Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Face-Lift 1104

Guess the Plot

So Long, Humanity

1. After a decade of undergrad work, including beer pong, spring break, and musical girls, our hero accidentally graduates and lands an editorial position at a publisher. Now he's out for revenge.

2. What will it take to get ditzy girls to understand that not all high schools are filled with angst-ridden vampires, werewolves, faeries and elves?

3. Oontsa has had it with humanity's pollution, pillage and devastation of the oceans. Her solution: destroy their food chain. She and her fellow dolphins will devour the Atlantic menhaden population. Ah, a plan as delicious as it is effective. So long, Humanity!

4. Time traveler Mark Humanity uses the same MO every time: show up in some year, take what he wants, and leave behind death and despair. But when Humanity shows up in 2016, he's in for a rude surprise: George Washington has transported to the 21st century. Who better to take on tyranny?

5. The dolphins are back! The aliens that rescued them from Earth have retrofitted them for survival on land. Should they attempt to reason with the inhabitants of Earth Mark 2, or just wipe out humankind?

6. Rodger runs a nonprofit shelter for the homeless. He cleans them up, gets them medical care, and sees to their every need. Then one day he discovers a criminal underground that buys body parts for transplants. And the money is really good.

7. Genius, social outcast, and champion ballroom dancer Percy Pithecus finally has had enough when the Dunkin' Donuts counter girl disses his attempts at romance. Percy builds a neutron bomb in his greenhouse, then must decide between exterminating the human race--and himself--or continuing his lonely existence. With a surprise ending!

Original Version

Dear Evil Editor,

Americans have a pretty clear picture of George Washington in their heads – crossing the Delaware River with his chest jutting and that funny hat sitting on his head. [Actually, most Americans' picture of George Washington is his face on the one dollar bill with that expression that says, "How come that ass Franklin gets the 100 and I get the frigging 1?] However, my young adult sci-fi novel, titled So Long, Humanity, creates a more contemporary image of Washington’s heroism; one with jet packs, time travel, and a villain even more devious than the British Empire.

Fortunately, Mister Washington will have the support of our protagonist. Malcolm Tennant is a ward of the state of New York, a relationship neither he nor the truant officers of New York City welcome. Frustrated with his lot in life, Malcolm says to heck with laws. That’s why he’s running through the streets of the Big Apple with two cops in pursuit. [Can you be more specific? I'm sure the cops don't chase you just for saying To heck with laws.] Luckily, a girl named Prata yanks him to safety at just the right moment. Unluckily, she is an apparent nutcase who says that it’s up to Malcolm to save the world.

Prata warns Malcolm about the coming of Mark Humanity. She says that Mark is the ultimate manipulator, taking what he needs and then skipping through time to the next era of saps. [I liked the title a lot more before I knew it was grounded in a character named Mark Humanity. Now it sounds like a gimmick.] And now he’s arrived in the year 2016 to begin his newest quest for global domination. Desperate for a revolutionary idea, Malcolm and Prata transport George Washington to today. Who better to inspire Americans to battle tyranny? But, due to Prata’s inexperience, the George Washington they wind up with is 17-years-old, plucked from a farm, and not at all ready to lead a revolution. [WTP? No pause to explain how they manage this? Can anyone pluck anyone from any time?]

Meanwhile, Humanity becomes an international celebrity by using his advanced technology to cure disease and improve everyday life. [This is the guy they want to get rid of?] Prata's seen it before; Humanity arrives, wins over the people, takes what he wants, [If he can cure our diseases, I'm guessing we'd happily give him what he wants.] [By the way, what does he want?] and then rips reality apart in order to bound through time to the next target. [Was 18th-century reality ripped apart when George transported to 2016?] With Humanity garnering favor and resources, it’s up to the three time-displaced teens [Three? Malcolm isn't time-displaced, is he?] to save the world from its supposed savior. [To save the world they must keep Humanity from leaving 2016?]

So Long, Humanity is a 55,000 word Young Adult sci-fi novel. It is written with chapters alternating between the past, present, and future. Fans of Orson Scott Card’s Pastwatch should enjoy the time travel story elements as well as the twisting plot. Fans of the television series Doctor Who should enjoy the clever characters and staggered [staggering?] revelations.

I graduated from the United States Military Academy with a degree in Arts, Philosophy, and Literature in 2007. [Did that come in handy in Afghanistan?] I publish a writer's blog atwww.tjmurray-author.blogspot.com with a weekly schedule including Sample Sundays (when I post a short story), Movie Review Mondays, and Conspiracy Theory Wednesdays. [A peek at your blog shows a total of 30 posts since 2010. Not a place you want to send the reader of your query if you want her to think you're a prolific writer.] [You don't need a bio paragraph.]

