Thursday, May 23, 2013

Face-Lift 1128

Guess the Plot

Whatever He Can

1. Miyamoto is a ronin who has never lost a battle, and roams the countryside seeking a challenge. He meets his match when a veiled ronin beats him in a duel. Miyamoto's new friend is a woman, and he'll do whatever he can to keep her satisfied.

2. Holly thought the gangly red colt had promise. Trainer Dave saw nothing but a glue factory reject. But when the colt starts tearing up the Idaho quarter horse racing circuit, Holly dreams of the All American Futurity and its multimillion dollar purse. Will Dave join her dream while her colt gives--Whatever He Can?

3. Chapstick. Cotton balls, Nail polish remover. Air freshener. It's the end of the world and DJ Shazam came late to the Safeway looting. Now he's hoarding ...Whatever he can.

4. Gordon Gecko insists everyone call him "Sheena" after that last stroke. His grandson, Steve, steps in to salvage whatever he can of Gecko's crumbling fortunes. Spoiler, Gecko screws Steve out of his inheritance.

5. Jaime Casey is caught between a wizard and a demon who both want the drug stash he doesn't have, and his only allies are a comic book nerd and a woman who can't get over her crush on President McKinley's assassin. He's not sure how he's gonna get out of this, but he'll do . . . whatever he can.

6. Odin, ruler of Asgard, must always speak sooth. Now, he has Alzheimer’s and occasionally flubs it. Thor must make everything Odin says into truth. But Thor won an all-expense-paid two-millennium cruise through the Andromeda Galaxy. Thor will do … Whatever He Can … to go on the cruise. Hilarity ensues.

Original Version

Dear Evil Editor:

People call Jaime Casey the Boogieman; [Isn't that spelled "boogeyman"? I guess if it's your world you can spell it however you like, like fairy/faerie.] he's a loan shark, a Liar, and in big trouble.

When one of the Boogieman's clients is murdered Jaime is caught between two ruthless people [Wait, Jaime is the Boogieman; you're making it sound like they're two different people.] demanding a stash of drugs he doesn't have. On one side is a demon-blooded femme fatale with a taste for other people's pain and on the other is a drug-dealing wizard who's backed by the Boogieman's traitorous centuries old mentor. Add in a scumbag who keeps attacking his downstairs neighbor [His own neighbor or the Boogieman's neighbor?] and the Boogieman couldn't imagine himself in a worse situation. [I don't see that adding in the scumbag makes Jaime's situation so much worse that it's worth mentioning in the query. It's like:

Spock: "Captain, the Romulans are attacking us from the left with photon torpedoes--

Kirk: I suggest--

Spock: . . . and the Klingons are attacking us from the right with phasers--

Kirk: Have you raised the--

Spock: . . . and Bones and Scotty are arguing about scotch versus bourbon again.

Kirk: Christ, could things get any worse?]

What does Jaime have? The magical ability to make people live their worse [worst] fear, a boss who's still nursing her crush on President McKinley's assassin, [Leon Frank Czolgosz, Polish pronunciation: ˈt͡ʂɔwɡɔʂ ] a little sister with dangerously bizarre luck, and an overweight comic book nerd. To get out of this mess the Boogieman will do whatever he can. [This is just a list of characters. Are they Jaime's allies in an epic battle against the wizard and demon woman? I don't see what they bring to the table.]

Whatever He Can is an adult urban fantasy of 87,000 words. In this novel, Liars are a variety of magical beings who are born on Earth but are twisted by the magic [of? in? emanating from?] a dimension called Otherside. Not only are most humans incapable of perceiving a Liar's true form [semicolon? comma but?] each [human? Liar?] also possesses distinct magical abilities and weaknesses. Jaime Casey can inspire terror, but wearing a gold ring would rot his finger to the bone. [Gold : Boogieman :: Kryptonite : Superman.] [Do the Boogieman's clients pay off their debts with Krugerrands to annoy him?]

A synopsis and complete manuscript are available upon request.

Thank you for your consideration.


How come we all remember who shot Lincoln and Kennedy, but not who shot Garfield and McKinley? Though I'm not sure Garfield should be included, as his doctors had more to do with his death than his assassin did:
Leading doctors of the age flocked to Washington to aid in Garfield's recovery, sixteen in all. Most probed the wound with their fingers or dirty instruments.  
The doctors [later--he lingered 80 days] reopened the wound and enlarged it hoping to find the bullet. They were unsuccessful. By the time Garfield died on September 19, his doctors had turned a three-inch-deep, harmless wound into a twenty-inch-long contaminated gash stretching from his ribs to his groin.

There's nothing about the plot. We get a bit about Jaime's situation: powerful beings want his drug stash, though he's a loan shark, not a drug dealer. And we get a bit about the world: there's magic and an alternate dimension. But what happens? What does Jaime want? What's stopping him from getting it? What will happen if he fails? What's his plan? Tell us the story.


