Monday, September 06, 2010

Face-Lift 817

Guess the Plot

The Thief's Girl

1. Shoplifter Todd Wallace gets out of jail, but his girlfriend is gone. He spots a giant hole behind the TV--and Jane's shoe is lying there! He crawls through, only to be grabbed by a giant termite and dragged to a dung heap deep below Chicago. Can he find Jane before these monsters make her their Queen?

2. Pickpocket Charlotte is taken under the wing of a famous thief, but screws up by robbing the Chief of Police. The Chief wants her to snitch on her mentor, who wants her to use her feminine wiles to distract the Chief from the next heist. Life's so complicated when you're fourteen.

3. Every day Caitlin's dad drops her at Montessori, then goes off to burglarize houses. Summer break is approaching, and it's time for Caitlin to learn the trade; she's perfect for those little unlocked basement windows. But when Daddy offers a meager fifteen percent, she realizes she's gonna have to whack him.

4. Gary Nolan didn't want to become a thief. But he had to work his ass off just to get his girlfriend, and he'll be damned if he's going to lose her over a trivial thing like money and his lack of it. The problem is, every time he pulls off a score she raises the stakes. Just how does she expect him to steal a mansion?

5. Being married to the mob is no big deal, but when Sally Fleurty's gangland beau is abducted by aliens on the eve of a turf war anniversary, things get decidedly complicated. Were the bugs hired by rival hoods? Or has a third force muscled in on LA's pirate lingerie racket?

6. Jovis stole a baby girl from abusive parents and raised her as his own, teaching her the family "trade". But when she steals a priceless relic from the Archbishop--a Splinter from the True Cross--all hell breaks loose.

Original Version

Dear Agent,

Of all the things Charlotte though would happen when she ran away from home, ending up in the middle of a feud between a housebreaker and the Chief of Police wasn’t one of them. [For every "thing" she thought might happen there are a billion that she didn't think would happen. To put it another way, if you stacked up all the things that she didn't think would happen, they would reach another galaxy. And if you stacked them in order, with the most likely to happen at the bottom of the pile here on Earth and the least likely on the Gohr prison planet Lycus IV in the Andromeda galaxy, landing in the middle of this feud would be no farther away than Earth's stratosphere. If something incredible happened, like she sprouted wings and flew off and reached another galaxy, this might be a reasonable opening, although even then you'd want to use the less awkward wording: The last thing Charlotte expected when she ran away from home was that she'd be spending the night on the Gohr prison planet, Lycus IV. With wings.] [Add to all that the typo in word 6, and it's clear we should just start with paragraph 2.]

To escape an arranged marriage, Charlotte runs away from home with the intention of getting a job and making her own way in the world [known as Lycus IV]. [Did you notice how much "grabbier" the opening line became when I added "known as Lycus IV"? Consider setting the novel on the Gohr prison planet Lycus IV.] [This is the 4th Face-Lift to mention the Gohr prison planet Lycus IV, which I believe now makes that an official running gag, up there with ruthless vigilante sorcerers, brutal eunuchs, weredingos, occluded payphones, etc.] Unfortunately for Charlotte, jobs are harder to get than she’d thought, especially for no-account runaways with no connections to speak of. [Has she tried Supercuts?] To feed herself, Charlotte starts picking pockets. That’s how she met DiSpirito. [No need to suddenly switch to past tense.]

Alessia DiSpirito, known more commonly as The Spirit, a thief famous for never leaving a trail, has long been notorious. [No need to call her both famous and notorious in the same sentence.] Lucky for her, the papers – not to mention the police – aren’t privy to some of the more shocking truths about her, especially the fact that she is a woman. [Although the fact that she is referred to by the pronouns "her" and "she" should have been a dead giveaway.] But the secrets that have saved Alessia from arrest are endangered when she agrees to teach Charlotte how a thief should live.

When Charlotte accidentally tries to pick the pocket of the Chief of Police,

[Alessia's tips on how a thief should live
1. Don't rob the Chief of Police]

he decides to try to turn her into a spy in DiSpirito’s den. Unluckily [for him? Just say "But." I don't see what luck has to do with it.], Charlotte’s loyalty to DiSpirito can’t be swayed. Even more unluckily [What's more], DiSpirito [You said she was more commonly known as The Spirit, so how come you keep calling her DiSpirito?] knows that two can play any game [except solitaire], and she’s asked Charlotte to distract him from his investigation of her.

