and the violence that followed, she’s been living in a Holding Facility. Now that she’s sixteen, Mea is awaiting a sponsorship assignment, but when she learns the Facility Director plans to sell her on the black market she escapes to Paradise Valley, Texas.

In Paradise, she finds employment and sponsorship with the Police Department as a Tracker, responsible for patrolling the outskirts of town.

Mea mostly manages to follow the rules and keep her sponsor happy, until she meets Michael Bran who’s searching for his missing brother. As they become friends, Mea uses her position to access police files and quickly uncovers Paradise’s missing teen problem.
Convinced the teens are NFH taken for use in banned bioengineering laboratories, Mea follows every lead even when she’s ordered to stop investigating. However, when her contact is murdered, she considers running.

It’s too late though. Dr. Sean Adams has arrived to tie up loose ends and claim Mea. She is the key to continuing his plan to create an improved human race. Relentless and devoid of conscience, he threatens to kill the people she loves, if she doesn’t turn herself in to him.

Caught in a mad man’s trap, Mea fights to save her friends, herself, and ultimately the human race.

Thank you for your time and consideration. I look forward to hearing from you. My contact information is:


InkAndPixelClub said...

Definitely an improvement.

I'd rework the first paragraph (after the seeking representation sentence) to make Mea the subject of the first sentence and make the connection between her Neaderthal DNA and her physical and mental traits clear.

Add a bit in so that we understand what a sponsorship assignment is and why someone would buy an NFH on the black market. "...a sponsorship assignment that will allow het to _____" and "to sell her on the black market as a _____" or something similar.

It needs to be clear that Mea is breaking the rules by investigating the missing teen problem. Explaining that the police department is (I'm guessing) strangely unwilling to investigate the disappeances would help.

Who is Mea's contact and what assistance does he or she provide before being murdered?

Would it be possible to bring Dr. Adams into the query earlier? His appearance seems a little abrupt right now.

Cut "continung." The sentence is clearer without it.

Anonymous said...


Thank you for reading the new post.

I think most of the feedback has called for more specificity. I will keep that in mind as I rework the query.

I also think it seems bland, so I will work on that as well.

Thank you again for your time and assistance.


Cil said...

Hi Author, sorry this took me some time. The first paragraph still doesn't work for me.

Here is an idea I tried out. I am sure you can do a better job, but it might push it in the right direction.

At birth Neanderthal DNA was transplanted into Mea Gifford to correct defects saving her life. After a plague devastates the US is blamed on genetic engineering, Mea and the others like her are labelled Not Fully Human (NFH) and forced to live in holding facilities. Now that she’s sixteen, Mea is awaiting a sponsorship assignment, but when she learns the Facility Director plans to sell her on the black market she escapes to Paradise Valley, Texas.

After that throw in some more details and explain the the good doctor and the factions out to get her.

Good luck