Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Face-Lift 696

Guess the Plot

Clandestine Friendship

1. Mom thinks Jimmy's little green elf buddy is imaginary and cute, so she lets him take piles of peanut butter crackers out back for their pretend lunch. But the greenie is really Xulpzi 95, a Martian space ranger and heartless mercenary on a mission to search and destroy!

2. OoegaMar, the forty-first Consort of Iegeth, is bound by her sacred duty to the Gooegen Empire to find and kill Tdyxxxn, the Vrxynnnx of the Qpykkkians. Little does anyone suspect OoegaMar and Tdyxxxn have sworn the blood oath to be Faerfennuuegen (pen pals).

3. An elf and a flying horse become best of friends, but keep their friendship secret--until the horse's mother is kidnapped by a cloud. Now they must team up to save mother, even if it means revealing their friendship. Also, a werewolf.

4. If only Princess Pea could see her paramour, Joe the kitchenman, openly, their lives would be so free and breezy! But no, they can only communicate via messenger pigeon and alphabet soup.

5. Mandy and Josh don't want to have sex. However, in post-apocolyptic North America (pop. 649,241), platonic relationships aren't just frowned upon, they're punishable. Can Mandy find someone willing to get her pregnant without taking credit, before Josh gets sacrificed to the neo-gods?

6. Johnny Wilson takes advice from a self-help book to expand his social circle, but each new friend has reasons for not hanging out. Shinobu belongs to a fight club, Ian is trying to get published, and James B.'s ex-girlfriends want to kill him. Will Johnny spend his graduation party alone?

Original Version

Dear Evil Editor,

Pegasi do not belong on a human farm, [Of course not. They belong on a horse farm.] something the other foals never let Jusheron forget, and most elves scorn Sharael for her uncommon interest in other races. After a chance encounter, these two outsiders become steadfast friends, meeting in secret to avoid raising the suspicions of Jusheron’s mother and Sharael’s appointed guardian. [At this point I guess I'm supposed to assume Jusheron is a pegasus, and not a boy who brought a pegasus onto the farm, or a foal who invited a pegasus onto the farm. And I'm supposed to assume Sharael is an elf rather than a girl? The latter would be clear if it read: ...and Sharael is scorned by her fellow elves for her... ]

The delicate balance of deceit tips when a mysterious cloud abducts Jusheron’s mother right before his eyes. Distraught, the young pegasus has only one thought in mind - he must get her back, whatever the cost. Though she risks the wrath of her father, Sharael refuses to let her friend travel alone.

Pursued by Sharael’s tenacious guardian, the two friends are aided and impeded alike by many bizarre individuals, including a constantly babbling imp, a werewolf whose handsome looks hide inner turmoil, [I was suffering from inner turmoil last night. Had to take some Pepto Bismol.] a talking stallion who prefers a good debate to a good fight, and a dwarf who would rather invent magical potions than mine gold.

Clandestine Friendship is a young adult fantasy novel and stands at 58,000 words. The manuscript is available upon request.

Thank you for your time and consideration.



It seems to me that young adults would rather read a book about young adults than a book about an elf and a flying horse who are best of friends. What makes this more suitable for teenagers than for, say, a nine-year-old?

I'm more interested in where the cloud has taken Sharael's mommy and why, than in a list of characters encountered along the way.

I'd like to be certain that the main characters are a pegasus and an elf by the end of the first paragraph. I'm not certain Jusheron's a pegasus until paragraph 2, and it's never made clear that Sharael isn't a human with an interest in other races--like elves.


_*rachel*_ said...

As for the first GTP, someone's been reading Ray Bradbury recently.

That pepto-bismol comment made me cackle, and I'm still chuckling.

It does seem pretty cutesy for YA; in YA, the abductor would probably be big, ugly, and utterly cruel, not light and fluffy. Also in YA, Jusheron would fall in love with Sharael, and she would fall in love with the werewolf. Feel free to take my suggestions.

Do tell us more of the plot; we need to know.

Anonymous said...

Young adults have discovered a] sex and b] violence. They're concerned about the messed-up state of the world and what their place is in it. This is all sexless cute characters doing nothing in particular in never never land. And your evil force is a cloud?

Ideally you can make the relevance and adult elements clear. Or maybe you can rework it as a picture book for kids.

150 said...

I gotta say that a character who is "constantly babbling" does not inspire me to read this.

