Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Face-Lift 733

Guess the Plot


1. Chased by a werewolf named Simon, Rachel, a werewolf, ends up in Morgantown where she joins a local pack of werewolves and begins to wonder if it's really that bad to be a werewolf when pretty much everyone is a werewolf.

2. Movie producer Barry Steinman's career is at an all time low. Soaked in gin, suicide note in his suit pocket, Barry puts the noose around his neck. After he awakens in the afterlife and bargains with the devil, Barry's soulless shell goes on to make hit after hit starring Morgan Freeman.

3. Charlie Burrows is sent by his newspaper to a small town out in the sticks to follow up on reports of the menfolk disappearing. When he arrives, he is horrified to find that every one of the women is Morgan Fairchild. Can he get to the bottom of this before the town's vamps suck him dry?

4. Big Daddy Morgan is dying and needs an heir--a puppet whose strings he can pull from the other side. His own kids are useless. He needs fresh blood to put his plan in place, and he finds it in a sad little waif who can be easily molded into Morgantown's next king.

5. Zalinda was kicked as a child by a mugger named Morgan. The resulting concussion tricked her into believing a Morgan horse was responsible because she was reading Black Beauty at the time of her mugging. Just another day on the streets of . . . Morgantown.

6. 1872. Morgantown is home to rising coal magnate Elliot Spinner. His arch rival, "Boss" Hardley, is also in the coal business. Between them is Pansy McBride, the red-haired, strong-willed daughter of a Georgia planter. Can Elliot get control of the Morgantown mines while winning the heart of the fiery Pansy?

Original Version

Dear Evil Editor,

Rachel was going to graduate from a good college, settle down with her boyfriend, Michael, and live in Northern California, the only place that ever felt like home.

But three days after she's kidnapped by Simon, a werewolf with a grudge against her family, Rachel finds that things rarely go as planned. [It takes her three days to realize things aren't going as planned? I don't care what my Plan A is, the moment I get kidnapped by a werewolf, I'm aware that Plan B is now in effect.] Now she's a werewolf too, changed by Simon for his own purposes, and Michael is dead.

Rachel escapes and runs as far from Simon as she can get; Morgantown, West Virginia. When the leader of the local pack of werewolves shows up in her hotel room, [Do werewolves really use hotel rooms?

I'd like a room for the night.
Errr . . . yes, and may I point out that our day spa specializes in laser hair removal.

Room service, may I help you?
Yes, could you send up a maid?
I think you want housekeeping.
No, I want dinner.]

she reluctantly takes up his offer to join his pack in exchange for safety. [Is there anyone in this book who isn't a werewolf?]

Getting friendly with werewolves is the last thing Rachel wants to do, but [everyone she meets turns out to be a werewolf. Plus,] with Simon on the hunt, she doesn't have much of a choice. She begins to learn to defend herself, and come to terms with what has happened. The pack leader tries to show her that though she has been treated like one, Rachel is not an animal. It's an idea that Rachel has trouble grasping, because [the two of them are dining on a bellman at the time, and also because] the truth is that Michael didn't just die. He was murdered. By Rachel.

Morgantown is a completed 98,000-word urban fantasy young adult novel. Though it can stand alone, I have begun a sequel [in which Rachel sees a psychiatrist who's a werewolf and tears his throat out right after he tells her she's really a good person], and have planned out two to three more books in the series. This is my first novel.

Thanks so much for your consideration, and I look forward to hearing from you soon!


Does Rachel run from California to West Virginia? That's a lot of running.

What's so special about Rachel that Simon chases her to West Virginia after she escapes? Wouldn't it be easier for Simon to just turn someone else into a werewolf? Can't he take his revenge on her family without her help? It would help if we knew what he wants her to do.

Why is Morgantown, West Virginia the farthest from Simon that Rachel can get? Assuming Simon is in North America, there have to be places farther from him than Morgantown.


Sarah Laurenson said...

When did Rachel know she killed Michael? I think you're trying to use that as your hook at the end to garner interest, but it comes really late.

If I'm reading this right, she's running from herself as much as she's running from Simon. And she has to come to terms with who she is now as well as what she did to the love of her life.

But maybe I'm just reading that between the lines and it's not really there.

Dave Fragments said...

Most werewolf stories I've read involved the main character coming to terms with his/her animal side. I think that's where you've got to focus the query -- on Rachel's struggle. The query touches on Rachel's struggle but it has too much that distracts from her that might or might not be important. I also don't have a clear idea of how Rachel becomes a werewolf.

Also, I wouldn't name Michael in the query unless his presence in the story is like Rebecca De Winter.

Anonymous said...

"Most werewolf stories I've read involved the main character coming to terms with his/her animal side. I think that's where you've got to focus the query"

Wouldn't that make it sound like every other werewolf story?

