Thursday, May 08, 2008

Face-Lift 524


Guess the Plot

Shadows

1. Shanna Grier was killed in an alley. Now she seeks justice for her killer, but can she manage it in her new incarnation as the killer's shadow?

2. Overcrowding in the city of P'ertad is causing developers to build taller and taller buildings. But in the world of Talkinnon, demons can rise from Hell through shadows that linger in one place too long. One young mage thinks he has a solution: giant mirrors. But will the vampire king allow it?

3. In the ultra-competitive world of professional shadow puppetry, Lance Darkly was the best. But when a new player comes to town, boasting impossibly complex shadow puppets, Darkly must decide--how far will he go to defend his title?

4. Insubstantial. Hidden. Destroyed by direct light. It's not easy being a shadow. But when Bronwen and Clive bump into each other on the street and accidentally exchange shadows, it gets a whole lot harder. Disoriented and picking up bits of each-other's personalities, they must reverse the exchange before their shadows take on lives of their own.

5. When shadows unionize and go on strike, the total lack of shade leads to a massive global warming disaster. The planet seems doomed -- until scab clouds show up and save the day.

6. Jon was transformed into ghost ninety years ago, but he's hung around Earth performing secret missions in his shadow existence. When a chance to become a human again arises, he is thrilled--until he realizes his ghostness is needed to end a dispute.


Original Version

Dear Super Agent,

Jonathan Clarke has everything a seventeen-year-old boy could want—except for a beating heart.

Transformed against his will, Jon has endured ninety years on Earth as a ghost, performing secret missions, advancing his magical skills, and staying close to the human side of things. When he meets Annie and discovers she can touch him, his dull existence [If I had magical powers and went on secret missions I wouldn't consider my existence dull.] is turned upside down. Annie has the power to change him back into a human, something Jon desperately wants.

His transformation is put on hold when a centuries-old rebellion escalates [A centuries-old rebellion? Listen, if you've been rebelling for centuries and you've gotten nowhere, it's time to give up and pay the tax or whatever. Also, if you're in charge and some entity rebels against you, and you're incapable of quashing the rebellion over a period of centuries, your military forces suck. Boxer Rebellion: over in two years. Whisky Rebellion: three. American Civil War: four. And your rebellion's been going on for centuries? And now it's escalating?!

Rebel 1: We've been rebelling for three and a half centuries. I think it's time.

Rebel 2: Time to give up?

Rebel 1: Time for a troop surge.]

and Jon's ghostly powers are needed to stop it. [Why didn't he use his ghostly powers to stop it 90 years ago? Do other ghosts have the same powers? What can a ghost do that a wizard can't?] He's recruited by both sides; [Why have they waited ninety years to recruit him?] Annie wavers in her decision to help him, and his closest friends may be his biggest enemies. If Jon can't find a way to overcome the dissenters, [Who are the dissenters?] he may never become human—because he won't exist at all. [Why won't he exist? What are his ghostly powers? Who's dissenting about what? Who are his closest friends? Give us some specific information instead of hinting at this and that.]

Be prepared to think of ghosts in a completely new way [As wizards.] in SHADOWS, a young adult urban fantasy novel, complete at 100,000 words.

If you would like to consider SHADOWS, I'd be happy to forward the manuscript to you.

Thank you,


Notes

It's not clear what is meant by Jon has everything a 17-yr.-old boy could want. Like what? What's he got?

For whom has Jon been performing secret missions? One of the two sides in the rebellion fiasco?

It feels like you're trying for a hook with every sentence instead of telling us a story.

16 comments:

Whirlochre said...

I liked the start of this but then it unravelled.

If this is set on earth, I can't see where the centuries-old rebellion fits in — unless this is the machanism for your revellation on What's New About Ghosts.

Youve fed the ghost idea into a black box, but not been specific about what the black box does.

Also — five words is long enough for most of today's young adults, let alone 100,000.

I would love to think of ghosts in a completely new way — but your haunting needs to be more overt.

writtenwyrdd said...

It sounds like he didn't die, he was transformed, so the term ghost put me off. Wraith, shadow or something else that doesn't say "I'm dead" might work better in this query.

This query doesn't make me want to read your story because it makes it seem like a love story where girl rescues boy. The rebellion isn't the focus of the query, in other words; the girl/boy interaction is.

So rewrite this with the focus of the story getting more attention. (At least, I assume dealing with the rebellion is important, seeing as it's gone on so long.) And centuries do seem like way too long for a rebellion. I could see oppression lasting that long and then a rebellion...is he working for the rebellion then?

Good luck with this.

Robin S. said...

