Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Face-Lift 826

Guess the Plot

Hypes: The Last Legacy

1. 30 years after the apocalypse, the small town of Hypes, Arkansas has a treasure the whole Disunited States would like to get its hands on: the last functioning Subaru.

2. Karen Hypes uses her cover as babysitter to the stars to smuggle information between the US and its secretly funded armies in Third World countries. Then her boyfriend Wendell discovers she's a spy and threatens to blow the whistle. Can she convince him to let her finish her most important mission?

3. The psychic teenagers attending a "gifted and talented" program at their local high school think they're being trained to catch terrorists. In fact, they're about to launch the most elaborate product placement campaign in history--beaming beverage advertisements directly into their friends' minds. Can one girl slip her hunky handler and expose the truth about Hypes Soda?

4. Fourteen year old Cassie hates her life: she lives in Alabama; the guys at school ignore her; and her mom's a beauty queen. Sent to retrieve the Christmas lights from the attic, she stumbles on a strange box that glows. Opening it reveals a tiny man who tells her she's the princess of Faerie. Adventure ensues.

5. Cobalt the Lightning Lawman has just been promoted to team leader of a group of superheroes who spend more time bickering with each other than fighting villains. Can Cobalt mold these misfits into a cohesive team in time to prevent the latest evil overlord from conquering the world?

6. In a world where sorcerers have all the power, Khor, the lone descendant of an ancient king, secretly gathers an army in hopes of bringing sanity back to the land. But can his men storm the castle without being turned into newts?

Original Version

Dear Evil Editor;

In a world full of superheroes, Nick Lawton is a rising star. [He's known as Elevator Man.] As Cobalt, the 'Lightning Lawman', he's built his reputation by defeating supervillains, rescuing imperiled citizens, and protecting his city from natural disasters. He's even getting endorsement deals, and when Cobalt action figures-- complete with 'realistic sparking action'-- hit toy store shelves, Nick knows he's made it to the big leagues. Not bad for a guy who just turned 18.

A surprise promotion to team leader means that Nick has to mentor rookie hero Alexa Franklyn. She's stubborn, impetuous, beautiful, and, worst of all, more powerful than him. He's also been saddled with a rival crimefighter who's disgruntled about being made second-in-command, two bickering junior sidekicks, and a pushy public relations manager who insists on televising their every move.

Nick's got to turn this collection of misfits into a team that'll battle the forces of evil, instead of each other. He also has to deal with his growing attraction to Alexa, who might just have the same feelings-- for his rival.

Nick has to figure it all out fast, because Alexa is being stalked by a sinister mastermind with plans of his own for her. World-conquering plans, of course. With a high-tech private army at his disposal, the [this] fiend isn't about to see [let] his schemes [be] thwarted by some [a] bunch of reality-show heroes. But if there's one thing the Lightning Lawman is good at, it's giving supervillains a shock.

HYPES: THE LAST LEGACY is a YA science fiction novel, complete at 90,000 words. Thank you for your time, and I look forward to hearing from you.



Sounds entertaining. The title sucks. In the first place it sounds too serious, and in the second we don't know what the word "Hypes" means here, or what is meant by last legacy. If the team has a cool or funny name you could give the book the same name.

I'd call it a superhero novel instead of science fiction. I think there are enough of them around now (including Devil's Cape, which was a Book Chat book last year, and was enjoyed by all of us.) that it's a genre.

Are all the heroes on the team teens? I'm not sure I'd call it YA if there are only a couple teens, even if the main character is one of them.

Instead of calling the team's members a crimefighter, junior sidekicks, rookie hero, you might want to identify them by their powers or their hero names. Same with the villain. What's his name, what's his power? It doesn't feel like a world full of superheroes otherwise.


Marissa Doyle said...

You had me at "elevator man", EE. Spew moment.

I'm wondering how one can be a superhero in a world of superheroes--that's like being a human in a world of humans, isn't it?--i.e., nothing special. If everyone's a superhero, why are there still "imperilled citizens"? I agree, this sounds entertaining, but I'm not sold on the underlying concept.

Word ver is funst. That seems fitting, somehow.

Kelsey (Dominique) Ridge said...

I liked the query. I got a real sense of the conflicts present in the story and the style of the writer. Except for maybe wanting to know a bit more about the villain, I thought this was a solid query.

Anonymous said...

