Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Face-Lift 1368

Guess the Plot


1. Wear a wig and make-up to practice. Streak around the quad. Have a fling with Coach. Bring us the mascot's head . . . wait, WHAT?

2. Step out of your coffin and wash your hands in a skull full of blood. Lick clean the hairy toes of your master. Join your brethren in a circle around the fires of hell. Take the branding iron like a man. 

3. Defeat incense-spawned snakes. Escape shadow wolves. Survive animated scorpion tattoos. And never tell your mother about any of this.

4. Miraculous plagues. Prima-donna storms. Wriggling cafeteria food. Aernst Zinjess, 2nd son of a wealthy family, wasn't expecting any of this when he was sent to become a priest in the church of Notali. Nor did he expect to be rooming with the god Notali, who's trying to infiltrate the church that kicked him out 500 years ago. 

5. Sylvester Manchusen thought he was just jumping through the hoops to get into a popular frat house with hot chicks and a wall-sized tv showing 24/7 sports. Three succubi, a portal to hell, and an international man-hunt later, he finally thinks to ask which sports and what was meant by "hot." 

6. Jason always wanted to be 'one of the guys'. So why is he the only one whose initiation requires him to be tied up in the woods, naked? 

7. Philip just won a scholarship to study medieval history at an exclusive private school. However, just when he sees his future becoming bright, he gets the papers in the mail. First, he must pass a series of deadly tests involving medieval torture devices, including the Judas cradle, the brazen bull, and the pear of anguish.

  Original Version

Dear Evil Editor Supreme:

It's a race against time after twelve-year-old Adam Newman writes in an ancient journal and opens a realm where he must journey for twelve keys that unlock the portals leading to the mountains that possess the ordering force his world needs to exist. [Too much verbiage. Also, too much nouniage. Reminds me of the childhood rhyme: 
This is the man all tattered and torn
That kissed the maiden all forlorn
That milked the cow with the crumpled horn
That tossed the dog that worried the cat
That killed the rat that ate the malt
That lay in the house that Jack built.] His first task, however, is to collect three keys in forty days to initiate him for the journey. If he fails, the ancient book will permanently lock, effectively sealing the fate of the world—a daunting quest for a boy not quite thirteen, especially [We already know his age.] considering the journey take[s] place only when Adam sleeps.  [It seems to me that the whole point of the three-key task is to determine whether the person who opened the realm is up to performing the twelve-key task. If he fails, someone else tries the three-key task, and this continues until someone succeeds, demonstrating that he's got the right stuff. Otherwise some complete moron might write in the ancient journal and open the realm and attempt the three-key task, and doom us all. So the three-key task qualifies you, rather than initiates you. Or, if Adam is the only one who can save us, the three-key task trains him for the twelve-key task. A practice run, so to speak. Even if he fails at the three-key task, he can use the lessons learned in failure to succeed at the twelve-key task. Dooming us all without even giving Adam or someone else a shot at completing the twelve-key task would be totally unfair.] [Also, is Adam's goal merely to find the keys and unlock the portals that lead to the mountains, or must he also go into these mountains and perform some additional task to save the world? Kind of like when Dorothy goes through hell and finally makes it all the way to Oz and the Wizard says, "I'll grant your wishes . . . if you bring me the witch's broomstick. Which she does. Then:
Dorothy: We brought you the broomstick of the Wicked Witch of the West. We melted her. So we'd like you to keep your promises, if you please, sir.
Wizard: Not so fast, NOT SO FAST! I'll have to give the matter a little thought. Go away and come back tomorrow.]
Writing bedtime entries, Adam searches for keys in Nubeer, Zenbulu, and Joseph’s Plateau where he’s pitted against colorful, incense-spawned snakes; shadow-wolves that solidify into gnarling, [Gnarling? Definition?] lupine creatures; [Shadows that solidify into wolves.] and an inked adversary whose scorpion tattoos animate to do their host’s bidding. [According to that sentence, Adam does all this while writing bedtime entries. Earlier you said he did everything while sleeping.] Adam's daytime routine is less noteworthy. He lives with his single-parent mother (who’s dealing with her own issues) and resides in a neighborhood that’s devoid of kids his age. His only friend is the elderly Mr. King who, living next door, is his nighttime guardian and the journal’s previous owner. 
When Mr. King falls gravely ill, Adam’s world is turned upside-down. His mother strands him at camp without his approval and without the journal. [Does he need the journal now that he's opened the realm? Does he have to write in the journal every night before going to sleep? Does what he writes determine/affect what happens in this other realm?] Suddenly, the obstacles outside of the journal are as insurmountable as the ones in the ancient book's realm. [For instance, he has to paddle a canoe across the lake and back, and he's worthless in the tug of war contest.] If Adam can overcome the challenges, however, he may not only complete the Initiation and buy more time for his world, he may gain new friends and a new perspective on his less-than-ideal life. Even so, nothing can guarantee a fairytale—happily ever after—ending when a story’s more than mere fantasy. Compelled to reconsider everything that he has experienced, Adam (and his reader) must ultimately choose whether or not to believe in the ancient book’s journey.
At 76,000 words, KINGDOM OF THE KEYS: THE INITIATION is an upper middle grade adventure where contemporary fiction meets fantasy in a realm of familiar-looking strangers. While the story’s conclusion allows the book to stand alone, it is the first in a proposed trilogy (with the manuscript for the second book in revision).  

