Monday, May 25, 2009

Face-Lift 635

Guess the Plot

Tara Born of Tears

1. Tara was born to the sidhe, a magical child with vast powers--but one weakness: she is always crying. Though she's practically a superhero, she's also a social outcast. When Derrick discovers her secret, can he make her smile at last?

2. Vishnu is pissed. Zeus became famous just for pulling fully-formed Athena out of his forehead. It's enough to make a creation god cry, but if Vishnu manages to produce a woman from eye water, then the Greek Gods'll be lucky if anyone even remembers them a century from now.

3. Tara Fletcher came out of her mother's womb bathed not in amniotic fluid, but tears. She's spent the first twenty five years of her life locked up in a lab, being poked, prodded and researched. Now, however, she's out--and she wants revenge.

4. Surrounded by the death and destruction of an interplanetary war, a ragtag group of survivors resolves to make a new life for themselves on the unexplored world of Tara.

5. If anyone in this world is unlucky, it's Tara Scott. Is it fated that she will always be the one to know sorrow, or can she take the advice of the village crone and make her own destiny as a sports mascot?

6. Alice wants to have a baby and name it Tara, but it has been foretold that her child will die unless it's conceived by having sex with a man who lives naked in a junkyard. Is there any way the back seat of a junked '92 Oldmobile can be romantic?

Original Version

Thank you for looking at this query for Tara Born of Tears, paranormal fiction, 90k words.

A year ago Alice Goode’s five year old son Bobby drowned. Now she is haunted by the belief that his spirit is trapped between lives, searching for her. A shaman tells her that she must find the right man to give birth to her son’s reincarnation. [Did you mean shaman or conman?] She tries, but with the wrong man and has a miscarriage. [Does she know anything about the "right man," or is it a one in two billion shot?] Doctors warn her that another pregnancy is dangerous. She may have one more chance, but with no idea how to find the right man, Alice becomes desperate. She doesn’t even know his name. [Is it Theodore Amer?]

It is Theodore Amer. [I almost changed my guess to Julius Papanicolau. Always trust your first instinct.] Beneath a comic mask of irony, he conceals an anguish even from himself. A misfit genius, he possesses the gift of revealing a person’s essence with a secret name. [What does that mean?] [Wait, is the secret name Julius Papanicolau?] He can show someone their path in life and forge a bond. Though he desperately needs to use this ability, he is unaware it exists. [Does anyone know it exists? And what do you mean by: He can forge a bond? Is it a kind of bond normal people can't forge?] [What happens if he doesn't use this ability?] This isolates him, lunacy scratching at his door, left with an ache of the soul which he must pretend away. [Is this ache of the soul he pretends away the same as the anguish he conceals even from himself? I'm not sure how much anguish and soul aching you can have over something you don't know exists, but if we must hear about it, once is enough.] [To you, this paragraph conveys the essence of your character's inner conflict. To us it's just vague. What happens in your book?] After a shattering personal loss, he surrenders to madness, abandons his life, and finds himself living naked in a junkyard. Only one woman can bring him peace, a hospice nurse named Alice Goode. [If I'm Alice, and the only way I'm gonna get pregnant is by hitting the sheets with a guy living naked in a junkyard, I'm looking into adoption.]


Which came first: the decision to live naked or the decision to live in a junkyard? I ask only because a junkyard is one of the bottom three places I would want to live if I had no clothes, the other two being an apiary and a maximum security prison.

I'd like a clearer idea of Theodore's power. That he has the gift of revealing a person’s essence with a secret name isn't doing it for me.

How is Alice supposed to find Theodore? Do they even live in the same country? Why would she look for Mr. Right in a junkyard?

The title could lead readers to think Tara is a main character, yet she/he/it isn't in the query. How big a role does Tara play in the book? Does the book end when Tara is born?


Anonymous said...

paranormal melodrama. melodramatic paranormalcy. sounds like an angst orgy.

Matt said...

I thought the query was too vague and a little confusing. I think you should focus on the female protagonist and give the junkyard man only a couple of lines. If I knew everything about her and little about him, making him and his power more mysterious, I would find the book more alluring.

writtenwyrdd said...

