Monday, May 04, 2020

Face-Lift 1399

Guess the Plot

A Fable of the Faceless

1. In a world where some people have noses but no mouths, ears, or eyes, while other people have only ears or only eyes or only mouths, people must work together to accomplish anything. Assuming they can find anyone else.

2. Paglio was the star of clown school until someone stole his face paint. Now he's down among the faceless, juggling bowling pins, knives, and thoughts of homicide.

3. Anna's BFF convinced her not to eat anything with a face, but now she's seeing faces on mollusks, plants, and even Twinkies. Is someone trying to kill her? Also a nutritional spiritualist.

4. There's a fox who can't reach the potatoes on a high branch, and a crow who's on the branch. But neither of them has a face, so they don't even know there are potatoes. They can't even see each other. Moral: Worry about big problems, not the ones that are small potatoes.

5. Convinced she and her gorgeous family have got what it takes to become social media influencers, Billie enlists a bit of demonic assistance. She sells her soul to get millions of Facebook followers. Sadly, her hard-of-hearing helper gives her millions of faceless followers instead. Hilarity ensues when she discovers her fans have a taste for braaaains!

6. For Guido, life as a faceless minion means avoiding the heroes who come to fight the evil overlord, feeding the slime colony without being eaten, and making sure the red dye in his uniform doesn't bleed into his linens, because no one takes a minion with pink undies seriously.

Original Version

Dear Evil Editor,

I'm writing you today with my pitch for my offbeat fantasy novel, "A Fable of the Faceless."

Imagine, if you will, a very different world in which the senses we take for granted – sight, smell, taste, and sound – are not the domain of all mankind [Not sure "domain" is the right word. Maybe they're not all innate in mankind?] but instead divided across four races, each as distinct in culture as they are in appearance.

Kah is a sighted strider, born with a pair of deep blue eyes but no ears, no nose, and no mouth. [Just because you can't smell, taste, or hear shouldn't mean you don't have a nose, mouth or ears. Don't striders have to breathe, eat, and attach their earrings to something?] [People with mouths are the only ones who can taste, but are they also the only ones who eat?] [If a woman with a mouth needs a root canal, does she look for a dentist among her own mouthed people or among the sighted? I'm not sure I'd be comfortable with a blind dentist.] [Actually, the sighted would have all the best jobs: dentist, surgeon, cab driver, house painter . . . Meanwhile, tho only job you could get if all you had was a nose would be smoke detector.] Together with her fellows, she has lived a nomadic life, travelling the world in search of new and novel sights. [Other people travel the world in search of novel sounds or smells.] One day, just outside a vast and inhospitable desert, she spots a young boy babbling to himself and wandering aimlessly. Without a set of eyes or ears or even a nose to guide him, he is surely doomed to die. [Actually, he's the only one who's not doomed to die, as he can both eat and breathe.] [Maybe instead of babbling, the boy should be yelling, "Hey is there someone with ears around who can hear me and help me find someone with eyes to take me home?"] 

Against her better judgement and the direct orders of her captain, Kah leaves behind the only life she’s ever known to help him find his way home. Along the way they are joined by a vigilant listener whose people carry lyres and communicate through a language of pure music, [See, now if they had no tongues to taste with, but still had mouths for breathing, they could use harmonicas, which are easier to carry than lyres and when you want to communicate that you're feeling down, it's easier to play the blues on a harmonica than on a lyre.] and a mysterious benosed stranger with a brutal reputation and a mission of retribution. [He wants revenge on the guy who hung a durian around his neck.]

At first, just finding ways to communicate is their greatest challenge – after all, how do you speak with no mouth, or listen with no ears? But they will have to learn fast. Their world is not without its dangers. Enormous reptilian beasts stalk the wilderness, leaving carnage behind them in their wake. [What? You wait until the query is almost over before mentioning the only characters that have any chance of being alive when the book ends?] And behind the walls of civilization a cult of fire-worshiping earfolk expands its influence and grows deadly in its fanaticism. [Sorry, but I can't take seriously a ruthless fanatical cult whose members all carry lyres.]

At 85,000 words, “The peons of Peonia” will be my first published novel. [That sounds like the title of a different book. Maybe it's the title of your second published novel.] I would be delighted to send a detailed synopsis, sample chapters, or the entire manuscript. I appreciate your time and interest in my work and I look forward to hearing from you.



I Googled "Faceless person" and clicked on images. Pretty much all of the images had ears. So either ears aren't considered part of the face, or Google could only find images of earfolk.

Also, most of the images were creepy. It's hard to focus on the story when you have creepy images of faces that have only mouths or noses in your brain. Of course, in Peonia, only people with eyes are subjected to these images. People with normal faces whose senses don't work would make this concept easier to swallow. Of course, in Peonia, only people with mouths have to swallow it.

Assuming you've really managed 85,000 words in this world, you need a query that focuses on Kah's goal, her plan, her obstacles, and what's at stake if she fails. All we have is she wants to help a kid find his way home while avoiding reptilian monsters.


Anonymous said...

That's quite an original concept, and if you can carry it for the entire narrative it would be something I would like to read. Maybe it doesn't have to be in the query but I do hope you address how the mouthless get to take in nourishment. I'm also unsure why kah is.motivayed to take the boy back to his home rather than keeping him safe with her people and using his skills to complement those of her own people.
Overall it sounds like a great analogy for civilisations and races learning to live together and value their differences.

Anonymous said...

The concept of the story isn't bad, but I agree with Evil Editor. Give your characters noses, mouths, ears etc... A creature without a mouth can't live long. Good luck!

Anonymous said...

Photosynthesis, direct nutrient absorption through skin, living off magic (these people are obviously not human to begin with)--there are plenty of ways to survive. It is possible to remove the sense without removing the sensing organs, but I think restoring the physical features would miss the point of the story. On the other side, with the heavy-handed anatomy removal, an agent/editor may worry that the story is going to be preachy.

All that being said, author, there's too much world set-up here and not enough story. Starting with a single sentence summary of the plot and then adding to it may help in this particular case. EE has already mentioned what all it needs to include.

How does the MC know the boy's babbling if she can't hear him? Are we dealing with an omniscient narrator that has a more human look at the characters? From someone that only has the sense of sight, I wouldn't think "babbling" looks the same in a more visual-oriented form of communication. Are the mouth people relatively unknown while the other races are already engaged in some forms of communication? Why bring up the "without ears/nose" when the character looking seems to only know about having eyes? <- I don't need answers, but it would be better for the query if such questions didn't come up.

I would advise keeping a hyphen in "be-nosed" (although, defer to EE if he has a different opinion) and being consistent on the title of the book.

Good Luck

JRMosher said...

This is certainly unusual, so you get points for originality. I'd like to read a sample of it, and if it isn't too preachy I think it would likely make a very interesting story. That said, it does raise so many questions about the way your world works that it maybe distracts a little from the story you are trying to tell.

To add one to the questions others have raise, I find myself wondering if these are all the same *kind* of creature, apart from the facial differences. Meaning, are some just humans lacking a nose, others humans lacking ears, etc., or are they different in other ways as well? If they are almost identical except for the facial features, what happens if they cross-breed? Certainly at some point in the world's history a "nosey" person has found a pleasant-smelling "sighted" person who thought they looked hot, and then does the resulting child have both features (and an even better shot at survival) or neither (and no shot whatsoever)? That's where my mind goes, anyway, which probably says more about me than about your story. :)