Sounds like fun; good voice -- but what jarred me out of the query was this sentence: "She's stubborn, impetuous, beautiful, and, worst of all, more powerful than him."

That should be "more powerful than he."

Unless you'd finish that sentence with "...more powerful than him is." you need "he", not "him".

Yes, it matters. In this market, EVERYTHING about your query matters.

Phoenix Sullivan said...

Marissa, I'm not sure I understand your argument. I think "a world of superheroes" here means something akin to a phrase such as "the academic world" -- it's a subset of all humanity and Nick is a rising star in that subset. For a more authoritative perspective on this, please see The Incredibles.

Anonymous, I'm not sure why this casual use of the highly debated "than as a preposition vs. conjunction" gray-grammar pronoun jarred you out of this quite excellent query. As the objective form is common use and a query isn't formal writing, it really isn't worth batting an eye over, as I see it. (But I will admit to being a liberalist when faced with gray-area grammar.)

It's a homerun, author, IMO! And I agree with EE it sounds fun but please change the title.

GTP #3 is AWESOME! Who submitted that one??? Must know.

_*rachel*_ said...

This does sound like a worthwhile read, but the query needs some work. (The title, too.)

Paragraph 1: Pretty good, but you can cut a bit--we know what superheroes save the world from. The first 1.5 sentences are good, and I like the action figurines part.

P2: When I started reading, I assumed he was working alone; it might help to be an eensy bit clearer on the structure of the superhero organization; eg, "Then Captain Crunch retires, leaving Nick in command of the JLA." You can cut one or two things from the lists of Alexa's traits and the team's problems.

P3: Good, especially the "rival" ending.

P4: Not bad, but it doesn't quite have the zing I'd like to see. Not sure why.

P5: Go with YA superhero novel; it counts as a genre.

So in all, you've got some revising to do, but it's definitely getting there.

Please change the title.

Anonymous said...

if there's one thing the Lightning Lawman is good at, it's giving supervillains a shock.


Could you give us one teeny indication, however, that Alexa Franklyn is not too cliche? Beautiful, willful superheroines who can give the hero a lickin' are pretty standard. It's probably too late for the book itself, but I'd get a huge kick if she were a few years older than Cobalt.

Marissa Doyle said...

Phoenix, I honestly thought the query implied that the entire world consists of superheroes ("In a world full of superheroes...") If that's not the case, and this is like "The Incredibles", perhaps changing how the opening is worded might make it clearer...but then some reassurance that this isn't Incredibles fan fiction would also be helpful.

What can I say? This is the reaction I had. (shrugs)

smcc said...

As always, extraordinary feedback from EE and the Minions. Thank you all very much.

And, to paraphrase Mr. Dylan, 'The title are a-changin''.

Stephen Prosapio said...

Sorry I'm late to the party. Nice to see I've got *others* on my "stop the bad titles" bandwagon, so I won't pile on there.

This was one of the most entertaining and gripping queries I've read on this site in a long time. Nice job. LOVE how you have multiple layers of conflict and keep turning the screws throughout the query. If the novel is like that, you've hit paydirt!

Only suggestion would be to be a bit more specific with the Fiend in the last paragraph since I imagine that's the core of the story's plotline.

Nice work!

Anonymous said...

Phoenix -- And if the query goes to an agent or editor who's a grammar junkie? Better to have it correct than colloquial...

Phoenix Sullivan said...

Better to have it correct than colloquial

And if it goes to a less-sophisticated agent or content editor who's only familiar with the colloquial style that falls more pleasingly on the ear and they perceive the formal style as 'wrong'? I think that scenario is more likely. Overthinking every word on the page can suck the life right out of a manuscript.

Informal is not automatically incorrect. If an editor or agent doesn't accept that platitude in a medium where style is king, then perhaps genre superhero fiction wouldn't be a fit for them anyway. IMO.

Debates are fun! We haven't had a good grammar debate here in ages. I hope you stick around, Anon. Maybe we'll be tag-teaming it on the next issue that crops up ;o)

Anonymous said...

My other pet peeve -- aside from incorrect pronouns -- is the redundancy of "What's your PIN number?" or "What's the ISBN number?" The "N" stands for "number"! Arrgh!

St0n3henge said...

I liked GTP #3, too.

This sounds like a fun story. I stumbled over the him/he thing, too, but if this kind of writing is in the book it won't really matter because teenagers won't notice.