Monday, September 28, 2015

Face-Lift 1276

Guess the Plot

Me Against the World

1. When a black market deal goes bad, Perry Barker tries to run for his life. But no one can escape the over 5000 members of the nefarious American Pawnbrokers Association.

2. My husband is cheating, the kids are delinquents, and I'm getting laid off next week. Plus, I'm turning 40 and can't fit into my size 10 pants. I dare you to say you won't represent my book.

3. Mom channels the spirit of Sarah Bernhardt. Dad invents things. Rocky crawled into the pantry last week and covered himself with flour and red food coloring. Ten-year-old Dusti Rhoades (her real name!!!) secretly plans to win the Kidtastic Writing Contest and tells you all about her life in... Me Against The World.

4. I shot my old man to save my little sis from the drunk bastard. Now they'll probably throw me in juvie. No way I'm letting that happen, not when I can just pack up my pjs and my Gameboy and blend into the cutthroat streets of Bed-Stuy.

5. My parents suck and school sux and I totally wish I had never been born. All my clothes are sooo last year!!!! Like, should I just get a tattoo saying "I'm lame" on my forehead? And my car. My car!!!! It's brown!!! It is like soooo embarrassing. My parents must really hate me buying such a piece of sh*t like that.

6. Jason Poe Jr has accidentally unleashed a curse that turns nature itself against him. It's him against the world... he attacks at midnight.

7. The planet Earth has shrunk down to human size and now it's looking for a fight. It's up to Big Brad Little to give Earth an ass-whupping so severe it'll go back to big and quiet. But can he administer the beating before the oxygen runs out?

Original Version

Dear [Agent Name]

Tony will do anything to protect his little sister Leslie—shooting their father included. When the drunk bastard attempts to choke Leslie to death, that’s just what Tony does. [Luckily Tony's father keeps his loaded gun on a table in the same room where he's choking Leslie, so Tony doesn't have to go get it, which would take way longer than it would take a man to strangle a girl.]

Sirens sound in the distance, which means the police are on their way. If Tony doesn’t do something, the police find two orphan minors and report the incident to Child Protective Services. Tony will most likely end up in a juvenile facility and Leslie in a foster home. But CPS has to find them first. And [no one is better at hide and seek than Tony and Leslie.] CPS be damned. Tony will not let the government split them up.

Hiding out and blending in with others seems to be the only way to avoid separation. The question is where. Unfortunately, there aren’t too many places to go with no money—except the streets. However, running the streets of cutthroat northeast Bed-Stuy is just asking for trouble—trouble they certainly don’t need.

Tony has not one, but two lives to think about. He doesn’t have much time to decide. CPS is coming. And they won’t leave empty-handed. [Actually, it's the cops who are coming, and they're gonna find a bloody corpse and start looking for a shooter, so it'll be a while before CPS is coming. My guess is the kids would be taken to CPS.]

Me Against the World is YA fiction, complete at 78,000 words. [Shouldn't it be Us Against the World? Surely Leslie is going to be useful in the quest for survival.]

Thank you for your time and consideration.



This could be pretty funny if you put it in first person present and tell it like a film noir:

I walk into the kitchen in my pjs hoping my kid sister Leslie hasn't finished off the Froot Loops. And there's the old man, trying to choke Les to death. Lucky I'm packing heat. I pull out my 44 and blast the drunk bastard to kingdom come.

Sirens. Shit, already? Gotta move fast or they'll throw me into juvie for saving Leslie's life, and I'll never see her again. But where can we go? Maybe the brutal, merciless streets of northeast Bed-Stuy? Nah, that's just asking for trouble. But we got no moolah. Wait, I've got my gat. We can rob a Chucky Cheese.

The trouble with my version is the same as the trouble with yours. It could all take place on page one of the book. You need to tell us a story, not just describe the situation the main character is in when the story begins. So instead of just deleting the parts I colored red, condense the setup into one short paragraph, something like:

After Tony shoots his father to stop the drunk bastard from choking Tony's sister Leslie to death, he realizes Child Protective Services will soon swoop in and separate the siblings. No way he's letting that happen, not when he and Les can just blend into the streets. But how long can an eight-year-old boy and a six-year-old girl survive in cutthroat northeast Bed-Stuy?

That leaves room to tell us about the plot: what they plan to do, who stands in their way, what big decision they face, what will happen if they choose badly . . .

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Success Story

Carrie Ryan's book The Forest of Hands and Teeth (Book Chat 46) is, at long last, being made into a movie. It'll star, from Game of Thrones,  . . . Well you can read about it here.

Tuesday, September 08, 2015

Face-Lift 1275

Guess the Plot

Mission of Terror

1. It's gonna be scary, but if it means being free once and for all of diapers, Bobby's gonna use the big people's toilet.

2. Sixteen-year-old Faye has a mother who's a spy and a father who's a chemist. Both of them are missing and Faye is the only one who seems to be looking for them. Her clues lead her to Disney World and one ride that may be her last clue: Mission of Terror. But does she have the chops to take on that rollercoaster to find her parents?

3. While fourteen-year-old Bryan trains in outer space for mankind's first interstellar colonization mission, fundamentalist terrorists launch an attack on the flagship in order to gain positive publicity for their anti-genetic engineering agenda. 

