Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Face-Lift 771

Guess the Plot

Vampyre Guardian

1. Pasty, brooding Edwin becomes even more melodramatic when his girlfriend Betty develops a too-close-for-comfort relationship with a rather hairy boy named Jeremy. Did I mention this has vampyres and werewolves and I totally did not camp onto the Twilight phenomenon?

2. Marco cares for the kilometer-wide garden surrounding the castle of Countess Alexia who has forsworn blood in favor of devouring the essence of flowers. When the local villagers form a stake-wielding mob, they'll have to get past Marco and his army of award-winning hybrid man-eating roses.

3. Agatha, an angel-obsessed teen, searches for a miracle that will save her dying father. What she finds is Patch, a vampyre who will save her father from his illness--if she promises to help him win back the vampyress of his dreams.

4. Lord Bavlov's life is perfect, he has a swinging bachelor's castle with a sweet party coffin and a bevy of young goth girls begging to be bitten. Yep, it's pretty fang-tastic. But all that changes when Molly, his young light-loving sister dies and Bavlov finds himself entrusted with the care of young Mallory, his six year old niece.

5. High school student Damira is the one person who can stop Vampyre Israith from becoming all-powerful and destroying the world, but to do so she must travel to the mountains of India and kill Israith at midnight on her 18th birthday. Maybe her Vampyre guardian will help. But is it worth missing her birthday party?

6. Gina is tired of being the membership recruitment officer for SPAS--Society for the Preservation of Archaic Spelling--and is thrilled when new member Vlad offers to take over her job. But she can't help feeling concerned when local spelling bees start turning cut-throat . . . literally.

Original Version

Dear Evil Editor,

Damira is a seventeen year old girl with a destiny. She must find the Vampyre, Israith, and kill him at midnight on her eighteenth birthday. [If she knows she must do this, I'd call it a mission rather than her destiny. If she doesn't know, why would she even look for Israith?] See, in her world, Vampyres are there to protect their human Charges and Israith broke the most sacred rule of all, he killed his Charge, Illyria.

One day after school, Damira is walking home when she is accidentally hit by a mysterious biker. She finds out his name is Zelimir and he is a Vampyre without a Charge. Aside from the way he sort of creeps her out, she realizes that she’s falling for his charm. [He's sort of like Hannibal Lecter. A charming guy, but you wish he'd kill his victims before eating them.]

Soon, though, she starts having disturbing dreams that predict Zelimir’s death [Are you saying her dreams normally come true?] and she pushes him away for his own safety. [Is she his Charge at this point? Was she already another Vampyre's Charge? How many people have Vampyre guardians?] Of course he doesn’t stay away, enrolling in her school and practically stalking her. [Do all Vampyres whose Charges are in high school enroll, or do some of them just drop their Charges off in the morning and pick them up in the afternoon?] He even saves her life from a would-be assassin Vampyre. [So Vampyres are there to protect their human Charges . . . from Vampyres?] [Bully to wimpy kid: Meet me in the parking lot after school. My Vampyre's gonna beat your Vampyre to a pulp.]

She gives up trying to push him away and they Bind themselves to each other (basically a sharing of blood between the Vampyre and human that creates a psychic link between them).

Things are peaceful then for a few weeks until Damira begins having more visions, but this time they’re of the past, no the future; and in them, Zelimir’s not the good guy. So, Damira tricks him into telling her about his past and what she discovers startles her.

Zelimir was an agent of Israith’s all along! [She knows who Israith is? Does that mean she knows about her destiny to kill him?] This time when she pushes him away, she uses a gun. Later that night, another assassin attacks, a Vampyre named Ivee, and Damira just barely escapes with her life. [These Vampyre assassins really need to find a different line of work.]

She flees to Europe where she is still being stalked and having more ‘memory visions’. She makes it to India before the Vampyre assassins find her again. There, in the middle of a marketplace, Zelimir catches and sedates her and locks her in the trunk of a car going on a one way trip to Israith’s hideout in the mountains. [Does she flee to India because she knows Israith is there, or is it coincidence?]

There, she must battle murderous Vampyres who all await her eighteenth birthday, the day Israith will seal his pact with ancient demons that will grant him incredible and unstoppable power. Can Damira save the world, or will she die trying? [Clearly she will die trying unless she has powers you haven't told us about. How can a 17-year-old girl defeat murderous Vampyres? I don't even see how she escaped from the trunk of the car.]

