Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Face-Lift 287

Guess the plot

Voice of Darkness

1. Soprano Antoinette Aphrodite LeFay has a voice that can shatter glass. Unfortunately, when she hits the high note in her aria, she shatters every light bulb in La Scala.

2. Girly-girl Alexa Tate lives in New York City and adores Manolo Blahniks. She's also an alien, sent to Earth to destroy mankind. Or to save it; she's not sure which. Maybe the Voice of Darkness knows?

3. Secret Agent Mae Wong and her new hubby are ready for their first night in their new home. But what is that diabolical laughter coming from under the bed? Could it be . . . the Voice of Darkness?

4. A nameless faceless horror haunts pizza guy Sparky Barnes as he races through the dim streets of Newberry in a car full of vipers.

5. PoonTang Jrard might be the one member of Dominion Force too unimportant to kill, but thanks to her gift of The Dark Song, she'll be kicking some serious Blufard butt when the time comes.

6. B'rath N'Hallow is the last in a long line of Shield-Men, charged to protect the island of Norland for all eternity. His life seems plotted for him--until he hears a Voice telling him, "Come inside, Timmy, it's getting dark."

Original Version

Meet Alexa Tate. She's a girly-girl with serious skills - like space-shifting, controlled free-falling, and tracking her prey by scent - who loves red meat and hates blind dates. [Maybe her blind dates would go better if she didn't see her dates as rump roasts.] She lives in New York City, adores Manolo Blahniks and can outrun absolutely anything.
[Even a cheetah? Even The Flash?] [Even while wearing her Manolo Blahniks?]Oh yes, and she isn't human. She's Other. [What with the Others on the TV show Lost, and the movie The Others, calling Alexa's race "Other" may not seem too original. I suggest changing a single letter, making it "Otter." Kids are sick of books about ducks and mice and dogs. Otters are much more interesting, especially otters that are faster than cheetahs and wear Manolo Blahniks. I envision a series of children's books starring Alexa Otter: Alexa Otter's Blind Date; Alexa Otter Cooks a Pork Loin; Alexa Otter and the Missing Manolos. I recommend dropping your project immediately and learning everything you can about otters. This is gonna be big.]

Live Otter Cam

Until recently, Alexa thought her powers were a gift to be used in her own signature style of vigilante justice. Now she's worried that she wasn't sent to save mankind but to destroy it. [What caused her to start worrying about this?] And she wasn't sent alone.

Someone is watching her. Tracking her. Hunting. For the first time in her life, Alexa is the prey and her hunter isn't human. He's Other. [See how much better that would sound if it were Otter?] And he's out for blood. [That's six sentences just to say she's being hunted by another Other.]

Voice of Darkness is a 94,000 word paranormal novel written in the first person perspective of a heroine who regularly kicks ass and takes names. I've enclosed the first three chapters for your consideration. I appreciate your time.



These people who are Other: they refer to themselves as Other? That seems backwards. There's yourselves, and there are others. If the story's told from Alexa's POV, wouldn't she think of humans as Other?

You might want to get more specific about her vigilante justice in the opening paragraph. Maybe start it:

Meet Alexa Tate, a girly-girl with serious skills - like space-shifting and controlled free-falling. Alexa hates blind dates, adores Manolo Blahniks and spends her spare time hunting down criminals the NYC cops can't handle. Oh, and she's also an otter.

That's less listy. That she likes red meat doesn't exactly set her apart from the rest of the population. Otters prefer fish, anyway.

To Evil Editor, it was intriguing to think Alexa realized she was one of a group of Other sent to destroy the Earth, and that she would now try to destroy the other Others to ensure her access to Blahniks. To find that they were hunting her, instead, was less interesting. But maybe that's just me.


Marissa Doyle said...

I want to be reincarnated as an otter.

I really like this idea. But you've got to give us a little more about Alexa and what she wants and how she changes. I find it too vague as it is now...and confusing.

For example: "For the first time in her life, Alexa is the prey" Does that mean she's been running around Central Park in her Manolos eating unsuspecting joggers (I'm having a flashback to Men in Black II)? Please tell us a little more about why we want to care about Alexa.

