Saturday, June 21, 2008

Face-Lift 535

Guess the Plot


1. By day he's an entrepreneur hunting business deals. By night, John Faustus tears the flesh of those he hunts. Hey, it's not personal; it's just business. But will John change his ways when he learns he's gotten another werewolf pregnant?

2. Under the light of the full moon, Rod undergoes a horrifying and painful transformation, losing his humanity and replacing it with claws, teeth, fur, and a lust for blood, in a story unlike anything else ever writ-- What do you mean it's been done before? Crap.

3. Joel Van Sandt, trucker, specializes in dangerous jobs. If it's corrosive, flammable, or just plain nasty, he and Werewolf, his customized Peterbilt, have hauled it. He's ready to retire when Hank, an old friend, asks him to make one last delivery of nitro to a coal fire. Is this the end for Werewolf? Or will its last haul be a final victory?

4. When you hit puberty, you start growing hair in all kinds of places, but not as many as Jason McEwe. At first, it's kind of fun being the hairiest boy in school, but then the prettiest girl Jason has ever seen takes notice of him. Suddenly, Jason's no longer so keen on being the school mascot and is looking instead for a full-body electrolysis salon.

5. Werewolves, weredingos, werecats: it's a new world out there at night since the virus that turns creatures into hairy monsters has taken over. Sarah doesn't know it yet, but she's just inherited an amulet that will protect her and a silver bullet factory that will make her the heroine of her time--and rich beyond her wildest dreams.

6. Kiki has a problem. Every full moon, she hopes and prays things will change--that she'll be healthy, normal, and finally happy. But every month, to her horror, she stays human. Tired of being left out of the pack, Kiki decides to integrate into normal society. But can a girl used to identifying potential mates by smell handle clubbing and college?

Original Version

Dear Editor/Agent,

John Faustus takes the deal. He can live but in return he will be host to a psychic entity. The entity gives him women, wealth, and power, but it it will control him, will change his memories and even change him physically. By day he is an entrepreneur hunting business deals. At night he tears the flesh of those he hunts. John Faustus has become a werewolf. [A rich, powerful, oversexed werewolf. It was worth it.]

For a while he excuses his actions, abetted by the werewolf's changes to his memories. But as parasite and host learn about each other, they increasingly come to oppose one another. John defies the werewolf, [I thought John was the werewolf. (See final sentence of previous paragraph.)] though he suffers for it. John also forms a bond with another werewolf who seems to be a salvation for him. But Vali drives her away, pregnant with John's child. [Vali? Who's Vali?] John continues to gain power but is universally distrusted. [You gotta expect a little distrust when you spend your nights tearing flesh.]

The war goes to a new level. [War?] John enters the werewolf's [Which werewolf?] otherworld of an endless black sea. The corpses of all those Vali [You keep mentioning that name.] has killed through a centuries float in formation as earth gathers and shifts like clouds around them. Here John learns more about the werewolf, and knows he must stop Vali, the original werewolf.

John Faustus ties up loose ends in this world [He makes out a will, puts his house on the market and pays off his credit cards. Do we really need to know that?] before reentering the otherworld for a final confrontation with the werewolf [Which werewolf?] which one of them, perhaps neither of them, can survive.

Werewolf is a 75,000 word dark fantasy. My previous works include seven books. [If these are published, give details. (Also, why don't you have an agent writing your query letters?) If they're unpublished, they aren't worth mentioning.] I enclose synopsis plus sample. I look forward to hearing from you.

Yours Sincerely


Referring to the psychic entity/parasite as the werewolf is confusing. You've already got John, who has become a werewolf, and Vali, the original werewolf, and the pregnant werewolf. If the psychic entity were actually a werewolf, it wouldn't need Faustus. It would just tear flesh.

Do Vali and the pregnant werewolf also have psychic entities in them?

How can Faustus hope to win a confrontation on a world that's an endless black sea? You can do the dog paddle only so long.

Are your werewolves full mooners, or nightlies? If Vali's been killing nightly for centuries, he's got over 100,000 corpses floating in formation in a sea. You have to admire the patience he must have to keep that going.


Anonymous said...

Oh my gosh, someone please write #6.