I can't give any advice on queris- but the story sounds like a fun read.

This made my day:

Rebel 1: We've been rebelling for three and a half centuries. I think it's time.

Rebel 2: Time to give up?

Rebel 1: Time for a troop surge.]

Ulysses said...

"It's not clear what is meant by Jon has everything a 17-yr.-old boy could want. Like what? What's he got?"

When I was seventeen, I only wanted one thing... and this doesn't sound like THAT kind of story.

Dave F. said...

I don't read much of the YA fantasy stuff. I have a logic problem with this. The first line, which is a good hook says:
...has everything a seventeen-year-old boy could want—except for a beating heart.

And then right after: Jon has endured ninety years on Earth as a ghost. He's had 90 years to watch human interactions and he still acts like a 17 year old?

Was he forced into involuntary servitude?

Anonymous said...

Ulysses - yes, exactly. And my theory that EE is a woman is bolstered by that response, as surely no one who was ever a seventeen-year-old boy could forget that.

Then again, maybe EE emerged full-grown like unto Athena.

- Yank in Scotland (hoping this comment gets through; previous ones haven't)

Sarah Laurenson said...

Why do I feel like I've seen this one before - and here on this blog? This is going to bug me for a whole minute or so.

Was this on the blog already in a different form? Maybe it's the beginning I'm thinking of, but I thought it was the query.

*sigh* Where's my caffeine?

Sorry but the mystery in my head has taken over all other thoughts.

pacatrue said...

I'm going to offer a trivial suggestion, which is that I didn't like Jonathon's description as a boy. [I prefer Human-Sans-Ovary.] Without a gender/sex specific context, the word conjures up childhood, but I don't think any 17 year old, especially one who's been a ghost secret agent for 90 years, would think of himself as a boy. And assuming he's matured a bit in those 17 years, he mentally isn't. Moreover, we don't need the word "boy" for gender info, because we can assume that from the name.

How's that for nitpickery?

susannah said...

I like the idea of this story and think the protagonist has some cool challenges to face. However, some questions:
- Is Jonathan living the life of an average 17-yr-old: soccer practice and AP Bio interspersed with secret missions? Or is he living a totally adult/ghost-y life in the body of a teenager? A detail or two in sentence #1 regarding his day-to-day life would be cool.
- Is Annie also supernatural, or is this a "true love saves you" sort of situation? If is supernatural, how is she involved in the rebellion?

I don't think you need to get too deep into the specifics of the rebellion, but more specifically showing why J is the linchpin would be good, imo.

Good luck with it--I think it sounds intriguing!

Julie Weathers said...

"When I was seventeen, I only wanted one thing... and this doesn't sound like THAT kind of story."

I agree. I didn't see cars mentioned anywhere.

Julie Weathers said...

I think this could be an interesting story, but EE, as usual, hit the nail right on the head with it.

It has some flaws, which could be corrected. I hope you can work this out.

talpianna said...

Or beer, Julie.

Jeb said...

I was hoping it was GTF #4. That's got a lot of 'cute-meet' and romantic comedic potential.

Call me sexist if you must, but that first line leads this query in entirely the wrong direction.If he has everything a 17-year-old male could want (and we all, even the women, know what that thing is) why would he be even remotely interested in giving up all that ghostly sex to be transformed back into a human boy who will likely not get any - much less any quality tail - for another ten years?

I'd be interested in a few specifics of Jon's activities, so I'll know what he's potentially giving up. Also, in 90 years, he must have at least heard of the ghostly rebellion; what brings it home to his particular talents at this particular time?

"After 90 years as a ghost, Jon is tired of walking the fine neutral line between the upstart ____'s and the ruling _____'s . A chance to return to his human self is a dream come true, even if that human self is a 17-year-old boy with zits who won't see a bared female breast for another ten years.

But that dream is suddenly put on hold when....."

It's so easy to do this for other people's queries. Sigh.

BuffySquirrel said...

Yeah, cos no seventeen-year-old woman could possibly want that.

Which presumably explains why the seventeen-year-old boys were left wanting it.

haha

Bonnie said...

Julie -- LOL, yeah, when I was seventeen, I wanted a yellow Barracuda with mag wheels and the 426 hemi :)

pacatrue -- you want to be careful assuming anything about the gender attached to a kid's name these days. I don't think I've met a girl Jonathan yet, but it's only a matter of time.

author -- I won't repeat what the others have said; it sounds like a good idea but needs some work.

BuffySquirrel said...

What the hell do you mean, "even the women"? Is this now a 1970s retro blog? I hope not, because I don't want to go through that again.