Friday, October 30, 2009

Face-Lift 692

Guess the Plot


1. Abner can barely find his shoes in the morning, but as the Chosen One of Kansas, he must find the lost keys to Rivaolinkwa, the disappearing corn maze where Queen Miwespese has been entrapped ever since Columbus landed in Puerto Rico. Only this will free the Eosdfipsfd people from the tortures of Siospfer.

2. Enslaved by the ganglord Dagan, Jetta must spend her days in the abandoned Ruins, searching for merk, liquid fallout that gives inhuman powers to all who consume it. If she could just kill her guard, cross into the forbidden zone, avoid the mutated dogs, survive the radiation storms and flash floods, escape Dagan's men, and locate the rumored merk motherlode . . . Hey, it's worth a try.

3. Dan Miller never knew he was adopted, until his 'parents' are killed in a car accident. Going through their old files, he finds a paper trail that proves he's someone else's son, and becomes obsessed with finding his real family. It soon becomes clear that his adoptive parents' deaths weren't as accidental as he thought, and he ends up fighting against a bizarre conspiracy designed to keep him from ever finding the answers to his questions: who were his parents, why was his adoptive family killed - and why would the readers care?

4. When a storm tears the Miller family apart, Jake finds himself on the wrong side of the river. Can the plucky beagle find his way home, or is he doomed to live in a house where the kids call him Snoopy?

5. Sally counts her trunk novels and two are missing!!! Where can they be? Then she realizes: Tiffany! The bitch stole her ideas! She must track her down and get the pages back, or that witch will soon publish a pair of thinly disguised rewrites and get rich on movie options, etc.

6. A chocolate poodle, a sloshed (slushed?) editor, and an irrepressible writer all need a plot. What else do these have in common? The Bermuda Triangle! Also, a pilot who finds the land after time -- with zombies, intelligent goo and aliens instead of dinosaurs.

Original Version

The abandoned ruins of Denver spread for miles, but to seventeen-year-old Jetta, they’re a prison. Her dreams lie in the mountains on the Western horizon, in a place of trees and rivers and life—birds never sing in the Ruins. [I like this better without that sentence.] Enslaved by the ganglord Dagan for her rare gift, she instead spends her days in the hovering deadness of the city, seeking merk: the mysterious liquid fallout that draws life from the charred soil, heals the sick, and gives inhuman powers to those who consume it. [You don't need the word "instead"; in fact some may think you mean instead of being enslaved.] Few share her ability to locate this craved commodity in it’s hidden places.

So when Jetta overhears word of a huge reserve of merk, possibly the last reserve left, she sees the means to survive, should she finally make her escape to the mountains. The plan has one problem, however. [You haven't actually mentioned a "plan" yet, so maybe you should drop that sentence and just say "Unfortunately . . . ] The merk reserve is said to be hidden in the dangerous and forbidden East Half.

Determined to pursue her one chance, Jetta kills her guard, [One of two or three commas you can do without.] and becomes a desperate fugitive. She must now delve deep into the shadows of the East Half. Feral dogs, mutated by merk, hunt her. Radiation storms bring lightning and flash floods. And all the while, Dagan’s men close in around her. If Jetta doesn’t find the reserve soon, she’ll not only lose her one chance to be free, she’ll lose her life as well. [Why would Dagan's men kill their meal merk ticket?]

SEARCHER is YA post-apocalyptic novel, complete at 80,000 words. Thank you for your time and consideration.


I'm not quite clear on Jetta's plan. Rather than head for the mountains she heads for the rumored merk reserve. Is her plan to consume large quantities of merk, becoming more powerful than anyone else?

Apparently merk's powers are temporary, or Dagan wouldn't have Jetta looking for more all the time. And because she can carry a limited amount of merk, Jetta's powers will eventually fade when she's in the mountains. So why not just head for the mountains as soon as she escapes?

How about an example of the inhuman powers merk gives to those who consume it.

If the merk reserve is huge, it doesn't seem like you'd need special talent to find it.


_*rachel*_ said...

"commodity in it’s hidden places."

ITS. Please.

Faceless Minion said...

My first thought on seeing the GTP for this was that I'd read it somewhere before. I'm not sure why :/

A few things that didn't work for me in the query:

If there are still people in the ruins of Denver, I wouldn't classify them as abandoned.

Why would there be a reserve of merk? Why doesn't Dagan go after it?

Can merk heal people without giving them inhuman powers, or are all those healed sick people now mutants with inhuman powers? Or does merk affect dogs differently? Do mutations remain if/after the powers fade?

Why doesn't she just head for the mountains?

Anonymous said...

I'm not seeing why it has to be her. Is she actually an animal? Sounds like maybe the plot is based on trifles of a truffle dog. Or do they use pigs?

Dave Fragments said...

