Tuesday, April 02, 2013

Face-Lift 1114

Guess the Plot

Guardian of the Phoenix

1. Joel was born for greatness--and he's going to achieve it, just as soon as he can find someone to watch Uncle Marvin's weird parrot.

2. Sheryl's substitute teaching job explodes in a dazzling pyrotechnic display that burns down the science lab. Now she's desperate to take any job--even pet-sitting in creepy Zanzibar Manor.

3. When Gwyn learns that her childhood necklace, "the Phoenix," is the only thing keeping the sun burning in the sky, she realizes it was possibly a mistake to give it to a vampire who wants to extinguish the sun so it'll always be night.

4. Tipped off by lapsed minions, Internet hacker Shazam targets the firewall blocking insightful blog posts of southern writer, Phoenix. Soon Shazam is on the run from ace detective Zach Martinez. Also, an evil editor.

5. After a bizarre series of fatal highway "accidents," 42-year-old paraplegic tax lawyer Jill Walters finds herself the legal guardian of 14-year-old super heroine The Phoenix, who's determined to avenge her parents' deaths.

6. When Wendy signed up to become a foster parent, she certainly didn't anticipate having a little pyromaniac in her house. Now, how to use the kid in an insurance scam?

Original Version

Gwyn has spent her whole life pretending to be something she's not… human. But when you're going to live forever, seventeen years of lying shouldn't be a big deal. Guardian of the Phoenix is complete at 58,742 words and would fit in to the Paranormal Young Adult genre. [That sentence could be placed at the front of the last paragraph where it won't interrupt the plot summary.]

Gwyn has been playing the part of human for so long, [In the previous paragraph 17 years was next to nothing. Now it's sooooooo long.] she has denied who and what she really is, an immortal. [We learned she's pretending to be human and she's immortal in the first paragraph. You must think we have really short attention spans. Dump the entire first paragraph and open: "17-year-old Gwyn has been playing . . . ] But with immortality comes responsibility, and her guardianship comes far sooner than she ever expected. [When did she expect it?]

Her treasured childhood necklace turns out to be the Phoenix, the only thing keeping the sun burning in the sky. It is her responsibility to protect it.

She is devastated when she finds out because she’s already given it away. [Why would a 17-year-old keep some plastic bead necklace she had when she was 4? It's bad enough giving a child the only thing keeping the sun burning in the sky, but to not even tell her to protect it is the height of stupidity.] Her desperate attempt to prove her love to a dhampire, [For those not in the know, a dhampire is vampire who works for the Dharma Initiative.] [No, seriously, it's the offspring of a vampire and a human woman, and my embarrassment at not previously knowing this is matched only by the author's at not knowing it's spelled "dhampir."] Nolan, has threatened the balance of the world. [She attempted to prove her love for Nolan by giving him her childhood necklace?] [I shouldn't talk, on my 3rd date with my 2nd soul mate I gave her my Tonka truck and she gave me her Barbie doll. We were both 23.] Nolan’s vampire father would like nothing better than to end the reason for Gwyn’s existence, allowing night to reign always. [If you mean he wants to destroy her necklace, stopping the sun from burning in the sky, has he given any consideration to the fact that it would soon become really cold? And all the food sources would die off, including those of dhampir?] [Note that the plural of "dhampir" is "dhampir." You may need to know that someday.]

On top of all of that, Gwyn is falling for Brandt, the Phoenix's soul mate. [I thought the Phoenix was a necklace. What's it's soul mate? A bracelet? She's falling for a bracelet?] [Two sentences ago she was proving her love for Nolan and already she's falling for Brandt?]

She's got a major decision to make; become the Guardian of the Phoenix or let the sun set for the last time. [Tough decision. I'd start by making a list of all the advantages and disadvantages of a burning sun.

Can see the moon
Can start a fire with a magnifying glass

Skin cancer
Global warming
Blindness from looking at eclipses
Easier for the Borg to find us]

I want to sincerely thank you for your time. I have a full manuscript available should you be interested in reading Guardian of the Phoenix. This novel can stand alone, but I have the desire for it to become a series. I am currently working on the second novel which features a new main character.



Who gave Gwyn the only thing keeping the sun burning in the sky, and why?

Who was responsible for the necklace before Gwyn, and why has this person been replaced?

Who are Gwyn's parents?Are they immortal too? How can you tell someone's immortal when they've been alive only 17 years? Is she a goddess? A dhampir? A zombie?

This is all setup. You don't tell us anything that happens in the book. And the situation you've set up doesn't make a lot of sense. If it all makes sense in the book, rewrite the query in a way that shows it.


Tk said...

My confusion is about whether the romance triangle is the plot, or getting back the necklace is the plot. If it's the romance, add romance to the genre and show why it matters that she's fallen for the wrong person. If it's getting back the necklace, add in how the situation escalates to make it seem impossible she'll ever get it back.

Letting the sun set for ever is not a choice, so simply reword it as a consequence: She's got to [put this in terms the reader will understand] or the sun will set for the last time.

