Wednesday, April 07, 2021

Face-Lift 1416

Guess the Plot 

The Angel of No Consequences

1. When Eliza Mack’s fiancé ejects her from his life to clear the way for a new woman, the Angel of No Consequences appears to her and offers her one free murder. Spoiler alert: She takes the Angel up on it and pumps a bullet into her fiancé. 

2. All guardian angel Muriel did was make certain the fallout from the disasters his charges caused were completely insignificant. After the third one commits suicide, Muriel is branded a fallen angel and cast out. Can he rescue his former charges from hell by making their stay there unimportant as well? Spoiler alert: He makes things even worse. 

3. Sarah Fim, the world's wealthiest woman and ruthless CEO, dies on her way to a board meeting. On her first day in Heaven, she demands to be made an Angel, and when it's clear she won't take no for an answer, her wish is granted. She throws herself into her new role, answering prayers from the rich by giving them more riches and ignoring prayers from those she deems not worth her time. No one dares contradict her authority. Spoiler alert: the prayers she thought she was answering are just computer-generated fabrications to keep her busy.

4. Ask any angel: does he make love? No. Why? Because he is love. Gabe is not just any angel. He is a sex god. Life on Earth is paradise until Raphael blasts him back to heaven. Spoiler alert: It's actually hell this time.

5. When the fountains in heaven stop gushing, the lights stop shining, and the couples stop ... ahem, Vizriel leaves the group of happily singing investigators looking into this diabolical plot and goes to Earth where people have the decency to get upset when things go wrong. Also a depressed demon with a good attitude.

6. A counter-argument to Butterfly Effect theory, consisting of essays and mathematical models, the shape of which, when plotted, more closely resemble the wings of an angel than a butterfly.

7. Alaois Markey agreed to back the production of morality play No Consequences as a ploy for the gratitude of the ingenue playing the angel. But through the ups and downs of the inexperienced cast and crew, he discovers camaraderie and true love in the most unexpected place. Spoiler alert: in the arms of the mutton-chopped minister.

Original Version

Dear Agent, 

I’m an English major and sometime Outer Limits addict with a tingly-sense for the perverse side of justice. I’ve written a literary thriller inspired by the fate of Lady Macbeth: a tale of guilt that begins when a woman scorned decides to cool her fury with a murder. 

When Eliza Mack’s fiancé ejects her from his life to clear the way for a new woman, she winds up in a lowly motel room to lick [licking] her wounds. There, a mysterious and seductive creature that she dubs The Angel of No Consequences appears to her and offers the thing [gift? blessing?] she’s cried out for at the height of her rage: one free murder. She takes the Angel up on it, pumps a bullet into her fiancé, and flees to the gloomy estate of Madeleine, her late brother’s agoraphobic widow. 

As promised, Eliza’s crime goes unprosecuted--but not unsuspected. Desiray, the “other woman” who stole Eliza’s (now-dead) fiancé, is convinced of Eliza’s guilt, and she threatens Eliza with revenge. To Eliza’s horror, the Angel offers his services to Desiray. Knowing the Angel’s ruthlessness and lethality, Eliza strikes pre-emptively and poisons Desiray. This time it’s her own skill, not the Angel’s, that helps [lets] her escape the consequences. 

Meanwhile [In time], Eliza finds life at Madeleine’s estate increasingly bizarre. When she catches Madeleine dumping a bucket of blood down a drain, she resolves to quit the place. But one last intervention from her otherworldly accomplice forces her to return. 

I realize this reads [This may sound] like some sort of [a perverse] horror opera, but it's also a morality tale; after the desire to live, my characters are driven by the need to right their wrongs. 

[Optional "I thought I’d query you because..."] 

The Angel of No Consequences is complete at 88,000 words. [The first xx pages follow my signature below.] May I send my manuscript for your consideration? 



Well done. I'd ask for the manuscript, if the first xx pages weren't a mess.

I assume you call this a "tale of guilt" not because Eliza is guilty, but because she is haunted by feelings of guilt, so maybe there should be something about that in the summary. Maybe instead of the bucket of blood, which, while intriguing, only leads me to wonder how Madeleine explains it.

Eliza: Um, why are you dumping a bucket of blood down the drain?

Madeleine: It's AB negative. I only drink A positive.

Eliza: No, I meant why not just flush it down the toilet?

Wait, is it Eliza's brother's blood? And Madeleine's dumping it because she was afraid Eliza would see it in the refrigerator and start asking awkward questions?

I think spelling Desiray's name Desirée or Desirae would lend a more gothic flare, and could be what puts this query over the top.


Mandakinz said...

Congrats to you, author! When the time comes for me to send out my inquiry, I'll be taking notes from yours.

It seems to me that one of the things you did well here was to explain the scope of the entire plot. In working on my own and in reading others' examples it seems like a common pitfall is to be overbalanced on the setup and initial premise. Chances are good that if I had tried to write the query based off your book, I would have included details about the characters backstory. Kudos to you for giving more a birds eye view.

I hope you'll let us know if you see success with it. In the meantime, maybe you'll submit a New Beginning?

Anonymous said...

Hi, Mandakinz

Author here, and I'm glad you showed up -- I thought I was going to be the Angel of No Comments. Thanks for your encouraging words.

Actually, it is now clear: my opening sucks, because this query is getting me nowhere. With that and one reader's overall suggestion that I get the creepy magic established sooner, I dreamed up a Prolog that I decided to workshop before wasting more precious queries. Behold, New Beginning 1093. I took EE's and the minions' suggestions, queried a few more people, and got my first full request. I'm still thinking the opening-opening needs work. I just might post it.

Meanwhile, I'm taking EE's edits on the query and I've changed Desiray's name to Desirae.

Anonymous said...

Hi author,

Good job on the query. I have just a few little nits.

You could maybe specify what the last intervention is.

The corrections EE made, not just the polishing, worry me a bit because if those types of errors are common in the manuscript it's likely going to be rejected as being too much work, even if the story is good. Hopefully this is a needless worry.

The other thing that may be an issue is calling the story a morality tale, which may give the impression that the story is going to be preachy, which a lot of agents have said they don't like. (ymmv) You might want to try moving the line about lady macbeth there instead and see if that helps.

(Addendum, just saw your comment, congrats on getting requests. Hopefully my advice is a bit of polishing if you're wondering what else to try, but it sounds like you might be good as is.)

At any rate, good luck. Let us know if it goes well.

Mandakinz said...

Hi Author,

If I'm understanding you correctly, you found success with a prologue that is an updated version of New Beginning 1093? If so, I'd love to see it. Maybe you could do other chapter openings as NB too?

Congrats on your first full request! How exciting!

Anonymous said...

If I'm understanding you correctly, you found success with a prologue that is an updated version of New Beginning 1093?

So far, but we shall see. I didn't change it drastically, but I did make some fixes per EE and the minions' advice. I'm still concerned about the opening-proper. Stay tuned for another Continue an Opening submission.

Other Anonymous, I'm hoping the reference to the "last intervention" is at least ominous. Specifying it would spoil the ending. There's one clarifying change I'm making, which is "she catches Madeleine dumping a bucket of blood." I'll make that "secretly observes," since she doesn't actually catch Madeleine out -- Eliza is flat-out spying and she sees something she's not supposed to see.