Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Face-Lift 1371

Guess the Plot


1. An illiterate Republican senator wins reelection.

2. 1878. When the lake that formed the natural boundary between the Cole ranch and the Parker ranch dries up, both families lay claim to the new land. Will this dispute make it all the way to the Supreme Court, or will it simply result in a range war? Three guesses, and the first two don't count.

3. The moon has been destroyed, but there's plenty of moon dust floating in rings around Earth, and moon dust is the world’s most precious energy resource, so of course war is inevitable.

4. A geologist and an archaeologist team up to salvage what artifacts remain after an earthquake destroys an Egyptian pyramid. But one American billionaire wants first crack at a priceless amulet, and will do whatever it takes to get it. Including . . . murder!

5. When an ancient reliquary disappears from the Louvre, it's up to ace detective Louis Charlemagne to recover it, along with its contents: the skull of Saint Augustine.

6. Lawyer Benident Screw has a new client who has been accused of murdering a stranger, stealing a priceless painting, and disturbing the peace. Can Mr. Screw defend his client when he knows it's all true?

Original Version

Dear Evil Editor,

Sylar spends his life [has been] researching the Earth’s rings in the fourteen years since the Moon was destroyed and Ring Sickness claimed four billion. The Silver Sifters don’t care if Sylar finds a more stable future for mankind. The slavers [They just] want his self-sustaining cache of Moon Dust, the world’s most precious energy resource. [I can't speak for how things will be done in the future, but currently we don't capitalize energy resources, the moon, or diseases that aren't named after people or places.] 

Rumors are widespread that Sifter leader, Grant Star, faces war. [I don't feel those commas are needed.] He needs resources before it breaks out. He needs Sylar’s Moon Dust. And he will paint his city with blood to get it. As the hunt begins, Sylar contacts the other Moon Dust syndicate vying for control of the Pacific Northwest. [Not sure if you mean control of the Moon Dust reserves or total governmental control of the geographical area. Also, calling something the "other" Moon Dust syndicate, suggests you've already mentioned one Moon Dust syndicate. Are the Silver Sifters a Moon Dust syndicate? Is Sylar the head of a syndicate? Is Star hunting for Sylar or for his Moon Dust? Does Sylar have his Moon Dust on his person, or is it hidden somewhere? Is it dangerous to have Moon Dust? I ask because I suspect Moon Dust can cause Ring Sickness.] 

Their captain gives him an option. [Offers him a deal? It's not really an option unless there's more than one.] Help take down Grant in return for protection along with anything he needs for his research. But there is a price for picking sides. [Give us your Moon Dust.] A gruesome one. By the end of the night Sylar will have to choose who dies. His friends, or Sifter slaves. [Now that's an option.] [Tough decision, with several factors to consider. How many friends are we talking about, and how many slaves? Would the slaves prefer death to slavery? Is it possible to spend fourteen years studying moon rings and still have friends?]

RELICT is a YA Sci Fi complete at 76000 words. Thank you for your time and consideration. [If Sylar's been researching Earth's rings for 14 years, I'm guessing he's way too old to be the main character of a YA book. He must be at least 30.] 

[Author's note: RELICT (the title) comes from the fact that the Moon is gone and the Earth is drastically changed.]  


Silver Sifter sounds too much like Silver Surfer. It's like calling your villains the Black Pinchers. Are they called that because they sift through Moon Dust searching for silver?

What destroyed the moon?

I don't get how Sylar's friends got involved. Is Grant holding Sylar's friends hostage? Is it like this?

Other Syndicate: Will you help us take down Grant Star?
Sylar: Yes.
O.S.: Great. Now, decide who you want to die, your friends or the Sifters' slaves.

Who would win a battle between the Silver Sifters and the Silver Surfer?


khazarkhum said...

The basic concept is intriguing. What vaporized the moon? Was Earth damaged at all? When did this happen? And finally. EE is right: Silver Sifter is way too close to Silver Surfer.

Mister Furkles said...

If the moon breaks into small pieces, how do they get moon dust? The bits of moon, however small, would orbit the Earth except for the few that would be knocked out of orbit.

But those falling to Earth would burn up in the atmosphere with the exception of vary large parts which would act as meteorites.

