Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Face-Lift 1262

Guess the Plot


1. A shadow escapes his human host and searches London for a way to gain a soul of his own. A sorcerer, Mr. Marrow, promises to help him, but the spell involves bloody sacrifices. Can Peter Pan find his shadow before the silhouette, whom the public is calling Jack the Ripper, strikes again?

2. France, 1745. Mme Antoinette Girard is the finest silhouette cutter on all of Provence. When the Royal Court passes through, she is summoned by the king himself. But when she gets there, she realizes that the king is none other than her own long-lost father.

3. 13-year-old Allie sees someone with a familiar-looking silhouette dump a body in the woods. The next day she sees another body, and when she later sees someone in the bushes outside her window she realizes the killer has hunted her down. Is it time to tell her dad or call 911? Not a chance. It's time for this girl to solve a few crimes on her own.

4. The Invisible man was once free to steal from the bank, peek into the ladies dressing room, and anything else he damn well pleased. But hey, aging sucks. Now his flabby silhouette has been seen all over town and it ain't pretty.

5. When Amy discovers a broach with a silhouette of her late Grandma Steele on it, she thinks it might be worth something on ebay. But when Amy tries to sell it, her old dead granny comes knocking, and boy is she pissed.

6. Sasha keeps seeing the silhouette of her ex-boyfriend behind her whenever she looks in mirrors, which is a total drag when she's at the gym. Wasn't killing him enough? Now she's got to exercise him, too? Geez.

7. Ebony and Liss, hairdressers at Silhouette Spa, hate that their brother Dewayne keeps seeing Oolala the braider, and Oolala hates that he can't trust those cheating bitches for one second before they try to steal his man. Manicurists Racey and Kandye both have eyes for Denise's fiance, Dontrel, but Denise isn't letting him stray out of fear that Oolala will try for him too. Shampoo isn't the only thing that's white and frothy at the Silhouette Spa.

Original Version

Dear Evil Editor,

Thirteen-year-old Allie is the queen of imaginary adventures. So when she tells her best friend, Brandon, she saw a killer dumping a body in the woods, he figures no way. Especially when Allie says the killer’s silhouette seemed oddly familiar. [Was it this one?]

If not, I don't see why her claim that the silhouette was oddly familiar makes him "especially" skeptical.] 

The next day, near that same spot in the woods, Allie and Brandon see a body at the bottom of a cliff. [If I'm so close to the edge of a cliff that I can see what's at the bottom, I'm way too close, and I'm sure not standing there if there's someone else anywhere near me, as depicted in this dramatic enactment.] Allie is determined to figure out who the killer is, but before they find a way down to investigate the body, it disappears. [Maybe the body was some guy taking a nap.] Then Allie sees a figure in the bushes outside her window [Having moved to a different time and place, I'd replace "then" with "later" or "that night," or "the next day."] and someone breaks into her room. She’s convinced the killer knows she was spying that night and he has hunted her down. [It sounded like she was in her room, saw someone in the bushes, and he broke in, which means she was a goner. But based on my further reading I'm guessing she saw someone in the bushes one time and at some later time when she wasn't there someone broke into her room. Clear it up.]

Now she can’t give up. [This is precisely when she should give up.] No one has reported a missing person, [according to her sources in the police department,] so the police aren’t investigating. With her dad and her brother both acting strangely lately, [Maybe it was her brother who broke into her room. To read her diary.] Brandon is the only one she can trust to help her. [Her dad is acting strangely if he's taking no action after she told him someone broke into her room. She did tell him, right?] But a school dance brings out Allie’s jealousy over Brandon—a surprise to them both—and Allie storms off. With their friendship in trouble, Allie may end up alone trying to figure out who the killer is and what happened to the body before the killer makes her disappear.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Best wishes,

My info here


She sees someone dump a body in the woods but doesn't investigate. She and Brandon see a body and tell no one. Allie sees someone in the bushes outside her room and tells no one. She tells no one when someone breaks into her room. And she's convinced a killer has hunted her down but tells no one. She seems too stupid to live.

If the killer wanted to make her disappear, he could have done so the time he was outside her window instead of leaving and coming back when she wasn't there. Obviously someone is playing an elaborate prank on Allie, someone so stupid he hasn't considered the possibility that she might call 911.

