Monday, May 30, 2016

Face-Lift 1317

Guess the Plot

After the Last Dawn

1. Dawn Dimarconi hates her name. really hates it. And she's going to kill every other Dawn on the planet to prove it.

2. When Jo-Jo finds an ancient book with expositions of black sky spattered with shiny dots, he quests for an answer to the still ball of fire overhead. With a photo of a pink horizon he begins a quest to set the world spinning again.

3. After the last dawn, the demons will be provoked.
After the last noon, the dragons awaken.
After the last dusk, the dead begin to rise.
Now if only Sue can figure out how to put them back to bed.

4. Eerie Filmore always seems to fall in love with girls named Dawn. After his fifth heartbreaking break-up, he decides to become a Tibetan Monk.... Just in time for the End of Days.

5. After he journeys to the end of the world where he finds giant crabs and little else, H.G. Wells's nameless time traveler returns to England, and discovers that Weena is alive, but wounded, somewhere in the future wasteland. Now he must search for her . . . beyond the last dawn.

6. On a cold foggy dawn, Gustav Bouilliard wakes up to newspaper headlines, "The End is Nigh!" When night falls, the Earth stands still. One cannot say whether robots were involved.

7. 2012: Martin has bet all his money on the Mayan Prophecy. The odds against the world ending are 1000:2. But being a pessimist, he’s sure he'll win. When an asteroid as big as Europe hits the world and doomsday arrives, Martin is thrilled. Problem is: where is he supposed to collect his bet … After The Last Dawn ?

8. To avoid her royal destiny (marriage at sixteen), Princess Pegi leaves the palace and travels the world with her were-mutt. Which goes well until they encounter the Truthists, who claim to have the Sole Truth, but that's a lie. If she can't escape these idiots, she's seen her last dawn.

9. Dawn McBally is terrified - a serial killer in her small town has been targeting only women named Dawn. A quick head count reveals she is the last one. Her dilemma: leave town or legally change her name.

Original Version

Dear Mr. Evil Editor,

Once upon a time, a princess escaped a fairytale marriage and roamed as free as a bird - until she encountered a world where minds are caged. [Dump this. It says nothing that isn't said again later, it's in past tense while the rest of the query is in present, and the fairytale opening gives the impression your book is for young children.]

Pegi prefers books to jewels, saves animals instead of hunting or eating them and dreams of experiencing life outside the palace walls. [How many animals need saving inside the palace walls?] She doesn’t want to marry at sixteen, become a crowned-head and spend her time entertaining other crowned-heads. To escape her royal destiny, she does a deal with an evil fairy.

That entails embracing a puzzling curse [Is embracing a curse the same as being cursed?]– she must roam the world looking for herself and she cannot find herself without losing herself. [She was born at the wrong time. In the 60's people willingly roamed the world trying to find themselves. Without even being cursed.] [A deal usually involves both parties getting something. I don't see what the evil fairy gets from this deal.] 

Life on the road is not quite the adventurous romp of Pegi’s imaginings, what with her tendency to tumble into messes and scrapes; and the infuriating company of Kumo the were-dog, a mutt who can turn into a wolf at need. [I don't think were-dog is the right term. It would have to have "wolf" as part of its name to distinguish it from dogs that can turn into bears or lions. And it needs "dog" as part of its name to distinguish it from humans who turn into wolves. And it needs "were" to distinguish it from anything that doesn't turn into anything. By anagramming were-dog-wolf, I've come up with the perfect term: gwelderwoof.] Still Pegi revels in her newfound-freedom [Hyphen not needed.]  – until she witnesses the Truthists in action. Truthists believe they possess the Sole Truth. [So, her wanderings have either taken her to the Middle East or the Republican convention.] [How long did it take the Truthists to come up with their name?] They want to outlaw magic and hunt magical creatures. [Including gwelderwoofs?] [Or should that be Gwelderwooves?  Hoof becomes hooves, but roof becomes roofs, so it's not cut and dried. This shows how important it is when making up words to settle early on how you'll handle the plural form.] In lands under their control, ‘unacceptable’ books are burnt and ‘incorrect’ ideas are criminalized. [This sounds like Fahrenheit 451, which, coincidentally, happens to be the optimal temperature for roasting gwelderwoof.] 

