Monday, June 22, 2015

Face-Lift 1263

Guess the Plot

Mercury Wants a Moon

1. Earth wants Mercury to be happy, but Mercury isn't happy because Jupiter teased him about not having a moon. Mother Sun can't help because she's at the peak of her cycle. It's all up to Uncle Halley, who's due for a rare visit.

2. Mercury makes an ideal vacation spot because of its year-round warm temperatures, but it's just not drawing intergalactic tourists in sufficient numbers to become a top-tier economy. The Mercurian Planetary Council decides to apply to the Solar Authority for a moon, hoping to benefit from the added eye-appeal and mystique. Once again, small-planet politics bring out the worst in everyone, while the big bureaucracy on the Sun only adds to their troubles.

3. Detective Silas Mercury is investigating a murder. Tina Moon, a local stripper, is the prime suspect. When Mercury visits the strip club for the tenth time, he's not looking for answers. He wants Moon, and she'll do anything to stay out of jail.

4. Eighteen-year-old Mercury Jones wants a moon she can control to make that hottie in school notice her. But when she makes her moon-wish during a case of the hiccups, she gets a moon pie instead. Not a bad trade off, really.

5. Mercury wants a moon, Saturn wants a ring, and people in hell want ice water. There's one man in the universe who can grant wishes as big as these. All you have to do is get him a date with Hannah Rogers and he's on it.

6. It's not fair. Mars has some, Saturn has a metric buttload, hell, even Uranus has some! Dammit, Mercury wants a moon to call its own! And that little spacecraft will make a nice start.

7.The whippet racing industry is in peril. Top dogs Mercury and Moon are making out like pandas down on the canine stud farm, and when pro breeder Kip "The Woofer" Drimpson hires the Mafia to infiltrate a Texan sperm bank, it's crimetastic DNA-fusion dogmania gone crazy. How will the world cope with the new breed of quasi-human mob pups? And who will become Top Whippet?

8.Merryn, a Gemini, totally loves her astrologer. Mercury's movements are spot-on predicting her future. So when Mercury enters Cancer, it's time for romance with a man born under the sign ruled by the moon. But placing the ad "mercury seeking a moon" in the lonely hearts section seems to attract...luna-tics.

Original Version

Dear EE

Planet Earth hunts meteors, dodges spaceships and plays with his eight brothers and sisters;  [Seven. Turned out Pluto slipped into the family minivan when they left Disney World and no one noticed until months after they got home, but as soon as they did, they sent him packing.] that is, when they're not being annoying. But he loves his family, craters and all, and wants them to be happy.

When little brother Mercury is upset because he hasn't got a moon, Earth tries to help. He's got a moon but can't give it to Mercury - his people need it. Earth dries his brother's eyes with a cloud [Drying anything with a cloud is like drying yourself after a bath by standing under a shower. Even kids know that clouds are basically water droplets.] and looks for support from the other siblings. Venus, his twin, is too busy admiring herself in the mirror, while sister Saturn is distracted by a minor planet she's dating. Big brother Jupiter's teasing caused the problem in the first place. Mother Sun wants to assist but she's at the peak of her cycle and can't stop burping. [So he turns to the only sibling with mooning experience: Uranus.] 

Luckily it's time for one of Uncle Halley's visits and he just might have a solution.

MERCURY WANTS A MOON is a 1,600 word [1600 words isn't a book; it's an Eminem song.] easy reader for 6-9 year olds. [A nine-year-old is reading Harry Potter, not easy readers.]  

Thank you for your consideration.


Your female characters are useless to Mercury because one is too busy admiring herself in the mirror, one is too busy with her current crush and one is at the peak of her cycle. Is this how you want the impressionable girls who read your book to see the world? And then the male family member, who hasn't been seen for 75 years, drops in to save the day?

The good news is they can print the whole thing on four sheets of paper. Very economical.

Does this come with illustrations? If so, are the characters people with planets for heads or are they giant spheres with facial features?

Maybe some children's magazine or webzine would publish this.


Intercostal Clavicle said...

This sounds more like it would be suited to a picture book, in which case it shouldn't be longer than 500 words. And yeah, nine year olds can handle more than anthropomorphic planets so it's realistic to pitch this much lower.

I'm in firm agreement with EE on the female characters here. While I can see it making sense for Venus to be female, it's still pandering to the idea that beauty = airhead, which is hardly an encouraging message to send.

The overall plot does sound pretty cute, however.

