Friday, July 16, 2010

Face-Lift 797

Guess the Plot


1. Melody Manson's superpower sucks. She reincarnates dying people as animals. In a jealous rage she kills all the cooler superheroes, hoping they'll be reincarnated as vermin. When they come back as bunnies, she softens and releases them into the forest. The problem? 1400 angry superbunnies a year later.

2. Jeanne is perfectly happy with her life in New Orleans. But it turns out she's the reincarnation of Joan of Arc. Technically that makes her a saint, but she doesn't feel all that saintly, especially since she's an atheist. And then there's the fact that the guy who had her burned at the stake has also been reincarnated, and wants to do it again.

3. The Elves of Varsooli celebrate the vanquishing of Geg the Destroyer and his race of trolls every winter, but as a dark presence begins burning forests to the West, the High Council begins to believe Geg has been reborn . . . as one of the Varsooli.

4. The old witch died before telling Kerian her reincarnation formula. Now the poor girl has to dig through 749 years' worth of old newspapers, busted furniture, and other junk hoarded over the centuries. Also, a drunk skeleton.

5. Detective Sassy McRedd investigates a rash of mysterious killings in Nochance City. The clues lead her to the meat cases of area grocery stores, where the pork chops, rump roasts, chicken breasts, beef livers, etc. are reassembling themselves into Frankenanimals and wreaking havoc.

6. Ten simple steps you can take to ensure that you come back as something really cool like a dolphin or an otter or a millionaire, not a cockroach or some slob in a third world country where you get nasty diseases from the water. Including seven real-life success stories!

Original Version

Dear Evil Editor,

Heaven hath no fury like a saint reborn—even if that saint is atheist Jeanne Delacey.

Being the reincarnation of Jeanne d’Arc is no picnic. [Agreed. I tossed her out of my body after only three days.] Sure, she now has a divinely empowered bracelet that turns into a sword, and Luca Griffith—tall, dark, and definitely hiding something—to guard her, but she’s going to need, well, a hell of a lot more. Especially since she’s also inherited nightmares of burning to death, a centuries old arch-nemesis, one Pierre Cauchon, who’s been reincarnated as well, and—oh yeah, there’s that pesky business of an impending war between Heaven and Hell.

Soul aside, [Soul aside?] Jeanne doesn’t believe she has what it takes to be a saint. Torn between anger and fear, she falls back on her usual method for dealing with problems: ignoring them. But as demonic attacks grow more frequent, drawing her friends and family into danger, she realizes she’ll have to find the courage to fight. Cauchon sent her to the stake in her past life; he’s more than willing to do it again. [Times have been hard in New Orleans. Burning people at the stake might be just the thing to bring back the tourists.] And this time, the entire world will burn with her.

REINCARNATE is an 82,000 word adult urban fantasy set in modern day New Orleans.

Thank you for your time and consideration.



This isn't bad as is, so take or leave my comments:

It's not necessary to have a one-sentence opening grabber in a query. Which I mention because Jeanne prefers to ignore her problems and when she can no longer do so she has to find the courage to fight. None of which sounds like fury the likes of which heaven has never seen.

If you do drop the first sentence you can work Jeanne's name into the next sentence: no picnic for Jeanne Delacey.

And in the next paragraph you can say Jeanne doesn’t believe she has what it takes to be a saint, not least because she's a devout atheist.

Another approach you might consider is to open: Hell hath no fury like a woman reborn—especially if that woman is Saint Jeanne d'Arc. Then focus the query on the threat from demons of hell and leave the fact that Jeanne prefers to ignore her problems out of the query.

I'm not much bothered by the fact that this is mostly setup, but if you can do so without straining credulity, you might want to mention how Jeanne, with just a magical sword, plans to defeat an enemy capable of destroying the entire world. I assume there's a plan.

Sure, she "now" has a divinely empowered bracelet... suggests that Jeanne has recently become Jeanne d'Arc reincarnated, that she wasn't born that way. So suddenly Saint Joan inhabits her body but Jeanne D. is still in control? Do they both have control? Do they communicate?


angela robbins said...

I think I agree: you could leave it as is, or EE's suggestions would also work well. But that being said, this is one of few queries I've really enjoyed the way it came out of the shoot. This novel sounds very intersesting and creative... something I would like to read.

Chicory said...

This does sound like an interesting one. :) I have to agree with E.E.'s comment about the sword, though. Has Jeane always been Joan of Arc and just found out, or is she newly possessed with Joan's spirit?

Stephen Prosapio said...


I read the #2 GTP and was going to be so disappointed if that either wasn't the story or the query sucked. I'm not disappointed!

This is a great high concept story with a nice voice. If I read this type of pitch on a book jacket, I'd read the opening lines/page and if it was decent, I'd buy the book. And I'm a total reading snob.

pacatrue said...

I'm stuck on that first sentence. It's such a good hook, an atheist saint, that I kept thinking about it, but then I just kept thinking about it. I thought at first that she was an atheist throughout the novel, but as the evidence of divinity was more and more obvious as each sentence arrived, I decided she was an idiot. The reason atheists exist, well the good one, is because they find the evidence for divinity lacking. If God's giving you supernatural birthday presents and you keep being attacked by Beezelbub, then being an atheist is absurd. Then I realized she must have started off as an atheist and learned she was wrong, which is cool, but that starts to become a complicated first sentence.

But maybe it bugged no one else.

I think your voice, concept, and basic plot are clear. It's just up to the agent if they want that. So good job.

Anonymous said...

Hey Angie, ("chute" not "shoot" but being from cowboy country I couldn't resist the tease. Get me back on my opening, coming soon), agree with all you said.
Writer, Evil doesn't mind this? High praise. Hope you do what his Badness says. What Evil lurks in hearts of writrs? Who knows, but I'd take the suggestions. I'd read on. Nice job.

Anonymous said...

EE asked:

So suddenly Saint Joan inhabits her body but Jeanne D. is still in control? Do they both have control? Do they communicate?

I don't get it either. Is this like All of Me, with two separate beings duking it out inside one body? Is it like the Jeff Goldblum remake of The Fly, with one being taking over the other? I would need to know before I'd say yes to someone telling me that Joan of Arc is also an atheist who ignores her problems.