Feel free to contact me if you would like any further information. Thank you for your consideration.

Very Respectfully,

As for the title, it stems from the antagonist's name and mannerisms. "So Long, Humanity," is what Mark Humanity mutters whenever he travels through time and leaves the world to crumble under his deceptions. It's kind of like, "See you, suckers!" followed by worldwide death and despair. 


The plot doesn't strike me as YA. I'm thinking middle grade, toward the younger end.

Too much time spent setting it up. Some guy is using time travel to benefit himself, and we are going to pay the price if he can't be . . . killed? What are George and Malcolm and Prata planning to do? What does Humanity want? Does he have to get it in New York? What if he shows up in Australia?

You can't just gloss over bringing GW to 2016. I assume Prata is from the future and has access to time travel tech, so say so. On the other hand, I would think she could come up with a better idea than getting Washington, who'll be too busy marveling at airplanes and cars and television and microwave popcorn to do anything useful. A guy with a machine gun might be a better choice.

Your opening paragraph focuses on George Washington, but he never does anything in the query. I would dump that paragraph and focus on Malcolm from the start. If George is instrumental in saving the world, you can still fill us in on how he contributes.

Does the story address the fact that the destruction Humanity leaves behind would negatively affect conditions at any future target that's later in the time line?

I don't see any need for the character to be named Humanity. Wouldn't he say So long, 2016, instead of So long and his name? It's we who should be saying So long Humanity, and thanks for nothing (except curing disease).


Unknown said...

So, 2016 is FINALLY going to be the year I get my jet pack. Awesome. On to the query...

This actually sounds fun. I have similar qualms re: GW will likely be mystified by our 'marvels,' but more importantly, how will anyone believe he actually is George Wash?

And, even if society could be convinced he isn't a crack pot, why would the reader expect that a farm boy, with no experience in the present-world, can stop Humanity from unleashing the supposed end of the world--especially when Humanity seems like such a great guy...curing diseases, and all.

Really like the idea of a youthful historical figure, but I'm skeptical of the premise. I'd much more readily accept that they all had to go back in time to stop Humanity from choosing Earth in the first place.

And why is it always up to the U.S. to solve world problems? Why can't we bring back a young Winston Churchill to rally the troops?

What is it the Humanity wants? And how can Malcolm Prata and GW stop him from getting it? I understand the stakes--we're all gonna die. I'd like to know if this unlikely trio has the wherewithall to save our asses.

Show me they do, because the kid who's not so 'into' the law, the time-travelling alien, and the transported 18th century teen (who's probably better at planting tobacco than planning a military attack) are not inspiring a lot of confidence.

Explain how Humanity rips time and worlds apart. Explain the logic behind GW as a savior. Explain Malcolm and how he became the unlikely hero. Do this in fewer words than you have now, because your query was too long.

AlaskaRavenclaw said...

Writer, I actually have a different clear picture of Geo. Washington in my head:

1. Man in powdered wig who

2. owned slaves and

3. knew it was wrong.

Interesting, huh? Guy was conflicted as hell. There's a story in that. The champion of Freedom, and yet.

I can't really figure out what's going on in this query. Try to reduce your whole novel to a single sentence, under 20 words long. Build your query from that sentence. Focus on your protagonist. If Georgie's not the protag, leave him out.

And yeah, avoid a bio. Especially avoid a bio that mentions conspiracy theories.

james said...

Hi author,

You say the antagonist's name, Mark Humanity, is sort of like "So Long, Humanity." But I can't help but think of the word "mark" in the name Mark Humanity--as you have described him--as "taking aim at." If that's what you mean, it seems to fit very well the personality of the villain you have so far revealed. As one who tends to like play-on-words names, I don't have a problem with that. Actually, thought it was okay. One thing that bugged me, though, is wondering why the bad guy gets top billing in the title. Another is why George--who seems to come into the story much later--gets most of the first paragraph? For me, it causes the order of paragraphs in the query to seem out of place. But then, I suppose things getting out of place happens a lot in time travel.

Although the query could do with some changes, the story sounds interesting. Liked the part about the fate of a near-present reality needing the help of a clueless 17-year-old historical figure.

Good luck with it

Eric said...

I hope you'll consider writing a story about Mark's more sympathetic twin brother Oswald T. Humanity, "O The" for short.

Not much to add here, except that "fans of the TV series Doctor Who" will probably think surnaming your protagonist "Tennant" is a far too obvious homage.

none said...

Sadly, my first reaction was, "and thanks for all the fish!"

Minion 621 said...

I just wanted to ask the author when, exactly, Mark arrives? Just in case