Vampyre Guardian is a 50,000 word young adult romanticy actionventure [?] and I'm looking for representation. Thank you for your time.



If Israith becomes all-powerful on Damira's 18th birthday, wouldn't it be better to kill him before her 18th birthday instead of on it?

Humans have Vampyre guardians to protect them from other Vampyres, but I don't see what the Vampyre guardians get out of the arrangement. Do Vampyre guardians drink human blood? Are Vampyres villains to everyone except their Charges?

Why are "Vampyre" and "Charge" capitalized?

The murderous Vampyres seem to know Israith becomes all-powerful on Damira's 18th birthday. Does that mean they also know she is the one destined to kill him? Why would Vampyres chase Damira to India where Israith has his hideout? If they just left her alone in school she'd have been nowhere near him on her 18th birthday. If Israith needs Damira to be present in order to become SuperVampyre, say so.

Why does Israith become SuperVamp on Damira's 18th birthday? Why not on his own x birthday? As it is, your setup is: Israith will become the king of the Vampyres on the day one specific high school girl on the other side of the planet turns eighteen. That's too random. There has to be some link between Damira and Israith.

You have eight paragraphs of plot. That's way too much detail. Cut it to three. A paragraph of setup: Israith will become SuperV if he drinks the blood of his maker's descendant on her 18th birthday. A paragraph about how Demira lands in India, which just happens to be Israith's location, and a paragraph about how she saves the world.

You can leave out Zelimir if it turns out he's a villain. I assume he's the hero, however, so there ought to be something about him being heroic in India, like he battles alongside Demira against the murderous Vampyres.


Susan said...

I'd like to quote two passages here: "Aside from the way he sort of creeps her out, she realizes that she’s falling for his charm" and "Of course he doesn’t stay away, enrolling in her school and practically stalking her."

This boy is stalking her... so she falls in love with him? Why is it that the immediate reaction YA heroines have to stalking is to fall in love?! Stalking is a serious sexual threat! This is seen all the time in YA paranormal novels these days, and it's getting tiring.

Dave Fragments said...

One idea that wandered into my minds as I thought about this query -- every teen (or preteen kid) who gets involved in a fantasy, is fated or predicted or predestined or prophesied or somehow chosen to be the hero and wore, the kid doesn't know about his or her heritage or the curse or the prophesy, etc... Think Harry, Buffy, Bruce, Pete, Susan, Ed, Lucy, Violet. Klaus, Eragon, Frodo and all the rest.

I'm not saying that's a bad McGuffin or plot device but don't sell the novel on the fact that the kid or teen suddenly finds out about their fate or the prophesy.

I agree with EE, this query needs to be cut down. It is long and reads like a synopsis.

I hesitate to suggest these two ideas. You can use them as suggestions or examples to focus the query.
"In a world where vampires guard humans, the greatest crime is to kill a human."
That might not be the plot.
"Demira discovers that her 18th birthday is special in ways she could never imagine. If she doesn't kill a vampire at midnight, The vampire will destroy the world."
Which is close to the way you started.
You don't have to specify she's 17 if you talk about her 18th birthday.
Then focus on Damira because like Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Anonymous said...

Anyone remember this confession of a stalker from way back...?

I have often walked down this street before;
But the pavement always stayed beneath my feet before.
All at once am I Several stories high.
Knowing I'm on the street where you live.
Are there lilac trees in the heart of town?
Can you hear a lark in any other part of town?
Does enchantment pour Out of ev'ry door?
No, it's just on the street where you live!
And oh! The towering feeling
Just to know somehow you are near.
The overpowering feeling
That any second you may suddenly appear!
People stop and stare. They don't bother me.
For there's no where else on earth that I would rather be.
Let the time go by, I won't care if I
Can be here on the street where you live.

Stephen Prosapio said...

[Vampire rant deleted by author before being submitted]


I'll attempt to be constructive. One of the reasons this query is so long is that there are far too many unneeded words. I'll take one sentence.

"See, in her world, Vampyres are there to protect their human Charges and Israith broke the most sacred rule of all, he killed his Charge, Illyria."

"see in her world" didn't work for me. I know you're trying to do voice but didn't work.

"are there to" -- three words you don't need at all

"most sacred rule of all" - as opposed to the most sacred rule of what? of all not needed.

