Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Face-Lift 806

Guess the Plot

Shadow of Doubt

1. Should Carmela marry Dennis, wealthy weapons merchant, or Farley, struggling sculptor? It would be easier if she didn't think either of them could be the murderer of Bobbles, the village idiot in the sleepy hamlet of Dalsette. Will she ever be free from this . . . Shadow of Doubt?

2. A rich widower visits his niece, only to meet with a series of bizarre, near-fatal accidents. Could it be that some higher power is trying to tell him that he should redo his will, in which he leaves all his money to his nephew?

3. By night he takes human form, but by day he's a payphone. Should he tell his new crush his secret, thus jeopardizing everything? Or should he settle for a sex-only relationship and hope she's the type who loves to use the phone? It's a dilemma.

4. When Sandra exposes herself with her book, “Lying for Fun and Profit,” her editor lets slip that the book is selling due to its unintended humor. Her accountant absconds with the money and her boyfriend dumps her. Penniless, infamous and idle, she is refused employment by everyone. Except Satan.

5. When he was born his father named him 'Doubt' Lambright--they were never very close. But when he falls in love with a girl who turns out to be his first cousin, whether he's really his father's son suddenly becomes important. Oh, did I mention they're Amish?

6. Three dead actors. One missing director. And the only witness is a chimp. Homicide detective Zack Martinez knows two things: the chimp isn't talking, and there's no way he'll let the perp make a monkey out of him.

Original Version

TITLE: Shadow of Doubt

Query - Plot: [If these two lines are part of the query, get rid of them. They're wasting space.]

What happens when you fall for the one you are forbidden to love? [In my case, I sit around my home every night watching TV and wondering if Julia Roberts will ever remove the restraining order.] When destiny takes over everything you fought to control, that which was forbidden could now destroy you. [This is all too vague to have any meaning, and will presumably be restated below with specificity. Dump it.]

Erebus is a Shadow, an immortal night dweller, walking the Earth for the last century. [You don't need to be immortal to have walked the Earth for the past century. Just really old.] By day he is the occlusion of a payphone, [Say what? What does that even mean? I can only assume it's a typo and it's supposed to read: By day he is an octopus made of Play Doh. Or he's the clue gun of a peafowl.] and by night he returns to human form. [When did he ever have human form? I assumed he was this immortal night-dwelling Shadow creature when he wasn't a payphone.] He’s different than other Shadows, [which are, by day, excavations of coffee makers.] solemn when Shadows are meant to live for personal fun and satisfaction. That is, until he meets Aurora, a young law student at Cornell University, a human girl. His entire world is shaken. Human feelings he's never had, and urges he’s never understood, like wanting to have a place to live of his own, [Does he live in a phone booth in the daytime?] drive him to question everything about himself and his kind.

Prohibited by the Night Council to have a relationship with a human that involves more than just sex, Erebus is risking severe punishment to be with Aurora on a completely different level. [Even a sex-only relationship with a human can be problematic--if you're still going at it when dawn arrives and you suddenly turn into a payphone.]

When a jealous old flame, Nanny, stalks back into his life, [I could never date someone who went by the name Nanny. Although it's better than dating someone who goes by the name Mommy.] Erebus breaks the most important law set by the Shadows and reveals his secret to Aurora. [Are we talking about the secret that he's immortal or the secret that he's a payphone?] [I'm thinking if you tell your true love you're a payphone, it doesn't matter whether she believes it's true or not. She's gone.] [I'm not sure whether I'd rather my mate be immortal or a payphone. Immortality would be good because funerals are expensive. On the other hand, it wouldn't hurt to have a steady influx of spare change.] By telling her, he jeopardizes everything, and must protect her from Nanny and the judgement of the Night Council. [The only thing he jeopardizes is his relationship with her. No way Aurora bought his claim that he's an immortal nightcrawling payphone.] His biggest fears are realized when he sees that [Aurora has her own cell phone, and thus won't be pushing his buttons.] his desire for Aurora could destroy her, or worse, erase his own Shadow forever.