I think that, based on your description, you might just call this Vale of Tears, because all we hear about is how wounded, desparate, insane or emotionally crippled the two characters you mention are. And it's depressing!

Now, I'm sure your book is not a total downer. So perhaps you might cut much of the description of the naked-in-a-junkyard and related madness (which make your main character seem crazy, too) and give us some of the plot?

This query doesn't show me anything appealing about the novel,and I think you need to find the emotional hook that will make people want to read your story to see more about your main character and her struggle.

Anonymous said...

What's the pace? I don't have any idea if this covers the first 3 pages or the whole book. This would not keep my interest for 100,000 words, but it might work as the beginning.

Kelsey (Dominique) Ridge said...

A lot of this confused me. I really liked the title, but from it I anticipated a fantasy story about a girl named Tara. I really didn't know how to respond to a contemporary piece about someone named Alice.

_*rachel*_ said...

GTP !6! was the real one?!?!?! Oh, my. Oh. My.

I agree with EE--to you, it's inner struggle; to us, it's vague. To solve all your problems, rewrite it as a farce. As the Reduced Shakespeare Company said, the tragedies are funnier than the comedies.

How do they meet? What happens? How do they feel about each other? Do they marry, or is EE right? If EE is right, you'd better make it a comedy. I won't read it, but I'm sure other people will. *cough*

Answer some of those questions and it should sound better.

Joanna said...

I'm intrigued, more by Theodore Amer's gift and the ways in which it cripples him when he doesn't know what to do with it than by Alice. I'm confused about why Tara is the title character but doesn't appear in the query. If the book is largely about Alice I hope Theodore is able to persuade her to stop trying to bring Bobby back and to move on with her own life. If it's about Tara I can imagine a lot of conflict around Mom wanting her to be her reincarnated brother (and presumably Dad wanting the same thing, so Mom will believe he was the Right Man...) Sort of like a paranormal "My Sister's Keeper."

Phoenix Sullivan said...

sounds like an angst orgy

You make that seem like a bad thing, Anon. I happen to like angst. I want the characters I read about to wallow in it. Give me dark and bleak over sunny and happy any day.

However, I do like a clear understanding of why the MCs are wallowing. This query, I'm afraid, isn't making it clear for me.

First, what are the stakes for Bobby if he isn't reborn as Tara? Alice sounds like someone tying to connect with anyone only for her own sake -- to have her son back as whatever/whoever. Is someone who lets her 5-year-old drown the right mother for the boy? She just sounds selfish in the query. She has sex with the wrong guy and apparently he's out of her life b/c she miscarries. I'm not exactly rooting for her here. Maybe Bobby's spirit is best left in limbo or wherever such 'tween spirits hang out.

Theo is just a confusing character from his description in the query. Is his gift hammering at him and he's always reaching out trying to figure out what that pounding in his head means, and he's on the cusp of knowing, but it's elusive, dancing out of reach each time he thinks he's about to have a breakthrough, and it gets worse around certain people but he can't figure out what the connection means, and if he doesn't figure out what's messing with his head soon, he'll go crazy and maybe start living naked in a junkyard? Oh no. It's the personal loss that puts him over the edge. What might that loss have been -- his wallet? his driver's license? his 5-year-old son that he lost last year in a drowning accident? Some grounding, specifics, and dot connection is needed here, I think, before Theo can be fully realized in the query.

Steve Wright said...

I think we need to know a bit more about how (and why) these two characters connect together. As things stand, it's not clear how they even know each other, much less how they find out that they need each other ... I'm sort of assuming, here, that Theodore's ability has some bearing on Alice's ability to conceive, though I'm blowed if I can see how.

How do they meet? And why does their first meeting not end rather abruptly with Alice running away and calling the cops? I think these questions need to be addressed, some way - it'd make the whole thing seem less unlikely.

Anonymous said...

I want to know where Tara comes in. Or at least whose tears they are (because I'm not sure if they're Alice's or Theo's or both).