Wednesday, January 02, 2013

Face-Lift 1092

Guess the Plot

My Deadly Prince Charming

1. Carels is a venomous vampire whose kiss kills instantly. Hessa is a were-cane toad whose skin secretes poison. Can they make each other happy, or will Hessa's Australian accent and mannerisms hopelessly offend Carels' haughty Silesian family?

2. So, like, I was lying there, and, like, these seven guys were all around and I really liked them, but not like that, if you know what I mean, so this totally rad dude comes up and he's like "What's going on?" and the little guys are like, "She's dead," and the cute guy's like, "Really? I think I can fix that," and he kisses me. What did you say your name was again? Peter?

3. A college freshman on the island Idylla falls for a fellow student who turns out to be the crown prince of a neighboring kingdom. Will she become his princess, or will she be turned off by the fact that he's only part human and is out to destroy Idylla?

4. Six years on and Prince Charming has kissed a lot of princesses, looking for the one (so he says). But not every princess is pure, and along the way he's picked up something nasty. Will mice Fennel and Chanelle help Liesl see through this noble but skanky man-slut before it's too late?

5. Eight years ago, Eleanor married death row inmate Billy Bob Wilson. When DNA evidence exonerates BB, Eleanor's sister Anna is in a race against time to uncover evidence of the murders BB did commit. Eleanor figures Anna's just jealous. Also, some POV issues.

6. Seventeen-year-old Juliette weds the Marquis de Sade. She’s thrilled and deeply in love. But the gardener keeps leering at her and one-by-one, young village girls disappear. Is it the gardener or something worse? Will Juliette solve the mystery before she too disappears?

Original Version

Dear Agent,

I am seeking representation for my 100,000 word Young Adult paranormal romance MY DEADLY PRINCE CHARMING.

What do you do when the boy you love is afraid to let you touch him for fear you will learn all his deadly secrets? [Sounds like he's gay and in the closet and came up with this "deadly secrets" line hoping to keep you around. There's no future with this guy, so show him the door, pronto.]

Upon the death of her mother, seventeen-year-old Iona flies to the Mediterranean island of Idylla to live with the father she never knew. She finds the island is a kind of modern-day utopia, a virtually crime free society filled with benevolent people. [Can you come up with better examples of what makes it a Utopia to a teenaged girl? It sounds like Stepford so far. Or just call it a modern-day Utopia and let it go at that. Or dump the whole sentence, which is irrelevant.]

One of Iona’s classmates at the University of Idylla is visiting student Prince Ariston, the Crown Prince of the neighboring island Kingdom of Perdia. The two bond over their love for Elizabethan poetry [Yep, he's gay.] and the Renaissance, and find they share a passion for reading and learning.

But not all knowledge is safe. When the island stimulates Iona’s latent powers of contact telepathy, Ariston must shun her, or risk her learning that he is only part human [Is he a merman? If so, I applaud your decision not to mention this in the query. If he's Aqualad, you probably should mention that.] and is in Idylla to take from them the very thing that makes them such a unique society. [When I think of what makes unique societies unique, it's usually something intangible, not something a merman could snatch and swim away with. Is there a reason you aren't revealing specifically what Ariston is after?]

Ariston is torn. While Iona’s ability to sometimes read his mind is a threat to him, she also starts developing the power to calm people down when they are agitated. [She takes the Superhero name Xanax, and joins the X-men.] The man with many demons to conquer realizes she is the only girl in the world who can heal his mind. [Suggested title: Mermen Versus Demons: the Mutant Wars, Book 1.]

It is only after Iona is kidnapped and nearly killed [How long after Iona finds that Idylla is virtually crime-free does this happen? Usually you don't declare a place crime-free if you've been kidnapped and nearly killed within a month of arriving.] that she discovers the secret of Idylla and must then choose between the man she loves and the country she has grown to love. Because each can survive only at the expense of the other. [I disagree. They are both torn, but if he chooses her instead of his mission, I see no reason both Idylla and Ariston can't both survive.] [Of course, a relationship in which the woman can read the man's mind is pretty much doomed from the start, especially when they hit the sheets and he inevitably starts fantasizing she's Penelope Cruz. Or Brad Pitt.]

MY DEADLY PRINCE CHARMING features a captivating, irresistible hero and heroine. [I didn't find him so irresistible. He's hiding the fact that he's not entirely human, and he's on a mission that will destroy the place. A bond based on Elizabethan poetry doesn't counter that. If he didn't need her mind-calming power he'd probably be long gone.] It captures the innocence and breathlessness of first love and the promise of a forever love. I have pasted the first chapter below.

Thank you for your time.


According to my i-geography app, which no editor should be without, Perdia is a town in the Cape Verde Islands and Idylla is a floating city in World of Warcraft. Iona, however, is an island, but off the west coast of Scotland, not in the Mediterranean.

Does the prince tell Iona she can't touch him because she'll learn his deadly secrets? If not, what is his explanation? And what teenager wants a boyfriend who won't touch her?

You don't need the second paragraph. The question is never answered, and the information is repeated later on.

