Friday, June 24, 2016

Face-Lift 1320

Guess the Plot

The Crossing: Revision

1. The gripping, dramatic saga of a crosswalk guard, the school he works for, and the children that go there.

2. First they tried walking. Then they tried swimming. After that came a bridge. Read as Sam and his team try, and fail, to cross the river. Now if only they could figure out how a giant man-eating lizard could fit in the shallow river in the first place.

3. Both the Tyrant Ogo on the right bank and the Dictator Fisaille on the left bank are terrible rulers, so Caro ferries doomed souls (aka refugees) both ways across the Vellak river. But when the taxmen demand money, Caro foresees (aka facilitates) an invasion by downriver barbarians.

4. This humorous sequel to The Voyage: Writing will teach you how to murder your darlings, manage your expectations, and, of course, rule the world.

5. After emailing a literary agent the manuscript of his book about George Washington's crossing of the Delaware, titled The Crossing, Bob Thunderpants realizes he shouldn't have relied on Internet blogs for his information, and gets to work on . . . The Crossing: Revision

6. With her planet at war and her uncle trying to kidnap her and force her to kill her parents,  Auraya crosses the bridge that connects her planet to Earth, figuring she'll be safer here. Unfortunately, she ends up in America, where no one is safe these days

Original Version

When 18-year-old Auraya crossed the bridge to Earth, her memories were replaced by the memories of a dead girl. [I thought the one good thing about death was that I could finally forget all the horrible things I can't forget while I'm alive. You're telling me the dead have memories? That even in death I won't be able to forget when I phoned Jessica and told her I worked for U.N.C.L.E. and everyone in the school was laughing at me the next day?] Slowly, Auraya’s real identity returns to her only to reveal a bigger problem--there is a war on her home planet [In sentence 1 her memories are replaced, and in sentence 2 her memories are back. I recommend leaving her memories out of the query, as you don't reveal what effect not having them had on the story anyway.] [Also, there's a bridge to Earth? From another planet? I'm not sure we could even build a bridge to the moon. Although it would be cool if all the planets were connected by bridges so instead of a cramped capsule you could go to Saturn on a luxurious bus. The problem arises when one planet is on the opposite side of the sun from another, because then the middle of the bridge would melt and the vehicles would fall off the bridge into the sun.] because her uncle Mois wants to end her parents’ reign. Auraya, equipped with the unique ability to kill the King and Queen, [When I hear the term "unique ability" I think super power. Like Superman's heat vision or Aquaman's ability to talk to fish. Auraya's on Earth, yet she's Mois's best chance to kill the king and queen?] [Are they the king and queen of the whole planet or of one of the countries fighting in the war?] will be forced by Mois to murder them unless she can remain hidden from him on Earth. [How can he force her to murder them? Either you kill your parents or I'll . . . kill your parents.]

Auraya chooses to suffer through the uncompromising class system that plagues America to keep her parents alive until a group of insurgents--the Revisionists--begin murdering the rich. [The rich in America?] Auraya, afraid that Mois is behind the group, decides to become a Revisionist to try to unravel his plan. [The only thing we know about the Revisionists is that they kill the rich. How does joining them unravel Mois's plan? Do you mean discover or expose his plan?] [Mois's goal is to find Auraya and bring her home, right? How does sending in assassins to kill the rich help?] As the group’s leaders turn out to be enhanced humans, Auraya knows that life on Earth is no longer safe. [When was life on Earth ever safe?] [Is Auraya human?] [So her theory is that Mois, as war rages on his home planet, has sent some of his top people to Earth to kill our rich?]

The Revisionist plan a final world-wide attack to end the class system for good. [Which world are we talking about?] [How many enhanced humans are there?] But when Auraya finds out that her missing brother is alive on Earth, she has to choose between risking her life to find him in the midst of an attack, [Why can't she wait and find him after the attack?] and remaining concealed knowing that it’s the only way to protect her parents. Auraya remembers a piece of her past that she has unknowingly hidden from herself, which reveals the truth behind her real intentions and her part in helping Mois succeed. [That sentence is too vague to convey any meaning.]

THE CROSSING: REVISION is an upper young adult speculative fiction novel with elements of science fiction complete with 82,000 words. It is standalone novel with the potential to be built into a trilogy.


I don't understand the plot. I don't know why the characters do what they do. How can Auraya's parents be invulnerable to all spies, armies, bombs, assassins, etc, but Auraya can kill them? Does she have to get near them to kill them? If so, why would she kill them once she's near them, and away from Mois? We need to know what's at stake and what motivates the characters. Start over.

Actually, the author has sent another query for comparison, so perhaps she did start over. Here it is:

Dear Evil Editor,

After almost dying, 18-year-old Auraya finally remembers that she's a princess from a planet named Losaria. Fourteen years ago she escaped the war on her planet, only to find out that she had to replace her memories and become human to stay concealed. Now, equipped with the unique ability to kill her immortal parents, Auraya has to remain hidden from her deranged uncle Mois, or he will force her to kill them for control of Losaria.

