Thursday, October 01, 2009

Face-Lift 679

Guess the Plot

Ghosts of Rosewood Asylum

1. When Zach Kalusky and his team of paranormal investigators inspect Rosewood Asylum, another crew, the Demon Hunters is inspecting it at the same time. Now Zach has bigger problems than ghosts--what if the Demon Hunters discover that he's possessed?

2. The new asylum director believes even psychotics can contribute to the community, and what better way than hosting a Halloween haunted house for the kiddies? The inmates take up the idea with gusto, but the director has second thoughts when chain saws go missing from the maintenance shed.

3. At the Rosewood Asylum, psychic investigator Dan Lomas discovers the Grey Lady (who sits in a corner and drools), the Bald Man (who sits in a corner and drools) and the sinister Gaunt Figure (who drools and sits in a corner). Apparently, botched lobotomies result in really dull ghosts.

4. When she finally gets her dream job as madhouse administrator, Phillis Chimpski has nightly dreams about terrifying ghosts. She soon becomes so irrational and hysterical Dr. Bromer ties her in a straitjacket and locks her in that tiny room in the basement . . . with all her predecessors.

5. Twinkie Jones never heard of Great Uncle Waldo until she inherited his estate. She moves to Rosewood anyway, for her musical career. But that's a flop and she can't even sell the house. What to do? Haunted tours, seances, and mystery parties help her make ends meet--until the real ghosts appear and demand a shocking sacrifice.

6. Rosewood Asylum burned down eleven years ago killing everyone inside. Lindon Fairway buys the ruins to conduct paranormal research, and discovers the inmates weren't crazy; but the people who put them there were -- and now they know that he knows.

Original Version

Ghosts of Rosewood Asylum:
Xavier Paranormal Investigators Case History [If you're planning a series of books about these investigators, maybe you should give the case history a number. Maybe #663 so your series can build toward #666. If it's not a series, I'd dump the subtitle.]

What Sci-D TV doesn’t know about its lead paranormal investigator, Zach Kalusky, is that he’s possessed.

Exploring the most haunted site in Chicago, the place Zach has wanted to inspect for years, comes with a catch. When the network forces Xavier Paranormal Investigators to partner with the more dramatic but less ethical, Demon Hunters, there’s sure to be conflict. Zach’s group of college science geeks square off against the showy Goth freaks. Zach must fight for the show’s integrity, [What is "the show"? If it's the Halloween special, you haven't mentioned that yet. Is Xavier Paranormal Investigators the name of a TV show, or the name of Zach's team? Is Demon Hunters the name of a TV show, or just the name of the other team?] and butts heads almost immediately with his rival host. While investigating Rosewood Asylum for a Halloween special, the teams experience more tangible paranormal activity than either show has previously documented. [That sentence belongs with the next paragraph.]

But are the occurrences authentic or staged? Even members of Zach’s team are not above suspicion of sabotage.

With the clock ticking towards the show’s deadline, it becomes clear that Rosewood’s actual history differs vastly from the written record. As Zach deals with conflicted feelings over his own possession, he pushes himself and his team to uncover the truth about the haunting. Once its secret is uncovered, an outburst of supernatural activity threatens the lives of investigators—not to mention the surrounding historic neighborhood. Now, science and entertainment must take a backseat to survival. Zach must protect innocents from the asylum’s demons, while coming to grips with the skeletons in his own closet. [That sentence sounds anticlimactic after the previous one, which is a better wrap-up.]

Revised Version

Zach Kalusky, paranormal investigator and host of Sci-D TV's ________________, plans to explore the most haunted site in Chicago for a Halloween special. But there's a catch: the network insists that Zach's team partner with the more dramatic--but less ethical--Demon Hunters. Zach must fight for the show’s integrity while trying to protect a secret: that he, himself, is possessed.

While investigating Rosewood Asylum, the two teams experience more tangible paranormal activity than either has previously documented. But are the occurrences authentic or staged? Even members of Zach’s team are not above suspicion of sabotage.

With the clock ticking toward the show’s deadline, it becomes clear that Rosewood’s actual history differs vastly from the written record. As Zach pushes his team to uncover the truth about the haunting, an outburst of supernatural activity threatens the lives of investigators—as well as the surrounding neighborhood. Now, science and entertainment must take a backseat . . . to survival.


