Friday, January 22, 2016

Face-Lift 1299

Guess the Plot

Wolf Heart

1. Julie and Paula have a very unusual ingredient in their award-winning pecan pie.

2. Wolfgang Hart blogs under his new assumed name. He names names (except his own) and isn't afraid to point the finger. Because nobody will guess his true identity.

3. Jack Deering's pawn shop hasn't done so well lately, but maybe the magic from this more-than-5000-year-old Sumerian wolf heart will change all that.

4. Princess Sukkia wears a diamond collar and has a pedigree that goes back a thousand years. When jealous King Lupin doubts her fidelity, he dresses as a traveling bard and tries to seduce her. 

5. Though born human, Fang Song was adopted by wolves and has the heart of a wolf. "I am wolf!" she cries. Then she meets Howling Wolf, the handsome human who makes her heart jump. Maybe she should be wolf just a couple days each month. 

6. By the light of the harvest moon, Lampton town brings in the crops. One by one people disappear. When a ravaged corpse is found, the villagers lynch Alan "Wolfgang" Shepherd. Yet, the numbers continue to dwindle. Who is harvesting the harvesters? 

7. By day, Peter is a quiet young chemistry major. Once a month, though, he transforms into yet another attempt to wring money out of the public via a hunky wolfman for the girls to swoon over.

Original Version

Dear Evil Editor:

The wolf way says she must adapt or die, but Fang Song refuses to choose either. [You can refuse to adapt, but if refusing to die worked, we'd be packed in like sardines.] [Also, it's pretty much always better to delete a one-sentence opening and start with the second paragraph.]

According to legend, eighteen-year-old Fang Song is destined to save Heartland, her island home, from a king set on supreme magical authority. [I wasn't sure what "supreme magical authority" meant, so I Googled it. Apparently the Count in August Strindberg's most famous play, Miss Julie, is a supreme magical authority. Unfortunately, I haven't seen the play, so I'll just assume this king wants to be the leader of a team of super wizards and mages such as Merlin, Harry Potter, Gandalf, Doctor Strange, and Penn and Teller.] Born human and adopted by wolves, [Did she adapt after she was adopted?] Fang Song tenaciously cries she is wolf, but the rest of the world disagrees. [By "the rest of the world" do you mean all the people, all the wolves, or all the people and wolves?] With two wolf siblings by her side and the lines of an ancient song ["Who's Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf?"] to guide her, Fang Song must convince everyone, including herself, that she is the champion Heartland needs. [Why must she convince everyone? Convincing ninety percent of everyone isn't good enough?] 

When she leaves her wolf pack and the wild places she calls home, and journeys to meet her familial tribe, the Wind Walkers, Fang Song is determined to remain untouched by the changes. [differences?] [If she's going there to recruit humans to help defeat the king, say so.] She soon discovers the human world is as beguiling as it is terrifying, and though she longs to be wolf, there is an undeniable spark calling her to be more fully human. Everything Fang Song thought was true now seems uncertain, [Everything?] and her greatest enemy remains to be fought. How much will she have to sacrifice to save her home? And what is she to make of Howling Wolf, the striking Wind Walker who makes her heart do unexpected things?

The people Fang Song trusts most [I'm surprised to find she knows any people well enough to trust them. Has she been interacting with humans on a regular basis?] have their own secrets--secrets that could shatter her dreams. When those secrets and the schemes of the king collide, will Fang Song find the key to Heartland's survival? Or will she find her own annihilation? [That paragraph is too vague. What are these secrets? What are her dreams? I don't know what you're talking about.]

WOLF HEART is complete at approximately 67,000 words, and is the first in a potential young adult fantasy series of the same title.

Thank you for your time and consideration. I look forward to hearing from you.



Was Fang Song adopted after she was old enough to have learned the Wind Walkers' language? Is the ancient song whose lines guide her a human song or a wolf song?

With his striking looks, Howling Wolf can have any woman in the tribe. I don't see him being attracted to a woman who's spent most of the last eighteen years living with wolves.

We need to know what life will be like on Fang Song's island home if the king attains supreme magical authority. You haven't said how it'll be any worse. Maybe he'll be a benevolent king, bringing peace and prosperity to all. Hey, maybe the king can use magic to turn Fang Song into an actual wolf. 

"According to legend, eighteen-year-old Fang Song is destined to save Heartland..." Is everyone aware of this legend? If so, why does she have to convince them she's their champion? If the legend doesn't specify who the champion is, what makes her think she's the one?

Four of the last five plot sentences are questions. You should be providing answers, not asking us questions.

Fang Song sounds more like an Asian name than a Wind Walker name. In Chinese it means to accept relaxation. Fang Song Gong is an exercise program. Fang Song is the name of several Chinese people including an accomplished actress/director. Did she get the name from the Wind Walkers or from the wolves who adopted her? 


Anonymous said...

Legends are traditional stories about things that may have happened in the past. Are you saying your world contains some kind of circular history? Or do you mean there's a prophecy of some sort?

This has too many of the wrong details and not enough of the right ones.

What does your character want? <- At a guess, she's trying to convince everyone she's a needed champion, but I don't know how she feels about doing so, or even if everyone knows that a champion is needed. I shouldn't need to be guessing.

What's standing in her way? <- There's a king who want supreme magical authority, which may or may not make having a legendary/prophesied champion be needed. Again, I'm guessing here. If the king is the opposition, you need to tell us what he's doing that conflicts with you MC's life/goals/desires, and what the MC plans on doing about it. Which brings us to....

What's the MC plan? <- She travels to the human world for some unspecified reason. You need the kind of specifics that will demonstrate you have a working plot structure where the MC is taking logical steps to accomplish her goal. What exactly is she attempting to accomplish by traveling to the human world? We can guess that she'll find human society different and what not, but if that's not what the story is about, those details don't belong in the query. If that is what the story is about, you should drop the king and the legend/prophecy and tell the story of a girl raised by wolves attempting to rejoin society, which is going to be a much different story and appeal to a different audience.

Why won't that work? <- Not sure what exactly the MC's goals are in the human world, so no idea what kind of trouble she's running into. Is the MC facing direct opposition from the king? Humans who don't think a champion is needed? No one able bodied enough to join her army/strike force? No one who's willing to divulge the recipe for the king's favorite pie? What?

So, now what? Which direction is the story heading? <- I don't know enough to even attempt to answer.

Giving a list of questions at the end of your query doesn't raise curiosity about what happens, it gets an answer of "not right for me".

The purpose of the query is to show the agent you have a story they can sell. If they don't know what the story is, you've failed to give them what they need to do their job.

fwiw, I was actually expecting this to be a middle grade story for most of the query.

Steph said...

Thank you, now I have a much better idea of where to go from here. I have no idea where I got the idea that questions in a query (especially unanswered questions) were cool but clearly I need to work that out. Are questions always a bad idea?

Evil Editor said...

Questions aren't great, but one question is ok. Just as lists aren't great, but one list (of no more than three items) can be tolerated. Lists of questions is a no-no. Moderation is the key.

khazar-khum said...

The beginning of this sounds very much like Princess Mononoke. If that is your inspiration, fine; but you might want to try and differentiate yourself a bit more.

AlaskaRavenclaw said...

Prophecy. Raised by wolves. What makes this different?

SB said...

Sorry, this is off-topic, but I had a suggestion for EE:

What if, in addition to queries and synopses, you also let people who are self-publishing post the blurb for their story for feedback? Since that's not the same as a query, I think it would be helpful for self-pub authors and also interesting for the rest of us to get a clearer idea of the difference between what goes in a query and what goes on a cover blurb.