You could try replacing the "captivating, irresistible" sentence with your very first sentence, and starting the query with your 3rd paragraph. This might put the paranormal aspect further down in the query than you want it, but if so, you could introduce Iona as seventeen-year-old telepath Iona. So your opening could be:

Upon the death of her mother, seventeen-year-old telepath Iona flies to the Mediterranean island of Idylla to live with the father she never knew. She enrolls at the University of Idylla, and soon bonds with fellow student Ariston, Crown Prince of the neighboring island Kingdom of Perdia, never suspecting that he is actually a merman out to sink Idylla to the bottom of the sea. (or whatever he is and plans to do).


AlaskaRavenclaw said...

MY DEADLY PRINCE CHARMING features a captivating, irresistible hero and heroine.

Author, imagine a guy comes up to you and says "Hey, I'm captivating and irresistible. Wanna hang out?"

It wouldn't matter if he was right or not. You'd think "Ew." There are things we don't say about ourselves, nor about our writing.

Stay away from superlatives. Don't try to impress. Just tell us about the story.

Dave Fragments said...

Please, please, please pay attention to the words...
Because each can survive only at the expense of the other
made me shudder. It's part of the Harry Potter Prophecy that the goofy divination lady popped out one morning and set the entire story forward.

Ariston and Iona may fall into teenage love but there is no villain in this other than someone who kidnaps and nearly kills Iona. Why? And if Iona can read minds, sort of, doesn't she foresee this with her powers? If she can calm people, sort of, how about her kidnappers?

It's the paranormal part of the story that's suffering because you're emphasizing the teen romance side. I'll bet that "Idylla" is chock full of paranormal people and is a hideout for them. Think about the story -- is Iona the meek and mild girl who becomes a kick-ass heroine or is she the rebellious daughter who eventually marries the prince or is she a dark avenging angel who delivers judgment to the wicked.

My last suggestion is to cut five words from each page of your story and get that word count down.

Tk said...

Now I know why you didn’t ID the accent in the opening; it’s of a fictional place. I still think you should be specific and say Idyllean (sp?). It hints this is going to fantasy places.

(Are you really attached to the name Idylla? Because it’s very heavy-handed.)

Title is cute. The dilemma/stakes is opaque to me, however (even rereading without the blue text :) because it’s too vague. A dies unless he gets the magical thingy that’s holding Idylla together? In which case the island gets destroyed? How is that a choice – especially for Iona?

Would also suggest you include a bit of I’s reactions/personality/innocent breathless love, as hard as it is to do that and also say what happens. For example, does she get kidnapped because she does something stupidly innocent like thinking she can win over her kidnappers? Does she think it’s better for a country to be destroyed over one person because of her idealism? Or the reverse?

P.S. Dave has really good questions.

khazar-khum said...

If Aniston is Aqualad, then he's definitely gay.

St0n3henge said...

Thomas More coined the word Utopia when he wrote the novel with the same name. It means "no-place." He invented it. Idylla, on the other hand, means just what is says on the tin. Idyllic. It's too obvious.

Anyway, I find this to be one of the most cliche' queries I've read this year.

Just so you know, "teenage kid suddenly discovers latent superpowers" was pretty much THE top cliche' of 2012. I suppose we can expect more of the same. Teenagers who are only part or half human was the second most seen cliche' in queries I read in 2012.

"Teenager falls in love with celebrity and/or royalty" was somewhere in the top 10 of Young Adult cliche's, and I remember seeing "teenager is kidnapped" quite a bit as well.

As far as telepathy is concerned, I've seen many, many variations on that theme.

I'll give you this advice- Read. Drop off Harry Potter, Twighlight, and the Ember series at Goodwill and start reading everything else. You'll need classics, old-school sci-fi, and even some non-fiction such as philosophy. Read stuff you don't even like.

Your ideas need to be coming from more diverse sources. You also should be reading "mature" works, mostly, even though you are writing YA. I'd be glad to make up a list to get you started.

Anonymous said...

May I suggest starting on EE's blog:

Book Chat 41 Andrew Smith/The Marbury Lens

Mister Furkles said...

You’re keeping secrets about the story. The main conflict isn't clear. Why Iona is kidnapped and by whom, is not mentioned. What does Iona want and what does Ariston want? What destruction does Ariston intend. Why will he die if he doesn't do it? Who or what is stopping either from doing what they need or want to do? An agent or editor wants to know what your story is about before investing time reading any of it.

You should drop most of the setup and focus on the main story problem.

Maybe it’s just me but I hate anything that opens with a rhetorical question. It always smells like a scam artist at work. You may keep the ending secret and include a rhetorical question at the end. At the beginning, it’s annoying.

I’d also worry about Ariston. The most popular romance novels for teen girls and young women have really scary guys in them. It seems to be werewolves, vampires and sexual sadists. If I were a young woman, I wouldn't be afraid of a wussy guy who reads sixteenth century poetry – unless, of course, you’re both trapped in an elevator for a few hours. (Total yuck!) At least give him a hockey stick and put him on the ice.

none said...

This starts out as Iona's story but suddenly becomes Ariston. And EE's right: he's about as irresistible as glasspapering your eyeballs.

The first sentence instantly made me think: Twilight.

Maybe if you establish that Iona was living in crime central, then we'd believe she finds dullsville Idyllic.

KJ said...

Ditto with BuffySquirrel - I instantly thought 'Twilight' and Robert Pattinson and K Stew's twitching faces! Eugh