Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Face-Lift 789

Guess the Plot

Dark Inheritance

1. Sydney Fermoyle's got oil. Uncle Jack left him the wells, along with instructions for a ridiculous ritual that must be performed before each new drilling. When Sydney tosses the instructions, strange, shadowy creatures begin to haunt the wells.

2. Lorraine's late mother always referred to her childhood home as "the ancestral castle of pure evil." So when Lorraine learns that she's inherited the old house, she does what any goth girl would: she moves right in.

3. When 10-year-old Petra's eccentric Uncle Nox dies, she inherits his estate, the Kingdom of Night. But the evil troll Dunkel believes he is the rightful heir. Can Petra and her loyal bats and owls thwart Dunkel's evil schemes before her parents start enforcing curfew?

4. With few memories of Grandpa Pete, twelve-year-old Misty isn't sure how to feel about his death. When she's visited by Mabel, Herald of the Dark, Misty learns grandpa Pete wasn't just any old grandfather; he was Lord Dark, the only hero on Earth capable of holding the evil ghoul brigade at bay. Now that Misty has inherited that title, can she learn to wield Pete's wand in time?

5. Julia, 28 and lovely, is alone in the world after her parents die in a fire that left only a mound of ashes and two silver stakes. Rex Hamilton, the handsome executor of their wills, informs her that as the mortal child of two vampires, she must atone for every life they took or become a vampire herself. Horrified, Julia pleads for Rex's help -- but eventually she decides being a vampire is worth it. Could it be she saw Rex's billing rates?

6. Possessed by a demon, Una is in danger of losing her soul. She does have one ace in the hole: Dark Power, which she inherited from her mother. But is that enough to exorcise an incredibly strong demon before it takes control? Who knew being a teenager would be so aggravating?

Original Version

Your Esteemed Evilness,

Life sucks for Una White. Her mom is not only famous (for varied reasons) but also extremely overprotective and controlling. It doesn't help much that Una has the ability to read people so well that she can figure out what annoys someone in under five minutes. [If I'm annoying someone, it takes me only a few seconds to figure out what I'm doing . . . and to start doing even more of it.] [What are you saying, Una has a super power that allows her to look at a complete stranger and determine within five minutes that he is annoyed by people chewing their ice, even though Una hasn't seen anyone chew ice in his presence? I don't see how that would be useful except that she can avoid chewing ice in his presence, but as it takes her five minutes to figure out that he's annoyed by ice chewers, she might chew ice three minutes after meeting him, and then two minutes later she realizes that she's gotten off on the wrong foot. She needs to hone her skill so that she can tell what annoys someone within five seconds.] Safe to say that Mom doesn't much approve of Una's new bad boy beau, Auryen. [Apparently Auryen chews his ice?]

But when some of Mom's old enemies from her past [Your old enemies are always from the past.] come back for revenge, Una's caught in the crosshairs. [I think you better tell us what Mom is famous for, so we have an idea what form this revenge is likely to take.] Sporting a new Mark from their attack, she discovers that not only does she have an incredibly strong Demonica [Nice of you to capitalize the words I need to look up so I can find them more easily. I'm guessing a Demonica is a demon who, in a past existence, was football player Daryl Lamonica. No idea what a Mark is. Perhaps if I took up World of Warcraft it would all make sense?] using her for a host body but she also has some Dark Power that got genetically passed down to her from her mom.

Now it's a race against time to exorcize the demon from Una before the Mark spreads and Una loses control. But in order to rid Una of the demon, her mom must first trust Auryen because he may be the only one with the key to saving Una's soul.

Dark Inheritance is a Young Adult fantasy complete at 70,000 words.

Thank you,


It's not clear to me whether the Demonica is connected to Mom's enemies. Are the enemies responsible for the Demonica?

Also, I don't see how the Demonica can be described as "incredibly strong," when it's not even in control.

I don't see what the 3rd sentence has to do with anything. Why not start out:

Life sucks for Una White. Not only does she have an overprotective mom who doesn't approve of her boyfriend Auryen, but she's also possessed by a demon.

Then you can say something like: Luckily for Una, the demon is incredibly weak--so far--so there may be time to exorcise it before it takes control and kills her soul/destroys the Earth/ruins her birthday party.

In other words, what's at stake, and what does Una plan to do about it, and what's making it almost impossible to do it?

If you can avoid using the terms Demonica and Mark, all the better.


150 said...

*strolls past wearing a sandwich board that says BE SPECIFIC*

I've got no idea whether this is a secondary world or not. Specifics will help.

Anon Y. Author said...

Things that went through my head:

1. Her mom is famous for...what? Even if there's more than one reason, pick the most important one.

2."Una has the ability to read people so well that she can figure out what annoys someone in under five minutes." What does that mean? I know what you're trying to get at, actually, but it's very much not clear from the get go. If her ability is truly that strong, keep it simple and clear "Una has the ability to read people so well she's practically psychic".

