Thursday, December 24, 2009

Face-Lift 712

Guess the Plot

I Am the Tempted

1. As she celebrates her 42nd dry day, Abby Foster finds that bottle she hid in a boot long ago -- and it's half full! Next, she realizes it would be much easier to drop out of law school and join the army so she goes to surprise her old squeeze Josh, and ask what Afghanistan's really like, but then she discovers an urgent need to kill that vile thing, Samantha, who's skulking round his apartment.

2. Fat guy. Enter: milkshake.

3. Kaitlin's relationship with Jessey started out great, but then she met "bad boy" Tim. Is the temptation too great to withstand? She'll have to decide later, having just learned that a demon-possessed theologian is crossing the country, hell-bent on killing her.

4. Confessions of a retired politician, including the reasons he dallied in the men's room and with various ladies, his long-suffering marriage, pact with GOD, target-practice injuries, bankruptcy issues, trouble with alien domestic helpers, and efforts to take over the world.

5. Jerry Filbergast's memoir, with complete details of his saintliness, dedication to Bible-reading, and remarkable ability to say NO THANKS to wayward girls, strangers offering miraculous substances, and mortgage brokers.

6. Chocolate, ice cream, triple cheese pizza? Bah! One thing keeps Joanne Bingham going; donuts. A rarity since the invasion of the Twigites and the subsequent sugar rationing, she will do anything for donuts. Lie. Cheat. Even write. A post-apocalyptic baking industry satire. Also, an Evil Editor.

7. Jill Sykes opened what she thought would be a struggling bakery for the first few years of operation, but everyone fell for the temptation of her doughnuts, cookies and biscuits in an eerie, almost supernatural way. Is it Jill's special recipe, or the fact that Demeter, goddess of grain, has taken up residence in the basement?

8. Eve Lundt, a chocoholic who works at a chocolate factory, starts a support group for winning over temptation. Three shopaholics, two thrillseekers, and one vampire later she's a blood-sucking spendthrift sky diver. In a last-ditch effort to develop self-discipline, Eve's group joins a Tibetan monestery.

9. The long-awaited memoirs of Cardinal Diarmuid Flanagan O'Murphy, in which he gives his personal views on matters of sin and repentance, and also explains that those altar boys knew exactly what they were doing, oh yes, they led him on, all 1,213 of them.

Original Version

Dear EE and Minions,

After a series of terrifying experiences with her possessed theology teacher, Kaitlin Loeffler is expelled from St. Clement High School and sent to live with her father in a tiny Montanan town. [If I'm having terrifying experiences with a possessed theology teacher, you don't need to expel me. I'm gone.] [Now that I think about it, if I'm a high school student and I somehow landed in a theology class, I'm gone whether the teacher is possessed or not.] She wants her new life to be different: free from the guilt and pain of losing her best friend, free from her ability to see demons and their terrible influence on those around her, even free from her guardian angel, the one who gave her the ability in the first place. [The one who stood by doing nothing while Kaitlin had terrifying experiences with a possessed theology teacher. Good riddance.] She wants to be normal. She wants to fit in.

Jessey, a handsome boy in her physics class, [They don't teach physics in Montana. Change that to cow tipping.] invites Kaitlin to a study session and she is introduced to Tim, his wild, rebellious younger brother. Her relationship with Jessey is off to a promising start and she is enjoying a small taste of a normal life. All of this comes crashing down when Kaitlin’s guardian angel arrives and tells her she has chosen the wrong brother. [Has this guardian angel earned his wings yet? He sounds like a loser.] [Also, "comes crashing down" is pretty strong words to describe something that doesn't seem like a big deal. It's not like the guardian angel told her Jessey was a possessed physics student.]

Kaitlin is determined to prove her guardian wrong, although Tim’s bad boy attitude is alluring. Her guardian angel leaves her [This guy's pathetic. He reminds me of a waiter I had a few nights ago, doting over his big table and ignoring the fact that I might want a bit more fresh pepper on my soup. (I didn't, but that's not the point.)] [Do guardian angels even have more than one table?] and as a result, Kaitlin can not only see the demons whispering, [She was already able to see demons.] but becomes the object of those whisperings herself. Against her better judgement, [In Montana, that's spelled "judgment."] she befriends Tim, and is quickly overwhelmed by his charming personality. Kaitlin can’t seem to hide anything from him, which is problematic, because she is trying desperately to keep her ability secret. [Go ahead and blab, Kate. It's not like he'll believe you if you declare that you can see demons.]

