Friday, September 11, 2009

Face-Lift 673

Guess the Plot

The Redeemed and the Destroyed

1. A moving, in-depth look at the life cycle of a grocery store discount coupon.

2. The enthralling true-life story of the travels and ultimate destination of a coupon for a half-price Happy Meal at McDonalds.

3. After discovering that Jell-o Coupon has been sent to that great toilet tissue factory in the sky, Cool Whip Coupon embarks on a desperate race against time to get to Wal-Mart before she, too, expires.

4. Nina Medley, coupon clipper and bargain hunter extraordinaire, cut in line in front of an angel of death. Now she must find a way to redeem the soul of every person in her hometown or the angel will start a plague that will wipe out humanity.

5. Sally, recently laid off from her job as an elementary school teacher, secretly plots to bring down the state economy in order to send a message to the government. She is thwarted, however, in her attempt to flood the market with fake coupons. Unable to be redeemed, she is destroyed.

6. When Charles Emanuel dies, his Coke bottle collection is divvied up by his heirs. These are their stories. Which will be allowed to perform some last service to the world by being redeemed and recycled, and which will be condemned to the purgatory of the trash compactor?

7. Nonnie Bligh, the best Irish hat maker in Southwark, uses personalized spells to bewitch each hat and ensure her customers realizing their most appropriate fate-- good or bad. When the evil Puritan Cromwell comes in for a fitting, she has something very special for him.

8. When a mild mannered Sunday school teacher learns that church funds are going towards gambling and vice (a Tuesday afternoon Bingo Club), she comes up with an arts-and-crafts project for her third graders that's going to separate the sheep from the goats once and for all.

9. For seventeen years Sheila Conners has played Stella Artois Bunker Bennett Consadine Smith on the beloved soap "The Redeemed and the Destroyed". But the brass thinks she's too old, hunky Jonathan Grimes has had one facelift too many, and even the cat that played her pet has died. Is it time to move on?

10. To save his marriage oil tycoon Chet Blumwalt finances his wife's business venture, expecting it to fail. But stick-on glamor eyebrows are a hit! Teens worldwide go wild for 'brow stickers' with bright colors, sequins, flashing lights, and text messages -- until the mind-numbing glue is banned and everyone sues.

11. An obsessed ex-military group led by the smartest man in the world have decided that Edgar, a part-time demon with the ability to redeem or destroy the world, must be killed before he does the latter. But their plan to drop a nuclear bomb on Edgar's head may have unforeseen consequences.

Original Version

Dear Evil Editor,

The fabrics of one very stubborn, Edgar Benard, begin meshing into something else altogether when he goes through a seemingly spontaneous metamorphosis that grants him the ability to become a powerful, black demon complete with two wings, anytime he deems it an approved investment. This form offers him the freedom he has always sought after. [The freedom to fly and to do demonic things?] Could such a lie be true? [It's not clear what lie you're referring to. In fact, so far nothing is clear.]

No, not by any stretch. Rather, it brings the cold shackles of slavery as it exposes him to the Time Weavers, a group of obsessed ex-military loons, who have the technology to see the future before it unfolds. They set out to murder him by whatever means necessary, even if that means dropping a nuclear bomb right onto his head and wiping out an entire city. [It sounds like Edgar is either on the run or in hiding, neither of which I would describe as slavery.] If having the ability to read future events is not enough, they have possibly the smartest man alive in the world today leading them, more into the cause than the rest of them. The Time Weavers want Edgar dead because they read the future from their device, the Threads of Time, seeing very vividly that Edgar is supposed to bring the end of the world. [But the smartest man alive realizes at the last minute that if their attempt to kill Edgar were going to succeed, their device would show it succeeding, so they call the whole thing off and start a bakery.]

Edgar finds himself dwelling in bitter confusion, with no other vital purpose but to flee the people beckoning to skin him at every predicted turn, at least until she comes exploding into his life. Edgar meets his fiery, passionate equal that brings with her so much sexual tension, Edgar fears he might die from desire, if the Time Weavers don’t kill him first. She knows everything about him, especially the purpose of his winged transformation and what he must do with the new power, but more importantly, she knows how to avoid the Time Weavers.

Edgar joins this tempting bombshell, even though he doesn’t really trust a word that comes from her plush mouth, changing the meaning and direction of his life, forever.

