Monday, July 31, 2017

Face-Lift 1361

Guess the Plot

First Shadows

1. The planet XK-50 lay dead in darkness until the birth of a new star brought light for the first time. When Dr. Cushner and his crew go out to study the phenomenon, they discover SK-50 wasn't as dead as they thought.

2. Erick runs a shadow organization of teens dedicated to ending modern slavery. Sabrina has a tarot-reading business. They never meet, but if they did, the electricity would be as amazing as between Bella and Edward. In Twilight?

3. The First is the leader of Aruliassus III. His shadows follow him around and study how he works so they can become his sub-rulers on Aruliassus IV. But can they resist bumping the First off and taking control of all the Aruliassusses?

4. Melanaise needs the first shadows from a total eclipse to complete a love potion that will make a prince fall in love with her. She has two problems: a) all three moons were recently destroyed by a rival sorcerer, and b) where's she gonna find a prince who isn't a prat?

5. Every spring, Billy Groundhog dreams of being the first in his den to see his shadow. But he never awakens from hibernation until mid-July. Will Billy ever get his picture in the papers and become a hot chick magnet?

6. Callie and Betsy are sisters, both very dead. They've been playing with the other ghost kids in the cemetery, and under the watchful eye of old witch Denbow they've learned a lot about being good little spooks. With Halloween fast approaching, they're tearing their shrouds so that they can graduate by casting their . . . first shadows.

7. In this sequel to Point, Line, and Thinker, multimedia 2D and 3D renditions are conceptualized within an historical framework of poly-chromatic perspectives and the translucence phenomenon. Includes the psychological impact of dysphoric elisions.

8. When dawn breaks, optimists see the first light. And pessimists see the first shadows. And vampires. Another saga featuring a disengaged teen girl and a sexy undead fellow.

9. Puppeteer and clown Bert Bobo has hit rock bottom. His wife has left with the kids, and he's surviving on dry cereal. When he finds a box with a talking shadow inside, he exchanges his soul, something he thinks he doesn't have, for three wishes. Unfortunately, he was wrong about not having a soul.

Original Version

Dear Evil Editor,

Abandoned as a toddler, Erick Holt knows loneliness and grief. Now, on the precipice of adulthood, Erick and his adoptive brother, Ansel RunningWolf, head a secret organization of teens dedicated to ending modern slavery.

When a new state law concerning recently placed foster children goes into effect, they [the teens] see a rise in abductions and out-of-state adoptions. Erick and his team [they] quickly recognize "official interference" with the police[,] and [realize] caseworkers are rapidly becoming [have become] the earmarks [agents] of something more nefarious. [If you won't reveal what the law says, don't bother mentioning it.] 

Suddenly, Erick and The Knowing find themselves in the midst of a silent, but very deadly war; with The Knowing as the target. [Are we supposed to know what "The Knowing" is? If it's the secret organization, you might mention that in paragraph 1.] Erick is doing all he can to keep The Knowing protected and obscure. But is it enough?

When the first death is reported, it could be considered [might have been] an accident. After the next two, Erick realizes they are under attack. [As they earlier found themselves in the midst of a deadly war, Erick should already have known they were under attack.] Is it too late? 

Eighteen-year-old Sabrina Lorcan is about to fight the battle of her life. Oblivious to a sinister plot brewing against her family, Sabrina agrees to relocate her tarot reading business and move back home to care for her younger siblings while her newly divorced mother is at school. Immediately, her world and family are torn away from her. [Are we in the same book?] 

In a race against time, Sabrina caves to the pressure of unfair advantages and illegal politics. A split-second decision could change her life forever. Who can she trust? Can she even trust herself? Or will she lose her family and her life? [This whole paragraph is vague.] [Also, what happened to Erick and The Knowing? Are they connected to Sabrina?] 

