Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Face-Lift 545

Guess the Plot


1. When Hattie Barnes accidentally walks into an airport men's room in Philadelphia, she has no idea she's just triggered a series of events that will culminate in the assassination of the Prime Minister of Canada. Talk about being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

2. When Joe Minkowski signed up for a new experimental procedure, he was just trying to earn a little extra cash. However, now that he's a "trigger"--a human weapon capable of killing hundreds of people at a time--he must decide what to do with the power he's been given. Especially since he still needs some extra cash.

3. Charged with treason, Ramie Ashdyn faces the death penalty. Not only that; an enemy agent has fitted her with a "trigger" that will make her actually become a traitor. Only Rip Rykus believes Ramie's innocent, but he's beginning to wonder if his judgment is clouded by his feelings for her, feelings Rip thought had died six years ago when he finished turning Ramie into a lethal killing machine.

4. In the city of Necropolis, nothing is as it seems. Zombies roam the streets, vampires rule the night, and werewolves make travel dangerous. When the new head of the NRA is found in rigor clutching his rifle in his cold, dead hands, Detective Paul Fontane knows he's looking at a murder. Figuring out the suspect should be simple, since the victim is also missing his brains. But getting around the People for the Ethical Treatment of Zombies protesters to get a DNA sample won't be easy.

5. Travis "Trigger" Thompson thought he was every woman's dream come true. But when a one night stand leads to a dangerous obsession, he finds himself fleeing from a homicidal ex. Desperately trying to figure out which jilted lover has it in for him, Trigger must discover the truth or find himself . . . triggered.

6. When he fires his rifle at a mountain lion outside his cabin, Pete Chalmers triggers an avalanche that buries the cabin and Pete's family alive. Will help arrive before the food is gone? And if not, which family member would make the tastiest dinner?

Original Version

Dear Evil Editor,

Telepaths don't exist, but try telling that to Ramie Ashdyn. [Better yet, try beaming it into her brain.]

After an enemy agent telepathically assaults her, Lieutenant Ashdyn is framed for treason and imprisoned on the Coalition's flagship to await interrogation and possible execution. [What is it she allegedly did?] She’d love to deny the charges against her and prove her government’s stance on telepaths wrong, but each time she tries, she’s silenced by debilitating seizures.

But she has information the Coalition needs, so they bring in Captain "Rip" Rykus, the man who turned Ashdyn into a soldier. Rykus knows how dangerous his former student is, but he also knows her better than anyone else. He doesn't want to believe she's a traitor, but he can't understand why she won't talk, why she collapses, screaming when he interrogates her,

[Mr. Big: Any luck with the interrogation?

Rip Rykus: No. She collapses, screaming in pain, every time I ask her a question.

Mr. Big: Have you considered not sending 5000 volts of electricity into her body each time you ask a question?]

or why she's trying so hard to send him away. He's desperate to prove her innocence, but with so much evidence against her and no denial of guilt on her part, he's afraid his judgment might be compromised by his feelings for her, feelings that should have died six years ago when she completed her training, feelings that never should have developed in the first place [, feelings that nonetheless cannot be denied any longer, feelings that haunt Rip in his dreams and endanger his men when he daydreams about Ramie as enemy agents telepathically bombard the planet with thoughts of Will Ferrell movies, feelings of love and disgust and disgusting love.]

Time is running out for Ashdyn because the enemy agent did more than link her memories with the neural circuit that registers pain; he also changed her into a sleeper agent and inserted a trigger that will make her fears of becoming a traitor come true. [Why did she have fears of becoming a traitor?]

TRIGGERED is a science fiction romance novel and is complete at 85,000 words. Thank you for your time.



What do you mean "inserted a trigger"? Sent it into her head on a beam of brain waves? Why insert a trigger in someone who's about to be tried for treason? What opportunity will she have to really commit treason? Wouldn't it be better to insert the trigger in someone who won't be in jail, someone who has the trust of the higher-ups, someone with the freedom to do the dastardly things you've programmed her to do?

Have Rip and Ramie been apart for six years? Seems unlikely he would know her better than anyone else if he hasn't seen her in six years.

Rip Rykus seems like a cartoon name. I'm thinking Zapp Brannigan, from Futurama.

We wouldn't mind knowing what she's charged with doing and what evidence they have.


writtenwyrdd said...

This sounds like it could be interesting, but I found it odd that she knows she's a bomb waiting to go off (or it sounds like she does). And I wonder why she's set up to take the fall at the beginning instead of after the psychic suggestion is triggered. Makes more sense to have her in jail for something she did do via mental coercion and then have the story be about figuring it out.

Anonymous said...

I was confused about whether or not the enemy agent telepath actually did something that causes the seizures. That was cleared up at the end. I'd work it into the opening paragraph.

I think there are too many 'Buts' in the letter.

The 'feelings' sentence didn't work.

Sounds like a good story though. I'll bet agents will want to take a look.

Anonymous said...

T/F: The writer watches anime.

I was really hoping it would be GTP #5.

No real advice, other than there should either be a comma after "screaming" or no comma after "collapses". This reads like a pretty competent query letter.

Dave Fragments said...

Where are we? When are we?

What is the "Coalition's flagship"? A three-masted schooner? The Titanic? The starship Enterprise?

You are writing about a story that is familiar and yet must have unique elements. The familiar: An unsuspecting agent is brainwashed and left to become the unwilling assassin. If not an assassin, then some agent of change. What you have to do in the query is to tell the agent what is special about the story. What makes it stand apart from other political intrigue stories.

