Monday, June 18, 2012

Face-Lift 1037

Guess the Plot

Going Sunside

1. Myri Has lived her whole life in the underground. She longs to see the Earth's surface. But when she and her robot Bot sneak up via the garbage pipe, Miri is thrown in jail and Bot is taken away and disassembled to create an army of robots the surface dwellers will use to conquer the underground. The grass is always greener...

2. After eons of waiting for rescue on the dark side of the moon, survivors of an intergalactic spaceship crash hike around to the sunside, where, for the first time, they see Planet Earth. Hopes for salvation turn to despair when no one's cell phone gets any bars.
3. Unsteady barfly Myles "The Gulper" Standish realizes he must move on to Career Plan B when his under-the-table activities are revealed, but what's a lush to do? He staggers out of the pub into shockingly bright sunshine just in time to collide with a donkey cart loaded with Bibles.

4. When Joe Quincey, the 47 year old couch potato, emerges from his parents' basement to celebrate the 4th of July, he gets a crush on Judy Walsh, the barmaid who lives next door, and starts building a spaceship so they can elope to Mars. Plus, her crazy ex-husband and fireworks.

5. After hiding on the Darkside of the great Martian moon for 27 years, the operatic alien horde sneaks to the Sunside with ambitions to take over the red planet. But then they encounter Screaming Mimi, the scantily-clad space goddess, her sidekick Thor Jones, astronaut, and a dragon that spits radioactive fireballs.

6. When his vampiric existence becomes unbearable Jadlock the Terrible crawls from the crypt at dawn, fully expecting to perish at sunrise, but he's in Scotland and the clouds are too bloody thick to let sunlight through so he just lies there until Loretta, the sternest meter maid in Glasgow, comes along. Hilarity ensues.

7. When the body of New York restaurant critic Joel Bernstein is found impaled on a rotisserie outside the Sunside BBQ, detective Zack Martinez knows two things: One, Bernstein wasn't here for the cole slaw, and two, ribs sound pretty good for Father's Day.

8. One side of the planet Zeon always faces its sun and the other is always in darkness. Because one side is frozen and the other is scorched, the colonies are in the band between. But smugglers are operating in the Sunside. Homicides are up and Kevin MacNaugh must organize a police force to patrol the Sunside.

Original Version

Dear Agent,

Eleven-year-old Myri is an engineering apprentice living in the Deep. She longs to leave the subterranean dampness and the endless dark tunnels and go Sunside, which she imagines is a paradise. Unfortunately, it’s one to which her people aren't generally invited. But Myri gets her chance: she's ordered to the Sunside temple on an emergency plumbing mission. Her boss even lets her take Bot, the last functioning Old Earth robot and Myri’s best friend. [If I have a plumbing emergency and they send an 11-year-old girl, I'm sending her away, getting on the phone and specifically demanding a fat guy with the top of his ass crack showing. I want the job done right.] [What, all plumbers live in the Deep?]

Toilets don’t stay broken forever, though, [Actually, the one in my hall hasn't worked since the night of my colonoscopy prep. Forty years of cheese danishes will stop you up.] [I tried to have it fixed, but the last plumber who opened the bathroom door has been in a coma for six years.] and Myri and Bot are sent back to the Deep. But she can’t just say goodbye to her new Sunside friends, so a few days later she and Bot sneak back up via garbage pipe. [I don't care how good a friend you are; if you come to visit me via garbage pipe, I'm not opening the door.] But when Bot and Myri are caught, they’re both thrown in jail -- or so Myri believes.

With a little bit of Deepfolk engineering -- and the help of her new Sunside friends -- Myri escapes her cell to find Bot. But he’s not in a cell. He’s in the lab. Where the Sunsiders plan to take him apart and use him to create an army of robots. After a quick escape and a high-dive into the sea, Bot reveals that [robots don't float. And they rust.] the Sunsiders plan to use their robots to take over the Deep and "remove" the Deepfolk. [What?! Who's gonna fix their toilets now?] Myri must use everything she’s learned about the Sunsiders and everything she knows about Bot to stop the Sunsiders’ army and save her home. [When you live on the wrong end of the garbage pipe, is it really worth saving your home?]

I hope you will consider representing GOING SUNSIDE, a 50 000 word middle grade science fiction novel. Thank you for your time and I look forward to hearing from you soon.


There must be some reason Sunside wants to remove the Deepfolk. Like they are mortal enemies. But if they're enemies, why would the Deep be on-call to fix Sunside toilets? It sounds more like the Deepfolk are servants or slaves. But the haves never remove the have-nots; they need them under their thumbs. It's the have-nots who rebel against the haves. Apparently the Deep has something Sunside wants, or Sunside considers them a threat. In other words...