4. For Janella, it looks like junior year is going to be another loser -- until the dark new boy summons her to the life she didn't know was hers. It turns out that she's actually a spirit from the Nightmare Realm, where human nightmares are hatched and delivered into people's brains every night. Janella isn't sure she wants to go there. But dang, that boy is cute.

5. Conlynn "Corky" Smith is at a Ugandan Christian mission school for girls when terrorists attack. Can she use her martial arts training, hunting skills, and psychic connection to Jaunty the Leopard to get her and her girls to safety? Also, crazy, drunken chimps.

Original Version

Dear Evil Editor,

Fourteen-year-old Brian thinks nothing could be worse than moving just before starting high school. Then he wakes up in the hospital after a bullying incident. [There's bullying, and then there's assault with intent to kill.] [The first sentence has me thinking he hasn't moved yet. The second sentence has me wondering if the bullying happened before or after he moved (If you change "thinks" to "thought" it might help, assuming the move already happened.). The third and fourth sentences make me wonder if we're in the same book.] He learns his rare Cryosleep genetic modifications, developed for the first interstellar colonization mission, saved him from drowning. He’s stunned to learn that his mother was killed eight years ago in a bombing by fundamentalist terrorists opposed to genmods. [Then he discovers that his father is a cyborg from a planet in the Sombrero Galaxy and his siblings are super villains named Beetlegirl and Creep.] [I'm starting to think the plot about the Nightmare Realm was the real one.] [Wait, he's fourteen, his mother was killed when he was six, and he's stunned to learn this? Or is he just stunned to learn how she died? As in: He’s stunned to learn that his mother's death eight years ago was caused by fundamentalist terrorists opposed to genmods.] [Bad enough that the American infidels don't give us the respect we deserve, now they're genetically modifying themselves so they can sleep hundreds of years in space. We must destroy them all.] [Now that I've read the whole query, I'm wondering if we shouldn't just start with paragraph 2.] 

Brian has always been fascinated by the 300-year-long, 20 light-year mission and he’s happy to join it, although the anti-genmod prejudices the terrorist’s [terrorists'] propaganda has created worries him. When he learns the mission is critically short of pilots for its Dragonfly one-person support spacecraft, he and some new friends work hard to qualify for Dragonfly pilot training. Their teenage adaptability helps them do well, despite attempts of jealous older cadets to discredit them. But the terrorists, angry over the positive publicity surrounding the teenagers, attempt to kidnap and eliminate them [These teenagers are getting too much positive press; we must eliminate them.] which they barely escape.

Their parents are worried, but the teenagers are more determined than ever, and go into space to finish their training at the starships nearing completion in the Earth-Moon L5 Lagrange point. [Even if that sentence makes sense to you, (changing "at" to "on" would help) I'd cut it off after "training" to accommodate idiots like me.] But while they’re drilling in their Dragonflies, the terrorists launch an attack to destroy the flagship. [These fundamentalist terrorists have spacecraft? Just so they can attack other spacecraft?] Brian and his friends are the only ones in a position to stop it, although the attempt could cost them their lives. But if the flagship and everyone on it are lost, it will be the end of humanity’s first attempt to reach the stars – and all their hard work and sacrifice will have been in vain. [How much hard work and sacrifice are we talking about? Their first semester of high school?]

Mission of Terror is a young adult science fiction novel with series potential, complete at 95,000 words. Its use of human genetic engineering for frozen sleep, and fundamentalist terrorist opposition to genetic engineering, are unique elements that drive much of the stories’ conflict.

Thank you for your time and consideration.


Most of this is setup. If you limit the setup to one paragraph, you'll have more room to tell us what actually happens. A paragraph similar to this:

When fourteen-year-old Brian Smith learns that Earth's first interstellar colonization mission needs Dragonfly pilots, he and some of his friends enlist. Their teenage adaptability helps them excel, and soon they go into space to complete their training with the mission starships. But fundamentalist terrorists, opposed to the genetic modifications needed for Cryosleep, will do anything to sabotage the mission--including launching an attack on the flagship.

I tend to think of terrorists opposed to genetic engineering blowing up Monsanto factories, not starships. They should be happy we're sending our genetically engineered humans off to some other planet where they can't destroy planet Earth.

Our fleet of starships being unable to squash an attack by some tree-hugging environmentalists is like (choose one):

a. The starship Enterprise being vulnerable to the Goodyear blimp

b. The Death Star being vulnerable to a puny X-wing.


Wednesday, September 02, 2015

Evil Editor to Not Appear on Dancing with the Stars...Again

The new Dancing with the Stars Cast has been announced, and once again Evil Editor is not among them. The cast includes four people I've heard of: Chaka Khan and Gary Busey, who are both so old they couldn't do a slow dance without needing to crawl inside an oxygen tent: Paula Dean, who agreed to appear only if they didn't stick her with an African-American partner; and seventeen-year-old Mindi Erwin, whose claim to stardom is that her father was killed by a sting ray about a decade ago.

The other eight cast members I won't bother naming. Trust me, they aren't as famous as Evil Editor. I know this because I've never heard of them and I'm pretty sure everyone's heard of Evil Editor. So what gives? Do they just not want to risk that an editor wins the mirror ball trophy instead of a no-talent celebrity? Not a problem. There's little chance I would even make it to the final four, and if I did, I'd throw the match and let someone who actually needs the publicity win. Screw 'em. If they don't want me, I know someone who will: American Ninja Warrior.