The jealousy over a school dance subplot seems like small potatoes if she believes a killer is after her.  I don't see her even going to a dance under the circumstances. If Brandon does end up helping her, we don't need to know about their little spat, and if he doesn't end up helping her, we don't need him in the query.

Your letter needs to include your title and genre and word count. Or is that what you mean by "my info here"? I assumed that meant your contact info and/or credits.

Whether it's a prank or there's a killer, you're better off if her dad took her brother fishing somewhere with no cell phone service for the weekend than having her keep him in the dark when her life is being threatened.


khazar-khum said...

EE is right. There'd better be a very good reason why she tells no adults about this. Even if he waves it away as her imagination getting the best of her is better than her not telling someone about a murder. And if he won't listen, maybe a cop will. Unless he's the town's only cop, in which case she'd better go one town over.

Anonymous said...

This feels a bit too scattered, especially with Allie's jealousy. It feels very shoehorned in, because the few details that there are in the letter about Brandon and Allie's friendship just say about how he's the only one she can trust, which implies a strong friendship. And I'm not really sure WHY Allie's bothering to solve this mystery at all, as there are only a few thin evidences of there being any mystery at all. You say "Now she's can't give up" but I'm not sure why that's the case.

Anonymous said...

Maybe Allie tells everyone (dad, cops ect…) but no one believes her because no one can find any evidence/body? And then she decides to investigate on her own?

Evil Editor said...

Well, Brandon did see the body near the cliff. And there must be evidence that someone broke into her room, or how would she know?

InkAndPixelClub said...

Hopefully you're getting the message about clearing up why Allie is the one who has to solve this mystery and why she has yet to bring in anyone who's not thirteen to help. "Allie like to make stuff up" can only get you so far.

The timeline of events is not clear. I don't know if the body magically vanishes before the kids' eyes while they try to figure out a way to check it out or they return later with a plan to get to the bottom of the cliff and find it's gone. (Since I'm assuming it's the latter, this would be a wonderful time to have Allie and Brandon bring some adults into the picture, since they'd have an excellent reason to assume the kids are making it all up if there's no evidence of a body.) Then there the abrupt transition - or lack thereof - between the body disappearing and Allie seeing the potential killer, followed by the unclear time relationship between Allie seeing the creepy guy and her room being broken into.

The school dance jealousy is particularly out of left field, but Allie's dad and brother acting strangely seems out of place as well. How are they acting strangely? If they're weirded out by her insistence that someone was murdered without any evidence or that she seems upset about something but won't talk to them about it, that's normal. If Allie and Brendan's relationship and Allie's family behaving oddly are important, they need to be fully explained and introduced earlier in the query.

If the story is about Allie solving the mystery, you need to start hintng that Allie might be able to do that. For unclear reasons, she's the only one who has all the information. But beyond that, what skills or attributes does she have that might help her figure out what happened? Are there any clues she's gathering, any suspects she's identified? She' sour main character, but I don't see her doing much beyond getting in a huff over her friend at dance.

Dottie D said...

Thank you so much to all who are leaving comments! This really helps me tune in to what is missing in the query and should be addressed.

Anonymous said...

As others are noting, it's hard to pose a MG story with high stakes like this. In the real world, a 13-year-old who may be a witness to a murder and the victim of a break-in wouldn't have much agency; she would run to the adults, and the "plot" would be theirs after that.

If you can show me why this isn't so with Allie -- why she has to be secretive or self-sufficient even in such a dire situation -- I'd probably be saddened or creeped out, to tell you the truth! Is Silhouette truly about a 13-year-old girl who's suddenly friendless at the very moment she's in mortal danger? If so, you're into something wicked evil and your query should put it out there. If not, then tell us a little more about the prank.

PLaF said...

I can think of a few reasons why Allie wouldn’t bring an adult into the situation until near the end:
1. the evidence implicates her
2. if she was doing something she was not supposed to be doing when she saw the body – not just coming home late but being out way past midnight or when she should have been babysitting her brother
3. one more lie and her dad will ship her off to military school
Not all teens are tidy, so she might not be aware that someone has broken into her room until she can’t find something – like her phone or laptop.
As others have said, murder is too high stakes to never bring in an adult. A heist, maybe.