Whirlochre said...

There are some good turns of phrase in this, and overall it hints at something interesting, but if mixing metaphors is a bad thing, mixing your werewolves is worse, and, like EE, I'm struggling to figure out which lycanthrope is which.

I like the implied fantasy element, and the idea that whenever Faustus experiences a Fur Moment, he's actually doing battle with another entity rather than suffering the worst kind of dualist's nightmare.

Detail your wolves clearly and explain the seven books (or not) and you may have something, but in its current incarnation, this query is too confusing to be an instant hit.

Sarah Laurenson said...

Interesting premise. Confusing query. It's like you edited it down just a little too much and left out a couple important details.

A few typos.

has killed through a centuries

I enclose synopsis plus sample

Dave Fragments said...

Yeah, GTP# 6 deserves a book with scratch and sniff inserts. I mean like, Laura Esquivel used recipes in one novel and opera in another. Brooks and Dunn included a CD. An "I'm not a werewolf" novel with a scratch and sniff card could be the next big thing.

As for the query...
a) anyone named "Faust" will make a deal with the devil in one form or another. I might call the name "cheesy" but ANGEL HEART used Louis Cypher for the prince of Darkness and that wins the ultimate cheesy award for cliched names. So cheesy that one may never refer to anything else in the world as cheesy (unless it contains macaroni).

b) I too am confused as to whether the villain is a psychic entity, an infectious agent, or a parasite. Is it a mass of energy that take control of the human body? Is it a trill (think star trek)? Is it a germ or some intelligent virus?

c) The other world of darkness suggest that this creature is an extension of an alternate reality, or a spirit world. That's so sci-fi. It's the Multi-verse of the new Quantum Physics Universe.

Well, how does this help the writer? It doesn't of course, but it gives me a chance to eat breakfast and drink caffeine before I have to face writing something today. Or washing the stinky laundry... I'm sure it all works in the novel. The query isn't focused and is creating confusion.

John Faustus wants wealth, power and love. When a psychic vampire, Vali, offers to give him all three if only (he/she/it) can possess his body, he takes the deal.

But the bargain isn't what it seems. John turns into a werewolf and in the human world, he kills with reckless abandon. In the vampire world, he impregnates Vali, creating the spawn that will destroy both worlds {really? maybe?}.

Regretting his bargain, John Faustus struggles to find a way to escape the psychic clutch of the vampire and return to his human existence. the alternative is perpetual enslavement to the vampire and death for the human race.

Something like that... It's Faustus' struggle. Tell us about his story. Make it hot and sexy.

EB said...

Faustus. You've got to write a helluva story to live up to that name.

Julie Weathers said...

But can a girl used to identifying potential mates by smell handle clubbing and college?

I think a woman should always identify potential male mates by smell.

Lagerfield? Mmm, yes. Why hello, mate.

Robin S. said...

I 'got' and enjoyed the Faustian deal with the devil/werewolf, and I like the basic premise of the book- a kind of Jekyl and Hyde/Faustian combo plan that could work really well.

That's all I really know - and can't reasonably contribute to your query inquiry, as this isn't my strong point. But I do like the possibilities with this story line, which is as old as time and never gets old, if told well, because it's part of the ongoing story/myths that remain meaningful to us.

I'd like to know a little more about the 'otherworld of an endless black sea', and what that means, concretely.

EE, you were on fire -

[You gotta expect a little distrust when you spend your nights tearing flesh.] was my favorite of a long line of good lines.

Thanks - brightened my day, and I needed that to happen.

Kiersten White said...

Just let me finish my WIP and I'll get to work on #6. Glad you liked it ; )

Julie Weathers said...

I think EE was pretty much on target with this.

One of the things I am learning is to be careful about introducing characters in the synopsis, query, agentorial quest from hell, is we can't just pop up with characters.

We also have a very short space to summarize our work. Each word has to count and yet we can't assume the reader knows who we are talking about. This was a bit confusing because of the different werewolves and aspects of their world. We don't want the reader to have to go back and try to figure things out. Keep them in your world.

Phoenix Sullivan said...

