Monday, July 27, 2009

Face-Lift 658

Guess the Plot

Demon Prey

1. Laci is living a normal life with a normal job. Then one day someone comes into her office, insists that she's a demon hunter, and gives her her first assignment: to single-handedly capture Zathspar, the deadliest demon ever to plague the Earth.

2. Thanks to Vincent's experiment with advanced genetic manipulation, aphids the size of Volkswagens emerge from the chicken shack and go in search of religion, only to confront demonic beetles the size of Hummers. Can Vincent quash the ensuing chaos with the power of prayer?

3. Sam and Laura's Yucatan Penninsula vacation is pure bliss--until a trail of dead goats leads right to their tent flap. Can Laura prove Sam isn't the Chupacabra before the locals roast him? More important, can Laura run faster than Sam?

4. Jerrold has been amusing himself by having affairs with girls from the local university's clubs. When he meets Ginny, a dedicated environmentalist, he thinks he can use her like the others. But Ginny's father is a demon, and daddy can't stand to see his little girl cry.

5. Bon Linte is a retired demon hunter who bought an island with the bounties he brought in. Now he owes his girlfriend a peaceful night together, but the children of his victims are looking for revenge and the volcano on his island is set to erupt.

6. Kirsty is a vindictive, manipulative college sophomore. One day the devil appears and gives her a choice -- she can live, die, and probably end up in Hell. Or she can become a demon and gain all sorts of cool powers like eternal youth--but only if she tempts her only friend into going to Hell instead. Did I mention the demon powers are really awesome?

Original Version

Dear Agent:

I am currently seeking representation for my first novel, a paranormal romance titled Demon Prey. The novel, including a prologue, is complete at 76,500 words. [When I finished writing the book and realized it was only 36,500 words, I had two choices: Toss it or tack on a 40,000-word prologue.]

I have always been fascinated by the thought that all around us an unseen war rages over souls. [If it must be included at all, always put evidence that you are mentally unstable at the end of the query.] In my novel Demon Prey I give readers a glimpse of the warriors involved in those battles. The war in this realm is fought between the Amolites, a race of demon hunters and Demons. The Amolites live and work among us, but keep their existence hidden. [If they live and work among us, we know they exist. It's just their hobby they're keeping hidden.] This is why my heroine Laci Scott, [At last. A character.] is more than skeptical when an angel in training appears in her office insisting she is an Amolite. [No I'm not, I'm a Presbyterian.] If that were not disturbing enough, Laci has been charged with ensnaring Zathspar the deadliest demon ever to plague the Earth. [If this novel doesn't sell, would you mind if we incorporated Zathspar the deadliest demon ever to plague the Earth as our next recurring blog character?]

In a political move Laci does not understand, the ruling body of the Amolites strip her guardian away from her, condemning her to certain death at Zathspar [the deadliest demon ever to plague the Earth's] hands. Terrified beyond all imaginings, Laci tries to return to her normal life.

It is on a routine business trip to Chicago to meet with a client, Dorian Burton, that Laci’s life is forever changed. [Okay, think. Which one really forever changed her life: a routine business trip to Chicago or finding out she was condemned to certain death at the hands of Zoltan?] It is more than the desire Dorian stirs in Laci, but his ability to manipulate the flow of time that gives Laci her first glimmer of hope. [Most women have a list of qualities they want in a man, but rarely does that list include the ability to manipulate the flow of time. I mean, you never read the personal ads and see something like: Looking for a man 30 - 35 yo who likes walks on the beach, fine dining, movies, and can manipulate the flow of time.] In his arms Laci finds the courage and the strength she needs to stand and fight.

[Laci: With you by my side I finally have the courage to fight.

Dorian: Fight who?

Laci: Zathspar the deadliest demon ever to plague the Earth.

Dorian: Hmm. How about instead we start by taking on Zamfir, master of the Pan flute, and work our way up to Zathspar?]

Zathspar must not be allowed to unleash his powers on the world again. [Again? What happened the last time Zathspar the deadliest demon ever to plague the Earth unleashed his powers on the world?] If ZathsparthedeadliestdemonevertoplaguetheEarth is successful, the forces of good and evil will stand against each other one final time and decide once and for all who has the right to rule over heaven. Laci must win, not just for the world, but for the life of a man she can not live without. [Why is Dorian's life at stake?]

For further samples of this work, please contact me. Thank you for your time and consideration.



Can Dorian make time stop temporarily and kill Rathbone while he's frozen like a statue? Can he go back in time and kill Rathbone's mother before he's born? What about Hitler's mother?

Why don't the demon hunters assign the task of capturing Z-Spar to one of their more experienced people instead of someone who didn't even know she was a demon hunter yesterday?

