Monday, April 11, 2016

Face-Lift 1310

Guess the Plot


1. The true, unvarnished, non-whitewashed history of What Cheer, Iowa.

2. By teens and for teens, a compilation of hundreds of tried-and-true answers to your parents' question, "Where are you going."

3. F. Wu Chu High has crowded 1,100 students into a 15-classroom building. So why can't anyone find a date? And if Eunice does anyway, where can they hang out?

4. Trapped in Nowhere, three teens must take on weird creatures like people with their heads on backwards as they try to find their way to . . . Somewhere.

5. Doors always lead somewhere, unless you're talking about the door in Old Lady Morrison’s attic. She warned us to keep away, that it led to nowhere. She wasn’t lying. And now I’m trapped and I can’t find my way back.

6. Once she was a nowhere nobody who had nothing. Then she became a somebody, but still with nothing. Anyways, now she's getting somewhere.

7. Wizard-in-training Max has really screwed up this time: He wrote out the 'Now Here' scroll as "Nowhere". His Inscriptions trainer read it and vanished. It's up to Max and his friends to find her before she's lost forever in the Astral Plane. Also, a talking kestrel.

Original Version

Dear specific agent:

I am seeking representation for my 56,000 word YA novel Nowhere. Think Mazerunner meets Dante’s Inferno. [I'm trying, but all that comes to mind is a crazed Jack Nicholson in a hedge maze, but instead of snow on the ground there are burning coals.]

Guilt-ridden over the death of her three-year-old brother, [Guilt-ridden because she caused it?] a teenage PJ commits suicide. [Of the scores of possibilities provides for "PJ," the only one that makes sense in that sentence is "parajumper." Which does suggest how she committed suicide. However, I recommend spelling out the word.] But instead of joining her brother, she wakes in an ice[hyphen]coated cave[comma] cold, wet, and in complete darkness surrounded by lost souls circling beneath the ice. [Less wordy than "ice-coated cave, cold, wet, and in complete darkness" would be "dark ice cave." Also, if you're in complete darkness you wouldn't be able to see what's beneath the ice. And if the souls are beneath the ice, how can they be surrounding her?] [Also, whether she pulls her ripcord or not, a parajumper would land on the Earth's surface, not inside a cave.]

She escapes the ice cave [by cutting her parachute into strips and disguising herself as a mummy.] [She's in the cave, she's out of the cave. Why don't we just skip over the cave?] and meets nerdy, wisecracking Trey. [The fifth circle of hell: bad insult comedians.] As the two awkward teens search for answers and a way out of the creepy world, they grow close surviving backward headed Wanderers [How do they know the Wanderers are backward-headed and not backward-bodied?] and mutated pit guards. [Is there a pit? Are the pit guards keeping people out of the pit or inside the pit? How can a pit be so valuable that it needs guards?] PJ hides the truth of her suicide afraid he [Trey] will judge her and no longer like her. [Her name is PJ? I assume that's a nickname, but what I don't know is whether she got that nickname because she's a parajumper or because she wears pajamas everywhere.] [Possibly you should have said "teenager PJ" instead of "a teenage PJ." Or just called her Pamela Jean.]

Then PJ is abducted by carnivorous cliff guards, [What would happen if no one was guarding the cliff?] [Are carnivorous cliff guards better at guarding cliffs than vegetarian cliff guards?] where she [and] meets hot, quiet Reid in a corral of captives. They escape with Trey’s help [I never thought of a corral as a place a human would need help escaping from.]

and PJ finds herself attracted to both boys, igniting Trey’s jealousy.

As they trek through Nowhere, the three are stalked by the demon of shame and guilt. They must rely on each other to survive it and the other creatures created from human sin intent on destroying them and trapping them forever between life and death. [If you want to trap someone somewhere forever, it's best not to destroy them first.]

When PJ reaches the end of her journey, she is forced to face what she really wants and make her final choice out of Nowhere. [That sentence adds nothing. I'm not even sure what it means.]


I don't get much sense of story here. PJ finds herself in Nowhere, the land between life and death, after committing suicide. That's the setup, but the rest is basically a list of things she encounters as she strives to . . . get Somewhere? Does she have specific goals, like getting to Oz and getting the witch's broomstick, and getting home to Kansas? What makes her think anything she does is getting her closer to reaching her destination, whatever that is? Does she wake up in her bed with Auntie Em standing over her?

Maybe we need more about the love triangle. Is that the main story? How even in death a teenager can't escape boy problems? Or is it a road trip with no known destination, just keep moving and hope we find the exit? Is she searching for her dead brother? What's the glue that holds it all together?


Anonymous said...

This is a nice summary of the sequence of events. Unfortunately, what we need is more of the character's story: what they want and why it matters to them.

What is the story-worthy problem that gets solved? Facing what she really wants? What exactly is it that she really wants? Does facing it determine her final destination, a.k.a. heaven, hell, rebirth, return to life?

Knowing a bit more about what the character really wants and what's at stake would help.

khazar-khum said...

Why does she suicide? Did she accidentally kill her little brother? Discover she has cancer? Or did she just flunk an algebra test?

Does she expect to return to life if she gets away? Or will she continue to an afterlife?

Anonymous said...

Thanks Evil Editor, I am laughing through the pain. Humiliation accepted. Going to rewrite. I plan on resubmitting wearing a suit of armor.

Anonymous said...

Well, if nothing else, it sounds as if committing suicide may have improved her love life.

Minion 621 said...

Hey, don't feel too bad, Author. The query needs improvement, but the story described sounds pretty intriguing! The query just needs to show it off a bit more.

AA said...

"PJ hides the truth of her suicide afraid he [Trey] will judge her and no longer like her." This would make more sense if I knew how Trey died. Or you could just leave it out.

"where she [and] meets hot, quiet Reid in a corral of captives." Took me a minute to realize you meant "attractive and introverted." If someone's "hot and quiet" they're likely to be ill.

"They must rely on each other to survive it and the other creatures created from human sin intent on destroying them and trapping them forever between life and death."
You don't describe these creatures very well, or what it takes to survive them. I can't really visualize what your characters are doing.