Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Face-Lift 1036

Guess the Plot


1. Her parents wanted her to be extraordinary, but five-year-old Anomaly Clark somehow manages to be exactly average at everything. Until the day she discovers matches...

2. Maya is an Anomaly. She can teleport, like people in the Star Trek transporter. Now a corporation of Anomalies seeking world domination is after Maya so they can clone her, steal her DNA and storm the government.

3. It was supposed to be a quick cash grab - spend a week in a medical trial taking a new ADD drug, collect $2000. But then Diego has a very unusual reaction - and now a high powered drug company exec will do anything to scrub out the trial's one anomaly...

4. When Bifff Hardcastle and his unemployed college chums land serious job offers from Fortune 500 companies, is it the end of the jobs crisis? Or a cruel and heartless... Anomaly?

5. Dyslexic Amelie is unable to spell her own name correctly. In a strange twist of fate, spelling it "Anomaly" leads her name to mirror what she really is - an anomaly in modern French society. In the end, Anomaly becomes the wife of the richest man in France, a collector of odd things.

6. Physics prodigy Max Boers is experimenting with transmitting particles through other dimensions when an earthquake shakes the Cal Tech campus. He finds himself in the body of Jack the Ripper with a dismembered whore. Can he catch the real Jack before the police capture and kill the fake Jack?

Original Version

Dear Agent,

I hope you will consider my young adult fantasy novel, Anomaly.

16-year-old Maya is an Anomaly—superhuman. Her ability to teleport, called “shifting,” is a rare and extraordinary one. While adjusting to her new home in London and learning how to control her ability, Maya has to juggle two Anomaly boys: a hunky albeit nerdy Italian who can become transparent [and keeps turning up in Maya's shower], and a sexy British rocker who can nullify electricity but always seems to have a motive other than love. [Actually, I can't think of any ways nullifying electricity would be motivated by love . . . unless you're making love and rap music comes on the stereo.] Maya is also targeted [Why "also"? Are her Anomaly boys "targeting" her?] by Aristar Industries, a corporation of Anomalies hell-bent on stealing DNA, cloning abilities, and storming the British government. Aristar wants shifters in their ranks—which means they want Maya … or rather, her DNA. A cat-and-mouse chase for her genetic material thrusts Maya into a world of deception, kidnapping, murder, and world domination, [If you seek world domination, isn't there a better government to storm than the Brits'?] where the stakes are high and the consequences of failure deadly.

Being an optometrist and a former National Science Foundation Fellow have groomed my brain for the scientific ins and outs of this novel. I’m a member of SCBWI and when I'm not writing, I'm figure skating or blogging at ____________. [That part where you spin around really fast--is that happening or is it an optical illusion?] I hope the sample pages will interest you in the full 80,000-word manuscript, which I believe has series potential. It is a simultaneous submission. Thank you for your time.



I like the idea of shifters and using thier DNA better than the usual portal or magic spell. I can see this appealing to the YA crowd. And their parents.

Seems like it would be hard to keep a shifter in your ranks unless she wants to be there. I mean, a cat-and-mouse chase in which the mouse is a shifter would leave the cat sitting there thinking WTF? On the other hand I can see how an army of shifters would quickly lead to world domination. Thus...

I would make it clear what Aristar wants, which may be to steal Maya's DNA and use it to make all of their soldiers shifters. That's better than the vague "cloning abilities." Once we know the specific stakes and consequences of failure, instead of "the stakes are high and the consequences of failure deadly," we'll be desperate to read the book.

I don't see how being an optometrist or a figure skater helps you explain the science behind teleporting and becoming transparent.

Is the Italian kid really transparent, or is Maya wearing X-ray specs?


none said...

Break into Maya's house, steal her hairbrush. Sorted.

Anonymous said...

What's it take to grab a sample of someone's DNA? I mean, on Crime Scene Investigators, they get all they need from a piece of discarded chewing gum. I think you need a more compelling MacGuffin than a DNA sample.

150 said...

Haha, I came to weigh in on how easy it is to get DNA, and found the issue taken care of. Maybe they explicitly need a blood sample or live tissue? It's superheroes, I don't care if the science gets fudgey.

I'd probably read pages, but this could benefit from punchier language anywhere you can put it.

PLaF said...

Is her ability rare and extraordinary among rare and extraordinary superhumans? It’s okay if it is, it’s just an odd way of presenting her ability.
I’d go with 16-year-old Maya is an Anomaly. Her ability to teleport, or shift, is a rare and extraordinary one, even among other superhumans.
When you say she has to “juggle two Anomaly boys,” I get a telekinesis vibe, kind of like Luke Skywalker multi-tasking with Yoda.
And why does she have to juggle them? Is her relationship to them central to the story? (i.e. Is one of them really working for the bad guys?)
As presented, it sounds like a hum-drum love triangle.
I’m assuming you have a Part 1 of the story which involves the discovery of her talent. That would make Part 2, the part adjusting to her new home, the opposite of whatever or wherever she was in Part 1. So I really want to know why these boys are important, if at all.
So Aristar Industries is made up of other Anomalies who will stop at nothing, including killing other Anomalies even if they’re a rare and extraordinary commodity, to get their way? And they need DNA to clone?
I’m with the others who believe something besides DNA is needed – something like a lump out of the brain of the Anomaly. Now that’s the ticket.
Borrowing from EE’s method of conversation:
Aristar Anomalies: “We can clone you.”
Maya: “Ok.” Spits.
Aristar Anomalies: “No, we need your brain. Or a good portion of it.”
I like the idea, but the query is not compelling. What makes this story fun/exciting/deadly? Looking forward to the rewrite.

