Thursday, April 15, 2010

Face-Lift 756

Guess the Plot

A Vampire's Silent Genes

1. In the war between the werewolves and the vampires the vamps have one great advantage. With all that howling and jaw chomping the wolves can't sneak up on ANYBODY, while silently the Vampires slink through the darkness, their jeans-clad thighs making no whisk-whisk sound.

2. Sammy's mother was bitten by a vampire while pregnant with Sammy. At least, that's Sammy's excuse for not liking garlic, having fangs, and wanting to be a hemotologist.

3. A brilliant scientist fuses the DNA of two vampires and a jaguar with a human embryo, creating the world's first human with vampire genes and spots. But the creature longs to be a normal human, so he looks into stem cell research for the answer.

4. Tom Fraser has problems. He's unpopular at high school, his parents have split up, he can't talk and he's a vampire. As Twilight mania sweeps his school, Tom hatches a plan to turn his vampirism into popularity. Tom works on his dark moody look and buffs up a little, but when he tells everyone he's a vampire he's still unpopular.

5. Vlad the Ruthless has a secret. Though by night he terrorizes New York, by day he does genetic research at Sloan Kettering...and he just may have discovered a cure for cancer. But will vampire hunter/nurse Michelle stop him before he can make the discovery known?

6. 400 years of respectable human children--and then wham! vampire. Ella's dad blames her mom's questionable ancestry--but it takes two to make the recessive gene appear, which spells out a family feud for Ella. Now Papa's out for Great-great-great-grandpa's blood via stake--and vice versa via fangs.

Original Version

Dear Evil Editor,

Dr. Kyle Montach is cursed. Time is ticking and he’s fated to become what he fears the most, one of his kin, a vampire. [It sounds like you mean he's fated to become one of his relatives. It also sounds like you're saying he fears vampires, rather than becoming a vampire. The easiest fix is to dump the entire sentence and start the next sentence: Unless he can halt his . . . ] Unless he finds a cure to halt his vampire transformation, his soul, along with his humanity, will be lost forever. In this 120,500 word paranormal epic romance novel, A Vampire’s Silent Genes, [Now that you've gotten us interested in the plot, don't interrupt with the title, word count and genre; move those to the last paragraph. And get rid of "epic."] life for Kyle and his soul mate, Sarah Whitaker, revolves around stem cells; only the controversy doesn’t end there. [Dump the entire sentence. Sarah and stem cells can come in later.]

Unknown to humans, Kyle is a cybrid; a three dimensional being created to evolve over time. [Excellent. You have no idea how dull it is reading about two dimensional beings. They're such flat characters.] [Dump the entire sentence. Everyone is three-dimensional and evolves over time, and you work in your pet word "cybrid" in the next paragraph (put quotation marks around it there.)]

He’s a scientific anomaly; one damned by his mother, Margaret Montach. She’s a powerful vampire and brilliant scientist, who for centuries wanted to be a mother in the flesh, not just in blood. After thousands of attempts, she formulated a cybrid by taking a human embryo and fusing hers and her husband’s, Oswin, [husband Oswin's] vampire DNA, and for divinity purposes, the DNA of a jaguar. [You gotta have that jaguar DNA. It's the secret ingredient, the honey in the barbecue sauce.] [What does "for divinity purposes" mean? If it means what I think it does, how do I get some jaguar DNA?] Becoming obsessed with her maternal quest, she invoked a Mayan god of the Underworld to bless her creation. [You gotta have that invocation of a Mayan god of the Underworld's blessing. It's the vanilla in the tapioca pudding.] [By the way, the Mayan god of the Underworld was originally known as Ah Puch, but this led to some embarrassing typos, so he changed his name to Yum Cimil. Trivia you can use.] And the result was Kyle, the first ever [cross between a werejaguar and a] human born with vampire genes. [After mixing the DNA of the embryo's mother and father with her own DNA and Oswin's DNA and a jaguar's DNA, Marge is lucky Kyle wasn't the creature from the black lagoon.] [I'm sure the jaguar and Ah Phuch . . . oops . . . work fine in the book, but in the query they sound wacko. Dump them.]

Fifty five years later, Kyle, not looking a day over thirty and grasping onto what little humanity he has left, leaves his vampire family compound in London and relocates to Florida. As an avid researcher, he believes that stem cells are the key to unlocking the mystery behind silencing his vampire genes. [We know what keys do; just say stem cells are the key to silencing his vampire genes.] In the midst of his personal discovery, Kyle meets widow and mother, Sarah, and undergoes insurmountable changes, unlike anything he ever expected. He learns about life, love and finds the strength to pursue a human life with Sarah, the woman of his dreams. [It doesn't sound like his changes were insurmountable. What did you mean by that?] [I think we've cut enough that you now have room to tell us a bit more about Sarah and what happens with the stem cells. Is that what caused his changes? It sounded like they were caused by meeting Sarah.]

This is my first novel. Although I’ve never been published, I’ve been in marketing and communications for the last 14 years, and most recently worked for a stem cell company. [If I paid you to get me some stem cells, would I be able to clone myself? I'm thinking I could have my clone do the blog while I lie on the couch watching TV.] Thank you in advance for your consideration.