"he killed his Charge, Illyria"
the name at the end causes you lose the "umph" of this

So - "Vampyres protect their human Charges and Israith broke the most sacred rule, he killed Illyria--his Charge."

27 vs 17 words...and more impact (I think).

Marissa Doyle said...

You've got paragraphs and paragraphs of action here...and almost nothing to differentiate it from any other teen vampire story. What makes it different? Why should we care about Damira and her story? What sets her apart from all the other 17 year olds destined to be the nemesis of some Evil Entity or other? A query letter is about making an agent or editor care about characters and want to know what happens to them, and this letter isn't doing that.

Hmm. Evil Entities. EE, you might want to be careful around 17 year old girls. For more than the obvious reason.

Anonymous said...

I liked number 6.

150 said...

Okay, Author. Thanks for submitting. That takes guts. I'm going to give you advice that will sound like total crap but I promise comes from a genuine and well-intended place.

Put this aside for a couple of months and write another book. Not a sequel, either. Something else.

Whatever we do to the query, I feel sure that the same sensibilities that led you to include the parenthetical that starts with "basically", and to use an exclamation point in your big-reveal sentence, and to invent the phrase "romanticy actionventure" show themselves throughout the manuscript. And that kind of thing is going to stop a reader cold. They have an effect on me that I suspect you didn't want. That, even more than the questionable plot elements, gives me the impression that you just haven't written enough to be confident of what works on the page and what doesn't.

(The extra-long query gives me the impression that you haven't been around agent blogs very long, either. Different problem, resolved in a similar way.)

So write a second book. Heck, write a third! Then go back and read this book again. See if you still like it. See if you learned anything from books 2 and 3 that you could use to make this one better. Rewrite the book if you want to. Then rewrite the query letter.

We'll be here.

150 said...

Also, somebody please write GTP #4, I beg you.

Adam Heine said...

Good advice so far. I especially like what Dave said about the "child of prophecy" being an okay device to use, but not a selling point.

Another piece: there are too many names up front. Try to limit the query to 2 or 3 names, and no more. That means striking the name Illyria and, probably, decapitalizing Vampyre and Charge.

Also, while "romanticy actionventure" made me laugh, you almost certainly need to strike it. This is a YA fantasy (maybe urban fantasy or paranormal romance). Nothing else.

Anonymous said...

Dear Writer,
If I counted correctly there are 19question marks in Evil's notes and comments. If you address those ?'s I bet a lot of stuff will fall into place.
If you've ever been stalked you'd know attraction/falling in love with the stalker is not a remote possibility. Stalking produces anger and courage over terror in the stalkee. You get pissed off and your backbone turns to steel. You hate the person that changed your life. You have choices and conflict internal and external.
Instead of "practically stalking" - if love is an element here I'd get rid of the s word.
"Accidentally hit by a mysterious biker" - are you trying to trick me?

Hey, best of luck, it ain't easy,

Anonymous said...

I'm not thrilled with the query but I'm not . . .emm as negative as some of the other minions.

I think you need to rewrite.

I think it's not a good idea to promote stalking as a good thing. Not only is stalking, bad, bad very bad but promoting it as normal/romatic behavior is dangerous and should never be represented as anything but what it is - abuse.

Your heroine should be angry, scared and going, duh . . .I knew I should of follow my gut when I met the fruitcake. Now. . how am I going to get rid of him? I know I'm going to call the police. . .

Everyone is allowed to disagree but I think there is a legitimate argument that a fantasy query is hard to write - the author has to sell a fantasy plot to an editor/agent who is looking for a a realistic flow in a plot. Even the best query letter is going to sound a bit off and fantasic.

Like my new book I am writing.

It's about a 12 year old boy being terrorized by family members that hate him, after losing his real parents who he never knew in a car accident. Just when everything seems hopeless, he discovers he is actually a wizard and is whisked off to wizadry school via a magical train. He learns the world is divided by those with magic and those without and those with are better but kind and patient to those they could easily overpower. (yeah right).

He subsequently becomes the bravest and best student with the bravest and best friends that allign themselves against evil students. He discovers his destiny is to overcome a once dead supervillian who has been a supervillian for a long time and who killed his parents while he fights the establishment, often being ignored and evenn accused of lying even after saving the school several times and several lives. OH and he is the star football player. But they use brooms. . . but that's subplot.