Alien vigilante otters? Hmm.

Blogless Troll said...

Not sure if you meant shape-shifting, but if it's space-shifting then the Others hunting her were probably hired by the RIAA. Also, not sure if "controlled free falling" means flying, skydiving, or walking.

You say it's a paranormal novel, but it's unclear if Alexa's an alien, a mutant, a ghost, or just weird. Of course, EE's otter solution would clear that up.

This sounds cool, but I think you need more specific info in the query.

Maggie Stiefvater said...

I like the idea too - I thought it was another superhuman thingy until you did that switch and we found out she might be an avenging angel-type. If it were me, I'd bump that info right up to the top in one sentence that tells all. The rest . . . gravy.

Anonymous said...

The other Otter angle notwithstanding, I'm not sure where this story is going or why from this query.

Alexa first thinks her powers are a simple gift, but now she thinks she was sent to mankind by a race with an agenda of some sort? Obviously she's not destroying mankind now (unless everyone in NYC happens to be violating her personal vigilante code), so why does she think free will is no longer hers?

And if she now thinks she was sent to destroy mankind, why would the Others send one of their own after her? Did she screw up their agenda without even realizing it?

An idea of the kind of people whose butts she's kicking may be good to know here, too. Is it secret death-squad-type folk that travel under the police radar, or is it punk kids out snatching purses after midnight?

There just isn't much meat (red or otherwise) to this query. It sounds more like a short story, but you assure us it's 94K words. That's an AWFULLY long car chase scene if the only thing happening is her being pursued.

Maggie Stiefvater said...

I should also mention that life as an Otter is dangerous. My daughter had a family of toy otters, and my dog chewed one of their faces off and amputated the buttocks of another.

I recommend dropping a letter from Other as well, to O Her, the last thing her victims cry out when they open the door and realize who it is.

Anonymous said...

I bet the plot makes perfect sense in the novel but gets a little blurry in the query. Maybe just taking some time away from the manuscript before setting down to rewrite the query would help.

The story itself sounds pretty cool (and I have a chubby nerd's inherent distrust of anything involving shoes that cost more than my monthly car payment.)

I'm also wondering why the Others need to take her down. Is it because she's a vigilante working on behalf of the humans, and that will slow down their human-destroying plans?


Anonymous said...

but if it's space-shifting then the Others hunting her were probably hired by the RIAA

Were you not aware that the RIAA is run by evil alien mutants? I thought that was common knowledge.

Anonymous said...

I wouldn't include that shoe picture in my query. It's ugly for one thing. Plus your query and your book need to be focused on the gripping plot etc.. And even if your main character does have a shoe fetish you need to describe things with an awareness that today's fab footwear will be junk cluttering the back of the closet by the time people read your book.

amy said...

Aren't Blahniks a little played out these days? Those chick-lit books with high heels on the cover have moved from cutesy cliche to willful self-parody.

Surely there are some less faddish consumer fetishes out there. Maybe she adores Hermes scarves? Tiffany charm bracelets?

Anonymous said...

It's about a girl like that and you're all gushy about leather shoes? Do you have any idea why it's not called HARRY POTTER AND THE BROWN OXFORDS?

Anonymous said...

I agree about the term "Other" being over-used - find a new name for the group. It's also true that the humans would be the others in this story.

Is the "vigilante justice" helping humans? Or hurting them? Next sentence makes us think that originally she was supposed to help but may now be directed to hurt. Explain here why - what happened to turn things around?

"She wasn't sent alone" - did she know this in the beginning? Is this a big group sent to help (and then hurt) the human race? WHY? What's the main motivation here? Does she go on weekend shopping trips for Manolo Blahniks the with the rest of the alien girly-girls - or do they just know there are more of their kind elsewhere on this earth? Clarify.

It's unclear why this other Other is out there hunting her now. Did she do something wrong? Say, buy a cheap pair of shoes?

I like the concept, just think the query needs polishing to get the main points across.

Anonymous said...

Am I missing something about The Voice of Darkness?

