Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Face-Lift 714

Guess the Plot

The Fray

1. Initially it was Bob versus Tim. Then they enlisted reinforcements and it became the Blues versus the Reds. Then the conflict widened into North versus South. Then it went digital. Now, it's global.

2. When the scarves Aya is knitting for Christmas presents start to fray, so does her mind - convincing her doctor that knitting and mental illness are linked. Can he prove it in time to save his wife, a knittaholic?

3. Tessa knew that her posh new neighborhood had a reputation for cliques and high status power struggles. But when she is nearly run over by a Quinny Buzz Stroller, and then brained by a sterling silver baby rattle, Tessa has to find the strength to survive... The Fray. Also, organic hoodie smugglers.

4. When the pollution of the ether by cellphone signals causes their world to unravel, two faerie bands fail to do anything more productive than start a civil war. Can Brigidrhiannan repair the fray and save the fay?

5. Twin brothers Jeff & Jason have created The Fray, the ultimate war RPG. Too bad those cool pictures of weapons they found in the office next to Dad's and used in the game are of real guns. Can they survive with the FBI and the Army after them?

6. James finds a flag in the attic of his grandfather's house. When he tries to repair the unraveling edge he travels back to the Revolutionary War. To return to the present day, James must create a time rift by ensuring George Washington loses the war. Is it worth it?

7. Seraphian Quilph is a Weaver, sworn to protect the fabric of the space-time continuum with her supernatural gifts. When chaos demons emerge to wreak havoc on history, she has to track them to their source; the entropic force known only as... the Fray.

8. Faded and tattered clothes are the style, and Mari is always in style. Then she discovers talking moths are eating at the straps of all her tank tops. Will she realize the consequences in time? And what's this about a moth queen?

9. Life was boring for Zara, and it didn't get any better when Damion showed up. But she stops rebuffing him when she learns that they're both descended from Lilith, the original Vampire. Can the two of them defeat a coven of witches?

Original Version

Dear Evil Editor,

I have completed a 63,460 word YA paranormal romance manuscript titled “The Fray”, the first in the proposed "The Carians Series" for which I'm seeking representation. [I'd call it "planned" rather than proposed.] [Also, if your series has a really cool name, I don't mind knowing it, but there's no need to tell us it's The Carians Series, as that means nothing to us. The first book of a planned series is fine.]
[A cool series would be the Carry-on Series, in which each novel involves someone bring something strange onto an airplane in their carry-on luggage. In one novel it could be an inflatable raft, and in another it could be a live bat. Those would be funny, but there'd also be sad ones, like when someone brings her mother's ashes onto the plane and a tiny breach in the hull leads to the ashes being dispersed into the cabin and then sucked out through the opening.] [Admit it. The Carry-on Series sounds better than the Carian Series.]

Lilith, a sorceress, was the Creator Vampyr, the first one. Her lineage, called the Carians, still exists.

Zara Cowen is a British-American living in Ireland with her Aunt and Uncle, recovering from the loss of her parents while playing the part of a responsible elder sister to Linea. She leads a comfortable, yet slightly poignant and monotonous life. ["Poignant" doesn't thrill me as an adjective describing someone's life.]

The monotony is broken with the advent ["Arrival." Toss your thesaurus immediately.] of Damion Romano. He gets along with everyone and is a charming fellow. However, Zara sees his attempts at befriending and helping her like an effort to sabotage her strong image by extending sympathy at her situation. She rebuffs him raising barriers around herself. [I don't see why it would bother her so much for him to be friendly, helpful and sympathetic. "Sabotage her strong image" is too vague to explain that reaction.]

Soon enough, the revelation that Zara's maternal family is descendent of the Creator Vampyr Lilith sends everything in disarray, especially when she finds Damion is a descendent from the same clan as well, which also makes them closer. They find out that a coven of Dark Witches, Seven Elders, is after them as they are Carian Companions, a rare situation when two Eldest Children descending from the same Carian Witch (not blood relatives, though) come together and can perform magic. [How does that being descended from the same person but not being blood relatives work? You mean they were both created by the same vampire?] [If anyone can be called blood relatives, it's vampires made by the same creator.]

The story moves on [No need to say that; just tell us where it's going.] as Zara struggles with the empty feeling that still lingers in her heart, her concerns for her sister, her developing feelings for Damion and this new dimension of her magical life as the divide between the Carians and her normal life is breached and, together, Damion and Zara must face the Seven Elders. [Too much information for one sentence--if that is a sentence.]



Blogger doesn't like the way you spell "descendant."

There's a revelation that Zara's a Carian, then she finds Damion's also a Carian, then they find out the Elders are after them . . . where's all this information coming from?

Is there an ending, or is everything resolved later in the series?

Are any of these characters vampires? You call Lilith the original vampyr, but you also call her a sorceress. You claim Damion and Zara together can do magic. Are Lilith's descendants vampires? If there aren't any vampires, using the word "vampyr" in the query is going to lead to a misunderstanding.