First Shadows is a YA Legal/Transgressive Thriller that is complete at 200,000 [85,000] words. It is a coming of age novel that is a delicious blend of Veronica Mars meets [and] Twilight with a dash of Charmed.

The foundation of this book is factual. First Shadows is Book One in the ShadowLight Alliance series. [It's long enough to be the entire series.]

Thank you for your time and consideration.

I look forward to hearing from you,


If you put the word count in the first sentence you'll save agents the trouble of reading the rest of the query.

You  need to focus on Erick or Sabrina. You can mention the other one if you show their connection, but don't abandon the one you choose to be the query's main character.

Half the plot paragraphs end with questions. We prefer answers over questions.


Mister Furkles said...

Rhetorical questions: But is it enough? Is it too late? Who can she trust? Can she even trust herself? Or will she lose her family and her life?

In a 250 word query, you should ask no rhetorical questions. If you insist, then just one at the end. You are not writing movie log lines.

The problem with rhetorical questions is that they turn control over to the reader to speculate and that takes them straight out of the query. Rhetorical questions only work when the questioner can keep control as in a movie trailer.

jcwrites said...

Didn't know "legal/transgressive thriller" was a genre.

Anonymous said...

When your book is long enough to be 2 books and you describe two different plot lines without saying if/how they're related, I wonder if you have a plot and if it makes sense or if there's just a bunch of stuff that randomly happens to characters.

It would be more useful to say what type of facts the book is based on and what those facts are than to say the foundation is factual. Is it based on historic events? If so, what? etc.

Tell us what your MC's (or the story's) goal is
Tell us what obstacles are encountered in achieving this goal
Wrap it up in a way that makes the story sound interesting
Try to keep it < 1 page (this is a bit long)

Good Luck

Anonymous said...

Hi. I googled your book because was interested in the factual foundation, and found book reviews. Does the story you are querying now still include shapeshifters and paranormal elements? From this version, the agent would have no idea about the werewolves and magic mentioned in the reviews. If these have been removed, you might want to take down the earlier versions out there online.

This also made me wonder if your book is already published or self-published? In either case, you should mention this in the letter, because this would affect the agent's selling strategy enough that they need to know up front. The usual advice I have seen is to include the sales figures so far, as well as mentioning how substantive your changes are if this is a revised version.

Wilkins MacQueen said...

"First Shadows is a YA Legal/Transgressive Thriller that is complete at 200,000 [85,000] words. It is a coming of age novel that is a delicious blend of Veronica Mars meets [and] Twilight with a dash of Charmed.

The foundation of this book is factual."

Maybe I'm nuts but this constant comparison to pubbed books is driving me nuts. Like comparing Seattle Slew to Secretariat.

Evil, is it me or or the submitter folks getting lazy?
My book is like a chocolate cake a with smash of vanilla and some Rocky Road ice cream on the side. Maybe that is what the author thinks but it may not be the truth or what the agent is interested in - a smoothie of sorts.

Get real guys, why is your ms special - comparisons not allowed - IMHO. Make it distinct (the query) which will no doubt flop (in this case) like the ms.As tis one

Sorry, this is just annoying, no blood, sweat or tears here. I'd sure pass. No passion or truth or voice. Sorry author, I do not like being mean - but this just doesn't have any hunger or intrigue for me to even glance at.

Apologize - if this your best, you better get better.

Read the thousands of queries and comments here then ask if an agent would really etc.


Mister Furkles said...

Well, first off, after reading a 200000 word novel, most YA readers will have come of age themselves to be New Adult readers.

Aside from that, I think agents want comparisons of manuscripts to know where it fits in the genre. So, comparisons should not be of the sort here. It is like Twilight, or Veronica Mars, or Charmed--not a blend. OP, just pick one or two that are similar. Your query is not supposed to be like movie hype but a business letter which describe you story in 250 words or less.

Revise and try again.

And, I am not an agent or editor, so others may disagree.

Anonymous said...

Hey, whatever happened to the strange, angelic man?