St0n3henge said...

When you say, "storming the British government,' this is what went through my mind:

Anomaly: Hello, I'm here to storm the British government.

Low paid clerk: Queue up, please.

Anomaly: Which form is it?

Clerk: The blue one. Tick all the boxes on the right-hand side.

And when you said:
"Being an optometrist... (has) groomed my brain for the scientific ins and outs of this novel," I imagined this:

Optometrist: "Now, read the smallest line you can."

Patient: "Um...E...Equals...M...C...It's either a Z or a 2"

Xiexie said...

Damn @everyone before me stating what seemed to be so obvious. Getting someone's DNA isn't that difficult.

Like 150 said, maybe they need blood or live tissue.

This premise is a good one but I'm not feeling hooked enough.

Anonymous said...

Thank you everyone for the helpful and entertaining comments!
~Author of ANOMALY

Xiexie said...

Also, plot #3 makes me think of a revamped version of the Secret World of Alex Mac.

journeytogao said...

We see so many plots that are essentially this. Teenager with recently discovered superpowers hooks up with similar teens, undergoes training to control abilities, gets into a little love triangle, and gets targeted by evil organization that wants her powers. Nothing wrong with that, but it would help if an author could manage to make his/her query stand out. Or is that what pages are for?

Anonymous said...

Not so fast. How can hunky be nurdy? I'd pick one.

none said...

Oh, yeah, storming the British government. That would be Parliament? the Scottish Parliament? the Welsh Assembly, plus Stormont? They're going to be busy....

Tk said...

arhooley nailed it. I couldn't figure out why this plot wasn't grabbing me but that's it - it doesn't have the specifics that make it stand out (and we've had some similar plots recently).

More about Maya and how she feels about all this? Show how the love triangle and danger-doom plots are connected? Mention where she shifts to to hide and whether her pursuers have a shifter too or she is the only one?

I think the last paragraph doesn't need to include anything except SCBWI, word count, series potential, thanks. Agents expect simultaneous submissions.

AlaskaRavenclaw said...

Arhooley, I had the same thought, but consider: what novel isn't derivative? When we do see something completely original, we say WTF, because usually it's a whack premise that totally wouldn't work. Better to reuse the tried-and-true than to become the Occlusion of a Pay Phone.

(Says the writer who's recently sold a rather derivative plot and is trying to justify it.)

Still, I wish people wouldn't consider Twilight the tried-and-true. (Probably an unfair comparison. At least Maya has an ability of some sort.)

And I agree with PLaF-- the language needs to be punched up here. I think this is the same writer who wrote an earlier "New Beginning" which had much more oomph than the query does.

journeytogao said...

ARC, yes, that's why I say there's nothing wrong with it, and yet it needs fixing. We get a few of these plots per month; imagine how many the average agent gets per day. I advise authors to keep this in mind and devise a way to make their query stand out, but I'm not sure how in a few precious paragraphs. Maybe wedge in a quote that lets us hear something unique -- the voice of a character or the author.

Maureen said...

The way it reads now – this may well be different in your novel – it's like you just threw the love triangle thing in there for the sake of it. Does it have any impact on the plot? Is there a moment where she needs to make a decision between the two? It seems to be the norm right now that in YA with a female protagonist, you have a love triangle, but it needs to somehow tie in with the plot as well. It's very possible that you've done this, but it doesn't come across in the query.

Also they're both hunky/sexy and both have powers – are they interchangeable in other ways as well? How do they influence your MC's character individually?

AlaskaRavenclaw said...

Arhooley, yeah... queries need to stand out. That phrase worries me, though, because it leads to stuff like the writer enclosing a naked pic, or, more commonly, doing something silly like pretending the query was written by the protagonist or by the author's dog. Or enclosing too much bio info.

(I know that's not what you meant, but it's how a lot of writers take it. Really, of course, it's the novel that has to stand out.)

Honestly I never mastered the art of the query, which is probably why I hang out here... and why I didn't get an agent till I'd sold five books on my own. The query I wrote for my next book had only about 100 words describing the actual novel... pretty sparse, really. Make that very sparse. What made it stand out was the list of publications, and the name of the publisher who had already expressed interest in it.

Still probably the best way to land an agent. But I'm afraid that door is perhaps closing as we speak.