Anonymous said...

How did I instantly know this must be the real plot? Stock characters with little to do. Forget setting things up for your would-be series and crank up the action and peril here. Freaky ancestry is backstory.

batgirl said...

Is this query all backstory? I'm not seeing what happens in the book, other than 'cute guy shows up and is rebuffed', which would be in the first 5 chapters at most, wouldn't it?

Also, you have some odd usages of prepositions that make me wonder about the language of your novel. You might want to review phrases like 'is descendant of' and 'sends everything in disarray' for correctness.

Author, I found two citations for Carian. (you may already know of both) One is 'native of an area of Turkey', the other is 'a race of birdlike Beings'

Were you aiming for an association with 'carrion'?

EE, there already is a Carry On Series. Carry On Up the Khyber is my favourite.

PJD said...

batgirl, is there a Carrion series? If there isn't, someone should write one. Readers would descend upon it like... never mind.

Clearly, Damion and Zara can't be blood relatives. It would be too much like Luke falling for Leia, which in the end turns out to be kinda creepy.

The rest of it... I have to admit I got lost because I found the query plodding and difficult. Is it important to know that she's a British-American (do we still have those?) living in Ireland? I immediately assumed we were in for some sociopolitical message when I saw that. A nitpick: I think aunt and uncle here should not be capitalized.

Just curious: If "the monotony is broken" by Damion's arrival, you don't actually start the book with a whole bunch of slightly poignant, comfortable monotony, do you?

However, Zara sees his attempts at befriending and helping her like an effort to sabotage her strong image by extending sympathy at her situation. She rebuffs him raising barriers around herself.

"Strong image" was not what I got from the first paragraph; thus, for me her negative reaction to Damion fell flat.

Finally: I know this isn't the actual book we're reading, but the last two paragraphs of your query consist of 137 words in three sentences. I'm hoping this isn't how the book is paced, considering it's YA. Shorten the sentences. Drop anything unnecessary and focus on what happens.

_*rachel*_ said...

Is Damion the best name for a paranormal person? Considering how close it is to demon and how often Damien and Nicholae are used for supernaturally evil guys.

Carian? No, no: Carrion. THAT would be a cool series.

Anonymous said...

I don't see how the story is affected by its Irish setting. Maybe you can make that clearer, especially if its important to the appeal of the story. I also don't see what the British + American ancestry does for your plot or characterization. It looks like a red herring in this query. Maybe it works fine in the story, but is one of those details that don't need to be mentioned in the query.

Steve Wright said...

"Carry On Up the Khyber" is undoubtedly a classic, but my personal favourite is "Carry On Cleo".

Of course, any film in the series is going to appeal more strongly to me than yet another vampire paranormal romance... This query is going to have to be kicked up a notch or two if it's going to stand out in a crowded (to my mind, overcrowded) field.

Losing the references to the heroine's "monotonous" life, and the (rather vague) descriptions of her interior state, might be a good place to start. Also, I'd cut out some of the confusing expositionary stuff about how the main characters are related. I'm a lot more interested in the conflict with the Seven Elders than I am in the empty feeling that lingers in Zara's heart. (In fact, I am almost entirely uninterested in the empty feeling that lingers in Zara's heart.)

Spellings like "Damion" and "Vampyr" make me puke, but possibly they're somebody else's cup of tea.

Kathleen said...

I think a Carrie-Anne series could be quite lucrative. Carrie-Anne Moss buying sunglasses; doing yoga; baking bread.

Dave Fragments said...

The real story is Zara's discovery of her vampiric legacy and her meeting with Damion and how she copes. Try to focus on that. There's too much backstory in this letter. It makes the story sound like all backstory.

batgirl said...

No 'Carrion series' that I can discover, aside from a line of merchandise from

If the Carians are like the ancient Egyptions, Zara and Damion being related would actually be a plus. Just saying.

Author, you might want to rewrite providing more of the actual story events, and post in the comments here.
Or do what I did, and post explaining more of the story and why you made the choices you did in the query. The minions' suggestions can be invaluable in rewriting.

Tanvi said...

I get my most major and idiotic mistake: I forgot the agent/reader has NOT read the book, and will not get it jlt. Stupid, stupid me!

Lilith, a human sorceress fundamentally lived on life essence from others. Thus, she’s deemed to be the Creator Vampyr although she wasn’t an “undead”. Out of her fifteen children, more than half went on to join her vampiric way of life, while a fair few left to lead mortal lives.

The lead characters descend from the mortal lineage.

Makes sense? How do I shorten this info? I'd appreciate any critique, of course.

Anonymous said...

Carry on Nurse or was it Nursing was my favorite. As a Scottish/English Canadian living in Asia, I think a Carry Ying and Yan Can series would be a winner. Comedy cooking with ESL balloons that explode across the screen as the cooker's stress is corrected. (A chef is commonly called a "cooker" in the PRC. They have waiters, tellers, bankers and cookers, human and electric.) No offence meant here, just having some fun. Bibi