This would all be a lot easier for Charlotte if she didn’t feel a bit too much friendship for the Chief of Police – and curse it all, a thief cannot become friends with a policeman – [Being friends with a cop is probably better than robbing one.] weren’t making it much too hard to balance her thief self and the person she’d been raised to be. [We have no idea what kind of person she was raised to be. And there's gotta be a better way of saying "her thief self."] [That sentence wasn't a sentence; change "she didn't feel a bit too much" to "her."]

The Thief’s Girl is a Young Adult novel complete at 80,000 words.

Thank you for your time and consideration,


I don't buy Charlotte feeling bonds of friendship with the Chief of Police. She tries to rob him, he tries to get her to rat out The Spirit, she refuses, but she considers him her best buddy? Or her potential boyfriend? He's probably old enough to be her grandfather.

How does the Chief know Charlotte is working with The Spirit?

I wouldn't call the Chief/Spirit relationship a feud.

Saying the thief is more commonly known as The Spirit implies that she is less commonly known as Alessia DiSpirito. But if she's known by that name at all, it would be assumed she's female. Perhaps you should say she's known only as The Spirit. I'm surprised she told Charlotte her real name.

This needs a lot of cleaning up. Maybe you should start over and open with The Spirit:

The notorious thief known only as The Spirit takes sixteen-year-old runaway Charlotte under her wing, never suspecting that this could lead to disaster. Charlotte promptly tries to pick the pocket of the Chief of Police, opening a can of worms worthy of a spy novel.

The Chief wants Charlotte to spy on The Spirit. The Spirit wants her to distract the Chief from his investigation. Between loyalty to her mentor and blossoming friendship for the Chief, Charlotte doesn't know what to do. So she packs her belongings and heads for the Gohr prison planet, Lycus IV.

That leaves room to tell us how she plans to resolve her dilemma.


Anonymous said...

Anyone else getting a distinct lesbian vibe from this? Reminds me of that movie Personal Best.

vkw said...

I'm guessing EE is watching the Star Wars marathon where the movies are repeated all weekend, over and over again.

Well EE said it all, the query needs to be re-written and cleaned.

I think it would be a good idea to drop the backstory about why Charlotte ran away. Why? because its not important and two, well it's distracting.

Why is it distracting? Because as the author continued writing I was stuck on the arrange marriage. I'm trying to figure out what is the setting and what year it is, if it's on Earth.

Arrange marriage makes it sound like ages ago but the rest of the query seems a bit modern, like Mission Impossible.

So, since you don't have a clear setting or timeline, you can move the climax to the Gohr prison planet, Lycus IV in the surprise ending. Editors and agents love suprise endings in queries - (or maybe not so much), but it would get your query noticed, (not in a good way) but still.

This made me laugh out loud today. And I needed a good laugh.

Marissa Doyle said...

Not necessarily a lesbian vibe...but am definitely wondering about the setting here. 19th century?

Joe G said...

I agree with the setting confusion... are people really still so concerned about arranged marriages?

This all sounds like set up. Maybe I started skimming but I missed the plot. A setup for a superhero called ThiefGirl or something.

There's a great old school superhero called The Spirit. He was a cop whom everyone believed was dead but really he was alive and fighting crime underground. They turned it into a terrible movie, I think. I loved him.

Unknown said...

"DiSpirito knows that two can play any game [except solitaire]"

Now that was funny.

_*rachel*_ said...

EE's suggested rewrite is a good way to go. Otherwise:

Housebreaker only brings to mind the litter box. Discard the whole sentence.

"Unfortunately for Charlotte, picking pockets is the only way to get enough to eat. That’s how she meets The Spirit, a master thief who leaves so little trace that the newspapers haven't yet realized The Spirit is a 30-something woman."

Then say that she helps Charlotte out and cut to the rest.

I'm guessing the Chief reminds Charlotte of her grandfather, or something like that. Because of the age difference, I'd try to work in that they remind each other of family in a good way. You'll avoid some unfortunate implications that way.

We could use a bit more setting. Modern day, fantasy--what is it?

This does sound interesting. Good luck!

Anonymous said...

... are people really still so concerned about arranged marriages?

Read the international news lately? In some places it's definitely still a big deal, though not typically for girls named "Charlotte"...

St0n3henge said...

I'm big time confused about the setting. Arranged marriage + urban crime drama = ???

We really do need to know what the relationship is between Charlotte and the chief of police. Otherwise it's just creepy. "Now, little girl, you just report to me everything that bad old thief does, or Chiefy is gonna hafta put you over his knee and spank you."

I think I, also, am missing some of the plot. This can't be all of it.

ril said...

[Has she tried Supercuts?]

Okay, that line almost killed me.