SHADOW OF DOUBT is complete at 52,000 words and falls into the category of young adult fantasy. The storyline has a unique twist [I'll say.] that goes beyond the traditional fantasy, with pure love that can conquer anything in and beyond this world.


What would happen if humans found out Shadows existed? What's the punishment for telling a human you're a blender? In other words, what's at stake?

Usually authors go with a human being as the main character if one is available. Especially when the alternative is a payphone.

Whatever the occlusion of a payphone is, the query is better off without it. We also don't need Nanny. She's a subplot.

What's the difference between a Shadow and a human at night? Besides immortality. Do they have any powers? Can they have relationships with each other? Are all Shadows occlusions of payphones, or are some occlusions of gas pumps? Are all objects Shadows? Or are there a limited number of Shadows?

In the US we spell "judgment" with one "e".


wanitajump said...

Dying laughing at your comments on the Shadow of Doubt... I betchya you were shaking your head as you read it!
THanks for the ideas... THe story doesn't sound as rediculous as the query's made it out to be! I promise you that :) It's actually been picked up by an agent and I think a proper rewrite of this is DEFINITELY in order!
from Canada.

khazar-khum said...

Is Erebus at all concerned that pay phones are a dying breed? What happens when he's the only one?

angela robbins said...

Things that make you go: hmmmm?

Definitely a new twist when one of two MC's turns into a pay phone! Gives new meaning to: here's a quarter call someone who cares.

I don't like that your characters' names are the same as mine in something I wrote, but considering they've been around for millennia, I guess I can't cry and whine now.

If this was picked up by an agent, why did you need EE and his minions to shred it? Just curious.

I agree with EE's real and blue comments and laughed at all their hilarity!

Ashley Girardi said...

I really want to know what an occlusion of a payphone is! This query is a mess but you say you've had bites from an agent so there must be something to it that I'm not seeing.

Right now the plot reads as a very cliche supernatural boy meets girl love story with the inexplicable addition of a pay phone.


angela robbins said...

I'm wondering... if Erebus cheats on Aurora with a cell phone, will Aurora still accept his collect calls?

Mother (Re)produces. said...

You mean he's blocking a pay phone? Like a wad of shadowy chewing gum? What a bizarre life. Sounds interesting but I'd love a few more specific plot details.

_*rachel*_ said...

Wait, what?


I'm not sure this is really YA--it's adult subject matter in a middle school-sized book.

If you've got an agent, why do you need help with the query?

mb said...

This gets my vote for funniest Face Lift of 2010 so far. Also maybe funniest query. If I were an agent I'd have requested pages, too, just too what the heck the thing was like.

Dave Fragments said...

Well, we can't say it's a plot we see everyday. Nosiree, we can't.

And the blue comments are just spectacular.

Sarah from Hawthorne said...

Please, please explain what on earth the occlusion of a payphone might be. I don't think I'll be able to concentrate all day until I know.

Anonymous said...

OMG, this made me laugh so hard I look CHEERFUL at my job! Everyone else has started smiling too, apparently from the fallout of my snerkling. Please, PLEASE tell us what "the occlusion of a payphone" is!!!

150 said...

...I assumed "occlusion of a payphone" was an attempt to say "the shadow cast by a payphone" without actually saying "shadow" again.

This is crazy. Just crazy enough to work. God bless you, author of a girl-meets-payphone love story. You really raised the bar.

Marissa Doyle said...

EE, that was one of your best. This adds an entirely new dimension to phone sex, doesn't it? :)

But I'm also wondering what possibly makes this a YA. Your main character is an immortal, and his love interest is in law school, which means she's at a minimum 22--that's way beyond YA territory.

I'm also curious as to why you're working on a query letter if you're agented.

vkw said...

If its been picked up by an agent already, does the query need to be rewritten. I thought the purpose of a query was to get an agent or a publisher. Maybe just a publisher?

Anyway, no Shadow of Doubt this story just seems . . . well silly.

I don't think it sounds all that different from other plots. A vagabond man, hiding something forbidden and a bit sinister, with many lovers, falls in love with someone he is forbidden to love, he reveals his true identity resulting in danger for him and her and there we have the plot.

