Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Face-Lift 1168

Guess the Plot

The Night Guard

1. The Mayan priests make sure day happens, but who keeps night from going AWOL? When the Lords of Death kidnap night, its Hunahpu, the Night Guard, to the rescue. Can he bring back night before Central America is burned to a crisp?

2. Female orthodontic patients are disappearing after leaving the office of Dr. C. Edmond Kells. It's time to encase himself in acrylic and assume his old identity as the "Night Guard" to solve the case. Or suffer rampant malocclusion in prison.

3. When pop singer Krysty is found dead in her lavish bed, homicide detective Zack Martinez knows two things. One, the girl didn't strangle herself with her microphone, and two, she's not going to be hosting the VideoNet Music Awards on Saturday night. That only leaves hundreds of jealous singers and their management as suspects. Zack must enlist his daughter's playlist to solve this case.

4. Kevin, the night guard at a top secret facility, is shocked to discover an alien is being kept hostage. When the alien telepathically asks Kevin for help, will he be freeing an innocent being, or jeopardizing the future of the human race?

5. You wouldn't think a hospital would need extra guards on duty at night, but when it's a military hospital reanimating soldiers so they can be sent back to the trenches, you don't want anyone stumbling onto the operation. The way 15-year-old maid Daisy Blake does. Oops.

6. Somebody has been stealing the night, and gargoyle Freddy McKay is hired to guard it. He’s paid for work between sunset and sunrise, but most of those hours have been stolen. Can Freddy solve the case before he loses his home in foreclosure?

Original Version

Dear Evil Editor,

The new maid at the London Military Hospital has three secrets that could get her sent to prison:

She's Irish, automatically suspected of [drinking on the job. Ba dum ching.] spying;

She speaks German, the language of the enemy, [That should get her a promotion from maid to spy or interpreter in the interrogation room. Not a prison sentence.]

And she stole the papers that identify her as Delinda Blake. She's really Delinda's sister, Daisy.  

[If she's Daisy, how can there be papers that identify her as Delinda? And if there somehow are papers identifying her as Delinda, and she wants to pass as Delinda, why not leave the papers where they were instead of stealing them? Now when they check the files to see if she's really Delinda, the papers identifying her as Delinda won't be there.]

1916 London promises good wages to young women, with so many men off fighting in France. But after Delinda drowns herself, Daisy finds opportunities are few for a 15-year-old schoolgirl on her own. Mopping up blood and washing bedpans earn her room and board. And, however disgusting, her work makes a difference: A clean, fresh ward is like heaven to wounded men who lived in the stinking filth of the trenches. [You'd think by the time these guys are transported from the trenches to London they wouldn't still be bleeding all over the floor.] Further, she enjoys the patients' teasing, especially the winks from handsome Captain Ferrar of the Night Guard.

But the Night Guard has its own secret, involving the hospital's power plant, where broken men are being restored for Britain's desperate army. A dying young POW reveals the truth to Daisy and gives up another secret as well: A traitor willing to kill is at work in the hospital.

Whom can Daisy tell without giving herself away -- [Telling someone there's a traitor in the hospital doesn't give away that she's Daisy.] or putting her life in danger?

Then Delinda comes back. From the dead. [Zombie, or reanimated? Either way, it's a little late to be telling us it's that kind of book.]

My 90,000-word YA novel THE NIGHT GUARD adds elements of "Frankenstein" [Ah. Reanimated. Should have guessed from the power plant mention.] to the story of a girl struggling to make a life for herself in a city at war.

I am a writer for a national World War I organization and a copy editor at a major metropolitan daily.

Thank you for your time and consideration.


I don't see anything in the first four paragraphs that is both needed and that can't be worked into the fifth paragraph:

1916 London promises good wages to young women, with so many men off fighting in France. But after her sister Delinda drowns herself, Daisy Blake finds opportunities are few for a 15-year-old schoolgirl on her own. Mopping up blood and washing bedpans at the London Military Hospital earn her room and board, and her work makes a difference: a clean, fresh ward is like heaven to wounded men who lived in the stinking filth of the trenches.

Note that I removed handsome Captain Ferrar, as he does nothing. (I assume there's no actual romance between a captain and a fifteen-year-old.)

Now we can get to Frankenstein in paragraph 2, just by changing the word "restored" to "reanimated." You'll have to tell us what the Night Guard is when you mention it, or just say that the hospital has a secret.

Probably it's better to focus the query on one main plot point, which I'm guessing would be what's being done to the soldiers, and let the traitor and the zombie sister subplots wait for the book.


Unknown said...

Hi author!
Interesting premise. It's mostly set-up however. And why is Daisy on her own in London? No parents?

I really don't understand the conflict. Daisy has to choose whether to tell her inside info to...someone.

And confiding might cause trouble...

