Friday, April 01, 2016

Face-Lift 1309


Guess the Plot

2350/1

1.  45892 00/45 6.66693 88224-00/5 55440092/2 6262/33 7868/3

2. What are the odds of actually getting an agent, anyway?

3.  The FBI thinks her name is Rachel Kent, but she thinks it's Tabitha Smith. They think she's a drug kingpin, but she thinks she's a psychic mutant. The one thing they agree on? Her number. 2350/1.

4. In a dystopian future, the police force has been replaced by droids. Officer J4-V3RT self-destructs when human Valjean shows him mercy.

5. One in a million. One in the hand equals two in the bush. Once is a coincidence, twice is chance, three times is a conspiracy. Vis has always led a life filled with numbers. Now if only he can prevent his family's death from becoming just another number.

6. It's January 2350 when John's girlfriend, Mildred, moves to Montana. He has three months to find a new girl for the junior prom or face the humiliation of going stag. John thinks life can never be worse . . . until his dog, Biff, eats a frog and pukes on the living room carpet.



Original Version

Dear Evil (yet achingly handsome) Editor, [Sold. Will a six-figure advance do?]

A massive explosion at a brand-new super-church kills thousands. [Is a super-church the same as what is commonly called a megachurch?]

One person survives: a young woman, her memory wiped by the bomb-blast and her fingerprints unreadable, likely removed deliberately with sulphuric acid. [What makes them think they weren't removed accidentally by sulfuric acid?] Nobody knows who she is or why she was there -- not even her. [A woman was in a super-church along with thousands of other people, and the FBI can't figure out why? Here's a clue: was it Sunday morning?] [No reason the first sentence should be a separate paragraph.]

Or so she says. 

Officially numbered 2350/1, the FBI suspect she’s called Rachel Kent, [First of all, they suspect she is Rachel Kent. Also, you're saying the FBI is officially numbered 2350/1. I assume you want to say "Officially numbered 2350/1, she’s suspected by the FBI of being Rachel Kent"], a top-level member of D$9, an international drugs cartel embedded deep on the dark net. [Besides the fact that everyone's going to think of Deep Space 9 when they see D$9, there's the fact that no one will know how to pronounce that. Is it pronounced D dollar sign 9? D Dollars 9? Prince learned this the hard way when he changed his name to a symbol and everyone started calling him the artist formerly known as Prince, which was so annoying he went back to Prince. You don't want readers reading D$9 as "The international drug cartel formerly known as the Sinoloa Cartel."] [For that matter, is 2350/1 pronounced 2350 over 1 or 2350 forward slash 1 or 2350 divided by 1? (At first I was pronouncing it as if the slash were silent, but then I realized that sounded the same as 2351, who is a completely different character.) No one wants to read an entire book wondering if they're pronouncing the main character's name correctly.] 2350/1 believes her name is Tabitha Smith and she’s a psychic mutant with no-mind who fires balls of light from her palms. [No need to hyphenate "no-mind."] [Also, if she can fire balls of light from her palms, she should have no trouble proving it if the authorities are skeptical.] Placed under extraordinary rendition and taken to a black site called ‘The Ranch’, Hilary Martinez, a CIA analyst, is tasked to discover the truth. [The truth about whether 2350/1 is a psychic light-ball firing mutant?] [So the FBI has turned the case over to the CIA?] [I'm worried that you mean 2350/1 is placed under extraordinary rendition and taken to the Ranch, though you've said it was Hilary Martinez this was done to.] [Whichever you mean, I recommend not using the term "extraordinary rendition." Just say she's taken to a black site called the Ranch for testing or interrogation or whatever.] [We don't need the name of the CIA analyst.] 

Is 2350/1 a saint, or a psychopath? [Is there any reason to believe she's a saint?] 

And did she destroy a cult, or was she its victim? [If there are thousands of suicide bombers trying to kill one victim, and the "victim" is the only survivor, they've set a new bar for incompetence.] [Also, if cult destroyer and cult victim are the only choices, I think you need to mention the cult sooner than this.] 