How do they expect her to defeat Zamboni? Doesn't she need some training? It's hard enough to defeat one of the least deadly demons on your first mission, let alone the deadliest demon ever to plague the Earth.

We don't need to know about the Amolites. After all, Laci didn't know about them. Start with: Literary agent Laci Scott is more than skeptical when an angel in training appears in her office, insists she is a demon hunter, and charges her with ensnaring Zathspar, the deadliest demon ever to plague the Earth. Of course Laci laughs the whole thing off . . . until [insert event that convinces Laci she really does have to ensnare Zimbabwe.] Fill us in on what manipulating the flow of time means, and make it good, because right now I don't feel that good about the chances of an office temp defeating the deadliest anything ever.

Also, consider changing Zathspar's name to Rathbone.


Anonymous said...

Also, consider changing Zathspar's name to Rathbone.

What, as in Basil Rathbone? The sleuthiest Sherlock Holmes ever to deduce the crime?

Matt said...

This might be my favorite post yet. The part about mental unstability nearly killed me, so did Rathbone (I saw Shanghai Knights again yesterday, the villain's name was Lord Nelson Rathbone) and Zoltan (the cult leader from Dude, Where's My Car?).

As for the query itself, the MC looks like a serious Mary Sue so far. You might want to flesh out her character more in the revision.

Anonymous said...

I was sitting here thinking - something like this would never work. It's too farfetched.

but then I thought of Constatine, the movie Wanted and, of course, the Underworld series.

And - yes this plot works and I bet you wrote a plot that may work as well. But not the way you wrote it.

My plot problems.

1. What makes Laci special so that she can hunt the demons and be successful? Other than being a Amolyte or whatever. Did she know she was somehow different?
2. Why is she then chosen to hunt the most powerful demon?
3. The good guys, (who hunt demons) strip away her guardian and condemn her essentially to death. Are we sure we are talking about the good guys because that seems like a demonic move to me. At least they could have given her another guardian. If I was Lacy, I would be questioning about now if I shouldn't switch sides.
4. How does Dorian and Lacy meet? Accident? Purposeful? I mean it seems this should have been a planned thing and, if so, how?
5. Lacy is given the task to save the world - which includes her, I would imagine - I hope that a recent love interest is way down the line as a motivation to do the right thing.

Just my few coppers. I am sure you have worked out all this in the book but it needs to be fleshed out a bit. I do empathize - I know its hard.


Mother (Re)produces. said...

No! change it to Rasil Bathtub, and make him a demon spa attendant!

RB: Would you like to try the sauna, miss?

Laci: Sauna? This one here with the thermostat that goes up to 200 degrees centegrade and has a massive deadbolt on the outside of the door?

RB: errr... yes, that one.

Laci: mmmm... Ok, why not. Some loony turned up at my office this morning and told me I have to save the world. Talk about stress!

Steve Wright said...

In a political move Laci does not understand ... I don't understand it either. If I was on the ruling body of the Amolites, I'd want whoever was fighting "Zathspar the deadliest demon ever to plague the Earth" to have all the resources they need to get the job done. Laci might not understand the political move, but I think whoever's reading the query needs to.

I can't help feeling the query, at the moment, starts in paragraph two, and then starts again in paragraph four ... I'd pick one, and eliminate the other, and use the space you save to explain these political machinations of yours.

"Zathspar" is not going to be a popular name with readers who've got dentures ... heck, I find it awkward, and I've still got my own teeth.

(And Zoltan may be a cult leader to you, Matthew, but to me he's the Hound of Dracula and always will be.)

Anonymous said...

Ditto on: Why would the Amolites send an amateur to defeat the top gun demon?

Also, why would they take away her guardian? I'm guessing this is the person who is supposed to show her the ropes and teach her what she's doing. I think it would be more interesting if they left her with her guardian, especially when she meets Dorian. Talk about conflicts.

Dave Fragments said...

The BBC-America channel on my TV just started a new series titled "Being Human." It's about a vampire, a werewolf and a ghost living in an apartment together. Most of the story deals with their personal struggles -- the werewolf trying not to eat his friends, the vampire trying not to drink live blood anymore, and the ghost just trying to live vicariously while getting over her still living lover. They are all trying to be what they are not, human.

Notice it's all about personal struggles and interactions. That's what is missing from your query. Your story is about Laci Scott who is trying to cope with discovering that she can fight demons and fall in love. I don't write romance but I am guessing that most of the book involves Laci's falling in love with Dorian. In a romance novel, the romance takes center stage. If the demon fighting takes center stage, then it's something else. Regardless, you have to make the agent or editor love Laci Scott and her adventures to sell the book.