Being Losarian on Earth [You might work in that she's gone to Earth in the previous paragraph.]
means drinking the blood from humans to survive, [How did she discover this?]
but Auraya is not the one killing them; they're killing themselves. America’s unfair class laws cause a group of insurgents, the Revisionist, to begin murdering the rich in protest. Afraid that Mois may be behind the group, Auraya decides to become a Revisionist to get answers.

Auraya learns there will be world-wide attack to end the class system for good. But, when she finds out that her missing brother is alive on Earth, [Is he human, or is he drinking human blood?] she has to choose between risking her life to find him in the midst of an attack, and remaining concealed knowing that it’s the only way to protect the lives of her parents. When it's too late, she realizes that Mois’ plan goes beyond killing her parents, and she remembers a final piece of her past that reveals her part in aiding his cause.

THE CROSSING: REVISION is a young adult speculative fiction novel complete with 82,000 words. It is standalone novel with the potential to be built into a trilogy.

I would say this is better. It's clearer, anyway. It includes some information the other lacked (her parents are immortal, her memories were intentionally erased, the name of her planet, the blood drinking...). "To get answers" is better than "to unravel his plan." On the other hand, there's no explanation for how anyone can travel between planets. And I still don't see how Mois can force her to kill her parents, whether they're immortal or not. Why doesn't she use her "ability" to kill Mois?

I still don't know why Mois would care about the class system on Earth. Maybe he doesn't, in which case I don't see why Auraya would suspect he's behind the world-wide attack. 

The blood drinking isn't a good thing to mention in the query, as it sounds silly. I'm not sure why it's in the book either. How many Losarians are on Earth drinking human blood? Haven't we noticed?


Author said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

You'd do better to call this fantasy so people wouldn't ask awkward question like why does she need to drink blood?

You may need a bit more about your world setup. Is this supposed to be modern America? A dystopian future America? By America do you mean the U.S.? Does America rule the world and that's why there needs to be a world-wide attack?

The only story connection between the insurrection plot on our world and the potential coup on the other seem to be the MC's suspicions. This makes it look like the book may be lacking a cohesive plot. If there are connections, you need to give details.

Remember, this is your agent/editor that you're writing to. You can tell them all the details about how everything ties together to lead to the showdown.

From the description, it also sounds a bit like a polemic. fwiw
Also, I second what EE said.

Author said...

Author again:

I just wanted to add why Auraya becomes a Revisionist. Since she thinks Mois is behind the government, she doesn't understand why he's allowing the Revisionists to have to much power. She wants to become one to try to figure out exactly why they are getting away with so much and how it may connect with Mois.

Evil Editor said...

No one would think there's an actual bridge between planets. However, we're familiar with wormholes, so why not call it that?

You don't need to tell us the answers to our questions, you need to write a query that doesn't inspire us to ask them (and answer a few of them). For instance, now that I know about the sicum flower I have new questions:

If they've been coming here thousands of years, why aren't they cultivating Sicum flowers on Earth? Or if it can't be grown on Earth for some reason, why not bring a big supply with you whenever you visit? For that matter, why not have regular shipments of the flowers from Losaria to supply the Losarians here instead of drinking human blood? You don't have room in a query to explain all this, but if you don't bring up the blood drinking and flowers, we won't ask these questions.

Explain what it's vital for us to understand, and don't bring up stuff that isn't.

Author said...

That is probably the best way a query has been explained to me. I will revise with that information in mind.

Anonymous said...

Hi author,
I have a question: does becoming a Revisionist mean that Auraya will start murdering rich people? How can she avoid killing people while being a member of the Revision Group?

SB said...

I don't think "upper YA" is a thing. Just call it YA. And "speculative fiction" generally means sci-fi/fantasy. Pick whichever of those is most accurate and go with it. Right now it sounds like either you're unaware of the market or you're one of those people who thinks fantasy/sci-fi is somehow childish or uncouth and are trying to avoid saying you've written a fantasy/sci-fi novel. (As a fantasy/sci-fi reader, authors who fit the latter category irritate me and I actively avoid their books. If you're a fantasy/sci-fi author, own it. Trying to pretend like your story isn't genre is insulting to readers who enjoy genre stories.)

IMO, the query really needs to answer the following questions:
1. What special power does this girl have that makes her the only one who can kill her parents?
2. Why does her uncle believe he's capable of forcing her to do so?
3. Why does she suspect her uncle is behind the Revisionists?

I also don't think you can refer to America's class laws without giving some explanation of how this America is different from actual America. Usually when you set up an alien world and then Earth/America, without any further explanation the reader is going to assume you mean an Earth/America pretty much like the real one. What you seem to have is an alternate Earth/America which is different enough to need a little more explanation (because it's essentially a second alien world to us).