Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Face-Lift 718

Guess the Plot

Lone Wilder

1. He thought he could get over his anxiety problems all by himself, but Stan Wilder is quickly realizing that he may be on his own forever, especially now that he can’t walk out his front door.

2. Eleven year-old Billy Keefer attempts to draw a new comic book hero called the Lone Wilder. But when the character leaps off the page - literally - and starts causing havoc in Billy's life, Billy realizes he's getting more than he bargained for.

3. Cornered in his mountain hideaway, Dracula escapes by time traveling to 1942 to join forces with Hitler. But a secret government agency uses equipment discovered in Roswell, New Mexico to send a super-powered agent after Dracula, an agent named . . . Lone Wilder.

4. No one wanted much to do with the stranger when he arrived in town. Pleasantville, Montana was a quiet place with no desire to host an ex-outlaw (or whatever he was--nobody was certain). But when the werewolves started showing up, only one man had the guts to deal with them: Lone Wilder.

5. After 7 years of partying with almost no effort at graduation, Van Wilder is forced to grow up and joins the Texas Rangers. But when he barely survives an ambush that kills five other Rangers, he decides to dig six graves and don a mask, leaving behind his original identity forever to become . . . the Lone Wilder.

6. Some folks thought the glory days of the old west were long gone, but cattle rustler Lone Wilder is back, and being six feet under for more than a hundred years has made him mighty grumpy.

Original Version

Dear Mr. Evil Editor,

Lone Wilder emerges from thirteen years of self-imposed isolation [When your name is "Lone," you're pretty much doomed to isolation, self-imposed or not.] to enter into the secretive and unregulated agency, the New Technology Testing Center. He learns that a time-traveling fiend called Dracula is responsible for the deaths of his parents as well as other atrocities throughout time. However, this Dracula is not the “vampire” that legend has made him out to be. He is a product of human cloning from ten thousand years in the future and bent on protecting the fate of his society. [Protecting the fate of his society from what? What is the fate of his society?] [Not clear if he's a clone of the original Dracula.] [Is he a vampire in any way? Does he drink blood?] [Wait a minute, Dracula is a character in your book, and your title is some other character? One whose first name is, inexplicably, Lone? Would anyone have gone to the new Sherlock Holmes movie if it were titled Lord Blackwood? What's a better title, Mary or Bride of Frankenstein?]

The NTTC discovers Dracula in his mountain hideaway [The guy travels 10,000 years to the past and then hides away in a mountain? Shouldn't he be doing something?] and launches an attack against him. Lone, thinking that he can do better than the NTTC agents, defies orders and faces off against Dracula. When Lone realizes that he is no match for the creature, one of the NTTC scientists snatches him from certain death using an untested technology which alters Lone’s genetic code. Finding himself suddenly empowered with certain extraordinary abilities such as superior strength and speed, Lone now has not only the will to destroy Dracula but also the means.

When Dracula escapes to 1942 Germany in the hopes of joining forces with Hitler, [Now that's refreshing. A time traveler who isn't trying to kill Hitler.] [Suggested title: Dracula Versus Hitler. You'll have to change the plot so Dracula and Hitler are enemies, but it's worth it for that title. Also, I recommend editing Lone Wilder out of the book.] Ablikin, the mysterious and elusive head of the NTTC, sends Lone after him using the transportation technology discovered in Roswell, New Mexico. [How convenient. You're hopelessly outmatched by a villain with time-travel technology from 10,000 years in the future, and you happen upon your own time-travel technology.] [How do they know what year Dracula went to? How do they know he time traveled rather than became invisible?] During his journey, Lone realizes that his presence is a bigger part of history than he could have imagined. [Especially if he somehow manages to kill Hitler. It was too much to hope that no one would try to kill Hitler.] Finding himself now trapped in the past, Lone uncovers Ablikin’s startling secret.

LONE WILDER is a tale of adventure complete at 109,000 words. Thank you for your time, and I look forward to your ridicule and harsh comments (as well as those of the minnions!)



We need to know how your Dracula is related to the Dracula.

A fiend who travels through history committing atrocities should have better things to do than kill Lone Wilder's parents. Wait, did he kill Lone Wilder's parents so Lone Wilder would never exist because he knew Lone Wilder would one day be responsible for his demise, and because he found the name "Lone" highly annoying, only he got the date wrong and Lone had already been born? It's always better to go after the grandparents than the parents. You don't have to be as accurate with your time travel.

If you insist on naming the guy Lone, I suggest that after he gains his super powers, he take on a cool superhero name like Time Man or Superguy.


Ellie said...

After reading your query, all I know about Lone is that he's an orphan. (And not so great at judging the odds in a fight.) This seems like the type of book that's more plot-driven than character-driven, which is fine, but I feel like I still need some sense of who Lone is in order to care about what happens to him.

Why does he enter the NTTC? Why does he think he can beat Dracula solo? Is his parents' death his only motivation? Why does the NTTC send him and not any of their other agents? Is he a man on the edge, a pacifist pushed too far, a cold-hearted thug, a knight in shining armor, a good guy gone bad?

For that matter, I feel like I need more about Dracula. Why is he doing any of this? Personal taste here, but the main reason The Eyre Affair left me so cold was having a super-powerful villain skipping around committing evil for the kicks and giggles of it. I don't actively root against a villain like that; I just wish he'd go away.

The book may be quite good, but right now the query doesn't come across as fresh or compelling, for me.

Anonymous said...