Anonymous said...


Jeb said...

Listing all the things Rachel was going to do with her life is a surefire drain on momentum, leaving you to start below zero to build up again. Few readers, even those without a zillion queries waiting on their desk, are going to bother building up any anticipation a second time.

There are a dozen ways to punch up your first sentence, starting from such simple changes as "When Rachel is kidnapped by a werewolf, her plans for college graduation are suddenly off the table." (but the second half of that sentence could easily be punchier).

Get the first paragraph rolling and then sort out the crucial plot elements.

(word= liumindar; patented spray-on moonlight for attracting men with that animal magnetism)

_*rachel*_ said...

I'm going to get my claws and fangs into Michael and rip him to shreds.

In the query letter, of course.

Dave Fragments said...

Anon 2:46,

Well yes, it might be a little "same" to say that all newly created werewolfs have angst about being coming animals once a month. but this query makes very little mention of that. She seems to be too accepting of werewolfs and insufficiently disturbed by her conversion, if that is what really happens. I don't know what Rachel is thinking after she figures it out.

If the author wants me to read this story, I want to care a smidge about Rachel. In this version of the query, she's a blank. Is she perhaps preggers by Simon? That would be one exciting YA story.

Does Simon take revenge on Rachel's family by converting her to a werewolf and if so, why doesn't her family help her? Did Rachel's family once defeat Simon's werewolf forefathers? Or did they cheat him in a business deal and now that he's got fangs and claws he gets his revenge by turning their daughter into a murderer?

There's an unrevealed story to Simon and Rachel.

I also had a thought that Michael was disposable. He's merely the tool that Simon needs to drive Rachel into animalistic fury. My point being that Simon wants her for more dastardly deeds than just murdering Michael. She, of course, is fleeing Simon and finds refuge and possibly his demise in West Virginia.

Another point, it's not Morgantown or any other city that's important, it's that she finds some way to defeat Simon's plans for her and possibly her family. Morgantown is a great city with lots of hunters and woods around it.

(All my friends in WV find using Morgantown hysterically funny. They think that the only way they resemble werewolfs are the hunting beards and the two teeth left in their smiles...)

Stephen Prosapio said...

Isn't college wonderful? I've got a boyfriend and a bright future ahead of me!

[three days later]

I've killed my boyfriend, am a werewolf and am being stalked by another werewolf. Oh cold cruel world!

I'd focus this query on the conflict. The conflict doesn't seem to be a "coming of age" werewolf story...it seems like the main conflict is between Simon and Rachel. The problem is we have no idea what it is. As EE wrote, why does he need HER? What's so special about HER? What, once she's a werewolf is she "protaganating" and how is Simon preventing her from that?

I like the fleeing to the gang of werewolves, but we don't see any difference between them and Simon to appreciate why it's important to Rachel. Not feeling like an animal? Hmmmmmm.

Stephen Prosapio said...

Playing off Jeb's excellent suggestion:

"Little can change a college student's plans for the future faster than getting kidnapped by a werewolf."

Guarantee that gets an agent's attention.

Anonymous said...

How about...

Rachel thought becoming pregnant was the worst thing that could happen to her before going to college, but she didn't count on getting bitten by a werewolf too.

I would like to submit my 75,000 word novel, Preg-Wolf, complete at 100, 000 words.

K said...

Hey! Author here, I just wanted to say thank so much for all the comments!

Sarah- You're reading it right :)

Dave- Oh No! Is Morgantown a really terrible place for me to set this novel? I picked it because it's a college town. Please tell me you were joking about the teeth!

Stephen- Can I actually use that opening sentence? It's awesome! I'm worried that the query will get too long if I incorporate why Simon wants Rachel, as opposed to someone else. Would it be ok for the reader to find out in the book, or do you think it's imperative for someone to know in the query?

Last question: You guys were kidding about the sex/preggo thing, right?


(please say yes...)

Evil Editor said...

Tell us why he wants Rachel, and do it in one sentence.

Dave Fragments said...

Please tell me you were joking about the teeth!

Of course I was. Morgantown is and it isn't a college town. Lots of hunters, lots of outdoors sports, football crazies (just like exist in Pa and Ohio). The college provides cultural and world-like diversity and so does the National Energy Technology Lab where I worked. And then there are the traditional West Virginians who were miners and farmers and the like. That bunch is friendly, hard working and good people. They like the outdoors (it's a great area for skiing and canoeing and camping) and they are unaffected and unpretentious people. But only one I met had two teeth left.

I want to apologize for the "preggers" comment. I made it as a throw away line while asking that you make Rachel more interesting in the query. She seemed sort of flat. Although having Rachel pregnant by Simon would be a challenging story to write for young adults. I couldn't tackle that theme and I've seen a teen pregnancy up close.