Monday, January 12, 2015

Face-Lift 1244

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Guess the Plot

Nirvana, Inc.

1. The Porn Channel's newest game show is Wordwheel. It's buxom star is Nirvana White who exposes letters. She strips an article of clothing for every correct guess but adds one when a contestant guesses wrong or hits Bankrupt. Zeke Martin, the first patrolman on-scene after she's murdered, knows two things: porn stars can be really hot and, uh, …, well, okay he only knows one thing. But that's an improvement for Zeke. Also a sardonic motorcycle.

2. When Gregory "Guru" Smith's marijuana plant starts talking to him about moving out of his parents' house, he thinks it's a prank. It isn't. Will fame and fortune cloud Guru's head, or will he stay true to his dream of owning a pot farm in Colorado?

3. Cyla makes her living bringing people to ecstasy by manipulating their brainwaves. When a Biotech Regulation officer asks her to help with a murder case, she wants nothing to do with it--until she finds out solving the case could bring down her main competitor . . .  Nirvana, Inc.

4. The realistic sex-dolls industry is booming, and the CEO of Nirvana Inc, ex-stripper Nirvana Meldrew, will never have to give a fat smelly old sleaze a lap dance again. But when the dolls somehow develop a murderous sentience, she must team up with the fattest of sleazes from her old life to defeat the remorseless assassins.

5. Everything Mike Jenkins has tried to make into a franchise from his Boulder, CO store has failed. The used textbooks from 1997--gone. Yoga studio for ferrets? Curled up. But now, with legalized marijuana, he may have finally hit on a winning idea for a franchise.

6. Four out of five psychiatrists recommend Bliss (TM), a new Prozac like drug. When the one unconvinced doctor is found dead, her sister begins a long and dangerous investigation into a pharma world that wants to make ALL humanity happy at ANY cost.

7. You get… not one, not two, but THREE Scratch and Sniff Heavenly Lottery cards, with which to try your luck at guessing which religion is the one true faith… and when it’s all going to end. NOW how much would you pay? But wait… you also receive: Two beautifully custom-designed spray bottles, for those rowdy pets – filled with holy water – to ensure your furry little friends will be joining you in the great hereafter. Order in the next ten minutes, and we’ll double your order… for FREE! That’s six Lottery cards, and four spray bottles, for the price of a single order. All you pay is shipping and handling. Customer satisfaction guaranteed.

Original Version

Dear Evil Editor,

In the slums of MainWay, where biotech implants are refurbished and stretched [enhanced?] beyond legality, Pleasure Pusher Cyla Hart manipulates others' brainwaves, bringing them to ecstasy. It pays for a residence pod at the top of the stacks, let's her keep a low profile, [Not clear how manipulating peoples' brainwaves to bring them to ecstasy keeps your profile low. My ability to bring women to ecstasy has made me the most sought-after high-profile editor in Manhattan.] and doesn't hurt anyone - a balance Cyla's worked hard to maintain. [Not clear what this is a balance between.] When her escape from a club raid leaves her EmoCore implant damaged, Cyla has no choice but [to] get it fixed, even when a simple [though the] fix could leave her dead or even worse, mindless. [She works for a firm that refurbishes implants, a job that doesn't hurt anyone. Yet fixing her own implant could leave her dead or mindless? Okay, I see I may have that wrong. She does her harmless brainwave manipulation in the same place where implants are refurbished, but she's not involved with implant refurbishing? I assumed MainWay was a conglomerate because of the capital "W" and because capitalizing "Pleasure Pusher" makes it sound like an official job title. We don't capitalize "drug pusher." Can Cyla manipulate the brainwaves of anyone, or just those with biotech implants? Why does she have no choice but to get her implant fixed? Will she lose her brainwave manipulation ability? Will she die?] [Less information is probably more. Something like:

In the slums of MainWay, where biotech implants are refurbished and enhanced beyond legality, Cyla Hart scrapes out a living illegally manipulating others' brainwaves, bringing them to ecstasy. It pays for her residence pod, not to mention her clubbing lifestyle. So when Cyla's EmoCore implant (her meal ticket) is damaged, she opts to get it fixed--even though the fix could leave her brain-dead.

Biotech Regulation officer Quirin Eberle doesn't like loose ends. He works hard to keep illegal implants off the streets. So when a simple club raid ends up with the dead body of the Augmented Reality CEO and a Pusher on the loose, [This could be interpreted to mean the dead body and the Pusher are both on the loose. We don't need the loose Pusher; a dead body of a CEO is enough to spur Quirin to action.] Quirin is bent on cleaning things up, even if it means heading into the darkest parts of the slums to find answers. However, with slummers sniffing his BR status a mile away, Quirin needs an in. So when [Someone like] Cyla turns [Hart, who just turned] up half-dead at an uptown treatment center, she couldn't be more perfect.