Life seems to be setting into a comfortable routine for Kaitlin. [That wasn't the impression I was getting.] Even this is shattered. Kaitlin’s guardian returns with a warning: the possessed teacher is halfway to Montana, and hell-bent on killing her. ["Shattered" is pretty mild words to describe something as terrifying as a homicidal possessed theology teacher stalking you.] As she prepares to face her demon, literally, her relationships with Jessey and Tim crumble and she must find the strength to confront the demon alone to save his future victims without becoming one herself. [You'd think a guardian angel could be more useful than to just announce, "Oh, by the way, a possessed theology teacher is on his way, planning to kill you." Can't the angel cause the possessed theology teacher's car to go over a cliff?]

I am the Tempted is a YA Paranormal novel complete at 80,000 words. Full manuscript available upon request.

Thank you for your time.



Now that Kaitlin is in Montana, why does the possessed theology teacher want to kill her? She's not bothering him. There are demons in Montana who can kill her if she's a threat to demonkind.

I'd go with Montana town, not Montanan. And Jesse.

Has Kaitlin mentioned to her guardian angel that she'd like to return her demon-seeing gift?


Anonymous said...

The query leads me to believe that the romance is the main story, but if demons are trying to kill her, how can she focus on anything other than survival?

Anonymous said...

And Merry Christmas!

Anonymous said...

Is it unusual for high school teachers to be possessed?

Seriously, I think this query has too many subplots getting in each other's way. You wrote it like you thought you were giving a logical description of a logical sequence of plausible events but this kind of story doesn't live in a logical world so it would perhaps be better described for the purpose of the query with less details about the progression of things and more dramatic focus.

What does this girl need/want to do most, what's impeding her, and what happens if everything goes awry???

Taylor Mathews said...

Anonymous - 10:57 - The only demon that can hurt her is the one possessing the teacher. The only power other demons have is through influencing one's thoughts. She doesn't realize the possessed teacher is out to get her until late in the story.

This query stuff is hard work.

Thanks for your comment and Merry Christmas to you as well!

Taylor Mathews said...

Anonymous - 12:58 - Yes, I did write this as if it were a logical sequence of plausible events.

Her main goal throughout the story is to control her ability so it isn't debilitating. When it goes awry the first time, she's expelled from school. If it goes awry a second time, she'll lose the only two friends she's made. When she does finally learn to control it, she discovers that the possessed teacher is out to get her.

Would that information help the query?

Evil Editor said...

If that's the main goal, you should begin with something like: Kaitlin Loeffler has been given a rare talent: the ability to see demons. But this "gift" has caused her nothing but trouble. She's been expelled from high school after a terrifying encounter with her possessed theology teacher, Mr. Mephistopheles.

Now Kaitlin has moved to Montana to live with her father. She makes new friends, has a boyfriend, feels like she's finally fitting in. Life is good . . . until she learns that Mr. Mephistopheles is on his way to Montana, hell-bent on killing her.

It won't be easy to keep her gift secret from her new friends while also battling a demonic theologian, but if she can't defeat Mr. M, the entire state of Montana will be buried in lava.

Anonymous said...

Of course this sequence of events is neither logical nor plausible, but that doesn't mean it can't work as a story. Step back and look at it from a broader scope -- the series of events is taking your attention from the overall arc of things.

I suspect the story is really about the same thing that worries all teens: survival / autonomy. The biggest threat is isolation/abandonment, and the way she's going to save herself is by making real friends and creating an identity in which she owns herself and can make her own decisions and is therefore master of her own identity & fate.

The 'ability' is problematic because it is both isolating and an unwanted imposition -- the consequences of the ability are worse than the ability itself, so the 'ability' is only an instrument through which the real harm is caused. The 'guardian angel' is an abuser: an unreliable presence whose 'gifts' are designed to manipulate and oppress. If she doesn't get some real friends and ditch this presence and its 'gifts' she won't achieve autonomy and likely won't survive at all.

As for the evil teacher, I don't know, sounds like just another complication on the road to autonomy.

vkw said...

I didn't like this story at all until Evil Editor wrote the query - now not only do I like the story but its sounds unique and interesting if one would like young adult/contemporary romances.

writing the query is very hard but I found it helped me a lot (as well as EE and his minions) to see some problems with my work and to better focus on what was the most important thing . . .like you know the plot.

Merry Christmas.

Taylor Mathews said...

VKW - EE makes it look easy, doesn't he?

I appreciate the criticism! Keep it coming.

Bee Magic Chronicles for Kids said...

Maybe EE would just accept a large bribe and write my query for me too! ;)

Sylvia said...

I recognise my own faults in this, trying to tie it all together while keeping it succinct.