A failed attempt to save a bookseller turns Pegi and Kumo into fugitives. [In this world it's against the law to fail to save a bookseller.] [Weren't they already fugitives? From the royal court or whatever?] They get stranded in a desert and Kumo begins to succumb to a mysterious illness. Pegi needs to save her beloved were-dog, escape the desert [If only she had a were-camel.]  and fathom how to remain free in a world where thinking is unfree. [Can the Truthists tell what people are thinking?] Unraveling the curse might help, but time is scarcer than water and vultures are hovering in expectation of a rare feast. [To a vulture, fresh gwelderwoof is a delicacy.]

After the Last Dawn is a 96,000 words fantasy novel for young adults.


So the lesson Pegi learns is Be careful what you wish for? Staying home, marrying at sixteen, becoming a crowned-head and spending her time entertaining other crowned-heads would have been better than being stranded in a desert, though I doubt that's your point. Does she do anything to change the world she's found outside the palace? Simply fathoming how to remain free in this world isn't the most impressive of goals. What does she want after she gets out of the desert?

As Pegi was reveling in her freedom until she encountered the Truthists, maybe she should limit her roaming to places where the Truthists aren't. Is Truthism a worldwide religion or a local cult?

What are the terms of the curse? First she must lose herself, and then she must find herself, but what happens if she figures out what that means and succeeds? The curse is ended? It's not clear what ending the curse means, since she was basically cursed to do what she wanted to do.


Anonymous said...

I think you left off the kitchen sink, but you may have merely failed to mention it.

This sounds like a collection of random events that all happen to the same character. It might help if it at least sounded more unified.

What/who changes in a way that takes all the events of the story to accomplish, or what goal is reached, or what problem is overcome? In what way is this change/goal/problem important enough for the reader to want to trudge through 96K words? What challenges are overcome in order to effect this change/goal/solution?

IMHO said...

I beg to differ with EE. To a vulture, fresh gwelderwoof is repulsive. Nicely rotted gwelderwoof, now that's a rare feast!

To the author -- the bit with the evil fairy and the curse adds nothing to the query for me, as it is never mentioned again and doesn't seem to affect the outcome. Seems like Pegi could have simply disguised herself and slipped out of the castle. If the curse imposes some sort of limits or obligations, tell us -- otherwise I'd suggest cutting the fairy curse out. It's a bit of a red herring for the query reader.

Why is Kumo's presence infuriating? What is his purpose in the story? Is he Pegi's conscience, like Jiminy Cricket was to Pinocchio? Is he an annoying sidekick who elicits new emotions in Pegi, like Donkey was to Shrek? Show us, don't tell us.

Good luck!

AlaskaRavenclaw said...

Or to put it another way:

Pegi really wants ____. But _______ stands in her way. So she __________. Unfortunately, ________. This means she has to ________.

Tell us that, and leave out everything else.

AA said...

This is an “And Plot.” And Plots are characterized by the terms “and then” and “but then.”

A princess makes (not “does”) a deal with an evil fairy. And then she roams the world searching for herself. And she has a dog. And then she sees some Truthists. And then the Princess and the dog attempt something and fail. And then they become fugitives and then they get stranded in the desert...and so forth.

You need connections and reasons everything is happening. You need “therefores.” “Because this happened, then that happened,” or “This happened, leading to that.”

Why is she traveling with a weredog? Who is he in relation to her?

I agree that the term “curse” makes little sense here. Was she cursed to roam eternally? It's more of a riddle, but what does she get if she solves it? What does the fairy get out of it? The fairy must be helping her for a reason.