But Cyla isn't the type to help a BR officer infiltrate her neighborhood, even when he threatens to pin the CEO's death on her. Altered by the botched nano-repair job that almost killed Cyla, her implant is much more than an EmoCore [What else is it? (Never mind. You'll probably just say it's not just an EmoCore, it's also a Quasitronic Fluxistat.)] and when Nirvana Inc. gets involved, Cyla must choose: betray the only home she has or become a guinea pig in a corporate research lab. [Settle on whether her choice is between betraying her neighborhood and being tried for the CEO's murder or between betraying her neighborhood and becoming a lab rat. We don't need both in the query.] [Also, it's a little late to be springing Nirvana, Inc. on us. What is it? A legitimate Biotech implant company? Why are they getting involved? Are they the villain? If so, what do they want, and what happens if they get it? Does the real story start when Nirvana, Inc. gets involved, in which case all this was backstory? Is the story mainly about solving the murder or stopping Nirvana, Inc. from making people happy?] 

Nirvana, Inc. is a [an] 80,000 word adult science-fiction thriller with cyberpunk and biopunk themes [If you can work in some steampunk too, you can just call it multipunk.] that could be described as Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep (Philip K. Dick) meets The Repossession Mambo (Eric Garcia.) [I think just the titles or just the authors would be sufficient if you need to describe it in this way.]

I look forward to hearing from you,


Basically, you've introduced two characters, one of whom wants to solve a murder while the other wants to keep a low profile. What's going on? What's at stake? Keep it clear and simple. The agent isn't necessarily a science fiction geek who knows what an EmoCore is or what biotech implants do.

If you have to shorten what's here in order to add what isn't, it might be best to focus on either Cyla or Quirin. This would allow you to drop either the first or most of the second paragraph.

So MainWay is her neighborhood? If one of my neighbors can help rid my neighborhood of a murderer, I doubt the rest of us would feel we'd been betrayed. Guess that's the difference between living in MainWay and living in Trump Tower.


IMHO said...

My comments will sound nit-picky, but your query has to convince and editor/agent that you can write well. Here, you use 'even' five times (even when, even if, even though), mis-use "let's", and imply a dead body is on the loose. Proofread, edit, and proofread again.

The story talks about emo-cores and nano-repair, but the technology doesn't appear to have any impact on the story. If Cyla's botched emo-core gives her special powers, let us know. What makes this different than a contemporary story about a drug dealer & a narcotics detective?

chekurtab said...

I'll agree with IMHO. You do overuse the introductory elements: even, so, but, however, so when, even when (my favorite).
My main complain is the stakes, guinea pig vs. home. What home? The residential pod in the slums she pays for? Or do you mean her clients, or friends, or family? None mentioned in your query until the home comes up in the stakes. Why can't she rent another pod and keep the low profile?
Just my two cents. I hope it helps.

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry, I know it's probably related to emotions as a whole, but when I read 'EmoCore' all I can think of is dour, white-faced teens dressed in black and writing angst-ridden poetry about suicide.

CavalierdeNuit said...

Your novel sounds very intriguing, but please work on the query, and take EE's advice. I agree with Anonymous about EmoCore. I would also work on the grammar. Write some essays no one is going to read simply to practice writing a sentence.

Cil said...

Hi Author,

Try writing the query without the bio/cyberpunk aspects and then only add them in where there are holes. This should allow for a more coherent story thread in the query and then you can add only the elements you need to explain to grab interest.

Also Emocore is actually a music style, also known as Screamo. It gained a degree of popularity in early 2000 before the more well known Emo movement began.

InkAndPixelClub said...

This sounds like a pretty standard mystery so far, without enough unqiue elements to make it stand out. Take out the bio-implants and you've got a prostitute eking out a living who ends up in the wrong place at the wrong time, a detective hell bent on solving a high profile case, and the circumstances that force them to work together. The implant could be the element that makes this story different, but your query gets an attack of the vagues before you can tell us what it does after the botched operation and whether that has any effect on the story.

Pare down what you have, starting with the Biotech Regulation officer paragraph. That will leave you space to start hinting at what the characters uncover, to explain what's changed about Cyla's implant, and to give potential editors some indication of what happens in what I'm guessing is the latter two-thirds of your book.