Monday, January 28, 2013

Face-Lift 1099

Guess the Plot


1. Benjamin, a goliathus beetle growing up too quickly on the scalp of a squirrel monkey, is pinned between finger and opposing thumb and transported toward a row of gnashing teeth. 

2. Emma Brown has been snatched... by Aliens. To save the lives of all the people on Earth, Emma must outplay creatures for whom cheating is a way of life, and win the Galaxy Go Fish Championship.

3. When your little sister's been snatched by shifters, mister, it's revenge time. Time to get your gun and take out every shifter you see. Assuming your sister finished cleaning your weapon before she was snatched, the brat.

4. Rogue government agents abduct Bill and spirit him to a secret lab. He awakes in a hospital, aware that he's been through major surgery, but strangely it is his emotions that feel most different. Only when Bill tries to use a bedpan does he realize that things are not as they used to be for him her.

5. In the woods practicing her Wiccan rites, Helen is abducted by aliens. Seems the Grand Chief would like to add a witch to his harem. Although her powers are diminished when away from Earth, she isn't giving up without a fight. Now if she could only get to her wand.

6. For Erika, Monte Carlo's all sun, surf, and shopping on Daddy's credit cards until she's snatched from the lobby of her hotel. In the hands of international arms dealers, Erika learns just how Daddy's fortune was built. Can she use her martial arts training to save herself, or will she become yet another casualty of war?

Original version

Dear Agent X,

The shifters stole Kara’s parents away when she was ten, leaving her and Lizzy to fend for themselves. For kids underground? That meant signing up with the military. [When Kara was ten? And her sister even younger? (I looked ahead.) What good would they be to the military? No one's gonna want to lead a squad of seven- to ten-year-old girls in taking some hill.] [Wait, I know: Kara, Lizzy, there's an army of Ken dolls heading this way. We need you to lead your Barbies into battle.] At seventeen years old, all Kara’s got left is her dad’s cottage, a heightened sense of paranoia and her kid sister. Until she spots the shifter on her first surface patrol. [That word "until" suggests that spotting the shifter has somehow changed what Kara has left.] Slate gray eyes empty of emotion and spiderlike arms [Their arms are like spiders? If these are shapeshifters, I would expect them to have arms like swords or sledge hammers or cobras.] that would rip her apart in a heartbeat, it was everything she’d imagined in her nightmares. These were the monsters that pushed humanity underground and made them terrified to step topside. [Earlier you implied that being a kid underground had something to do with the need to join the military. Now you're basically saying everyone's underground. Get rid of "For kids underground?" ]

And once one shifter is sighted, there’s [there are] more to follow.

The sergeant drops Kara on the roster of unlucky soldiers heading to the surface. [She was already patrolling the surface.] All that honor stuff is crap, but the adults lay it on heavy anyway, trying to justify sending folks to their deaths. Have to protect the borders if they want to survive. Not so easy to break to Lizzy though, that she might not come back. She heads home, expecting to find her sister curled up reading a book and not cleaning her gun like the brat was supposed to. Kara walks into an empty house.

They took her folks. They took her best friend. Now, the shifters snatched Lizzy. Fighting them isn’t enough. Kara wants revenge. [Isn't fighting them the way to get revenge? Does she have something else in mind?

"Snatched" is an 84,000 word YA science fiction.



If humanity has been driven underground, how is it that Kara and Lizzie have a cottage? Do they have a white picket fence? It seems likely that if humanity were driven underground, they would put all their resources toward taking back the surface, where they can grow food, rather than settling in, building underground houses, etc.

Sounds like you've got a good tone for describing this plot, but it's a bit disorganized. Every sentence should follow logically from the previous sentence. A few of yours seem to just be tossed in at random. Tighten it up.


John C. Updike said...

I would be interested in reading how the commander of this youth army manages to lead and discipline. Character study of how to run a military operation with kids who typically giggle a lot.

AlaskaRavenclaw said...

I felt confused by this query. Try rewriting it in chronological order.

Paul said...

I really like the image of: "At seventeen years old, all Kara’s got left is her dad’s cottage, a heightened sense of paranoia and her kid sister"
I find the term "shifter" difficult to grasp, though because I don't get what they are shifting yet. The description of "monsters who pushed humanity underground" says much more to me than "shifter".
I find the sentence that starts "She heads home..." to be awkward and it confuses me.
I agree the voice comes through well, and I also agree that many sentences feel like they don't flow from previous thoughts.

Tk said...

Maybe I'm misreading it, since the other commenters don't seem bothered. So take this one as an outlier, but for what it's worth, to me this sounds like one of those "all set-up" queries.

Lizzy disappearing is the inciting incident that begins the book, right? It just feels like there should be more.

You've said that seventeen-year-old soldier Kara lives on a planet where monsters with long arms snatch (and rip apart) humans who eke out a living in underground hideouts. They took Kara's parents long ago. Now when they take her kid sister Lizzy, Kara's ready for revenge... Now the second paragraph.

Unknown said...

I think it's a great concept, but some of the choppy sentences detracted. You can maintain the same tone with a few tweaks.

Why are kids in the military? Is it scout duty, or front line fighting?

Give us more of a sense of her bond with Lizzy, because the tone suggests Lizzy is more of a burden than a confidant.

What do the snatchers do with the humans they snatch? Food? Forced labor? What are the risks now that Lizzy is gone? Is there a chance of her safe recovery? What would Kara's role be in the attempt, if there is one? Or, is it simply vengeance as the query suggests?

Sounds like a great read...

Mr Baskerville said...

I like dystopian sci fi, so this intruiged me. But I would like more information about the shifters.

What are they - mutated humans living on the planet's surface while the rest of humanity fled underground? Monsters from another planet?

Why are they 'snatching' humans? Or is it just the kid sis who is snatched, and the others killed? (I'm assuming 'snatched' is not the same as 'killed') Do the shifters need young humans for food/breeding/experiments?

I am sure the real story is more original and dramatic than these guesses.

Good luck!

none said...

Have to protect the borders if they want to survive. Hmm, well, okay, but you know what else you have to protect in order to survive? Young fertile women. Ahem.

Kelsey said...

If you can use a few more key details that both show your world and clarify the plot, I think you'll be well on your way. Dystopian sci-fi is a competetive market, so you want to include the crucial world details that make your story different from both society as we know it and other dystopian stories. For example, you could expand on your initial parag. to say: "For kids underground*? That meant (living on military potatoes in exchange for indentured service once they turn 15)."

This example is still a little clunky, but hopefully illustrates my point--a couple more crucial details in the right place can support a major plot point (the military angle) and show key worldbuilding (what they eat underground, how the military has become a pseudo-social agency after the rest of society's broken down, but also how they take advantage of that, etc.)

*Also, you'd change the word 'underground' as per EE's suggestion.

And, I agree with Tk that while the set-up is interesting, you should be more clear where the start actually starts. At first I thought the inciting incident was losing her parents, but then it skipped forward 7 years and now it looks like the inciting incident is losing her sister. If you shorten the first paragraph, you'll have room to show what Kara's plans are after Lizzy disappears.

Also: "All that honor stuff is crap, but the adults lay it on heavy anyway, trying to justify sending folks to their deaths. " This makes me think only kids are in the military. Is that what you intended? If so... I hate to say it, but a)this stretches my disbelief a little far and b)sending kids to die while the adults sit back and watch is very Hunger Games.

I like the punchy tone of your last paragraph, but agree with EE that by 'fighting' you more likely mean 'keeping them at bay' or something similar.

Good luck! This sounds like a book I'd like to read : )