Monday, December 19, 2016

Face-Lift 1338

Guess the Plot

The Awakening

1. Sixteen-year-old Jonieal awakens to her usual, drab surroundings. She has not been transformed into a warrior princess, nor is she now in a magical realm. Nada. Will tomorrow be different?

2. They have slept thousands of years; in the dark caves, under the sheltering willows, and at the highest mountain top. Now they have awakened, and no human is safe from their wrath. Earth has been defiled, and what humans have known as myths prove themselves very real.

3. People at work didn't know what to tell Leslie when she described the strange gray slime that had appeared in her kitchen sink and shower drain. A few days later, Ben has the same problem. Soon everyone in town is afflicted with it. Plumbers can't eliminate it, exterminators are useless, bleach does nothing. It's strange, all right...and then the sludge starts talking on peoples' phones.

4. College student Jessica knew there was something unusual about the guy she'd fallen in love with, and now she 
awakens to the fact that he's actually an elf. And not just any elf, the elf destined to become king of all the elves. She never thought this would happen.

5. Every person who has ever died awakens all at the same time. Living humans are outnumbered 14 to 1 by zombies, mummies, ash creatures, mobile skeletons, and slimy ghosts. It's highly awkward for those who have indulged in cannibalism.

Original Version

Dear Evil Editor,

College student Jessica Grove never expected an extraordinary life. Orphaned at a young age, Jessica is content to follow a conventional path until she meets Aiden, a handsome older student oozing with mystery. They’re drawn to each other, and Jessica soon finds her life filled with excitement and peril she never imagined. She knows there is something different about Aiden, but never would have guessed the truth—that Aiden is an elf, gifted with extreme physical abilities and a slowed aging process.

The further Jessica delves into Aiden’s world, the more consumed she becomes with Aiden. Aiden tries to convince Jessica he’s bad for her, and even Jessica knows she should follow [live] the life everyone assumed she’d lead, graduating college and marrying Lucas, her hunky best friend since childhood. Jessica soon realizes, though, that passion and logic don’t always coexist and that her heart doesn’t necessarily lead her to [follow] the safest route.

Before meeting Jessica, Aiden never dreamed of deviating from his destiny. His entire life has been preparation for him to become the leader of his people, but when Aiden meets Jessica, he finds himself questioning how much he is willing to sacrifice for an ambition he did not select for himself. Aiden knows he cannot marry a human and still be king of the elves, but does he have the strength to choose his own course? [My guess is yes, but I'm not sure I want to read the book to find out, because you haven't told me much of anything that happens in the book. Does he tell her he's an elf or does she figure it out when she sees him picking up a car?]

Kingdoms: Book 1, The Awakening is an 84,000 word new adult fantasy romance that will have fans of Jennifer Armentrout, Stephenie Meyer, and J.K. Rowling [Here I'm thinking this is a take on the Wallis Simpson/Edward VIII story, and you're saying it's for fans of Harry Potter, boy wizard?] eager for the next installment of the Kingdoms Trilogy. [Will they be eager for it because nothing was resolved in this book? Or does this book have a satisfying ending? Convincing publishers to put out one book with the potential for a series is easier than convincing them to buy a trilogy.] The full manuscript is available upon request. Thank you for your consideration.


Jessica never expected 
an extraordinary life...   ...she never imagined a life filled with peril...   she never would have guessed the truth...  Aiden never dreamed he'd deviate from his destiny...  Is it necessary to continuously tell us a human and an elf are surprised they've met and fallen for each other? Back when L. Frank Baum queried me about The Wizard of Oz, he didn't say:

Dorothy never expected a tornado to transport her from Kansas to a magical world called Oz. And she never imagined she'd meet a living scarecrow and a talking lion. She never would have guessed a witch would try to kill her for her shoes. And the legendary wizard of Oz never dreamed all these characters would show up at his palace requesting favors.

