Sunday, August 06, 2006

Face-Lift 147

Guess the Plot


1. To save her family, Liliana must visit the mysterious "Forget-Me-Knot"--a domain ruled by the Three Fates. But her family doesn't even like her that much, and the feeling is mutual. Will she even bother?

2. A routine trip through a wormhole goes hideously wrong for a starship commander who finds himself trapped in a knot in the space-time continuum. He escapes, only to return to a universe where his very existence has been forgotten.

3. Delilah Eubanks gave her true love, Sam Thompson, a lock of her braided hair before he left for the civil war, union side. When Delilah's Confederate daddy finds out, there's more than one war raging in the South.

4. It looked like a preppy Ralph Lauren tie, but the magic Forget-Me-Knot made sure Wendell would not remember the worst night of his life. Unfortunately, his blind date was not so lucky.

5. His crowning achievement destroyed by a young punk with a sword, Gordius of Phrygia spends the rest of his days trying to drink the humiliating memory away.

6. Cynical detective Gert Lassiter is shocked by the death of a young girl, strangled by a daisy chain. Then another body appears, garroted with a tendril of honeysuckle. Who is the serial florist?

Original Version

Dear Agent:

I am seeking representation for my young-adult fantasy novel, Forget-Me-Knot, complete at 80,000 words.

Forget-Me-Knot is about Liliana Boswell, [Makes it sound like a biography.] a bitterly self-sufficient teenager who finds herself in the unlikely position of saving the family and friends who abandoned her in her time of need. [Or of not saving them, to which I hope she gives serious consideration.] Orphaned, torn from her home and best friend Rory the day of her mother’s funeral, she is forced to live in the stifling atmosphere of her father’s family. [Was this her time of need? Because it sounds like she's moving in with family, not getting abandoned by them.] To survive for the next ten years, she must learn to suppress her ebullient nature and contend with her distant cousin Adam, who hates her virulently. [Ten years? A self-sufficient teenager is going to live ten years with people she doesn't like? I give it four years, tops, and then she's out of there.] Her life falls apart again [That was quick; how much time has passed?] when a sudden death, [Whose?] along with the reemergence of characters from her past, [Her parents come back as zombies? Or is it vampires? We've had half a dozen vampire books; it's about time we had a zombie novel.] brings an age-old gypsy curse to light and casts Liliana as a most reluctant heroine.

Aided by Adam, whom she hates, and Rory, now a veritable stranger, Liliana is left to uncover family secrets that have been buried for centuries. [Why does she have to uncover these secrets? Is she in danger? Why is Adam helping? Is he in danger?] From the shadowy Forget-Me-Knot, a domain ruled by the Three Fates, to a 19th century gypsy kumpania (campsite), she works to discover the truth behind the frightening vision that haunts her dreams. Faced with devastating secrets and painful betrayals, she must decide how much is too much to forgive. Liliana’s perilous struggle to save her family brings her to the ultimate realization that by shutting herself from others she has also shut away her own ability to love. [This is all pretty vague. How does she get to the Forget-Me-Knot? Instead of "the frightening vision," why not say, "the vision of bloodthirsty sharks," or whatever? It didn't sound like she was shutting herself from others; it sounded like others were shutting her out.]

Although Forget-Me-Knot is my first novel, my writing has been honed by a number of internships for well-known magazines and companies. I am currently attending X University as a double-major in English and Political Science.

Thank you for your time and I look forward to hearing from you.



We need more specifics, or we don't know what's going on. Most importantly (I think):

1. What is going on?
2. How old is Liliana?
3. What does the Gypsy curse say?
4. What will happen if the family secrets aren't uncovered?
5. What's her haunting vision?
6. Are these the Three Fates from mythology? How did they get into this book?
7. What is motivating these characters?

If I had the answers I'd try a revised version.

Forget-Me-Knot sounds a little too clever. More like a romance novel title. And not like something the Three Fates would have had domain over. They were cold, remorseless; it takes a sense of humor to name your domain the Forget-Me-Knot.


braun said...

Serial florist FTW!

lol for realz ya'll

Anonymous said...

virulently. veritable.

I love v words. How about virtual? virgin? vestige? vanity?

For some reason, these jumped out of the original query at me and seemed out of place. fwiw.

Novelust said...

*Is writing a zombie novel*

...It's not ready yet. I'll keep you posted.

McKoala said...

too many adjectives for me...too flowery...too...serial florist.

But seriously, you don't need them. For example, 'hates her' does a nice job, no need for 'virulently'.

Anonymous said...

I was hoping it was 2,3,4, or 6. Sadly, it was one - my least favorite. I just didn't find the premise interesting. BTW, is it YA? I hope so. That might help a little. And before you think me a bitch - I'm generally a softy but I felt that this suffered from too many issues and EE pointed them out beee-U-tiflee with his questions.

Anonymous said...

This query suffers from the lack of a clear starting point. Does the saga start at Mom's funeral and detail the years of angst in Daddy's house? (yawn... even Harry Potter's years under the Muggle thumb are initially covered in a single chapter, with a few telling incidents). Or not until Our Heroine and her hated cousin have to band together to save the family?

Pick one, preferably the latter. Lots of people hate their relatives, so it's hard to make that theme seem original. And, frankly, I'd stop reading if that's what was emphasized in the opening pages.

Leave off the back story from the query. Target Lilliana's quest from the first word:

20-year old (or whatever) Lilliana must band together with her supercilious (or brutish, or hateful) cousin Adam to save their oblivious and uncaring parents from the Doom Of Our Time(tm). A gypsy's curse, a long-lost family secret, and the terrifying Forget-Me-Knot - the maze at the entrance to the dreaded realm of the Three Fates - must all be overcome by ingenuity and gymnastics skills. Along the way, Lilliana learns to appreciate old friends and forge new bonds of family (or to cut off old friends and ruthlessly slice the bonds tying her to those unpleasant kinfolk before she ends up the Norn cauldron along with them).

Sorry, EE, if I'm stealing your job. But this could the kind of book I loved not too many years ago, if only it concentrated on the adventure and less on the navel-gazing.