Thank you for your time and consideration.


If we knew from the beginning that the title of the series is The Kingdom of the Keys, we might be less bothered by a plot that requires finding three keys in order to win the opportunity to go after another twelve keys. That's a lot of keys.  

I'm not crazy about the use of the word "journey" in either of these cases:

he must journey for twelve keys (search for, hunt for, locate)

to believe in the ancient book’s journey (quest? Is it the journey he must choose whether to believe in or the existence of this other realm?)

Maybe the query should start something like:

Adam Newman lives with his mother in a neighborhood devoid of other kids his age. His life is pretty boring, until the day his next-door neighbor, the elderly Mr. King, gives him an ancient journal. Turns out the adventures Adam writes about in the journal become reality while he's sleeping . . . with Adam as the main character.

Which would be cool, except in Adam's latest story he must locate twelve hidden keys -- or the world will cease to exist. A daunting responsibility for a twelve-year-old.

Then mention a couple of the obstacles Adam must overcome in his waking and sleeping worlds, and how he plans to save us all.


Anonymous said...

Suddenly I am reminded of The NeverEnding Story.
Anyway, The first paragraph gives off the feel of one plot while the third paragraph makes it seem like an entirely different conflict/plot is happening. Also in the third paragraph I feel a bit confused. Is it 'his world' as in his 'awake' world in danger or 'his world' as in the book's world?
Also, who writes in an old journal that has already been used? (Since it is a journal as well as being ancient, surely someone has written in it already?)

khazarkhum said...

Is Adam consciously writing what will happen, or does he 'sleepwrite' what is happening/has happened?

Is old Mr King a wizard or king of this realm?

Is he named Adam because he creates these worlds as he sleeps and writes them down, an allegory of the writer?

Mister Furkles said...

"...we might be less bothered by a plot that requires finding three keys in order to win the opportunity to go after another twelve keys. That's a lot of keys."

Maybe it's a piano.

Iamanoldvampirechild said...

Just wondering, are the real life challenges part of the initiation?

Anonymous said...

I was getting more a Bridge to Terebithia vibe than NeverEnding, which is too bad since I disliked Bridge--it felt like a fantasy novel written by someone who dislikes fantasy. It did do well critically speaking though, so ymmv.

Three keys and then twelve keys, but if he fails at the initial three keys we're all doomed anyway--this really doesn't work for me since it flatlines the stakes. If everything's already doomed there's no room to expand to more things being doomed. You might as well just say he needs to find fifteen keys and this book covers the first three.

The last plot paragraph feels like a disconnect. Are friends and perspective what's at stake for your MC? If so, you should probably say more about the who and what of them. Either way, the last part of that last plot paragraph gets vague. Try more specific details about what the MC plans to do, what resources he has, and what fate will happen to what's at stake for him if he fails.

Anonymous said...

It's a bit unclear as to whether the 3 keys are the first of the twelve keys or are separate from the twelve keys. It might help to phrase it either as "He must collect the first three keys in forty days..." or "He must first collect an additional three keys..." depending on which it is.

St0n3henge said...

This is very confusing.

I do think you should start in the "real" world. 12 year old Adam, single mother and such. Finds this journal. Writes in it, opening a portal to another realm.

How does he know he must find these keys? Who tells him?
I have a lot of the same questions others have, so I won't ask them over again.

The real life in the camp seems jolting. There's really no comparing camp activities to finding forty keys in a magical realm, especially when the fate of the world is at stake. I can't imagine anyone being able to focus on that part while they're worried Adam won't get the book back in time to save the world. Gaining new friends seems an absurd goal when faced with stopping the destruction of the entire world.