Seems to me, if I was a waif using an assumed identity, I'd carry on, saying nada to no one, and live to tell the tale to my grandkids.

What sort of complications arise when Delinda returns? Tells us the STAKES Daisy faces, don't just assume we know, because we don't. We're creative people. We could come up with seven different (probably snarky) situations--for myself I'd assume her parents become zombies, too--and none of these are probably even close to how you want our thoughts directed...

Best of luck!

150 said...

Oh, I want to hook you up with this chick: http://evileditor.blogspot.com/2009/07/new-beginning-668.html Vampires, not Frankensteinian monsters, though.

Agree with the others--give specific actions of the protagonist, specific goals and consequences--but I like the premise.

Anonymous said...

Have you ever been a 15-year-old girl?

If so, did you "enjoy" the "teasing" of grown men hitting on you?

No further questions, your honor.

150 said...

In re: to Anonymous: plenty of us HAVE enjoyed the fantasy of desirable older men hitting on us. I won't diss a good wish-fulfillment storyline. For the sake of agents who agree with Anonymous instead of me, though, it couldn't hurt to cut that line down to how she enjoys the teasing from this one specific hottie.

Anonymous said...

Ahh, to be fifteen again.

To experience the simultaneous rush of the power of your developing sexuality over others... and the sheer terror of it. A sideways glance is exhilirating (cue giggling), being 'hit on', however, is yuck, even scary. (Unless it's by your crush, in which case you are obliged to make a complete idiot of yourself).

Very confusing times!

But I digress.

Firstly, I dont think those hospitalised with war injuries could do more than tease, so Daisy might have felt safe enough in the wards to laugh-off their comments. It might have even helped her to cope with the confronting sight of amputated limbs or missing eyes.

Secondly, a vulnerable 15 year old orphan might seek the security of an older man in authority, (even if such protections came with benefits. Sad, really).

Unknown said...

With regard to Anon's comments. I have been a 15 y/o girl. And grown men did leer at me.

However, in the query's context, women this age, in the era described, would be on a path to marriage. And it's not unbelievable that these soldiers are within a handful of years of Daisy.

So, we're not (perhaps) talking about creepy old dudes hitting on an innocent. And attraction of caregiver to patient is a well-established phenomenon.

The bigger issue is selling a YA paranormal historical romance. In truth it wouldn't hurt if Daisy were a bit older...but I don't think protag age is going to be the biggest hurdle, by far.

Jo-Ann S said...

Hi, author. Late to the party as ususal, I hope my comments are still useful to you.

My reading of the query was that it started as 'plucky orphan girl makes her way in the big bad world' which appeals to one type of readership, then veers off suddenly in zombie- medical thriller territory, which might have an overlap of audience, but might lose some readers.

My suggestion is to perhaps reword your query to focus on whichever aspect you see as the main point of the novel. So if the thriller aspects rule, try something along the lines of "but the convival hospital atmosphere hides nefarious goings-on when she stumbles on a top secret experiment which places Mr love-interest directly at risk as a donor of healthy tissue"... or if it's a horror story "but reanimated corpses are hard to control, and soon London faces an epidemic of zombies who need food...lots of it" or the romance aspect "but Mr Love-interest's parents would never accept an Irish girl... and why does Mr Love-interest disappear into the hospital basement ever night?"

I think you get the gist.

@ Veronica, I agree with your comments about the soldier's and Daisy's ages, and the marriage pathway aspect. My mother's aunt was married at age 16 in the WW1 era, and even though that was still considered young, it was not scandalously so (it wasn't a forced or arranged marriage either). I think 18 was a good age for a girl to get hitched back then.

But as you say, adding a few years to Daisy's age might make it more comfortable for a publisher to take it on.

PicardyRose said...

This is the author.

Poor innocent Capt. Ferrar, just trying to be kind to that lonely girl with the mop.

EE: Sometimes the soldiers were brought straight to London from the battlefield, covered with blood, mud and lice -- hey, I should have put them in the query! How fun would that have been?

I haven't written much of this. Maybe I'll give it up and turn #6 into a picture book.

Thanks, everyone. (wink-wink!)

Mister Furkles said...


I like the story ideas. The wounded British solders of 1916 were not likely to be a horny lot. It was a time when young men were more likely to be a bit formal rather than a bit randy. That is especially true in a London hospital were nurses could affect their treatment.

When you revise the query, you might want to emphasize the animation of the dead and tell some of the problems it causes Daisy. Then what she does about it. The query must be about Daisy. Make her sympathetic and put her in grave peril.

Jo-Ann S said...

@ PicardyRose - you're right abut the soldiers.

There's a scene in Ian McEwan's Atonement (probably the most compelling in the entire book) featuring soldiers airlifted straight from Dunkirk to London for medical treatment.

That scene caused controversy as McEwen was accused of plagarising from a memoir about nursing in WW1.