If there's an explanation of why Sunside is building an army of robots to take over the place they send their garbage and sewage, maybe that should be worked into the query.


AlaskaRavenclaw said...

I agree with EE. There's a plothole there. And a couple others: If Bot's so valuable, why do the have-nots have him and why do they let the haves get their claws on him? And who are the friends Myri is going back to see? Can Myri be given a more compelling reason to go up the garbage pipe?

Don't answer these questions, please, but try to rewrite the query so it doesn't raise them. Start by writing one sentence, under 20 words long, that sums up your whole plot. Build your query from there.

I like the garbage pipe. It's a neat metaphor for the haves and have-nots.

Now, let's talk middle grade.

Particularly: middle grade SF. Does it happen? Yes. Does it sell? Not in any instance I can think of in the last ten years. I mean it gets published, yes. A friend of mine sold a MG SF a few years back. It flopped a mighty flop that made all of my flops look measly by comparison.

You could try calling it "dystopian".

I would also cut down on the number of unfamiliar names in the query. They make the reader go crosseyed.

none said...

I can cope with the Deepers having the robot and the Sunsiders not. If there's been some kind of cataclysm and only one robot survived, it's as likely to end up with one side as the other. But apart from that I pretty much agree with EE and Alaska. You don't kill off your workforce.

PLaF said...

I need to know more about the set up. I’m not sure what you mean by Sunside not being a place to which her people aren’t generally invited. What’s the difference between the folks in the Deep and the folks on Sunside? What is the conflict between the two peoples? Why aren’t her people “invited” topside and how can she make friends there? Why is she thrown in jail? Why do the Sunsiders want to use her robot to destroy the people who fix their toilets? What has she learned about the Sunsiders that will help her? What does she know about Bot that makes him a threat to her home?

Evil Editor said...

Sounds like you better send PLaF a copy of your book.

150 said...

I can follow Bot ending up in the Deep, but not him being entrusted to a kid. That's like Cyberdyne letting their interns mess with the Terminator scraps. Either way, this has enough cool elements that I'd read it, even if the query doesn't make them all make sense.

Anonymous said...

While doing the guess-which-plot-is-real thing I ruled this one out as not workable. After reading the query, I'm not so sure. It's so odd and original it might actually work, especially if the prose is witty and it has some cool illustrations. The problem seems to be that adults read it as a metaphor for the familiar, but the logic of the political economy doesn't seem to correspond to what they know about the real world.

Maybe that won't matter to kids. Kids like a fun adventure even if the book has no chance of turning up on college course reading assignments with Animal Farm. Given a choice of fun vs reality, I'd vote for fun.

Maybe it would help to mention the middle grade thing in the beginning instead of at the end.

AlaskaRavenclaw said...

Ah, what middle grade GTP would be complete without the obligatory "it's good enough for middle grade" comment?

Anonymous, maybe the logical lapses wouldn't matter to kids. Who knows? We'll never find out.

Cuz why? Cuz kids are not making the decisions at any point in the publishing process, from agent to editor to acquisition meeting to bookseller to, in most cases, purchaser. A book that gets into a middle grader's hands has to have won the approval of a large number of adults, with adult standards.

PLaf said...

EE, you say that like it's a bad thing!
I like the idea of a kid with a robot. I like the idea of a subterranean world and a topside world whose inhabitants hate or fear the other side yet for one reason or another need each other.

I like the idea of the kid losing her best friend robot in the course of growing up because that's what happens when kids reach middle school - lifelong friends separate.

Some of the plot points were kinda fuzzy so I asked questions. Of course, they could be random thoughts of a teenage axe murderer, so....

Maureen said...

I do like the sound of this and actually think it's a very good summary that makes me want to read more. One part I didn't really like was this, where you for some reason made the sentences very short and fragmentary: But he’s not in a cell. He’s in the lab. Where the Sunsiders plan to take him apart and use him to create an army of robots.

I'd actually call it dystopian as well - dystopian MG sci fi. I read somewhere the other day that there is a demand for MG SF stuff for boys, and while this doesn't really sound like a book specifically for boys, it could well fit into that niche.

How about the upperworlders want a natural resource that has been discovered in the lower world? Or they want to make the robots their workforce so that they don't have to bother with the ugly lowerworlders anymore? I'm sure you have it all worked out in the book though. Just make sure that comes across in the query...