[Random thought: I want a story about Pluto where she goes on an awesome kickass adventure and shows the haters that she's a real planet]

InkAndPixelClub said...

Seconding (or thirding) the advice to set your target age lower. I feel like at the upper range of your current audience would be far more likely to pick up an age appropriate non-fiction book about the planets than a cute story where they're a somewhat dysfunctional family.

Consider making Earth a girl. Since you seem to be drawing at least a bit of inspiration from the deities the planets are named for, it makes sense since Earth is so often portrayed as a goddess. Plus, with the current push to get more girls interested in the STEM fields, it might actually help you get your book published. At the very least, try to rework it a bit so the story isn't "two male characters go to three female characters for help. Two cant be bothered and one is having a burping fit." Also, describing a female character - even a star - as "at the peak of her cycle" might have an agent or editor thinking of a completely different cycle.

I'm assuming the goal here is for kids to learn a few facts about the planets and the solar system while reading a fun story. So I'd try to restrict yourself to one general knd of fact you want to convey about the planets. If you're jumping around between physical characteristics of Jupiter (very large and has many moons) and the Sun (suffering from solar flares, right?) and the origins of Venus's name (goddess of love and beauty admiring herself in the mirror), and whatever is supposed to be going on with Saturn, it gets confusing. I'd try to tie all of their reasons for not helping into some physical characteristic of the planet and make their similarities to the Roman gods they're named for (which you don't carry through with all of them anyway) secondary.

Anonymous said...

Lately, I've been reading dinosaur books to two brothers, age 4 and 6. Now that they've met dinosaurs, they're into the hard science and they dismiss as "jokes" any anthropomorphized images or notions of dinos. I can't imagine them loving a book about an Ankylosaurus wanting a head-crest or a set of wings and getting it from the central dino authority; their imaginations are already heavily fueled by the facts of dinosaurs being reptile-stupid, evolving over millions of years, and mysteriously dying en masse -- although my little friends would go for a story about dragons in that situation.

It seems to me like a tricky and intriguing niche -- kids who are curious and learning about science but also willing to take an imaginative detour. I sincerely hope you hit it.

Anonymous said...

I agree with Ink. The story is cute, but Earth should be a girl and Saturn a boy.

SamSmith said...

Hello everyone! This is the writer! Thank you so much for all your comments. I was so nervous waiting for them as this is the first time I've posted something on a website. I have read most of the archives and it's true what others say - people have pointed out flaws in my story which I hadn't noticed. Ink - you were spot on. I was trying to write a fun story with some facts about space and I did mix up science with mythology. The burping is related to solar flares and Venus is vain because she is the goddess of beauty, and so on. The resolution is that Halley travels round so much he wants a messenger to deliver messages for him, and Mercury is the only one suitable due to his size, speed and the fact he has no moons. I didn't pick up on the point that my females are flaky and that is embarrassing, as I am female, and a believer in equality. It's a great idea to make Earth female and Saturn male.

My idea was to write a series of stories with Earth as the pov character, but each one focusing on a different planet's problem. For example, in the second one, Venus learns to be less vain. Pluto's story was going to be she finds out she's adopted, and I love the idea of a kick-ass Pluto! I haven't written it yet, so maybe...

Although I researched on the internet and in bookshops, I am still unsure as to genre/ age group and that was a key reason for posting on here. Perhaps I should cut it down to 500 words and turn it into a picture book? (I'm afraid I can't even draw a circle so have put no thought into what any illustrations would look like.) Or maybe combine all the stories together? Someone pointed out 9-year-olds read Harry Potter these days and I realise how I totally misjudged the target age group. Apologies to the kids.

Anyway, I talk too much so I'll stop now and just thank you all for taking the time to give me feedback. It's much appreciated and valued!

SB said...

This sounds like a picture book to me. My understanding is that for picture books, authors aren't expected to provide the pictures, the publisher gets the artist and arranges that, so no need to worry about that aspect, I'd say. (And I think when querying those, one doesn't so much write a query letter as just include the full text. But I'm not completely sure about the process as I don't write picture books.)

Also, putting in my vote for Earth to be a girl and Saturn a guy. I think that will fix the main problem that leaped out to me when I read the query, and it doesn't sound like it'll change the story at all, so it should be an easy change to make.

khazar-khum said...

I thought everyone knew Earth is female. Who hasn't heard of Mother Earth?

KJ said...

Also if you're following mythology, Saturn is in fact a Roman god so would need to be a dude.