You get wordy in the last para out of nerves (I do this too). Take out the qualifiers and it makes the same points, only more strongly and elegantly. "Thank you for your time. Guardian of the Phoenix stands alone, but has series potential."

Is Gwennie being immortal important to the plot? It would be nice if you tied that in.

none said...

I can see how it might be hard to pretend to be human when you're 117 and still look 17 (and are doomed endlessly to repeat high school). But how hard it is when you are 17? What are the differences between you and other 17-year-olds? What sets Gwyn apart from her (apparent) peer group and makes her life difficult? Putting some hints about that in the query might make it more interesting.

Also, EE makes a vital point about Gwyn's predecessor. If she was also immortal, then what happened to her? Did she reach 1117, the age of retirement? Why has Gwyn been thrown into her role as guardian without warning or training?

Who gives a kid a necklace that holds the key to all human existence then lets them casually give it away? Maybe if Gwyn had been tricked out of it by Nolan, or his father, that would make more sense.

But then none of this really matters, because her dilemma at the end isn't one. End all human existence or look after a necklace? That's a CHOICE?

You'd need to come up with some amazingly dreadful consequence of taking on the role of guardian for that to be a dilemma. Like, yanno, she's convinced she'll make a mess of it and end all of human existence. Otherwise the choice is so obvious we're all wasting our time even considering it might be one.

AlaskaRavenclaw said...

There are some problems with the set-up here.

See, life on our planet depends on the sun. No sun means no critters with closed circulatory systems (humans or whatever) and hence no vampire-chow. Without the sun, vamps are sunk.

But long before the sun ceases to burn in the, if you want to be terracentric, sky, it will heat up, expand, and incinerate the earth. There will be a hot time in the old town, for vamps et al.

If you're setting a story in our world, then you need to obey the rules by which our world operates. If it's something like the Discworld where science is being bent all outta shape, you need to make that clear. (And you need to write so brilliantly that everyone will forgive you.)

Also, beware the dreaded Idiot Plot. (Sorry; I didn't invent the term.) Key symptoms of the IP here: Someone gave a child a necklace that could destroy the world. Antagonist thinks they can survive the destruction of the sun. Protagonist has to choose whether to save the world or not.

Eric said...

"I want to sincerely thank you for your time." ...So, what's stopping you?

As it stands, the query just makes me wonder whose idea this was: "Let's make the light of the sun depend on one single artefact-- how about a necklace. Then, we'll give it to a child who doesn't even know what it is. What could possibly go wrong?"

150 said...

The sun is a bit important for things other than daylight, isn't it? Primarily keeping Earth from spinning off into space? How can the sun failing to rise lead to anything but immediate cessation of all life everywhere?

Kelsey said...

Hi Author,
EE's given you great notes. Most of your query is confusing and awkward as is. The phrase "but I have the desire for it to become a series" is particularly clunky. I hope, on re-reading, you can see why.

Wouldn't the whole world quickly die without sunlight? You really need to address this. I can't take this plot seriously if the manuscript breezes over this MAJOR plot hole as lightly as it does in the query. If eternal night does equal death to everything, then Gwyn's choice at the end is a false choice: she can refuse to be the Guardian and die, or she can save the world and live. Sure, it's maybe not what she wanted to do with her life, but no reader is going to believe she will choose to let the world (and herself) die in darkness--and without the belief that is IS a choice, all the dramatic tension is gone.

Don't be discouraged but keep at it. Read the archives, and not just a few. Good luck revising.

Evil Editor said...

Left to its own devices the sun will eventually incinerate the Earth, but destroying the necklace obviously turns it off like a light switch. Maybe the vampire can turn it back on when it gets cold. Maybe he just uses the necklace to give us longer nights and shorter days.

Of course the sun's gravity would still exist, even if it stopped burning, so we wouldn't spin off into space, but we might wish we could, as we'd need to go spinning off into space if the sun stopped burning, in hopes of finding a star that isburning, (at which point our cryogenically frozen bodies can be awakened) and that the necklace won't be so powerful in our new solar system, or at least won't be entrusted by an idiot to a child.

Smart vampires would get a 747 than can travel at the speed the Earth rotates, and use it to stay on the dark side of the Earth. A full passenger load would provide a year's worth of food. Refueling stops would require catching up with the night every so often, so they'd have to time it right, or carry their coffins on board in case they got stuck in daylight occasionally.

Unknown said...

I guess my biggest problem with this query (apart from the previous comments which are valid and on-point) is Gwyn isn't much of a guardian. It sounds like she gave up her guardianship early, and didn't even realize it. If she's heroic in the story, she doesn't come across as such in the query.

One other thing. When you revise this query, round your word count to the nearest thousand. As with including the words "fiction novel" putting the exact word count in the query is a giant red flag.

Mr Baskerville said...

I found the Gwyn's motivation a bit confusing. Why won't she protect the sun? Or does she hate all life?

And EE, I'm assuming 'I gave her my Tonka truck' is a euphemism.