The only difference is the mysterious man is a payphone during the day and human at night.

Then there is this sentence:

The storyline has a unique twist that goes beyond the traditional fantasy, with pure love that can conquer anything in and beyond this world.

I think many authors of fantasy novels and paranormal novels would highly disagree that there story lines do not involve "pure love". Wasn't that what saved Harry Potter over and over again the pure love his mother that sacrificed her life to save him as a child and thus he gained super powers to destroy super evil. Isn't this the subplot of those vampire novels: vampire falls for woman, forbidden love ensues and all sorts of disasterours results happen. Didn't Frakenstein fall in love with heroine - feeling pure love, which calmed his emotional beast within but he got killed anyway?

I'm not sure that plot is so unqiue.

(And I could be just a tad bit predjudicial because I do not like broad statements like that sentence. It's a bit grand.)

We need to know what a Shadow is and why are they important. And, your heroine, what's up with her? I mean, I get kind of suspicious when great women fall for things like shadows, vampires, werewolves and demons while ignoring the perfectly great millionaire down the block. Just think of it, if she's so great and special, that a Shadow falls in love and begins to question his very existence and purpose, why would she go out with a payphone and not her law-student buddy with the great biceps?

"I need to tell you I am a shadow that hides as a payphone during the day and have loveless relationships with women at night."

ME: "You have sex with random women, is that what you are saying?"

"Yes and I have stalker, who wants to kill me and you."

ME: "you're a payphone during the day?"


ME: "Sicko. I'm out of here and you and your ex-sicko girlfriend can go your own way. I going out with Billy down the street at least he has potential and won't be carrier for every STD ever diagnosed and he has a car and dating him won't get me killed. See I am special and I recognize that and I can do sooooo much better than you. However, if you become mortal and get rid of the ex and develop some potential - give me a call. OH and I'll a need medical clearance as well."

Sarah said...

What's blocking the payphone? Wha...?

Just want to add my voice to the general clamour for explanation. :)

lora96 said...

I hate to state the obvious but:

A pay phone?

People have cell phones, so pay phones are increasingly difficult to locate. Is Shadow in peril because the phone company may deactivate him and send him to a landfill?

Perhaps a less obsolete inanimate object is in order.

Sarah said...

"Perhaps a less obsolete inanimate object is in order."

Maybe that's why he's looking for a date, because the work has dried up. Times are hard for us all right now...have a heart.

vkw - I thought the unemployed nightcrawler payphone was the unique twist? That, I think, is probably a valid claim.

Unknown said...

Hey EE, did you know that


reprinted this blog post?

I was googling "occlusion of a payphone" and the site popped up.

Back to the query - I wish there were more details. But I give it full marks for a unique spin.

not normally occluded said...

Ummm. I'm not buying for a second that this was picked up by a reputable agent. The query is flat out a mess. The manuscript just can't be that much better. It sounds like the author didn't get the reaction from EE that she wanted and so is now claiming she doesn't need our comments/help.

As for the next step if the author DID have an agent, said agent would likely prepare a "Pitch Letter" which would be submitted to publishing houses. If you think you need a great pitch in your query to snag an agent, imagine how much better it must be to snag a publishing house to actually shell out money in this economy to a first-time novelist.

Hint: It would need to be 1,000 times better than this.

Take EEs advice and go back to the drawing board.

Phoenix Sullivan said...

Wanita: The reaction of the minions is telling. If an agent has offered on this, please, PLEASE do your due diligence and make sure it's a REPUTABLE agent. Check out Writer Beware, Preditors and Editors, Absolute Write... Or google "agent fees writing scam" and follow the links to be crystal clear about what you're getting yourself into/gotten yourself into. If they're legit, then congratulations, and best of luck in getting it placed!

An agent will generally write the pitch to the publishers themself or will coach you along in how to write an improved one.

EE: The commentary for this is a candidate for the year's top 5 for sure! My stomach still hurts from laughing.

