Thursday, April 27, 2017

Face-Lift 1350

Guess the Plot


1. Nouns, verbs, propositions, adjectives, adverbs, conjunctions--yep, they're all here.

2. Marsupial. Charm. Fallacy. Chalupa. Cleanse. Fortitude. Pulchritude. Ombudsman. Quince. Lambaste. Addendum.

3. A 2000-page book detailing the descriptions and pronunciations of all the words you may have ever known or will know. Like a dictionary, but not in alphabetical order.

4. The story of [name withheld] who, after being forced to copy out the 20 volume Oxford English Dictionary, goes on to become a serial killer with an impressive vocabulary.

5. A bunch of them. 85,304, to be exact. Strung together to make sentences. Lots of sentences. Some short, some long, some funny, others tragic. My words will make you laugh, cry and inspire your fingers to continually turn pages. May I submit the complete manuscript?

6. She's been cursed to eat her words, but Ziva doesn't mind, because the words she eats replace nutrients from food, and fill her mind with knowledge. Includes such words as "plethora," "concoction," and "chew."

7. 10-year-old witch Legretta always had a stutter, but she always made it work--until the day she has to perform a spell that's a tongue twister to boot. Will her town ever recover . . . or forever smell of feet?

Original Version

Ziva Kritikos loves to learn. So when she's cursed to eat her written words, the girl is more intrigued than terrified. With every word she eats, a plethora of knowledge enters her mind, replacing any nutrients she needed from food. [When you said she was cursed to eat her written words, I assumed you meant words she had written. But if the words she eats bring all this knowledge, it sounds like she's reading Wikipedia and Evil Editor's blog.] A limitless supply of information at the tip of her fingers [tongue]. What could be better? The problem is, only she can see her words. [You mean before she eats them? Is she writing in invisible ink? Where does she see her words? Are they written on paper? I'm trying to resist suggesting they're in alphabet soup, Alphabits cereal, or Valentine heart candy.] [Why is this "the problem"?]

With knowledge comes power, and this can't be more true for her. Every word she eats gives her everything she's ever wanted to learn and more. However, the consequences turn out to be much more than she bargains for. Grades plummeting and relationships straining, [Speaking from experience, of course friendships are lost when you you become a know-it-all. But grades? Grades should skyrocket.] Ziva finds out what it really means to bite off more than you can chew. Especially when her meals' ingredients turn out to be humanity's memories. [What does that mean?]

A concoction of paranormal and fantasy with hints of romance, Words, a young adult paranormal [novel] is complete at 50,000 words.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Best wishes,


If this is a real book, it needs to be described with real information. Not all this vagueness. We want specific information about what happens in the book. ___-year-old Ziva wants all the knowledge she can fit in her brain, but when her wish is granted, specific bad things happen. She comes up with a specific plan to fix things, but something specific goes wrong. Now she has a specific decision to make. 

Start over. Tell us the story. Who cursed Ziva and why? Explain the curse in terms a child could understand. For instance, when Ziva writes words on a piece of paper, she must eat the piece of paper. How does her knowledge affect relationships? Give an example, like her BFF dumps her for always correcting her grammar. Why do her grades plummet? Because she knows more than her teachers, so she cuts classes she doesn't need? Because she's giving right answers but her text books were written in Texas?  


InevitablePlotTwist said...

What EE said - start over. Write the query as though you're explaining the story to someone who knows nothing about it. Good luck. Query writing is, in a lot of ways, just as difficult as writing an actual novel.

Anonymous said...

You don't really need to state all possible genre elements contained in your book.

Maybe try one sentence to explain the curse (you can include the cause if it's short)--...cursed by a witch she called a , she must now eat her words, as in everything she writes on paper. Or whatever actually is happening.

A few sentences to explain why this is a problem--she's eating her written tests, she can no longer pass notes in class leading to her BFF thinking...

If her eating knowledge through her written words is removing that knowledge from the rest of the world, you need to explicitly say so, and what she plans on doing about it.

Explain her goal or the story goal--???? <-no idea what this is.

Warning--"learns a lesson" is probably death to your query. The MC can learn a lesson, but that shouldn't be their goal or the story goal as it usually means the story is preachy, which doesn't sell.

Good Luck

Unknown said...

Ah, this helps a ton! Thank you so much for the advice. I thought queries were like extended blurbs, but it seems like they're more detailed. Definitely going to come back!

St0n3henge said...

50K is maybe a bit skimpy for a YA novel these days, so you need to show more of the plot to make it clear there IS a plot.
Try going back to the archives on this site and look for finished versions of queries.

Unfortunately, this reads more like a kids' beginning chapter book than anything remotely like YA. The only hint there might be something mature in the story is when you say something about humanity's memories, but you need to explain what that means.

Anonymous said...

Great concept, great character name (Ziva!), but it does raise a lot of unanswered questions: Who curses Ziva and why, and what is her character goal. And above all, what does it mean to be cursed to eat written words? Like, she literally eats paper? Or her computer monitor? (That would hurt).

This kind of reminds me of the biblical story of Eve.

Unknown said...

Would it work as a novella?

Unknown said...

Funnily, I make a reference to it when she eats 'apple'. It has some times to Words, although they're loose.

Unknown said...

I was too excited to restart the query so I ended up rewriting it yesterday. Hopefully it's better now that I have a better idea of what a query is. Thanks!

Unknown said...

Novellas are a tough sell. If you love the story, why not just flesh it out? Add in a subplot or two (like a love interest or close friendship that runs into some obstacles).

Unknown said...

Ahh, I can flesh out Z's relationships more! This works out well. Thank you!