This is a little bit like that roller skating post-apocalyptic kids-digging-holes-in-the-desert movie I once wasted a few hours on... I'm trying to remember the name from out of the zombiefied fog that surrounds the memory... Solarbabies. On roller skates no less, woo-hoo what a thrill that was (my eyes roll)...

This query needs some heart. We have to like or adore or love or feel sympathy for Jetta and her search for Merk the magical liquid. Now if she saves the world and restores some form of civilization, that would be neat. But you didn't say that in the query.

Renee Collins said...

Thanks for the comments, especially you EE. I'll give this some thought for sure.

I guess I should clarify in the query that not everyone is able to find merk. It's a rare mutation, so very few can.

Anon 12:57-Yes, she is a truffle pig! Didn't I make that clear enough in the query?

Eric P. said...

Wait, what?... "She is a truffle pig"?!?!?

You're kidding, right?

If not, you definitely didn't make that clear enough in your query. Try mentioning it; that might help.

(Usually when someone says "seventeen-year-old" we assume "seventeen-year-old human"... speciesist, I know, but what can you do?)

Otherwise, I second EE's comments and Dave's. Clarify the "plan" and show us why we should care.

I also don't see what exactly the benefit is of being "free" in a post-apocalyptic world-- given the choice between a life of security with regular meals provided and a life as a fugitive alone in a hostile, barren wilderness running from mutant killer dogs, where's the appeal?

Faceless Minion said...

I think it is clear that the ability to find merk is rare. What isn't clear is how big "huge reserve" is and if there's something else that would stop people from finding such a thing should they suspect it exists. People can't mutationally sense gold (unless you know something I don't) but it hasn't stopped them from finding it by other means.

If you weren't referring to my comment, the above might not apply.

If you're interested in more feedback, feel free to post revisions.

Renee Collins said...

Eric P.- Yeah, I was being sarcastic. She's definitely human.

Also . . . slavery isn't exactly plush living arrangements, but you have a point. It is a harsh world for a young girl traveling by herself. In fact that's the reason she's never tried to escape before.

However with a lot of merk, which is essentially currency among survivors, she could purchase a little security: guns, transportation, a body guard, etc and make her break for the mountains. That's her plan. That's why she has to get the reserve first.

pacatrue said...

Wow, almost all negative comments. I liked it over all. Just clarify what the plan is, which should give her and the plot motion.

Xiexie said...

This sounds like a good story, and the query is quite clear; however, the voice here just doesn't put me in Jetta's corner. (Though it doesn't at all make me root against her.) Like Dave said, it needs more heart.

Renee Collins said...

FacelessMinion-Yes, I see what you are saying. And I should clarify in the query that others are trying to find it. It's just in a very dangerous location, and it will be much faster to find if you have the ability. However, it is a race for the reserve in many ways.

I will definitely post a new version when I have one.

Pacatrue-A kind word! Thank you! I definitely appreciate it. (I was starting to feel pretty discouraged, to tell the truth.)

Evil Editor said...

Hey, I didn't say anything bad about it. I just suggested a few fix-ups and asked a few plot questions. Letting us know she doesn't want the merk to gain inhuman powers, but just to gain transport/bodyguard/etc. is a helpful bit of info.

Faceless Minion said...

Don't be discouraged.

Also, I apologize if I came across as negative, that wasn't my intention.

The merk seems like more of a plot element than just a MacGuffin, but I wasn't sure if it needs to be more than that in the query. Mentioning that it can be used as currency to buy her way to freedom might help.

Renee Collins said...

EE-No, no, I definitely appreciated your comments, and didn't interpret any of your comments as negative.

Nor yours, FacelessMinion. I appreciate the questions and constructive criticism.

Don't get me wrong, it's not like I was expecting people to shower me with praise. Not at all. :) But I guess I'm feeling the pressure to get this query right. There are a lot of world building aspects and it's hard to know what to put into the query and what not to.

That said, I am working furiously on a new version, which I will post asap.

Thanks to all.

Anonymous said...

I think a book about a truffle pig could be cool.

pacatrue said...

I pig out on truffles.

A couple years ago I posted a query on here and felt the response was so negative I pretty much let it go. (I also got lazy.) Then I came back about 6 months later and realized they weren't all that bad and that I was just too attached to my own brilliance.

Good luck with it.

Polenth said...

The thing I didn't get from the query was merk as a currency. Knowing it's used as one makes sense and clarifies the story.

Anonymous said...

I'm a little worried about merk giving inhuman powers ... does that mean it's going to wind up being post-apocalyptic crack? Is Jetta queen of the drug dealers? Or is it going to turn out that merk is really rainwater and people are so hopped up on radioactivity that they don't recognize health when they see it?

It all sounds a little too Dune to me, but I'm not a post-apocalyptic fantasy reader so that might be OK for everyone else.