A sentence is needed to tie the title in.

Anonymous said...

A. You adore real life trademarked stuff on every page of your "paranormal" novel. If the book does well, it will function as great advertising for those products and the owner corporations will reap megabucks from the free publicity you were so generous with. They'll owe you nothing.

B. You decorate the "paranormal" universe of your book with your own fabulous imaginary gadgets and gewgaws. If the book does well, maybe you can get product licensing fees from companies that want to market lines of spun-off trademarked shoes, battery operated light sabers, action figures or whatever.

The savvy author strives for B.

Evil Editor said...

C. You sell product placement rights prior to publication. If Manolo won't cough up the big coin, and Hushpuppy will, Alexa wears Hushpuppies. You rake in the big bucks without becoming identified with a bunch of crap like plastic Others.

Anonymous said...

Imagine crowds of little girls rushing to school carrying Alexa Otter lunch buckets, wearing their Alexa Otter mittens and boots. Could be the biggest fad since Hello Kitty.

Stacia said...

I'm sorry, I have to come back and read tis later. I was transfixed by the adorable shoe.

Dave Fragments said...

Nameless, faceless villains are always a tough sell. Villains are excellent characters in a novel when they are flawed people with good intentions.

I never watched LOST, so I won't comment on the discussion about how it reveals its villains and secrets. Apparently, LOST is good at keeping secrets from the viewers. Secrets can be kept from your audience, but when you finally reveal the truth, you had better make sure that you don't sound like "it was retired General Mustard's specially-trained baboon in the Library with an ancient, Neanderthal ice pick and curare while the family had tea with the queen."

However, the author has a nice start with a "vigilante" discovering that she is being used for cross-purposes. Now, there must be more to this lady than her ability to run around in high heels. If you watched the latest remake of King Kong, you know that the heroine not only tamed the beast, but at the end of the movie, after running all over NYC, her sequined gown was still sequined and un-ripped, her heels were still intact (she climbed ladders in them) and she tamed the beast with her smile and a kind word. If Kong can have a three-dimensional ladylove, so can your novel.

More about nameless faceless villains and groups of characters named "others" ...
And there is a mistake by saying she’s “Other”- - “and her hunter isn't human. He's Other.” That means she isn’t human or has inhuman powers and what does that leave the reader? The protagonist of your story is an alien, so is the villain, and why do we care about the humans involved? I dunno. Does the reader have a stake in their fight? No, not really. The world can end tomorrow, if you believe in the rapture or the Second Coming. Judgment Day (from the deity) occurs everyday. So why should we worry about a few alien Others?
Do you see my point?

Anonymous said...

Dave, I think you made your point about "nameless faceless villains", but you used WAY too many words to say it. Your comment was 329 words. You could say it in half that.

Your paragraph about LOST was unnecessary character description and should be destroyed. The reference to King Kong falls flat and serves no real purpose. Cut it.

You've got the basis of a good comment, but it's flabby. Keep working on it. It will be painful, even traumatic, but it will be a better comment when you pare it down.

Anonymous said...

I guess I don't really know what a girly-girl is, because other than the Blahniks, I'm not seeing anything in Alexa's thoughts or deeds that really strike me as girly-girl-y.

shaded-lily said...

If this Otter chick adores Manolo Blahniks, I hope the nameless, faceless villain DOES get her materialistic *ss.

However, I was really intrigued by that one throwaway line about "she's worried that she wasn't sent to save mankind but to destroy it." THAT sounds like an interesting development.

Twill said...

Okay, so you need to take the picture of the shoe and put a bright green foot in it.

Wouldn't that say it all?

Anonymous said...

I read "Otter" I think of Eric "Otter" Stratton from Animal House.

Man, I miss John Belushi.

- Britbeat

Brenda said...

This isn't written in present tense, is it? Just wondering...

I don't like Other either. And I don't like the Manolo aspect. Of course, I'm currently reading THE MANOLO MATRIX, so I could be just a little over-Manolo-ed, but maybe there's something else you could use instead?

Chick lit paranormal isn't my usual thing though, so...