Rose said...

I agree with Evil and the other commenters that this doesn't really feel like YA. I'm getting a middle grade sensibility from it.

Right now, the query makes CLANDESTINE FRIENDSHIP seem like something that would appeal more to 8-to-12-year-olds than teens. Of course, if the author is convinced that the manuscript is YA, then I'm sure the query can be rewritten to reflect this. I'm still not sure that a book starring a pegasus and an elf would every be an easy sell for YA, though.

Not sure if the manuscript itself contains certain YA elements, but I think that pitching it as a novel for middle graders might help the author in his or her search for an agent.

Anonymous said...

No offense, but someone being abducted by a cloud sounds like something that would happen in a Super Mario game. Although... you add a few Koopa Troopas and you might have something here.

Hanne said...

Hi author,

This reminds me of Lloyd Alexander's Prydain books, with the ragtag group of different beings who are learning how to fit (or not) into their respective spheres, all on a quest-type journey. So if I saw it in a bookstore, I'd look inside, 'cos I have fond memories of that series. Per the other comments about the categorization, those were not YA books but younger.

I think an editor or agent would want more info up front before requesting pages. Are there larger elements at stake than getting the mother back from the cloud? Does the quest take place in the air? I thought so at first - flying horse chases a cloud - but then you added a lot of wingless characters so I wasn't sure.

I was also confused about Sharael's family situation - are her father and guardian different people? It might be a good idea to mention only one of them in the query (the guardian, who chases them, seems more integral to the plot).

Eric P. said...

EE, I will now be quoting your line on "Inner turmoil" every time I see that cliche ever again.

I'll join the crowd and say that this doesn't sound like a YA book at all, unless it's substantially edgier than the query lets on. (Try GTP 5.) Today's teens appear to be reading about sexy vampires, not elves and ponies who are secret BFFs. However, most 5 to 9s would eat this right up, especially if you threw in a dinosaur or two.

They meet in secret so no one will know of their friendship, but everyone already scorns them and treats them as outsiders? What more are they afraid of, socially speaking?

I'm chronically dubious of the "A motley group of friends must go on a quest to save the X" plot line from anyone whose name isn't J.R.R. Tolkien or C.S. Lewis.

Why do they have to travel, anyway? The cloud came to them; they can't lure it back? What's at stake? Why can't they just call the police or the palace guard to go searching, since there's been a kidnapping (or horse theft)?

Sharael has an overprotective father and an appointed guardian? Harsh.

Clarify the query in the ways EE suggested, and either direct it at younger readers or throw in scads of angst and terror with a soupcon of sex.

Anonymous said...

This sort of sounds like a thinly veiled "why can't we all get along" metaphor-y thing. YA readers are too old to be preached to, so I hope the story is more than the message. Even though I do like the message. Does that make sense?

Marie Simas said...

Okay, I feel stupid-- I didn't know that "Pegasi" was the pluaral for "Pegasus"

I mean, how often do you see more than one Pegasus in the same place?

And where's the "My Little Pony"? Wasn't she invited to this shin-dig?

No, seriously... I took some Pepto after reading this.

Anonymous said...

Ouch. At least EE didn't tell me to just scrap it.

In retrospect, I can see that my novel is definitely middle grade, not YA. I blame my library's way of labeling stories for that mistake...

Everything else is entirely my fault and I will definitely be doing some major rewriting before sending queries out.

Thanks for your help, EE. ^.^

_*rachel*_ said...

Hanne--hah, I was just thinking how much 150 would dislike Gurgi's munnering and chunnering!

Father vs. Guardian confused me, too.

There is room for motley groups doing daring deeds, but it's getting to the point where you have to do it really well.

And yes, Prydain was more middle school-ish, but do remember the undead from the Black Cauldron, and the reference to the Arawn guy burning people alive. Come to think of it, The Last Battle had the Calormen trying to do that to the people in the stable. And the White Witch had threatened, and I quote, to "have my [Tumnus'] tail cut off, and my horns sawn off, and my beard plucked out...."

I suppose it's all in the presentation with some things. It's the difference between showing pictures and saying somebody did "a very nasty thing" to the poor character.

Xiexie said...

The minions stole all my comments (good on y'all); so,, take their advice. And I'm glad it's middle grade because this sounds like a story that would really work for them.

Marcie Price said...

Possibly a chapter book for beginning readers? Something with illustrations, for sure...