AlaskaRavenclaw said...

I've met doctors like Garfield's doctors. Too many of 'em.

Writer, this sounds like an interesting premise, but I'm just not getting what the story is about. Ditch all snappy language for now. (You can put it back later, if you need it.)

Ditch, also, the supporting characters.

Do the ol' single sentence, under 20 words in length, to sum up your story.

That's what your query should be based on. Essential formula is Jaime wants X, but alas, Y stands in his way. To overcome Y, he must Z.

Tk said...

Hi author, a ton of elements but how do they hold together? If JB can make other people live their nightmares, what's stopping him from tying the femme, the wiz and the scumb in knots so they don't bother him? Does he have a conscience and won't use his power? You don't give enough info to know whether Jamie is ruthless, angsty or hapless.

Or do his enemies have the ability to counter his power, like shutting him in a gold coffin while he's asleep so he can't nightmare them? Revealing their cunning plan will add coherence to the query.

Why are they called Liars? You may not even need this term and explanation in the query.

It is too many things for the agent to guess.

PLaF said...

When I read about the Boogieman, I thought of John Travolta in a white suit.

Whether Jamie is the Boogieman or the Boogeyman, is he supposed to be the scariest guy on the block...until the demons and wizards arrive?

Are three ruthless people supposed to go at each other ruthlessly?

Wouldn't Mr. B. have a collection of minions to throw at these nemeses? What is the main conflict of the story?

Chelsea Pitcher said...

Hi author! I think you've got some really great stuff in here, and the premise in very intriguing (love the femme fatale bit!) I just think you need to add in a bit about where the story is going, because right now we only know who's going to help Jaime get there.

Is this a murder mystery? You mention the murder as the catalyst of Jaime's problems, but there's nothing in the query about him trying to solve it. That said, I do get the impression that that's where the story is going. If Jaime can find out who killed his client, he'll be able to get both ruthless people off his back--or, at least, point their aggressions in another direction. Right?

So here are my thoughts. First, consider putting the Liar thing into the first paragraph. Something like:

"People call Jaime Casey the Boogieman; he's a loan shark, a Liar with the ability to make people live out their greatest fears, and in big trouble."

Then we have the magical element right up front. I liked the next paragraph a lot, but I agree with EE that the neighbor part is confusing. I think it's especially confusing because the first paragraph makes Jaime sound very cutthroat. So to suddenly hear that he cares about some random neighbor doesn't feel like it fits. Personally, I might scrap that sentence and replace it with something Jaime's going to do--i.e. solve the mystery and get the magical riffraff off his back.

Then, once you've articulated that Jaime's taking control of his life, you can weave in some of the characters in the third paragraph to explain who's going to help him do it. We don't need to know exactly how they solve the mystery/catch the cuplrit/fix Jaime's life, but we do need to know which of these things they're trying to do, and maybe one idea of how they're going to go about it.

And, since you now have the Liar thing in the opening (if you liked my suggestion), I don't think you need the fourth paragraph at all.

This sounds like a really fun story, and I'd love to read a rewrite of the query :)

Unknown said...

Hi author!

Besides fixing the plot description and grammar/spelling issues I'd suggest renaming the class of magical being Jaime is.

Liar is too familiar a term; if it must be "liar" maybe you could change the spelling so it sounds the same but gives a hint that it means something extra. Lyar or Lyer might work.

Good luck.

AlaskaRavenclaw said...

Actually, I was rather intrigued by "Liar," and I'd be annoyed by Lyer. Different strokes I spose.

none said...

The capitalised Liar made me think of the Liars in Pratchett's Equal Rites. So it definitely didn't work for me, especially as something very different seems intended here.

But nor would Lyer work for me. Maybe a name that would come closer to describing what Jaime can actually do would be better.

AlaskaRavenclaw said...

Since his name is Jaime, perhaps he can be a Mentiroso.

Unknown said...

My issue was the mundane word had no impact and didn't reflect his mystique. I'm sure the author can convey this critical better with a better word.

Author said...

No one remembering who shot McKinley is exactly why Leon's name was left out. Too easy for an agent doing the fast read to mistake it for another character.

Excellent points about the lack of plot information. Plenty about the set up, but I got worried about turning the query into a synopsis and took it too far the other direction.

Reasonable concerns in the comments about the term Liar, but I think I'll keep it. The term needed to be general enough that it could apply to wildly different beings from across the globe whose main commonality is that humans wrongfully perceive them as human. Using a non-English language would have felt like localizing them to a home range. The word vampyre always bugged the hell out of me which zapped the obvious alternate spelling for Liar.

Evil Editor said...

I wasn't suggesting you include Leon's name. I just thought Wikipedia's explanation of how to pronounce it was worth a laugh. The main question is whether the fact the the boss has a crush on Leon is taking up space that could better be utilized to tell us what happens in the book.