He just told me these events happened in his book, and assumed I would realize they were unexpected, because nobody would expect them. By the way, the fact that the first two letters of L. Frank Baum are pronounced elf explains why the man insisted I call him Elfie. Though he never allowed anyone else to call him that. You might consider naming one of the elves in your book Rankbomb. Humans will call him Elf Rankbomb. An homage to Elfie.

It's a clearly written query. But it does little beyond introducing the characters and setting up their situation. Nothing here about what happens. There has to be more in 84,000 words than these two mulling over the pros and cons. What's all this excitement and peril Jessica experiences before she even realizes Aiden is an elf? Is elfdom (Faerie?) doing something to obstruct the romance? Is Lucas? Does something happen that almost ends their romance? What's their plan, assuming they're both on the same page? Are elves secretly planning to go to war with humans? Will Aiden still love Jessica when she's 80 and he's thirty in human years?

Condense the setup into one paragraph. Something like: Jessica and Aiden are in love, but Jessica just wants to graduate from college, while Aiden wants to become the ruler of all elves. Okay, that was one sentence, not one paragraph, so you can expand it with a couple more sentences. Then get to the plot.


InevitablePlotTwist said...

Reading this made me think, "Sounds like Twilight with an elf." Hopefully this isn't the case, so that's another good reason to go into more specifics with the plot.

Anonymous said...

Might help to add a bit about whether or not elves are commonly known as such in this world. If not, what is one who is theoretically being trained to be a king doing in an average college? And since when are kings particular about marrying? Is there some reason he can't just have a human lover on the side?

Evil Editor said...

Maybe Jessica wouldn't want to be his human lover on the side.

Anonymous said...

Since all the author has said is that she has the hots for him bad enough to be ignoring all common sense, I didn't think it would be an issue with her, but I suppose it's possible.

Mister Furkles said...

In over 250 words, there is nothing about what happens in the book. This reads like three proposed back-cover blurbs and they all say the same thing: Jessica and Aiden, two college students, fall in love only Aiden is king of the elves.

Looks like Jessica is the MC. Then what does she want or need in this story. (We don’t care what she wanted before meeting Aiden.) Then who or what is blocking her from whatever it is she wants—which we don’t know? What choice must she make? What are the risks either way?

Chelsea P. said...

I'm interested to know why Aiden falls for Jessica. She is, by all accounts, very ordinary, and happy to stay that way until she meets him. I know why she's drawn to him--passion, power, mystery, his elfish charm. But what about her would prompt him to give up a kingdom? And are we certain there isn't a way around that? (For example, once he's king of the elves, can't he change the rules about who he can marry?)

Also, does the story alternate between POVs (and between the human and elf worlds)?

These are the questions the query inspired for me. I agree that it's well-written, but I do think we need to know what sets it apart from other stories of this type (ordinary girl gets swept into extraordinary world by hot, mysterious guy). I think some more details would help us understand that.


Anonymous said...

Thank you Evil Editor and all who commented. This is exactly what I needed. I was trying to keep it short to leave room to discuss bio and writing credential stuff (and to explain why I'm leaving my current agent that handles my other genres) and I could tell something was missing from the actual query part but couldn't figure out what. Currently revising to add some of the PLOT to the query :) Thanks!
- Author

Chelsea P. said...

Hey author! You don't need to use query space to explain the split with your agent. You can just say you've "amicably parted ways" and leave the details for the phone convo (if the agent asks--they often don't).


Anonymous said...

I wouldn't even say that much. Maintain absolute silence on the former - agent front until or unless they ask. THEN use the amicably parted line. Don't tell your new agent the real story till at least 12 months after your first six-figure deal.

CavalierdeNuit said...

This would be way more exciting if you made it about Aiden's pursuit of Jessica: the human he can't have. Of course an elf is superior to a human, but there's something that draws Aiden to her. What would he give to be with her? etc

If a guy tried to convince me he was bad for me, I'd probably agree, but if I knew he was bad for me and rejected him, he'd probably want me more. I'm dealing with this personally right now and it's terribly annoying. Make Aiden an annoyance.