THE REDEEMED AND THE DESTROYED sits complete at 90,000 words, ready and available at your request. Thank for your time and consideration.


[Author's note, not part of query: I got the title because in the actual novel itself, Edgar is often told that he has the ability to redeem the world or to destroy it.]


The most glaring problem is the word choice. One can hope this is not a problem in the book, and that you've simply misused a thesaurus in an attempt to impress Evil Editor; otherwise you'll need to put in some time familiarizing yourself with the ridiculous English language. Replacing "approved investment," "beckoning," and "plush" would be a good start, but there are numerous other instances of awkward language. Was this translated from another language?

Does "she" have a name? If not, give her one. If so, use it.

The plot is something like this:

The Time Weavers have discovered that Edgar will bring about the end of the world. They set out to kill him, which may prove difficult now that he has somehow developed the ability to become a powerful demon. But even a demon can't hold out forever against the Weavers' weapons. Enter Delilah, the mystery woman who knows how to avoid the Weavers, and more importantly, where Edgar's destiny truly lies.

Expand on that with some important information. Keep it simple. Also, get someone from around here to take a look at your manuscript.


_*rachel*_ said...

Honestly, I nearly stopped at the first sentence.

The fabrics of one very stubborn, Edgar Benard, begin meshing into something else altogether when he goes through a seemingly spontaneous metamorphosis that grants him the ability to become a powerful, black demon complete with two wings, anytime he deems it an approved investment.

He's got the ability to become a demon. That's what you need to say. Using "fabrics" and "approved investment" make it sound like a query you ran through google translator. That, and the first part of the sentence is missing a subject. It's the worst sentence of the lot, but it's not the only bad one.

Simplify, check your grammar and sentence structure, and elaborate on the plot.

Mame said...

I have PTCD (post traumatic comment disorder), so I'm keeping this short and not so sweet.

I could hardly read it. The first line made me want to pull out my hair. The grammar is as messed up as the plot. Following EE's comment, If you have a machine that can only see random slices of the future, then it can work.

I'm out of here.

Uberman said...

I'm intrigued by someone spontaneously transforming into a world-altering demon, but I'm also very confused about its spontaneity. Did it happen suddenly? Was Edgar a normal person before this happened? What does he do besides grow "two" wings (as opposed to, say, one or three :P)? Was he born to do this, chosen, or was it a freak accident? Why could he "redeem or destroy" the world, and why does anyone know this?

I'm, frankly, more interested in this than the Time Weavers out to get him with their wacky gadgets, Smartest Men in the World, and secret nuclear arsenal. I think you need to balance Edgar's demonic transformation with him being chased down by these guys, so that they'll both seem of equal importance. As it reads now, Edgar seems like a bit of a Maguffin, particularly with the muddled opening paragraph. It reads so purple, that it's like a distraction.

The spontaneous wedge of a "girl demon" is also a bit jarring. She might be an important addition to the story, but try to weave it in more convincingly. At the moment, she sounds like she should be wearing a name tag that says "Hi! I'm advancing the plot!"

This could have the workings of a supernatural "Bourne Identity", but right now it reads kind of like the movie "Jumper" where it's not sure which parts of it are the most interesting. :(

Eric P. said...

What are the rules on stealing GTPs? I'd love to try my hand at #7.

For the writer, I think the best advice I can give is "Write the way you talk." Read the query out loud and you'll (hopefully) hear literally dozens of phrases that no English speaker would ever come up with in the course of a conversation. "Hi Edgar, how's it going?" "Not so good; I'm dwelling in bitter confusion, with no other vital purpose but to flee the people beckoning to skin me at every predicted turn..."

Not that everything has to be conversational (or I'd have said "Write like you talk"), but that it should be natural. As it is, if EE hadn't graciously summarized the plot, I'd have been completely lost in the verbiage. Not a good way to get me interested in your book.

Whirlochre said...

This is very convoluted, and though I read it through three times, you lost me at the 'fabrics' on each occasion.

I don't mind longer sentences, but there are too many of them here for a query.

Take EE's brief synopsis and re-morph what you have.

Anonymous said...

What EE said. Impression from the first half of this = sort of schizy and hard to figure, maybe purposely nonsensical. Not sure what your intent is. While that style can have a certain charm in small doses it doesn't work for me for the length of a novel.