OK, Author, so this draft fell a little short. That's why you submitted here, though, right? To see what's working and what isn't and to revise and submit again.

Here's what works/doesn't work for me big picture-wise in the query.

I, too, got the Faustian connection, but where Robin enjoyed it, it just made me groan. I like my allusions a bit more subtle.

The psychic entity reminds me of Venom, Spiderman's nemesis. It's a reinvention of Venom, and I'm good with it and with John's relationship with it. Lots of possibilities there. And lots of promise of angst. I like angst. Not so good with the nightly killing sprees because the query doesn't let me in on what the motive for the killings is. Food? Retribution? Sport? Also, read in the right mood, the wording could be saying that at night John goes back and kills those he just made business deals with. Is that what you meant (and why he's distrusted?)?

Now, in your second paragraph, you have John fighting against the nature of the werewolf. Yet he finds salvation in the arms of another werewolf? Isn't that kind of like deciding you don't want to be a serial killer any longer and evangelizing for the Serial Killers Anonymous crowd, then falling in love with an unrepentent serial killer and changing your mind about them? It probably plays out differently in your book, but here it sounds like a huge contradiction.

I have absolutely no idea what's going on in your third paragraph. Is this the world of the psychic entity? Are John and Vali there physically or psychically? What happens if John doesn't destroy Vali? What happens if he does? Are the stakes simply John's freedom or the future of all the other werewolves on earth (see your "war" reference)? And how the heck does earth (in an endless sea) gather and shift like clouds around the corpses?

I look forward to seeing your rewrite!

Great batch of GTPs!

none said...

If you like #6, you might like Bareback (Benighted in the US) by Kit Whitfield.

...before reentering the otherworld for a final confrontation with the werewolf which one of them, perhaps neither of them, can survive.

I think you're missing an "only" in there somewhere ("which only one of them...can survive").

This query looks to have been hastily thrown together; although it won't be rejected out of hand for its various errors, they certainly won't convince the agent/editor that your ms will be any better.

writtenwyrdd said...

If I understood you correctly, he doesn't remember the werewolf parts, but these seem to play into the story in some manner. I'd like that confusion cleared up.

This, especially the name Faustus, is already done. Nothing wrong with already done, or there wouldn't be genre vampire or werewolf stories; however you might want the query show why this story is different. And maybe consider changing the title and the main character's name???

I liked the last GTP. Hilarious. It would be a good story premise.

Wonderwood said...

I agree with the others that the query is somewhat confusing. You might state that Vali is the original werewolf the first time you mention him, I think that would help but won't be a cure all. Take EE's comments to heart and rework this one. And, uh, yeah, you call the guy Faustus, you better have a story that will blow an agent's shoes off.

Xiexie said...

Can I steal #6 from you, Kiersten, cos that seems like a fun deal?

I get the query in the first paragraph and a bit in the second, but after that I'm lost. Like Robin, queries aren't my expertise, so listen to the rest of these minions. They know their shit.

Good luck author! :-D

Kiersten White said...

Go for it, Xie Xie. You'd probably do a better job. Just give me a mention in the credits when you get published.

And recommend me to your agent.

talpianna said...

I too have fallen in love with plot #6. Maybe it could be a writing exercise, and the one who does the best job gets to write the book. (I'm fine with doing the werewolf, but I know NOTHING about clubbing and college these days.)

I can't say this appeals to me at all; but then I've just read what has to be the worst werewolf romance novel ever. You are really scraping the bottom of the barrel when you can't get the wolf behavior right. (In that one, the alpha werewolf is...chosen by a committee!!!!)

There's a fair amount of latitude in werewolf depiction, from human intelligence in animal shape able to control the animal instincts to slavering monster, but you need to have the setup established so the reader knows which one we're dealing with here. I happen to be really interested in wolves, so I've read a lot of books on wolf behavior; but even a less informed reader will at least want to know which cliché you're running with.

batgirl said...

Does the love interest / knocked-up werewolf come into the story again? If not, cut her from the query, but if she does, maybe you should mention that, rather than filling space with descriptions of synchronised-swimming corpses in a black sea?
If Vali is what possesses John, you should probably use that name right away, instead of bringing it in without the connection being clear.