“2350/1” is 98,450 words of science fiction, and the first novel in the D$9 series. [Well, if it's science fiction, I guess we can assume she can shoot balls of light from her palms.]


Notes

I don't get why the lone survivor of an explosion is suspected of being a drug kingpin named Rachel Kent. I could see suspecting her of being the bomber if she wasn't physically injured. Do they have photographs of Rachel Kent? Dental records? And if that is what they believe, I don't see why they think that's a case for the CIA instead of the DEA.

When one person survives a plane crash they don't zip her off to some black site for experimentation. Do they think 2350/1 survived because of her Supergirl invulnerability or her Invisible Girl force field? 

If 2350/1's memories were wiped, where did she get the idea she was Tabitha Smith?

This is mostly setup. Basically, When the lone survivor of an explosion in a cultist megachurch is found to have had her fingerprints burned off with sulfuric acid, the FBI suspects she's a criminal. Just when they've settled on drug kingpin Rachel Kent as the woman's identity, she starts firing lightballs at them from her palms. They quickly adjust their assessment and declare she's the Scarlet Witch.

That's enough setup, and leaves more room to tell us what happens, preferably showing more of the science fiction aspects.

Also, lay off the one-sentence paragraphs.



7 comments:

Tk said...

Yes, do watch those dangling modifiers. The agent will notice. Also check spelling, you have more than one extra hyphen.

I didn't understand what you mean by Tabitha/Rachel having no mind, or why firing balls of light would make her a saint.

I also felt the query left it unclear who the main character is. Is it Tabitha/Rachel? Or is it Hilary? If Hilary, it might be worth trying introducing her much earlier in the query and giving a sense of her as a character.

Anonymous said...

Considering this has a lot of details, it manages to be vague.

What problem is being solved in the book? Rachel/Tabitha's identity? Who blew up the church? Something else? If it's all that and more, pick the main problem/issue/question that gets solved.

Who does the solving? R/T? Hilary Martinez? A team of people? Chances are this person is your main character.

Give us three sentences explaining what the problem is, who the MC is, and how the two are connected.

How does the person go about solving the problem? What's the plan, the obstacles, and the new plan to deal with the obstacles? a.k.a. what happens in the book? Give us another few (max 6) sentences explaining this. Leave off the final resolution (though you can include them getting to that point).

You can also include a sentence with when and where.

Also, is Hilary related to Zack? It would explain the government connection on his homicide cases.

AlaskaRavenclaw said...

The way this is written, you're trying to make us feel excited and mystified, and you're only succeeding with the latter. The problem is we don't know why a megachurch should have blown up leaving one survivor who's suspected of being anything other than a victim.

Presumably someone blew up the church with thousands of people inside it, a crime beside which mere drug smuggling seems pretty mild. But then you switch to a drug cartel. Drug cartels sell drugs. They're not known for blowing up buildings. But then it's balls of light, and extraordinary rendition (which is a phrase used for the CIA's less-than-adorable habit of sending terror suspects to be questioned in countries where torture is legal, a strategy that hasn't AFAIK been used on drug smuggling suspects).

What's really important here? Who's the main character, what challenge does she face, and what does she try to do to overcome that challenge? Tell us this in simple sentences that seek to inform, not to astonish.

Also, now would be a good time to learn about dangling modifiers, before you proceed any further in your writing career.

Placed under extraordinary rendition and taken to a black site called ‘The Ranch’, Hilary Martinez, a CIA analyst, is tasked to discover the truth.

Officially numbered 2350/1, the FBI suspect she’s called Rachel Kent, [First of all, they suspect she is Rachel Kent. Also, you're saying the FBI is officially numbered 2350/1. I assume you want to say "Officially numbered 2350/1, she’s suspected by the FBI of being Rachel Kent"], a top-level member of D$9, an international drugs cartel embedded deep on the dark net.


Both of these sentences begin with a descriptive phrase (aka a modifier) set off by a comma. The comma, in both cases, is followed by the subject of the sentence. The subject of the sentence is not the person whom the phrase was intended to describe. Thus, the modifier is said to "dangle."

Now that you know what they are, I would suggest you go through and root them out of your manuscript.