As the author described this as his "pitch" I won't quibble over the fact that it is a brief synopsis and not quite a query letter, but even a pitch should indicate how long the novel is.

The only reason the Demon Hunters need to be in the plot summary is because they threaten to expose Zach's possession. We don't need to know that they are goth freaks and it's already implied that they will butt heads with Zach. Which is why I shortened that portion.

I also removed the part about Zach's conflicted feelings, which doesn't sound like something he will care about when he's experiencing more paranormal activity than ever before.

I don't think it's a problem that you don't hint at what the secret is, but it wouldn't hurt if you did.


_*rachel*_ said...

Aw man, I wanted 2 or 3.

Sarah Laurenson said...

Love the 'Zach is possessed' hook.

I really like EE's revision - makes it sound more interesting than the original which came across like the story was mostly TV show filming problems.

Still not sure it's that interesting to me even with the great hook. Maybe more about how it's exciting than about a couple of TV crews butting heads.

Matt said...

I wanted one and it turned out to be one.

I liked everything but the TV show angle, which reminded too much of Ghostbusters--Wait a minute, that's a good thing.

If I picked up the book and read EE's revised version on the back, I would consider making a purchase...if the word count isn't huge.

I think I'll watch Ghostbusters tonight.

Eric P. said...

Doesn't being possessed by demons generally made you something other than a normal functioning member of society?

Dave Fragments said...

So Zach Kalusky works for Xavier Paranormal Investigators, ZOUNDS!
I haven't giggled so hard since the Copper Clapper Caper.

I'm with EE on this query. I'd leave the case history line out. That was a nice idea - write a synopsis of a case history but it might not be a good way to sell the book. It will be great later on but not right now.

Anonymous said...

Following up on EE's and Eric P's comments, I was thrown by reading that Zach was "conflicted" about being possessed. Maybe I don't read enough paranormal, but I would think that a possessed person would either be so possessed that he doesn't know he's posssessed, or if he knows he's possessed he would be totally creeped out by it, rather than conflicted. Is there a good side to it?

Steve Wright said...

Mmm. Yes. I think this "possessed" thing needs to be either explained, or left out of the query entirely ... it doesn't seem to figure very much in the plot as described.

There seems to be an awful lot going on - apparently, two or three different conflicts occurring simultaneously (the two teams of ghost-hunters competing, Zach trying to keep his secret from Team Rocket or whatever they were called, and then the business between both teams and the supernatural whoozis in the asylum). While conflict is the essence of drama, I kind of wonder how well it's all organized.

And the omission of the word count makes me wonder whether it's embarrassingly small or embarrassingly big. (But that might just be me.)

Dave Fragments said...

"Team Rocket"
Now that's an unexpected literary reference...

Xiexie said...

What is the word count?

I, like Sarah, do like the hook with Zach being possessed, but how possessed is hit, and how does his possession bring up further conflict with the film and such? What I'm trying to ask is if his possession is a detriment -- which seems to be hinted here. If so, why?

I'm interested. Not fully hooked yet, but highly curious.

(And hungry, been up since 7:30am and have not eaten yet -- damned art projects!)

Joanna said...

'conflicted feelings about his own possession' was the part of the query that really interested me. I've read that some people who have considered themselves possessed and requested exorcisms recently have felt conflicted--feared and mistrusted what they understood as the demonic voice in them and also felt that they'd be lonely, weak and lost without it.

On the other hand, I have trouble sympathizing with anyone who hosts a TV show, especially one that tries to exploit spirits for money/notoriety...

none said...

Aren't supernatural events at asylums somewhat hackneyed? I'd probably find it more interesting if it were somewhere you wouldn't expect to be haunted (or whatever). Like an ordinary house or a field.

Not to mention that I usually avoid books containing references to mental illness as they always get it so damn wrong.

Stephen Prosapio said...

I'm the author of this one. Sorry to get here little late. Thanks EE and other for their feedback.

Word count is a reasonable 85,000 words. It is the first book of a series. It's a good point to not have the XPI line in this pitch, but use it for future books.

Steve W., yes, lots of conflict! Internal, external, individual, group, paranormal and earthly. All well organized.

As for issues with the possession, it's not a demon possession, but a much more common spirit possession. Learning about how that works for and against the protaganist is part of the plot of the novel.

Again, thanks all!!!