Tuesday, May 02, 2017

Face-Lift 1351

Guess the Plot

The All Mads

1. It's a Masquerade and Suzy is enjoying every minute of it. But when the clock strikes midnight, everyone becomes the mask they wear. Can Suzy find her friends and escape the curse or is she doomed to forever be a white rabbit?

2. John Gibbons, head of the Sydney Home for Disturbed Boys, needs to find an outlet for all that youthful energy and violence. And so he proposes a football team to take on the city's best. But they need a name, and the name they pick, the All Mads, might not do them any favors.

3. Every pharmaceutical company, every drug counter at the store, every light-shaded bottle with colorful pills inside.... oh, you said mads.... That works tOo. Them drugs dO things tO yOur mind.

4. After murdering his parents and being diagnosed as mentally ill, Victor trains to be a detective. Not just any detective, though. Part of a team called the All Mads, who police all the world's weird creatures.

Original Version

Dear Evil Editor,

After Victor murders his parents, he’s taken to a manor for mentally ill and paranormally infected kids. Along with the mind-manipulating Sebastian, the gentlemanly Caroline, and the insanely adorable (and plain insane) Hugo, he trains to become a rumor detective—a police force for all the world’s weird creatures. [Because in this enlightened world, law enforcement is the perfect field for mentally ill murderers.] 

Hunting physical monsters is easy. [If hunting monsters is the job, it would have a better name than "rumor detective." You're as likely to hear rumors that there's a thief or a serial killer in the area as a monster.] [Also, if you want me to read about a team who hunt monsters, don't start by telling me hunting monsters is easy. I want it to be challenging.] It’s the ones in Victor’s head that give him trouble. But [maybe] the other kids might be able to [can] tame them, since they’re certainly capable of taming real ones. [That the other kids have tamed the monsters in their own heads would be a better indicator than is their ability to tame real monsters.]

When Victor discovers that himself [he] and his friends have a strange Tarot card disease, it’s just another event that proves [more proof that] his life is rife with oddness. A murderer named the White Man, who plans to use the four in a devilish plot, calls them the End of the World. [(They prefer to go by "The All-Mads.")] Whether the world is destroyed or its reality altered for the better depends on them, but sometimes they seem too bad to be the good guys. 

A young adult LGBT urban fantasy, THE ALL MADS takes place in Prague. It is complete at 120,000 words. The full manuscript is available upon request.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

(The reason the title is The All Mads is because that’s what the kids name their team, claiming “they’re all mad here.”)


Do Caroline, Hugo and Victor have paranormal powers that are useful in their jobs, as Sebastian does? If so, you should mention them rather than using adjectives like "gentlemanly" and "insanely adorable." If those adjectives and the monsters in the kids' heads are attempts to hint that this is LGBT, I think you need something more obvious.

The Tarot card disease is interesting, but it has no apparent connection to the White Man, so either move it, delete it, or connect it.

The second paragraph doesn't tell us much beyond Victor has monsters in his head, which we can infer from the fact he's apparently a mentally ill murderer. If we dump that paragraph, we'll have room to expand on the third paragraph with information like what the White Man wants them to do, and what his goal is, and how they plan to stop him. How the world might be destroyed or its reality altered. The symptoms of Tarot card disease. 

And perhaps why you describe this as LGBT. There's no need to mention LGBT just because you have a couple LGBT characters. If that term applies to the entire team, and their struggles as LGBT are a major theme of the book, that's a potential selling point and perhaps needs to be made more obvious.

They're a police force for all the world's weird creatures. I'm not sure even after reading the whole query whether that means they protect the world's weird creatures (from monsters?) or they protect the world's humans from weird creatures (including monsters).


Claudia_Witter said...

Thanks, EE. I now see how flawed this query is and how I can go about fixing that.

Also, thanks for letting me know about the LGBT thing. I wasn't sure, if some characters are LGBT, I had to let agents know about it. I'll remove that.

Maybe, in a week or so, I'll have a (hopefully) improved query to re-submit.

Anonymous said...

Two paragraphs of setup and one paragraph of vague plot description. Try reversing that ratio and leaving out the vagueness by using specifics of the through-line plot. Don't include the ending of the book, but anything up until then is fair game.