It's hard to tell as an outsider but I'm thinking you can safely drop where/how she met Jesse and Tim and that the angel interfered - the important thing is that she's interacting with the brothers, right? So if those two paragraphs became a single sentence, then her life could be seen as settling down until she finds out the teacher is coming after her.

GalaktioNova said...

Actually, while I was reading, I couldn't help thinking that Kaitlin sounded rather, how do I put it, sort of selfish. It's all about her and her problems, but the query didn't give me any idea of whether she ever tries to do something for her friends or think about them at all. And (it's actually a very recent discovery of mine :-))))) I'm not sure readers are at all interested in MCs who don't show much interest or emotional involvement in their fellow human beings.

Just a thought...

Author said...

Revised version:

Dear EE and Minions (again),

If only spiritual gifts had a return policy. Sixteen year old Kaitlin Loeffler sees demons, and she will do absolutely anything to rid herself of this “gift.” Her unusual ability interferes in every part of her life: she must constantly lie to her super-strict mother, she becomes the laughing-stock of her private Catholic school, and discovers her theology teacher, Mr. MacFayden is possessed by a demon--one that isn’t thrilled to be found out, and is even less thrilled when Kaitlin begins meddling with his schemes.

After a series of encounters with Mr. MacFayden, Kaitlin is expelled (she was totally set up), and though she’s spitting mad, she is also relieved when her mother forces her to move to Montana and live with her estranged father. Now in Montana, she makes friends, finds success at school, and even has a boyfriend or two. Life is good--until she discovers that Mr. MacFayden and his stinking hoard of demons are on their way to Montana, hell-bent on killing her.

Embracing her gift at last, Kaitlin marches into battle, and risks her life to save the very possessed man whose demon seeks her destruction.

I AM THE TEMPTED is a YA Urban Fantasy complete at 81000 words, and is available upon request. I live an write in Montana and was once nearly expelled from a private Catholic school.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Phoenix Sullivan said...

Hi Author: You've turned this into a nice, serviceable query with a touch of voice. Well done.

The only niggles I have are why she's forced to lie to her mom and what motivates her to interfere with the demon's scheme if she'd do anything to not have her gift.

Marie Simas said...

I like this query. It sounds like something I would read. Only one thing bothered me. Did anyone else feel like the phrase:

(she was totally set up)

Sounded out of place? The sentence seems fine without it.

Xiexie said...

I like this rewrite. Here are my corrections/suggestion:

Sixteen-year-old is a hyphenate.
It should be "gift". not "gift."
Nix the "she" after: . . . constantly lie to her super-strict mother . . .
Nix the comma after: . . . one that isn't thrilled to be found out . . .
Nix the comma after: . . . Kaitlin marches into battle
Nix the comma and "is" within: 81000 words, and is available upon request

Mother (Re)produces. said...

I like the new query. I'd like a droplet or two about why she is suddenly gung-ho to save Mr MacF. Why the sudden attachment?

Anonymous said...

This new query reads much better, but it raises a question about your plot.

There seems to be a lot of action in Act 1 leading up to her expulsion. But then she moves to Montana in Act 2 and has a "settling in" period of making friends and dating where there is no action (apparently). Then the demon stuff comes back in Act 3.

Is that accurate? Is your Act 2 devoid of demon shenanigans? It looks very uneven.

Taylor Mathews said...

Thank you all for the feedback.

Josephrobertlouis: The second act's conflict centers around her relationships with her new friends and continuing conflict with her ability. I didn't include it in the query, because it distracts from the main conflict.

Phoenix: she can't go around telling people she sees demons, and the reason she must interfere with the demon's schemes is that he leads her to believe that the possessed teacher will soon be having an affair with a student, and she feels compelled to prevent it.

Mother Re(produces): She realizes that though he is possessed and though he did get himself into his own predicament, MacFayden needs help.

I was trying to keep the word count to a minimum and outline the most important conflicts.

Thank you all so much.

The Invisible Writer said...

First sentance in the rewrite is pretty good at grabbing the attention to read on. The second sentence is 61 words long and a laudry list of happenings that needs trimming to only the necessary stuff (lying to Mom doesn't seem like the crux of wowing an agent).

The third sentance is 40 words long. 2 run-on, complex sentances in a six sentance plot description would worry me as an agent. I'd think your book is filled with mind-bending sentence structure - and maybe it is.

"A boyfriend or two"? Shouldn't you (and her) know how many?

Why, if she's run off to Montana, is Mr. Demon hell-bent on killing her to avoid exposure? She's gone off to Montana.

Why would anyone believe her if she says he's a demon anyway? Are demons a known and accepted(while feared/hated) part of this world? If not, she's doomed to the mental hospital if she tries to expose him . . .