How and why does the dog become ill? What are they trying to save a bookseller from? What does   “fathom how to remain free in a world where thinking is unfree” actually mean? And why would an evil fairy give her a riddle that had an actual answer?

You don't have to answer all the questions, just rewrite so that it's clear why things are happening.

Chicory said...

It seems to me that everything about Pegi being a princess, making a deal with the wicked fairy, and leaving home are backstory events. They may cover the first few chapters, but they have little to do with your main plot. (Admittedly, breaking the curse probably helps with the climax, but since you aren't telling us the climax in this query letter, you don't need to foreshadow it.) Try starting where your main story does- with Pegi meeting the Truthists and deciding she has to take them down. Then you can use the space to give more details on how she fails and ends up in the desert.

SB said...

You really need to come up with another name for your dog creature. The first part of the "wereanimal" construction refers to men (or humans), thus the second part refers to the animal they change into. Hence, werewolf, werecat, werebear, etc. Clearly you weren't paying enough attention to Snape's lecture in the third Harry Potter movie. A weredog is a person who can become a dog, not a dog that can become something else. You need a word that combines dog and wolf. Also, it would help to know what kind of dog we're talking about. A toy poodle turning into a wolf would be cool and impressive. A German shepherd turning into a wolf wouldn't really gain anything except a fairly minor cosmetic change. (I'm assuming since the animal is already intelligent/sentient, the difference between tame and wild doesn't really matter.)

"Truthists" is also a pretty bad name, and it immediately sounds like you're satirizing some group of people. And as soon as it becomes clear what group you're satirizing, you've offended all readers/potential readers of that group. The problem with what you've described with this group is that it's not really one group that's like this. Basically all hyper-extremist people of any group are like this. Because trying to control what people think and say isn't an ideology, it's a method that is used to attempt to enforce ideologies, and it's been used by ideologies all over the political/religious/etc. spectrum over the years. If this book reads like you're saying these Truthists are barely-disguised Democrats/Republicans/whatever, it'll immediately start to read like really poor, unsubtle satire. If you want this group to seem like a real threat in this world and not you as the author going after a certain real-world group, you need to give them a specific ideology, not just radical methods, and preferably it's an ideology specific to the world of the story that doesn't have some easy real-world parallel.

CavalierdeNuit said...

So Kumo infuriates her? That's no fun. A beloved dog creature should not infuriate its owner so much. I would make the dog have the personality of an old dirty man and constantly be telling her dirty jokes or something (comic relief), but that's just me.

Sounds like Pegi is a rebellious imaginative princess who wants to find true love and be able to think freely in a world of magic and magical creatures. What Pegi is basically trying to do here is save her kingdom. You could make her estranged husband the bad guy who wants her back in the castle burning books and shooting animals.

So here's a suggestion thanks to Alaska: Pegi really wants to save her beautiful kingdom. But her estranged husband (the king) stands in her way. So she must escape the castle with her magic dog and figure out how to free everyone's minds. Unfortunately, she must fight her husband's army. This means she has to form a magic army to get the kingdom back. And Pegi hates war!

I don't see where a curse from an evil fairy would help anything. Seems better if Pegi simply escapes.

JSF said...

As a card carrying Truthist, Gwelderwoofs are the coolest, but it's I who irritate them by saying their name over and over again, it's so cool. Were-camels are indispensable, especially when you wind up in the desert for whatever reason, or any number of reasons, and you are succumbing to that mysterious illness thirst. You lost me when you wrote she must find herself by losing herself but there is no follow up. It jumps to life on the road which isn't as fun as she thought with messes and scrapes which again are not mentioned. Then we jump to the Truthists and now I'm really confused. But don't let that hold you back, throw in some book burning and criminalized thought. At this point I want the sweet relief the vultures are expecting. Maybe simplify the story arc for the query. The rest can be the minor adventures we encounter while reading the book.