Saturday, April 27, 2019

Face-Lift 1393

Guess the Plot

Believing in Magic

1. Soon there will be more plastic than fish in the ocean. Our planet has just had the warmest year ever. Countries with nuclear weaponry are increasingly run by megalomaniacs. But it's all good. Just sit back and believe in a magical fix-it that requires no effort whatsoever.

2. One man's quest for a weedless lawn. 

3. When Marcy starts seeing dragons, unicorns, and fire-breathing monsters wherever she goes, threatening her life, she decides to find the being controlling them all. Yet as she goes about her quest, she starts to doubt that what she sees is real.

4. A patrician president, wishing to appear sympathetic to minorities, appoints a black basketball star to the National Commission on Aids only to have the ballplayer openly criticize the president’s policies. Then at the height of the election cycle…Oh, wait. This is real life not a novel.

5. Alyss has the most dexterous digits of any prestidigitator in Cathayathay, and she's going to need them when she's caught between the vizier and the most important wife in the sultan's harem. Treachery, magic, politics, magic, illusion, magic, and of course a genie.

6. Seventeen-year-old Maggie just found out she's a witch, but that her powers will disappear unless she devotes herself to learning how to use them. But that might mean abandoning her family. Tough decision. Of course, as a witch, she could probably just make a new family.

7. Having been dumped by his girlfriend, ripped off by his best friend, and disowned by his parents, Philly Philmore needs something to believe in. Why not magic?

Original Version

Dear Evil Editor,

Seventeen years ago, in Door County, Wisconsin, a powerful young witch gave birth to a little girl. Three days later, the new mother mysteriously died. The girl was put up for adoption and the records were sealed.

Now it’s the summer of 2019 and the Bennett family is headed to Door County on vacation. Maggie has no idea a chance meeting with local shop owner, Carlee Corey, is about to change her life. The only detail Maggie has ever known about her birth is the peculiar request her adoptive parents agreed to: to name the little girl ‘Magic’.

She’s about to find out why.

Carlee Corey not only spells out how she and Maggie are related, but also insists they’re witches; that they come from a long line of witches. Maggie’s uncertain what to believe, but with the secrets of her true origins on display, she can’t help but be drawn in. She’s tempted by this new world, with its magic spells and ghostly messages, not to mention Keller, a handsome young charmer with secrets of his own. As summer’s end approaches, Maggie must choose: explore her newfound destiny or go back to the comfortable life she knows and loves, leaving magic behind forever. Adding to her fray [dilemma]; if she doesn’t decide soon, the powers she never knew she had will disappear before she ever learns to use them.

Torn, Maggie will attempt to combine the craft and her old life, but it won’t be without cost. When she [Maggie] returns home she’ll need to put[s] her feelings for Keller aside and attempt[s] to learn magic from a teacher who’s 300 miles away – all the while keeping her newfound talents hidden from the people who mean the most to her. As time goes on, [But] the more magic she learns, the more powerless she feels. When her powers take a dark turn, a near tragedy will teach her to believe in the path – and the people – she’s been bound to all along. [Can you be more specific about the dark turn and the near tragedy?]

BELIEVING IN MAGIC is a complete, polished YA magical realism manuscript at 75,000 words. [By the simplest definition of magical realism, this may qualify, but I think I'd just call it a fantasy.] Fans of Hoffman’s Practical Magic and the television series Charmed will enjoy this variety of witches, [Not sure what you mean by "this variety of witches." Are there lots of different witches? Because it sounded like Maggie went home to study witchcraft in solitude.] while its young cast of characters and fun, light brand of fantasy will have it appealing [appeal] to a broad range of readers. If successful, it could readily be the foundation for a series.

This is my second endeavor in novel writing, the first being a self-published YA/Women’s Lit piece titled LITTLE FISH, which serves as a platform for my work against domestic violence. I studied Professional Communication at Moraine Park Technical College and I work as a freelance / staff writer. I’ve been published in several local and regional magazines and news outlets, such as InSpire Magazine, Hoards, AgriView and Wisconsin State Farmer. I think it’s worth mentioning, with me you get a writer who not only is a passionate about her work, but also understands publishing is a business and professionalism is the cornerstone of any good business relationship. [This whole paragraph can go. Yes, even the part about being published in Wisconsin State Farmer.]

My sincerest wish in querying is to find an agent who will guide me as I work to build a writing career that’s not only successful, but enduring as well. I look forward to hearing if you feel we would be a good fit. (As a professional courtesy, I will let you know I am currently querying multiple agents / publishers.)

Thank you so much for your time and consideration

Please find the first twenty pages of my manuscript below signature, per instruction.



This is longer than most agents want in a query. We can cut the first 3+ paragraphs down to:

During her adoptive family's summer vacation in Wisconsin, 17-year-old Maggie has a chance meeting with a shop owner who claims she and Maggie are related--and that they come from a long line of witches.

Italicize titles of books, magazines, TV series.


Mister Furkles said...

Be nice to see this query after EE's edits are applied. You certainly do not need the paragraphs that start "This is my second..." and "My sincerest..."

If you've published short fiction in a leading fantasy or science fiction periodical, that means a lot. Or maybe The Paris Review.

Unlike EE, I like the first three paragraphs because of voice. Maybe condense them into one brief paragraph. That would leave you with 3 story paragraphs.

St0n3henge said...

First of all, nobody is going to believe this is a "polished" manuscript if you make typos or use words wrong in your query letter, so be careful about that.

There have been a glut of "orphaned teen discovers he/she has magical powers and must learn how to use them" books on the market ever since the first Harry Potter book was published back in the 1990s. It's important to show how your story, protagonist or world (hopefully all three) stand out from the crowd.

Anonymous said...

What you have of the plot here sounds overly contrived. Part of that is the lack of specific details. Another part is the lack of logical plot progression. A third is you contradicting herself--your character doesn't actually lose her magic when she goes home _which_you_said_she_would_ if she didn't stay. It might also help to either know why she has to keep her powers hidden or not bring the subject up to begin with.

Shelli said...

Thank you, EE for the critique and suggestions. (But really though, you don't think an agent will care I've been published in the Wisconsin State Farmer??? (But, but, it's the WI STATE FARMER!) Okay really, when you put it like that, I guess it can go.

One note with the 'kinds of witches' - yes, there are LOTS of different kinds of witches. My witches are based on Wicca (hence, magical realism). The witches in the Craft are far, far different than witches (and wizards) in the Harry Potter series... it's my way of explaining the level of fantasy.

I appreciate the feedback the commenters left as well! (because I'm thick-skinned) :)

As for Anonymous's thoughts… it's an interesting take that I contradicted myself, I never thought of it that way. I guess because I wrote that she has to decide whether to explore magic and that if she didn't decide to act soon she'd lose her powers, not that she had to stay where she was to explore her powers. As for why she has to hide her powers... Well, it's witchcraft... in pretty much any book / tv show / movie I've ever seen about witches or the like, they keep their powers hidden from the 'normal world' (as do I ;). (again, magical realism - not high fantasy)

Wilkins MacQueen said...

Tipping the hand unnecessarily (mother died mysteriously) mother died is sufficient. I don't care how mother died. I want to know about the MC. Too much explaining going on for me. I don't care what was been published before, I want to get interested in this story.
Cluttering up a query isn't helpful to your end goal. Magic/Maggie, small detail that distracts me from the story.

Tell me what she wants and what stops her from getting it. Then add a hint how she comes to a new consciousness, in a few words. Tall order, you have enough skill to ace this.

Good luck, writing a query and sending it here takes courage. Keep it simple, agents and that crowd are busy, get there faster and sell me on your MC.