Tuesday, December 08, 2015

Face-Lift 1289

Guess the Plot


1. Inexperienced wannabe author Bill R. Lytton submits the only copy of his manuscript for professional corrections and revisions, unaware that work sent to Evil Editor is less likely to be edited than . . . eradicated.

2. In the post-apocalyptic city of New New York-york, four exterminators compete to combine classic technique with creative innovations against the tidal wave of mutant vermin overrunning the city. Will they win, or will they be . . . eradicated?

3. Maya knows the history of how aliens nearly eradicated all humans. But as the greatest living micro biologist, she has a plan. She works with total physics nerd Fred Azem to create a device that can convert aliens into humans and save both species. But it violates her colony's deepest religious beliefs. And the aliens, who now rule Earth, are not about to let it happen.

4. Humanity has all but been eradicated by intermarriage to the peaceful alien race that now populates the Earth. Only teenager Maya can save us, but she's about to find out that the aliens aren't so peaceful after all. 

5. When we eradicated the dominant species on the first planet we colonized, we figured we could create a new home on which humanity would flourish. Little did we know that the Mutalians would show up a few years later with the same idea.

6. Some dude named Kafka is crusading for insect rights. Will he bridge the gap between exo- and endoskeletons? Or will he be . . . eradicated? Includes handy instructions on building your own Geiger counter.

Original Version

Maya Richardson is one of the last remaining humans. Humanity has all but been eradicated by intermarriage to the Gliesians, the peaceful alien nation that now populates the Earth. [It's not marrying them that eradicates us, it's sex. Specifically, human women stop having sex with human men, most likely because Gliesian men are better at it.] [Also, the Gliesians sound more like a race than a nation.] Maya lives in a fledgling commune where she resided with both of her parents until they each disappeared, abandoning her for the glittering allure of the Gliesian society. [Do the Gliesians require that those who wish to enter their society first abandon their children?]

Unfortunately, her place in the commune is jeopardized when her best friend vanishes with the commune’s supplies—and Maya is accused of being an accomplice. [Supplies of what? How much stuff can one person disappear with?] Maya has to prove her innocence and convince the commune elders of her loyalty [Do the elders have to prove her guilt?] in order to take her rightful place in the commune hierarchy. [Once you've declared that humanity has been virtually eradicated, I find it hard to care whether Maya Richardson takes her rightful place in the hierarchy of a fledgling commune.] [Also, it sounds odd for a "fledgling" commune to have elders. Unless, by "elders" you don't mean people who've attained their positions of power through longevity, but simply people who are older than other people.]

But Maya has a secret. Actually, she has two secrets: one that can save the commune [From being depleted by those who leave to have sex with Gliesians? Or are they under attack?] and the other that can save humanity. Unfortunately exposing one of her secrets will get her kicked out of the commune. [To hell with the commune. She's better off without them.] If she exposes the other, she'll find out that the aliens aren’t so peaceful after all. [You know that, but does she know it?]

Eradicated is an 80,000 word young adult novel. May I send you the full manuscript?


It's hard to buy that enough Gliesians could be transported to Earth to eradicate humanity through intermarriage. It would take millions of them. Presumably about 100,000 show up and reproduce until there are millions. But even so, there are billions of us, so there wouldn't be enough Gliesians to marry. Polygamy would help solve that problem, but it's only the children who would be alien/human hybrids; it would take a hundred years for all the original humans to be die out. At which point, if almost all Earthlings are alien/human hybrids, isn't it true that almost all aliens, the ones Maya is going to find out aren't so peaceful after all, are hybrids as well? Perhaps half the Gliesians go around impregnating human women while the other half keep the alien strain pure?

The fact that Maya is one of the few remaining humans suggests that her parents were among the few who didn't buy into the Gliesian hype. Which seems at odds with their abandoning her.

What's so alluring about the Gliesian society that virtually all humans want in, even if it means abandoning their children? Are they drugging us? Hypnotizing us? Is that the secret you won't, for some inexplicable reason, reveal to the agent you're querying?

Do these Gliesians look like humans? Because I can't see a lot of humans wanting to marry aliens who look like Ferengi. 


InkAndPixelClub said...

How old is Maya? I'm guessing mid to late teens since this is a YA novel, but it might help to actually know.

Do we need the parents in the query? They leave for the unstated pleasures of Gliesian society and are never mentioned again. It might be important that they aren't around if you need to explain why she's on her own for this story. Knowing her age might help. But with a small, close knit, fledgling commune, she probably has other adults to look out for her beyond her biological parents.

The stakes are odd. If Maya can't prove that she didn't help her friend steal supplies from the commune, she won't be able to take her rightful place in the commune hierarchy? What does that mean? What IS the commune hierarchy (aside from "elders" and "everyone else") and what is Maya's place in it? Maya not getting some rank that I didn't know she was going to and therefore don't care about seems irrelevant anyway when you start talking about a secret that might get her kicked out of the commune altogether.

"But" doesn't make sense at the start of paragraph 3, unless you make it clear that the process of proving that she is loyal to the commune and didn't help her friend steal the commune's last can of Who hash might reveal these secrets.

You don't have time to contradict yourself in a query. Just say Maya has two secrets to begin with.

The whole final paragraph gets very vague. An agent or editor is going to want to know if the majority of the book is about Maya in the commune trying to protect her secrets while she's on trial, Maya confronting the Gleisians with whatever she knows and starting a war between the aliens and the last surviving humans, or something else. Secrets might sound enticing, but a query reader wot know if the big secret is that Maya is half Gleissian or that Maya stole the world's last Twinkie while her friend was making off with the commune's supplies. You're asking somebody to believe you have an ace - or two aces in this case, but they could start to wonder if all you really have is a three.

Anonymous said...

The design of your world, for the most part, doesn't need to be elaborated upon, especially when it makes the reader spend all their time wondering how things came to be that way. Focus on the story, which looks like it starts in paragraph 2.

We need enough details to understand the stakes. All I understand about your plot can be reduced to:

Maya's friend stole stuff. Maya wants to prove she didn't help so her community will give her a place in the hierarchy. Maya has secrets that can jeopardize her world.

Even there, I don't know enough about the community to understand if the place she wants is something she'd normally have if her friend didn't steal stuff, if it's a position she'd normally be obtaining, or if it's something she wanted and this is just one more road bump. If the story is about her place in her community, elaborate, otherwise focus more on what the story is about.

Telling an agent there are secrets doesn't help them. There are secrets in nearly every YA girl-saves-the-world book out there. They usually have to do with the girl saving the world. The agent needs to know if the story is that she found a live nuclear warhead or if she's the next goddess of fruit. You'll notice the story is going to be very different depending on which answer is correct. That's why the agent needs to know.

AlaskaRavenclaw said...

The very vast majority of hybrids (offspring of two different species) are sterile. Like, we're talking millions to one.

So if these aliens are not humans, they may be able to get down with humans and have babies, but the babies won't have babies.

St0n3henge said...

You're focusing on the commune. This makes it seem like a small-scope story about a girl who is looking to move up in the hierarchy of a small commune but has been accused of something she didn't do. We might rightfully ask, so what?

I've seen this a lot with writers. When writing a query they tend to bury the lede. They focus on a part of the story that makes it seem humdrum and mundane. I don't know why they do this. If you've written a book about saving humanity with global stakes, why are you telling us about a boring little commune and some kid who may or may not make Chief Dishwasher? Tell us what the story is actually about.