The major effect would be on tides. If the parts of the moon remain together in orbit, the tides would be reduced by the amount that falls out of orbit. If the broken moon parts distribute widely, the tides would be drastically reduced. That would be a much worse problem.

If you are writing MG, the science is less important. But if it is a YA or an adult novel, you must address the science of the moon's destruction and the consequences. The query need not go into detail on the science but should mention it and explain why there is moon dust.

davefragments said...

When I read this i thought "That premise sounds familiar" and indeed it was.
SevenEves by Neal Stephenson:
The moon blew up without warning and for no apparent reason. It was waxing, only one day short of full. The time was 05:03:12 UTC. Later it would be designated A+0.0.0, or simply Zero.
That is the opening line of the novel. It is iconic. Much like "Last night I dreamed I went to Manderly."

Don't let that fill you with doubt or indecision. The idea of the moon blowing up, or self-destructing, or being knocked out of orbit is a great premise for a story. You don't have to explain why the moon was destroyed, What you have to do is have a simple explanation for why the dust that survives falling through the atmosphere is valuable. One idea might be that physicists set up a quantum mechanics device on the moon to do something quantum mechanical and the result was the destruction of the moon. What was left turned into valuable "unobtanium." (Don't use that word, please. It's overused already.)

And where does that leave you? Take a step back from the science. and you'll see it's a story of the survivors and about those "sifters" who hunt moon dust like the old prospectors panned for gold. Grizzled old prospector Jones has a molecular sieve that has made him a fortune in moon dust but to gain control of the Pacific Northwest, he needs more. He covets the moon-dust of Youngster Smith. Something like that.

The story isn't so much the science. That's why AVATAR is really a Cowboys and Indians story from the American West and the AVENGERS and MAGNIFICENT SEVEN share plot elements.

St0n3henge said...

This comes across as dry.

Phrases such as "energy resource," "Syndicate vying for control of the Pacific Northwest," and "give him an option" bring to mind business meetings, not desperate stakes in a gritty new reality.

For instance, you do not want to say Ring Sickness "claimed" 4 billion. That's a statistic. That's really a shocking number, but it sounds boring when you put it that way.
And Grant "faces" war? That's about the dullest way you could put that.
"...before it breaks out." What, like a rash? "Sorry, I can't come to the book club tonight. I broke out in war."

Make this more urgent and more immediate. Use words and phrases that call to mind action and excitement.
Advance, Challenge, Compete, Intense, Ally, Chance, Defend, Destroy, Acquire, Launch and Embark represent the kind of words you're looking for here. "Erupt," for instance, rather than break out, for starters.

Tell us what's really happening, not that some unnamed corporation is vying for control of the Pacific Northwest. It's like I just read the business page of the newspaper. People are desperate and things are falling apart, but you're telling us about business deals.

And don't focus on the research angle. Research, by definition, takes years, or even decades. Make the story move.

St0n3henge said...

Here's the sort of thing you're going for. I know this isn't your story, but details were sketchy so I added my own.

"Ever since the moon exploded 14 years ago, Sylar has been searching for a cure for the mysterious sickness that has already taken the lives of 4 billion of Earth's people. He is stymied by slavers intent on finding his cache of moon dust, the world's newest and most precious resource. It is said that one pound of moon dust, used correctly, could shift a planet out of its orbit.

Slaver leader Grant Star is keen to start a war for the ownership of Earth and he needs Sylar's moon dust to win it. With the help of his slaves he intends to take down all other syndicates vying for possession of Earth. But Sylar can't let such dangerous material go. Not only will it cause untold damage in the wrong hands, his research will grind to a halt without it, and he's very close to a cure.

Sylar is able to dodge the slavers' thieves by announcing the moon dust containment has failed and everything in the area is now contaminated. But Star sees through the ploy and ups the ante. He offers Sylar a deal- share in the glory of the New Star Order and have everything he needs to find the cure, or defy Star and be destroyed, along with his research and the hopes of everyone sickened by the disease.

Sylar doesn't like the options, but he thinks he can make his own deal. It will be risky. He's studied the moon dust for years- can he make it work in his favor now? Or will he destroy Earth trying to save it?"

I want you to note the action words and the use of stakes. I made it a sort of gamble with the whole Earth as the "pot." One man wants to save it, the other to own it.
You don't have to do it that way, but it does need to be fast paced and stakes need to be very clear.