I'm thinking of the original modern story of intrigue - The Manchurian Candidate by Condon, and then I also think of "Minority Report by Phillip Dick (the short story). Both were about the controversial - a brainwashed Korean war vet running for office (think Commie Red Scare and banned by the American Legion) and the "pre-cogs" who see crime in advance (all the telepathy crap and the story is merely a fancy whodunit).

What makes your story special? why will it excite the reader?

E.D. Walker said...

Going in order...

"Telepaths don't exist, but try telling that to Ramie Ashdyn." This does not hook me. It just kind of falls flat. Why do I care if she believes in telepaths? Meh, I say.

" telepathically assaults"= what does that entail. Mind-rape? Seizures? This whole paragraph plays coy with the plot and I just feel confused. I can't figure if she's in jail because the gov. thinks she's a telepath or because the bad telepath made her do something when it assaulted her.

I agree with EE about "Rip". Very campy 50s B-movie. So unless that's your vibe-which I don't sense it is- give the man a new nickname.

"He's desperate to prove her innocence, but with so much evidence against her and no denial of guilt on her part, he's afraid his judgment might be compromised by his feelings for her, feelings that should have died six years ago when she completed her training, feelings that never should have developed in the first place." Break this into more than one sentence. You've got enough commas to choke a horse...or something.

The "time is running out..." para is also awkward. I played with it trying to tighten the prose and tie Rip's thread with Ashlyn's. This is just a rough idea:

"Time is running out for Ashdyn. The enemy agent that assaulted her did more than that. He inserted a trigger in her head that will make her fears of turning traitor come true- unless she and Rip can let their bygones be bygones. Before Ashdyn’s trigger gets pulled.”

WouldBe said...

There was more evidence in the query that this was a fantasy/romance than a SF/romance. I guess mention of any gadget makes it SF *shrug*, but consider beefing that up a bit. But wait:

Hey EE, does a editor trust that a story is of the genre promised in the query, or is evidence needed therein?

Evil Editor said...

I think if you declare genre X you should describe a genre X book.

Kiersten White said...

Loved the feelings commentary, EE.

As far as the query, I felt like it needs to be tightened and more focused. Other than that, my brain is mush and I can't be of any help.

DD3123 said...

Why does Rip Rykus even give a rip? If he's that obsessed about a girl (who has all signs pointing to traitor) and hasn't seen her for 6 years (and a student to boot), he needs a psych eval.

Anonymous said...

I like your story idea!

EE and the others have pretty much covered what I would have said. The only thing I have to add is that you seem to have several "pieces" that could be combined for greater effect.

Kiersten White said...

Brain started functioning again.

Don't call what happens to her seizures. While there are many different types, you don't collapse screaming in pain with any of them. Tonic/Clonic seizures (formerly known as Grand Mal) are probably what you are picturing, but since the brain is firing way too much electricity, the person isn't really conscious and can't scream.

So, you could use convulsing with pain, but they aren't seizures.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the comments.

1. Yeah, I guess "Rip" sounds cheesy without the background. I think I pull it off in the story but I might just call him his real name in the revised query.

2. Ash is framed for killing the other members of her squad. The "trigger" the telepath inserted is a phrase that will turn her into a killing machine (she's been very well trained in a sci-fi-y type of way) when she is transferred from the ship where she's being interrogated to a prison transport at a strategically important shipyard/spaceport. That's why the evil telepaths chose her: she has the ability to kick butt, she'll be at the right location, and the Coalition won't have even a suspicion that there's a race of evil telepaths out there.

3. Nope, 150. I don't watch anime. Should I?

4. Megoblocks: Yeah, Rykus probably does need a psych eval. He's totally in love with this girl and doesn't know it. Not all of the evidence against her makes sense, and since she neither confirms nor denies the charges against her (she can't because of the seizures), he's clinging to the hope that the investigators missed something.

5. Kiersten: Interesting note about the seizures. I might see if it works to change it to convulsions.

Gosh, this whole thing sounds way too complicated doesn't it? I swear it works out better in the book than in the query. I just don't know how much info to put in the query without bogging it down and making it even more confusing.

none said...

Hmm, yeah, I still smart from EE's comment "THAT's what makes it an alternate history?". He wants tie and coat to match for sure.

Anonymous said...

Author: Not necessarily, I just saw a lot of elements in the story that seem to crop up a lot in anime (and therefore, in the stories of people who watch a lot it). Only curious!

EB said...

I think somebody above said this query was somewhat coy. I'd agree. If your MC is wanted for treason, you might want to spell out WHY. Lay out the stakes. She's falsely accused of treason. AND she learns she's a ticking time bomb. That has potential to be some good tension right there.

From your query I get the impression this story takes place almost entirely in a prison, interrogation room, etc. Like, say, a play. I expect that's not the case, but that's how I'm reading it.

I don't quite see the romance here. Rip has feelings for her (and messed up ones, as alluded to above). But whither poor Ramie? There's an obvious power differential here that has more potential for abuse than romance.

Please, please, please tell me it is not the discovery of True Love that short circuits the bomb in Ramie's skull.

Anonymous said...

"Please, please, please tell me it is not the discovery of True Love that short circuits the bomb in Ramie's skull."

LOL! No. Definitly not. heh

talpianna said...

If she's framed for killing the other members of her squad, that's MURDER, not treason.

E.D. Walker said...

Brimfire, any chance you'll throw up a revised version so we can all tear that up and put it back together? *hopeful face*