Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Face-Lift 626

Guess the Plot

The Lonesome Isle

1. Searching a small island for her dead mother, Elizabeth crosses into a parallel universe. Is her mother somewhere in this universe? Before she can begin looking she must first defeat a malicious creature bent on world domination.

2. Oahu decides to relocate a little closer to the big island and sets off nonstop tsunamis and underwater volcanos as it makes the move. Only submariner Sonya Turner can save the day, but her propeller's broken.

3. Timmy didn't believe the babysitter when she said one more prank and he was going to the orphanage. Now he regrets sticking tape loops to the cat. He wishes he brought a toothbrush and more underwear. He knows his penmanship spelling and grammar are so bad his bottled HELPME! notes might be unreadable and the current might take them all the wrong way, but what else can he do?

4. Blinka realized all her childhood nightmares about plumbing monsters were real, as the hand emerged from a mess of gunk burbling out the sink drain. Thank God for cutlery! But now -- what to do with the grisly parts? She'll be safe if the fog clears so Captain Wiggins can see the distress flag and sail to her rescue before the Thing comes back...

5. Gibraltar never gets any respect. Even his best friends, Japan and Madagascar barely acknowledge him. But when global bully Australia floats a plan to reform Pangaea, Gibraltar finds itself turning to outcasts like Greenland and Baffin Island in an effort to prevent continental assimilation.

6. The story of a sad little island, marooned in the middle of the ocean, who hatches an unlikely scheme to join a larger land mass. But even if he can teach the nearby pod of whales to sing at just the right frequency, will he really find happiness as a fjord?

Original Version

Dear Agent,

Elizabeth Milton accepted her mother’s death years ago. [Now if only it would hurry up and happen.] As a writer investigating her first feature length assignment, she is faced with the knowledge that not only is her mother alive, [Make the connection between the assignment and learning her mother's alive--if there is one. If there isn't, don't put both in the same sentence.] but she’s been held captive and now doesn’t want to leave this parallel universe [What parallel universe? Is that what Liz is investigating? How does Liz know what her mother wants if she's in another universe?] that’s so much like, yet so much unlike their home. [In my experience, if a place is vastly unlike my home, I don't even notice the ways it's like my home. For instance, when I think back on my trip to Jamaica, I remember the river rafting and the waterfall climbing and the paragliding, but barely recall getting robbed by a knife-wielding hoodlum.]

Elizabeth’s love of writing takes her to the small island, [What small island? You haven't mentioned an island.] [Again, what's the connection? Millions of people love writing, but that doesn't take them to small islands.] but it’s her compassion for others and her intense longing for the mother that she once knew that makes her cross the threshold into the parallel universe. [I don't see the connection between compassion for others and crossing into a parallel universe.] Once there she finds that the devilish creature Dominic and his plans of world domination are the captivating force that holds many prisoners. [I tend to think "mischievous" when someone is described as "devilish," so while there's nothing wrong with "devilish," if he's planning world domination, you might want to call him evil or demonic or satanic.]

In this paranormal, mysterious tale Elizabeth finds her mother, her true love, and herself as she battles Dominic to gain everyone’s freedom.

The Lonesome Isle is complete at 140,000 words.

I have done some ghostwriting of internet articles and have two poems published in anthologies. [Ditch the credits and consider shortening the book.]

Thank you for your time and consideration.


A twenty-something woman versus a creature set on world domination? That's like Hannah Montana taking on the Borg. Has Liz got anything going for her besides spunk?

The title sounds more like a children's book.

You must connect your ideas in a logical progression. Something like this:

While investigating the sudden appearance of an island off the coast of Uruguay, reporter Liz Milton discovers a map that leads her to a portal to a parallel universe. A hunky clerk at the ticket counter gives Liz a quick look at the portal's passenger manifest, which reveals that her supposedly dead mother "crossed over" six years ago.

Longing for a reunion with her mother, Liz bribes the clerk to provide her mother's email address: Lizsmom@gmail.unv. But in their initial correspondence, Liz learns that her mother, despite being held captive by the devilish creature Dominic, who has plans for world domination, doesn't want to come home. Has she been brainwashed? Only one way to find out. Liz books passage on the next portal trip.

Arriving in the parallel universe, not only does Liz quickly find her mother; she also falls in love with a young juice merchant named Rolf, and single-handedly battles Dominic. Liz emerges victorious; then she and Rolf move in with Mom, get married, and await the inevitable sequel.

Here, each sentence follows from the last, thus giving the feel of a coherent, cohesive story. Feel free to use my summary if its details are accurate.


Sarah from Hawthorne said...

"A twenty-something woman versus a creature set on world domination? That's like Hannah Montana taking on the Borg." OMG. THIS MUST BE WRITTEN.

Hilarious and brilliant as always, EE.

_*rachel*_ said...

It's not very specific. How are the universes different and who's in them? Make me a little more interested in Elizabeth and her world(s). Tell me more about what she does; spice it up!

Phoenix Sullivan said...

Feel free to use my summary if its details are accurate.And if they're not accurate, Author, consider rewriting your story to make them so. In comparison, EE's is the version I would want to read.

Oh, EE, you had some time on your hands, didn't you ;o)

Author, consider yourself fortunate that EE did take the time and courtesy to do such a thorough critique for you. It's kind of like when your mom forced you to eat broccoli because it's good for you and because she loves you. You hate her at the time, but in retrospect - many, many years later - you thank her for looking out for your health. Just as you'll thank EE for this one day.

Study his model query and really read his blue words. Then see how you can apply all that to make this a crisp, detailed letter that makes the reader want to see more of your work.

I don't have much to add to what EE has already said, except that I wasn't sure what "mysterious tale" meant. And "paranormal" doesn't feel right for a portal story. And, speaking of, a portal story is going to be a hard sell unless you can really rock the voice or show us something a little different in your story to make it stand out.

Try again and post your revision, please!

Lauren K said...

I think EE did a good job of pointing out where the confusion is. It sounds like it could be a good story but the query isn't very clear. Elizabeth's mother is only alive in the parallel universe right? Did her mother really die in the regular universe or did she "cross over" or something? Good luck with your query.

batgirl said...

It's almost impressive that a query so devoted to telling rather than showing (Elizabeth is said to be compassionate, but to whom and how?) still manages to tell so very little concrete.

I appreciate the need not to get bogged down in detail, but some specifics are needed, otherwise it's like blundering through fog.

Joanna said...

I think this might well be a story I would like--the MC and her quest sound sympathetic, and I like portal stories. But more specifics would definitely help.