And he avoids, drugs, sex, alcohol and wayward magic. . Did I mention the house elf and the sock? And, none of the plot has any D&D influence except for the banned of good guys, who are really quite flawless, different races, predjudice, magic, monsters, spellbooks . . . .and certainly is nothing like LOTR . . . except for, well nevermind.

Oh and my boy ends up growing up to be a great man with no trauma from all that he experienced including the abusive childhood.

I'm not being critical, I'm just saying . . . part of loving fantasy is putting some disbelief away just like loving romance means having liking romance.

in my opinion.

TOM said...

Maybe because I have not read any of the recent vampire books I am not as negative here as some of the earlier comments.

I think this 'query' needs to be cut down to the bare bones, then post it again over with Phoenix. Try to get everything into three short paragraphs.

Don't feel bad, these guys cut my query to shreds, then trampled the shreds into the muck. I feel I am a better man for it. Tougher. Wiser for my scars.

Joe G said...

Bind was capitalized as well.

My absolute favorite part of this query was when, after the main character begins to have dreams of the past, no wait the future, no wait it was the past, it turns out Zelimir was working for Israith all along!!!!!!

Seriously. I've heard that agents are swayed by the number of exclamation marks you use in your query letters ;p

I think you spent a lot of time trying to get across the rules of your universe, which are not, to my mind, especially original (you pretty much took things I've seen in other books and tried to apply them to preexisting conditions, such as vampirism). I wouldn't emphasize those aspects.

There's also a logical inconsistency... usually when a character is fated to save the world, it has, well, the feeling of fate about it, rather than chance. The plot feels thin (although it's a short book).

If you're writing a magical girl story emphasize the magical girl at the center rather than the vampires around her.

M. G. E. said...

This query made my head hurt :(

Yes, way too much plot, but worse than that is that it doesn't make any sense. Things happen but there seems to be no rhyme, reason, or motivation behind them.

More important than cool things happening is that cool things happen for a reason that matters to your character.

At least the plot of Twilight makes sense, somewhat >_>

Also, 50k words seems short. It doesn't sound like YA though. I'm half afraid the author chose YA to justify a shorter word count. 17 is pretty much adult at this point.

I suppose the worse part is that this query seems to be trying to ride the coattails of Twilight's popularity. Word of advice: never try to ride what's popular now.

Come up with your own unique premise and run with it. And if you still decide you have to do "teenage girl with vampires" it has to be better, way better, than Twilight.

writtenwyrdd said...

I won't repeat the too-wordy criticism here, because there's enough said about that. However, I have to say that the first paragraph is definitely not a hook. You need to make us care a bit more, and saying your protagonist has a destiny to kill a guy at midnight because he killed someone else gives us no emotional response other than ho-hum, tit for tat.
A hook would be if you showed the consequences of failure and those consequences made us suck in a breath and worry for the protagonist, and want to see how it turns out.

The plot elements worry me, too. And the reason is the "few peaceful weeks then more stuff happens" bit. If you have a lull like that, it sounds like the story begins where the lull ends.

And as far as the stalking part goes, it is also a concern of mine that girls in YA novels are being stalked and it becomes okay. I think that, done well (Cough*Twilight*cough)it can sell; but it seems iffy as you present it here.

I'd recommend a few specific things in your letter's opening. First, you need to spell out what a Charge is, and tell us that Damira gets bonded to a bad guy. Then tell us the goal, the consequences and a bit of the plot.

_*rachel*_ said...

Do what 150 said.

angela robbins said...

"Vampyre Guardian is a 50,000 word young adult romanticy actionventure... " Good thing you didn't start off with this as your lead in sentence or you would have lost me in 2-3 seconds. Stick to YA paranormal or YA urban fantasy.

There are way too many unusual names in this query for me to remember who is who in the zoo.

As the others have suggested, pare this down and focus on the heart of the conflict.

I know it's tough in here. My first query was the subject of many a joke but the advice EE and the minions gave was dead on. When I came back with another draft it was SO much better.

Keep your head up and keep working.

-- angie

Andy said...

It should always be very clear what genre you're writing for, so don't make one up, or suggest that it belongs in four genres. If your urban fantasy has action, adventure and romance in it, it's genre is still defined as urban fantasy.

I think Zelimirs role in this could be explained much quicker, and perhaps without even mentioning his name. Something along the lines of a stranger coming into her life who she suspects is linked to Israith. Use Zelimir as the catalyst for her ending up in India, and leave the rest of his involvement unsaid.