3. "Safe to say that Mom doesn't much approve of Una's new bad boy beau, Auryen." Sequence? The sentence between the first and third doesn't relate to them enough and they end up feeling randomly thrown together.

4. "Una's caught in the crosshairs." I think the word you want here is crossfire. Crosshairs, slightly different thing.

5. Demonica? Mark? What?

6. "But in order to rid Una of the demon, her mom must first trust Auryen because he may be the only one with the key to saving Una's soul." And uh...what does Una do? Even if she's trying to run away from her problem rather than fight it, she'd at least be doing something. Instead the story sounds like it's about Boyfriend and Mom doing all the work while Una does zilch.

It's short, which is good. There aren't loads of extraneous details. I think you just don't quite have the right details in the right sequence.

Anonymous said...

Sounds like the first Weather Wardens book by Rachel Caine.

The MC is stuck with a Demon Mark that eats at her like a cancer.

Of course, that one was rather better thought out.

Una? Her mom named her Una? On purpose????

Anonymous said...

Why be coy about the sources of Una's mom's fame? How does her fame make Una's life suck, and how is it essential to the plot? Seemingly, it's mom's misbehavior, not her fame, that puts Una in the crosshairs.

I'm harping on that one thing, but there are others. The query suggests that you simply haven't thought things through.

Stephen Prosapio said...

So exorcise your Demonica, and celebrate Hanukkah! Don't be vagueronica and incite 150's Specificanica...

Okay, so her mom is like a "Hit Person" for Demons or something? Why are you hiding that if it connects to the central plot of the book?

Contradiction. Mom is both extremely over-protective and controlling...yet she let's her date a bad boy beau??? Does not compute. What's he over-protective and controlling about, how she wears her hair???

Sounds like the beginings of a cool story here but it needs to be flushed out. And after my rant from a week ago, I must say....

vkw said...

well, I agree with EE and the rest of the minions so far but now let's pick apart the last part of the query -

using her for a host body but she also has some Dark Power that got genetically passed down to her from her mom. (this could be written: Una discovers she is the host body for a demon and dark magic that (could destroy the world, make her into a vampire, take over the world or rid the world of fried chicken, etc) if not controlled.

Avoid "gentically passed down" "got"

who cares where she got it? Could have been marsh water, who cares.

Now it's a race against time to exorcize the demon from Una before the Mark spreads and Una loses control. But in order to rid Una of the demon, her mom must first trust Auryen because he may be the only one with the key to saving Una's soul.

Could be written -

The demon must be exorcised before it (hatches from her body, takes over her soul, mind and body, rids the world of watermelon) or she loses control of the evil power that is threatening to (consume her soul, clean her room or makes her break up with boyfriend, makes her addicted to candy).

In order to save Una, her mother must trust the boyfriend, who (may or may not? I don't think so because you know you know and I know you know and we both know that he does.) has the (resources/wand/sexy stamina/hard rippling muscles/the sacred, top secret scroll to save her.) Una, however, must find the courage/stamina/willingness to overcome her own personal demon by . . . . cleaning her room, if she is to be saved.

But the three heroes are running out of time . . . because the boyfriend is moving to Ohio to go to college next month, demon or no demon be damned.

Una needs to step up to the plate here and show that she is a hero worth writing about or your book's main character should be the boyfriend or the mother.

(I had the same problem, which a minion pointed out when I submitted by query and syn, and resulted in a huge amount of rewriting. I didn't like the advice but the minion was absolutely correct. Readers want to read about the HERO not the VICTIM).


P.S. why should i care if Una can figure out what annoys me in five minutes? Children are able to figure out immediately that whining/crying/begging/tattle-telling/yelling annoy me immediately - as noted by the fact they do this around me. but you don't care about but you must give me a reason to care that Una has this skill

Eileen said...

Old enemies don't have to be from your past. It is possible you have a herd of vengeance seeking senior citizens who hate you.

angela robbins said...

This one lost me, too. I agree with 150: be specific. And it irks me to read that her mother is famous, but no explanation is given as to why. Not to sound mean, but it makes me think it has little importance to the story, so why is it at the beginning of the query?

St0n3henge said...

Some questions you might consider answering:
1. What, specifically, is her mom famous for?
2. What old enemies? Demons? People? The IRS?
3. Is a Demonica a female demon, or a very bad sounding musical instrument?
4. How does she know she has this Dark Power?
5. What is a "Dark Power"? What is it good for?
6. How does a mark- excuse me, a Mark- spread?
7. What does Auryen have that is the key to saving Una's soul?
8. Does all this take place in our world, or some other world?
9. Most importantly, how is the reader supposed to identify with a psychic, demon-possessed teenager whose mother is famous?
Inquiring minds want to know.

Eric said...

The Demonica is very lovely when playing trios with the Infernoboe and Necronomiccordion.

batgirl said...

Eric ftw!

This strikes me as mostly setup. Suggest that you spend more time on what happens in the book and what Una _does_.