M. G. E. said...

Clearly payphones are the new vampires! But does your payphone sparkle in the sunlight and have a moody operator voice? Just dial 143.

Seriously, this was the funniest FL of all I've read ^_^ I laughed often and loud, especially over the picture, hahahha :)

As for the "occlusion of a payphone" line, it seems that refers to him literally being assigned to be the shadow that a payphone casts, almost like it was his home in daylight. It's a strange concept. You'd think they'd just have to hide within the shadow of anything to survive. But no.

52,000 words seems awfully short. I keep thinking that authors are writing short novels and then trying to pass them off as YA because the word-count ended up low. Because this sounds nothing like YA.

Why do I get the feeling that the book is going to end with him deciding to be his lover's shadow for the rest of her life >_> Talk about a stalker.

My question is why he's suddenly hooked on this girl? What's special about her? There has to be something. You write him as having these purely physical relationships. I don't see any motivation on offer for a change of that mindset in his life. This is something that can be very carefully and subtly laid down, and you could do it with his old flame pretty easily.

Rebecca Christiansen said...

I laughed all the way through this, and it wasn't just from EE's hilarious comments.

And that's not the reaction you want to your story.

Seriously, A PAY PHONE?! Is he literally a pay phone, or did you attempt a metaphor or something there? PLEASE clear this up, it's killing me!

Polenth said...

It sounds like a story that was initially intended to be about vampires (dark name, immortal, not supposed to have human emotion and can't go out in daylight). Spending all day in a coffin has been replaced by being a payphone, but that doesn't really have any impact (according to the query). It's still just a reason why he can't go out in daylight hours, however quirky a reason it might be. If his payphone lifestyle does have an impact on the story, that'd be something to mention.

Anonymous said...

Sounds like he was hung up on her.

Ya think they'll be engaged??

St0n3henge said...

I've gotta ask: When he finally popped the question, DID HE GIVE HER A RING?

Sarah said...

^ Lol :D

Wanita, when I read your query I wasn't convinced by the Night Council forcing all Shadows keep their race secret (that is the point of the no-close-relationships rule, I take it?). Why are the Shadows in hiding? If they're immortal then there's not much to fear from humans knowing about them.

Sometimes it seems as if the "secret race who must never be known of by humans" gimmick is just used to add some tension. Not saying that's the case in your story, just that it's a widely-used theme and you should take care to justify it. It's been done so many times (Twilight being an obvious example in recent times, I suppose, and the vampire theme in general is fond of that concept) that it can end up a bit yawn.

That said, I still want to know about the occlusion of a payphone. I have to go to work shortly, and I can't see it going well while I'm thinking about this.

Anonymous said...

Is he an Obama Pay Phone? He can't take real change?

none said...

EE, you have surpassed yourself. Truly.

Marisa Birns said...

A payphone? *looks to see if there are any around anymore. No. Will have to use cell phone again*

And, eewww. Think about how MANY germ-y hands have been over Pay Phone Lover during the day. And is he really ever available for a date? I mean, doesn't Dr. Who use a pay phone for long periods of time.

Wait! Is this a story about Tardis?

Joe G said...

I have to admit I was surprised by which of the fake queries turned out to be the real one...

Admit it. You're Tom Robbins and you've decided to take on the YA genre with this animate payphone stuff.

Chicory said...

A little off topic, but you may want to re-think your title. I've read at least one book with this title before. It's kind of like `Beauty for Ashes,' a title that you see around. Sorry.

M. G. E. said...

@ Joe G: Admit it, you totally thought GTP#5 was the real one, huh? :P

And to think I actually did research on common Amish surnames to write that one :P

batgirl said...

Adding my voice to Phoenix's urging the author to vet her agent on Preditors & Editors, and on Absolute Write's Bewares forum.
Also that if it's YA, you may want to drop Aurora's age to highschool. The plot sounds similar to Evermore, but Evermore's plot sounds similar to Twilight, so that's probably more of a selling point than a problem.

Joe G said...

LOL I actually did kind of think it was the fifth one. Or hoped, at least.

Sylvia said...

Best facelift ever.