The three friend characters' names can probably be left out of the query.

I'm assuming Victor is the MC.

What does he want? To find a cure for the tarot card disease? To be a good rumor detective? To find some kind of absolution after murdering his parents? To get rid of his paranormal infection? To save the world? <-- I'm assuming one of these is the through-line plot, but I have no idea which.

What obstacle(s) does Victor face in attempting to achieve his goals or the plot goals? What's he got going for him to face the obstacle(s)? Are there any plot critical decisions he needs to make?

Chelsea P. said...

I think you've laid some good groundwork here, it just needs a bit of clarification/explanation in some parts. Maybe something like:

When fifteen-year-old Victor murders his abusive parents, he’s taken to a manor for mentally ill and paranormally infected teens. Along with the mind-manipulating Sebastian, the gentlemanly psychic Caroline, and the insanely adorable (and plain insane) Hugo, he trains to become a rumor detective—a police force for all the world’s weird creatures.

Hunting monsters is difficult work, but it's nothing compared to the demons in Victor's head.

Then you can get into the Tarot disease (and what that means), the White Man, and the choice Victor has to make. As you can see, I took a couple of guesses with "abusive" and "psychic," but those are just examples of how you can clarify things fairly quickly (and still keep "gentlemanly Caroline," which I quite liked). As for the LGBT elements, I'd tailor that to the particular agent. If an agent is actively seeking LGBT books (a lot of them will say this on their website) you could say, "Complete at 120,000 words, THE ALL MADS is a YA urban fantasy with a queer protagonist." (Presuming Victor himself is queer.) Or even "a YA urban fantasy with LGBT elements." You don't need the line about the manuscript being available upon request.

You've got a lot of great stuff here, and I'm looking forward to the rewrite! :)

khazar-khum said...

How old are they? Is there a reason kids are sent on these challenging fights?
What does the Tarot Card disease do?

Claudia_Witter said...

I'll expand on the plot and remove most of the setup, as well as the friends names--I guess they really aren't needed. Victor is the MC, and he does want to be a rumor detective, and also a better person than his parents, even after what he did.

Thanks for this, it really helped. I'll try to add his goals and obstacles in the rewrite.

Claudia_Witter said...

Thanks, and I agree that I need to explain things more. I didn't even think to put "abusive" since I already know they are, but of course others wouldn't know that. I always forget little things like that. (X

One thing I'm not sure about is mentioning his age. He's twelve in the beginning of the book, but then it later skips to when he's eighteen. I considering adding that into the query, but it would probably be too confusing.

I'll definitely explain the Tarot card disease, and add more about the White Man and what choice Victor has to make. And yes, I'll just add that if an agent says they're looking for LGBT characters. I wasn't sure if having them meant I needed to add. (X Again, thank you for your help!

Claudia_Witter said...

Victor is twelve in the beginning, but then it later skips ahead to when he's eighteen. Most of the kids sent to fight are kids that had difficult lives and were willing to fight in exchange for a better home. The Tarot card disease is something I'll definitely explain more--basically, a person receives the name of a Tarot card on their body, and then gain certain abilities that relate to the meanings of their cards. What card they receive depends on their personalities and pasts.

Chelsea P. said...

If Victor is only 12 for the first chapter (or prologue), I think you can say 18 in the query. If he's twelve for a decent amount of time, maybe leave the age out of the query, but refer to the manor as a place for "teens" rather than "kids."

Also, I might tweak the rumor detective line like this: he trains to join the rumor detectives—a police force for all the world’s weird creatures.

(Since "become a rumor detective" is singular but "police force" is plural.)

Ooh, the Tarot stuff sounds fascinating! I really like that.

Claudia_Witter said...

He's twelve for a decent amount of time, which is why I thought saying he's eighteen would confuse people if an agent was ever actually interested enough to start reading the story. But I'll change "kids" to "teens," which might let people know that he does eventually become a teen.

Good point, I'll fix that. And thanks, it seems like the Tarot card stuff might be the most interesting thing, and I barely even mention it in the query. I'll have to fix that. (X