What age level are you thinking your readers will be? Because if it's middle grade, this is probably ok logic-wise, but if it's for adults, I'm not sure the plot sequence will be entirely satisfactory. All that fuss over Dracula and Hitler and running around through time seem like big deals, but the way you've described this, the culminating event is when Lone discovers a secret his boss is keeping. Which doesn't seem to solve the Dracula / Hitler problems. Or any other problems discussed. Or maybe it does, but you've coyly kept that info to yourself.

Dave Fragments said...

other atrocities throughout time
-- Carrot Top? The Gong Show? Jay Leno moving to 10pm?

uncovers Ablikin’s startling secret.
-- He's an alien from Proxima Centauri

Sorry, I couldn't resist being silly. I have a few questions:

A supervillain from 10,000 years in the future has taken the name Dracula. Why? Is he a bloodsucker? Is he one of the undead? Is he immortal? Can he sire children and screw with the future, so to speak?

And why does Lone Wilder suddenly appear after a decade or so in hiding and simply walk into a super-secret government organization that has unlimited budgets, unrestricted access and is completely amoral, illegal and unrestrained?

To borrow the title of a NPR show -- Wait, Wait, Don't Tell me... Lone Wilder plants the time machine that Ablikin discovers in Roswell. And the reason that Lone Wilder was hiding in the cave was that if he spends too much time in the real world, he affects the timeline which isn't good. Even if affecting the timeline would prevent Dracula from arising 10,000 years in the future. How about Lone Wilder is Ablikin -- which suspiciously reminds me of Abe Lincoln misspelled.

Or perhaps this is like THE FINAL COUNTDOWN where time itself intervenes so paradox cannot occur?

I suspect that there is a twist that you are not telling us in the query. I'm not sure that is the best strategy to sell the story.

When a super-villain calling himself Dracula travels back from the future to help Hitler and the Nazi's win WW2, the USA turns to Lone Wilder to thwart the effort.

I am at a loss for suggesting any other description than that.

Jeb said...

Lots of potential for good storytelling here, but maybe not a) all at once, and/or b) in the order you have it.

What does Our (Lone) Hero want more than anything? Where does the action begin and end? What are the key action sequences between those points? Who does Lone defeat and what does that accomplish?

Because he'd better bloomin' win after we've followed him from a cave to a secret government facility to Area 51 to WW2. Just sayin'.

Kelsey (Dominique) Ridge said...

I didn't get a feeling of tension or suspense until the last two sentences. The part before felt like a synopsis.

Anonymous said...

Lone Wilder sounds like a porno name.

Stephen Prosapio said...

Okay, the Dracula thing. It's either relevant and connected somehow to the real Dracula or it's not. If not, lose it. There are certain names (Jesus, Michelangelo, Spartacus) that just aren't used unless they're modified in some way. If "Dracula" is somehow banished in the end to 15th century Romania it ain't gonna work. On the other hand, if he went back there and drummed up mythology on his name at some point in time for some purpose...then add it a a peek into his character and motivation.

Agree with Ellie on Lone. Need more info as to his motivation.

I liked the going back to Hitler Germany, but would like to know his motivation and the CONSEQUENCE if nothing is done. (see Time Cop)

_*rachel*_ said...

Vampire + cloning + time travel + Hitler + secret agencies + genetic changes + superpowers + Roswell = kitchen sink. I've got a bad feeling about this sort of kitchen sink.

This query needs to be rewritten from scratch. Start with something like what Dave said, and keep it simple.

Sarah from Hawthorne said...

To be brutally honest with you, I'm concerned that you've got a bit of a Mary Sue thing going on here. Lone Wilder fits a lot of the tropes (unusual and overly descriptive name, tragic backstory, lots of angst) but even more than that, the rules of the universe just seem to keep rewriting themselves in his favor.

We definitely need to get more of a sense of who he is and why he's an adequate foil for Dracula and Hitler. And possibly Abe Lincoln.

Blogless Troll said...

I'm sorry, I can live with the name Lone Wilder, but New Technology Testing Center has got to go. Unless you add ACME to the beginning, then it's probably OK.

Also, ending the query by stating there is a startling secret and then never revealing the startling secret may seem like a good way to generate interest in your story, but really it's just annoying. Plus, it forces us to come up with our own startling secret substitutions, which, in our own minds, are way better than yours ever could be because we made them up. Then inevitably we're disappointed with your startling secret, no matter how startling or secret it is.

For example, I know I'll be extremely disappointed if Ablikin isn't a clone of Sammy Davis Jr who was taught kung fu and sent to kill the time traveling fiend Dracula in order to avenge the honor of some third guy who lost face at a roller derby fiasco in Sheboygan.

Anonymous said...

Author here...thank you all very much for your comments, suggestions, and witticisms! I am now well aware of how off-track I was on this query. I think I know which direction to take it now. Again many thanks for your time and help. (and I love the Guess the Plots!)

Kathleen said...

I love that the Dracula guess the plot was the real one! and EE, hilarious as usual.

Author - I think you have a fun story here, but definitely too much back story in the query. Good luck!

wendy said...

Sorry I'm so late to the party. I've been lost in Vladivostok. (Don't even ask.)

I like this one. Every time I thought I had a handle on where it was going you changed it up. It may indeed be the kitched sink approach, but at some point the darn thing started to facinate me.

I do think EE is right about needing to define your Dracula a bit more. The difference might be in a few well placed adjectives.

I also think it needs to be cut throughout - too wordy, feels like swimming through pudding to me.

That said, I still can't imagine how you are going to pull it all together, but that's half the fun, right? Can't wait to see what you come up with. Best of luck.