Wouldn't a brilliant scientist need a scientific basis for trying jaguar DNA and a Mayan god's blessing in any formula? Does she just think, What the hell, I've tried everything else, might as well try invoking the blessing of a Mayan god and putting some jaguar DNA in this embryo I stole? It could work.

Invoking the blessing of a god sounds more like something you'd do for divinity purposes than using jaguar DNA, which sounds like it would screw up the experiment.

"Cybrid" makes me think there's something robotic about Kyle. Why is the word "hybrid" not applicable?


Anonymous said...

First, thank you very much for your time and assistance. I am truly grateful for your input.

Second, regarding your questions:

“Does she just think, What the hell, I've tried everything else, might as well try invoking the blessing of a Mayan god and putting some jaguar DNA in this embryo I stole? It could work.”

* She does have a scientific basis but is still desperate. And yes…that’s exactly what she thinks.

“Invoking the blessing of a god sounds more like something you'd do for divinity purposes than using jaguar DNA, which sounds like it would screw up the experiment."

* There is a divine Mayan tie-in with the jaguar DNA – It is, in fact, a screw up and a part of Kyle’s insurmountable changes.

"Cybrid" makes me think there's something robotic about Kyle. Why is the word "hybrid" not applicable?”

* It is applicable but I thought the term was overused – which is why I chose cybrid. Also, it’s an actual term when referencing these animal/human embryos – either would be correct but I agree it does sound like he’s a robot. I also thought about vybrid (vampire hybrid) but then thought it was too hokey.

_*rachel*_ said...

Vampires, jaguars, cybrids, Mayan gods, soulmates--what DON'T you have in here? Toss in in the kitchen sink* where it belongs and start over.

Also, I'm really confused by "three dimensional." Height, length, depth? If you mean he's a dynamic character, good. But show us that; don't tell us.

*Turkey City Lexicon, Part Three, The Kitchen Sink Story. Scroll down a bit to The Tabloid Weird and give that a glance, too.

Jeb said...

Ah... advertising. That explains why some words don't mean what they normally would. 'insurmountable changes' for example. If he's doing them, they're not insurmountable. By definition, in fact.

Author, this query is very wordy and leads me to question what percentage of those 120,500 words in the manuscript will turn out to be necessary to the plot, atmosphere, or character development. Pare down. Pare WAY down. Apply this to the novel as well as to the query, and your next incarnation might read 'Silent Genes, a 75,000 word paranormal romance'.

There's a lot of back story and not much detail on the actual plot. We don't need a paragraph - just a sentence - on how he became what he is. The story is all about what he does after that.

You've got a nice ticking bomb there: the pending, irreversible transformation to a vampire. Start with that and build, build build.

"Kyle is cursed. His geneticist mother set him up to turn into a vampire as soon as [X conditions are met]. His best hope to save his soul, and his humanity, lies in his own bleeding-edge stem cell research. Sexy nurse Sarah is not only a curvaceous distraction from his test tubes; she's a lethal vampire-hunter who will surely turn on him if/when he Turns. As the fatal re-natal day approaches....."

Fill in with some relevant action and As-You-Know-Bob's your uncle. :D

Tom Bridgeland said...

This strikes me as just weird. Sorry, I guess vampires aren't my thing.

Anonymous said...

The first three paragraphs of your query are backstory. Basically, Kyle's mom did some magic/science mojo and Kyle is a vampire-human-jaguar meld who only wants to be human. We get that.

This is all setup. As in it all happened before the story starts. The majority of your query should be the part that you glazed over here. Instead of alluding to "insurmountable changes" and what he learns about life and love you should give some concrete details.

What does Kyle want and what's stopping him from getting it?

Also, I feel like it's bad idea to say this is your first novel. If you don't include credits agents will assume you're unpublished. Right now you're implying this is the first novel you've ever written (which is cringe-worthy because freshman efforts usually suck) and even if that's so, you gain nothing by revealing the fact up front.


Steve Wright said...

Although "cybrid" is a legitimate word in this context (I looked it up, it's short for "cytoplasmic hybrid" apparently)... the only place I've seen it before was in Dan Simmons's "Hyperion Cantos" SF tetralogy, and that's not what it means there... In this fallen world, I fear literary agents may be more familiar with Dan Simmons than they are with stem cell research, so you might want to leave "cybrid" out of the query.

The same goes for the jaguar DNA stuff - I'm sure it makes sense in the book, but I'm less sure it belongs in the query.

Of course, it looks like the bulk of the query is taken up with Kyle's origin story, while the story proper only starts when he meets this Sarah... you could usefully condense all the background stuff into a couple of sentences (e.g. "Kyle is not a human being. He is a construct of human and vampire genes, created by an untested combination of science and mysticism." - well, I'm sure you can do better than that.) So you'd then have more room to talk about what actually happens when Kyle meets Sarah.

I agree with EE about losing the word "epic", by the way - readers like to decide for themselves whether a story is "epic" or just "long".

Andy said...

I always cringe at the words "soul mate". "Girl of his dreams" doesn't do much more for me. I don't think it's necessary to imply that their relationship is predestined, or that they're perfect for eachother. We need flaws, tension and conflict to make it interesting.