Robin B. said...

[Most women have a list of qualities they want in a man, but rarely does that list include the ability to manipulate the flow of time. I mean, you never read the personal ads and see something like: Looking for a man 30 - 35 yo who likes walks on the beach, fine dining, movies, and can manipulate the flow of time.]

HA! I grinned all the way through your blue lines, Sparky, but this one was absolutely a scream.

Anyway - no joke - I think this query is fun. I like the names. And I would definitely like a guy who could manipulate, among other things, time, really well.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, I agree -- with good guys like this, who needs demons? And if she's the only great superpower who can destroy Zarthrusta what does her guardian do all day? Seems to me the Ammonites would be better off to give the guardian a promotion and let it star in a fantasy epic while your protagonist works on getting laid in a vampire romance.

I'm sort of burnt out on all forms of "the chosen one" plot formula, so what I have to say may not be relevant for people who are excited about chosen ones. Reading this I just think well, why her? Couldn't the Ammonites find anyone who was even a little more engaged and competent? Give me a superhero who is focused on the mission. Making the protagonist of your Cosmic Good vs Cosmic Evil epic seem to be some random chick who needs a "guardian" to avoid certain death and is mainly focused on running away and making out with some love interest doesn't work for me. She is called upon to do superhero stuff in the role of a diety, so I wish you'd make her a superhero.

Zathspar said...

This query pleases me. I am impressed that mere mortals have the ability to string words together and form cohesive thoughts. Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to find this Laci Scott and kill her.

Oh, my band Fisting Prometheus is performing September 18 & 19 at Terrymore's Bar and Grill. I hope to see you out there.

Eric P. said...

These Amolites are interesting. Laci has zero demon-fighting experience, so they give her the responsibility to singlehandedly stop the deadliest demon etc. If she fails, the earth will be destroyed and plunged into Armageddon. And they prepare her for the fight by "strip[ping] her guardian away from her, condemning her to certain death."

So in a sentence: "If you die, the world will be destroyed and all will be lost, and we've made it certain that you will die."

My guess is they've been placing secret bets in the back room and, while they may be officially on the side of Good, they really need her to take a fall on this one. (Since all the readers are of course expecting the protagonist to win in the end, the odds are heavily against Zathspar the deadliest etc.)

Does Dorian send her back in time to before she lost her guardian? That could work.

You'll also probably get some feminists upset at you for featuring an independent female protagonist who can't succeed in her task until she's safe in the arms of a strong man. But hey, not my funeral.

none said...

What happened the last time Zathspar the deadliest demon ever to plague the Earth unleashed his powers on the world?

At a guess, Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan....

Anonymous said...

"You'll also probably get some feminists upset at you for featuring an independent female protagonist who can't succeed in her task until she's safe in the arms of a strong man. But hey, not my funeral."

LOL - At least Laci did not walk away when she found out her guardian was engaged or married.

pacatrue said...

My advice is simply to put your heroine in charge of your query. As EE says, start with her and then talk about what she does. Right now, she's caught unawares, likes a guy, and may have to do something interesting one day.

Love the Biggie Z's name, Zathspar, despite the fact that I watched Shanghai Knights this morning and, boy, is Rathbone someone you want to kill. Mediocre movie elevated by the Dancing in the Rain action sequence in the middle, which is some of the most beautiful choreography caught on film.

Ruth (Book Focus) said...

Awww, not GTP #6? I liked that one... damn. Anyone mind if I steal it for myself then? ;)

whoever said...

Your character's name, "Laci Scott", kind of creeps me out because it makes me think of Scott Peterson who killed his pregnant wife Laci (or Lacy, not sure).

Maybe I'm the only one. Too much Nancy Grace I guess.

Anonymous said...

"If ZathsparthedeadliestdemonevertoplaguetheEarth is successful" cracked me up inordinately. So did the Rathbone reference.

I agree with others regarding the MC; she needs some beefing up as so far she isn't piquing my interest much as a reader. While I'm generally intrigued by the idea of purported good guys acting like bad guys, what makes Suzie-Q so special that she has the ability to take out Zathsparthedeadliestdemontoeverplaguetheearth (sorry, couldn't resist) without training. Even Buffy (who, admittedly, I don't care for much) has continuing issues with Angelus (who I adore) and never permanently vanquished him.

Matt said...


"You smashed my puzzle box, now I'll never find out my message. You're dead to me."

Oscar material.

Chelsea Pitcher said...

Those fucking feminists. *shakes head*

I kept expecting Dorian to be a bad guy. I mean, she meets him on a routine trip, he has secret powers, she becomes dependent on him. His name is Dorian. Dunno, just the way I thought the plot would go. No?