AA said...

I agree that not knowing how to pronounce certain symbols is a turn-off.

Obviously you don't mean she has no mind. You are using “no-mind” to mean something your reader isn't in on. It's confusing.

I, too, got confused as to whom was being extraordinarily renditioned. Boy, that's an awkward phrase! It must have been Rachel, not Hilary, right?


“tasked to discover” This doesn't seem right. “tasked with discovering” is better.

“Is 2350/1 a saint, or a psychopath?” Why can't she be both, or neither? We don't have enough information about her at this point to form an opinion.

“And did she destroy a cult, or was she its victim?” Again, these are not mutually exclusive. I could be a victim of a cult, then decide to destroy it to keep them from victimizing anyone else.

“I don't get why the lone survivor of an explosion is suspected of being a drug kingpin named Rachel Kent.” Nor do I. You haven't made it clear.

SB said...

"Is a super-church the same as what is commonly called a megachurch?" No, it's a church for superheroes (or supervillains, if they're in the process of reforming).

"One person survives: a young woman, her memory wiped by the bomb-blast and her fingerprints unreadable, likely removed deliberately with sulphuric acid." Why is her memory loss attributed to the blast but her fingerprint removal assumed to be deliberately inflicted?

I had to google "extraordinary rendition", which it looks like is the long form of extradition, but while I've heard of extradition, I've never heard the longer form before. Even if technically correct, you probably want to use the more common/simpler term to confuse fewer people. (Someone please correct me if these aren't the same thing.)

Seriously pick names/titles that can be easily pronounced and remembered. My eyes would glaze right over a book with a bunch of numbers for a title.

Your uses of the words "super-church" and "cult" make me doubt whether you know much about churches or cults. For one thing, as EE pointed out, "super-church" isn't really a term anyone uses. For another, cults usually exist either as small, under-the-radar societies within a larger society (in which case, they'd not have a megachurch of their own) or as the dominant force in a tiny, isolated community (which it doesn't sound like this is, but you don't really describe the setting, so if that is what it is you might want to describe the initial setting a bit more). Either way, if there's a cult and it's important to the story, you definitely should mention it sooner.

sammo said...

thanks for your comments, all. am off now to self-flagellate. seems only fitting...

Anonymous said...

Just eavesdropping, having twit-erated to this insane blog from the more intensely insane Hannah Rogers "I'm a Hot Bot posing as a real bitch website attempting to see what idiot authors actually send me a one-liner" website. But, having been hypnotized in one simple session of reading, and given that I'm susceptible to suggestion, I'd like to ask a favor.

Since the author of 2350/1 is so obtusely unaware of the preposterous content of her creation that it is likely that she (he-she?) identifies herself psychologically (meaning pathologically) with her protagonist, it is also quite likely that she can be manipulated as easily and as definitively as this manuscript is incoherent.

My long-winded question is: can I borrow Rachel/Tabitha/2350-1/Alien Hairy Palmed Lightballs or whomever she is in real life? I'd like to contract her to blow up the "super-church" (yes, stupid, it is actually called a Mega-church and even these pagan-sadist "let's abuse the poor insane author like we were having sex with her brain" morons here know that) cult that had me twit-erated for 30 years (actually I was always on the outs attempting to correct them even to the degree I went and got a degree in theology in their degree-less world, but conversely I never seemed to get smart enough to leave). There's a lot of people I'd like to send to the next universe/heaven/oblivion or whatever is really there.

And since having prior knowledge of the evil revenge plot beforehand I could also happen to be the only survivor, um....like maybe wearing a Kevlar bombsuit and pretending I just got back from Afghanistan or something and hadn't had time to change clothes (these people will believe anything) or something, and then...then...then I think I could finally feel safe enough to tell people my real identity which I'll reveal that in the next installment. It's time for some delicious "self-flagellation." I usually do it while sitting at my computer writing my own masterpiece or browsing blogs about and pics of John Stamos, the finest CIA/MI6/Trump for President Campaign double-agent/operative to ever be my pleasure of being a field officer..(ack...I'm getting winded)...handler... of.

2351/1B signing off.