Second half is much more comprehensible and intriguing enough to make me curious to see pages, so this is the style to use in your query.

_*rachel*_ said...

#7 is a bit like Howl's Moving Castle, by Diana Wynn Jones.

Anonymous said...

Eric --

#7 is one of mine. Feel free to do whatever you like with it, it's a story I'd love to read.

Anonymous said...

Read this sentece out loud -

"The fabrics of one very stubborn, Edgar Benard, begin meshing into something else altogether when he goes through a seemingly spontaneous metamorphosis that grants him the ability to become a powerful, black demon complete with two wings, anytime he deems it an approved investment."

Now this -

Edgar Bernard aquires the ability to change into a black demon, seemingly on accident.

This reminds me of the writing excercise where we used a random word generator and acquired about 100 words and had to use each of them to write something coherent.

Steve Wright said...


The misuse of words - sometimes quite common words; your manuscript "sits" at 90,000 words? - is sending up a lot of red flags for me. If I'm going to read 90,000 words, at least 89,000 of them need to be well-chosen ones.

The problems with the query are obvious; you need to trim out the flowery language and pare it down until it's a lean, punchy statement of what your story's about. But I'm worried that the problems with the query might also be problems with the book.

You might benefit from having a good critique group look your book over. (And by "good" I mean "sharp-eyed, sharp-tongued, vindictive, and quite happy to make you cry".)

Xiexie said...

LMAO @ PTCD, Aimee!

Can I steal GTP #4?

Purple prose is not your friend here. I think I get how you mean "fabrics" to be used here, Author, like in the phrase "fabrics of time"; however, it just doesn't fit well in describing a person. It's as awkward as my high school Systematic Theology teacher using her favorite word, fundament. It's a valid word, but all words hinge on usage.

Please can that first sentence, give her a name, and do a rewrite because the fundaments of your novel are here. We just need them expressed more clearly.

Kathleen said...

I'm getting a horrible "Wanted" flashback. The LOOM OF FATE!!!!

Faceless Minion said...

Xiexie, you're welcome to GTP #4. Let us know if it goes anywhere.

To the author:
I agree with what everyone else is saying. You may have an entertaining (and spicy) story here but it's hard to get past the language abuse. If you want to try again, we'll give you more feedback.

Dave Fragments said...

I think you guys are being unfair about the "fabric" of space and time.

However, it might not be the best word to spring on an agent (most likely a non-scientific agent) in a query. So in that sense, I agree with the other minions.

batgirl said...

I'm unsure of the tone you're trying to convey. Some of the wording is so arch and detached that I thought you might be aiming at humour.
Edgar turns into a demon when he 'deems it an appropriate investment' -- of what? Time? Energy? Mutual funds? Also, if he changes into a demon after due consideration of the profit and loss statements and bottom line, it doesn't sound quite 'spontaneous'.
Are you sure it's freedom Edgar enjoys as a demon, and not power? It sounds as if the Weavers make him a fugitive, not a shackled slave, so I'm not sure slave/free is the dichotomy you're setting up here as much as invulnerable/vulnerable.

It might just be me, but wouldn't changing into a demon be more 'changing the meaning and direction of his life, forever' than meeting a hot girl-demon would? That seems more like a subplot.

Uberman said...

I was thinking the exact same thing, Kathleen. :O

Also, author, I'd be willing to look over your manuscript, like EE suggested. Drop me a line and we can arrange something.

Matt said...

It looks like the author is trying too hard to impress with his/her writing. Just tone it down and tell your story.

Hepius said...

I almost thought this was going to be s spoofy/comic book.

"The freedom he has always sought after." HAHA, I've always wanted to be a big black demon, too! But darn, it just didn't work out the way I wanted. Why's the man so prejudiced against me?

"...even if that means dropping a nuclear bomb right onto his head." A nuke right in the noggin! Wow! Kapow! That's gonna hurt.

Your word choice just didn't convey the tone you wanted to set.

The Invisible Writer said...

Many have already pointed out the 44-word complex sentence to start the query so I won't (but just did, dang it).

I've read and heard the "fabrics of space and time" thingy before but it didn't sit well here.

Ed's fabrics mesh into something else? Like terry cloth + velvet = demon?