Tuesday, March 08, 2022

Face-Lift 1425

Guess the Plot

Two Truths and a Lie

1. I love you. I love you. I love you.

2. Against all odds, you have managed to submit your query to Evil Editor. Your work will receive the same treatment that would be afforded an author like John Grisham. Evil Editor and his minions truly value your work and care about you personally.

3. My father is a homophobe. He would disown me and disinherit me if he thought I was gay. Luckily, I'm not.

4. You completed your novel. Your family and all your friends tell you it's brilliant. It's sure to be published.

5. The weather report calls for possible tornadoes. Douglas wants to watch the big game on his new TV. That noise he hears is probably just a train going by.

6. Conman John "Dough" Montgomery needs to repay loan shark "No-miss" Natasha before she puts a bullet in his heart. Or did he already lose his heart to her and that's why he signed to begin with? And is her real interest in the loan interest or in him? It's cutthroat three card monty crossed with swoony Russian roulette, gangster style.

Original Version

Dear Evil Editor,

People say the truth will set you free, but how free will your truth get you if it’s half a lie? [The truth only sets you free if you're innocent and can prove it. If you're guilty, and admit it, you're done for.] [Also, I don't like opening with a vague question.]

Sixteen-year-old Ashton Sinclair-Yang is caught in a crossfire of two truths and a lie. Despite knowing his parents’ rocky relationship will end in someone leaving, he’s still heartbroken over the fact that it’s his dad. It leaves him defenseless against his overbearing mom, making things especially hard since his home support system—twin sister Mallory—seems to never be around anymore. [If his dad's absence leaves him defenseless, it sounds like his dad was his support system. Also, as Yoda would say, Mallory around is or is not. There is no 'seems'.] [Also, twins in fiction are always the same gender, allowing you to write scenes where they trade places with each other. It's an unwritten rule, just like whenever a body is burned in a fire, it's never the body of who they think it is.] But at least, with his dad gone, he doesn’t have to lie about being straight anymore, right? [Did he frequently have to say, Dad, I'm straight? or did the subject never come up?]

Turns out, it’s not that easy. It gets harder [It's not that easy, it gets harder . . . what exactly is "it." Not lying about being straight?] when Ashton falls head over heels for Mason Castillo, a boy just like himself, having one foot in his true self and another one living a lie. He figured [figures] that if they stick together, their lying karmas will balance out. [Wrong. k + k = 2k, not 0] The more time he spends with Mason, the more he’s able to pull himself out of his lies, enabling him to smoothen the relationship with his mother and rebuild the bridge to reach Mallory. [Just because a 16-year-old girl stops hanging out with her brother doesn't mean a bridge has collapsed. Did something happen?] Everything is set and ready for him to let go of the half-lies he’s been holding on to [He pulled himself out of his lies, but held onto his half-lies. I'm getting confused. The title says there are two truths and one lie.] . . . until his dad comes back.

Just like that, Ashton falls back into the pit he’s been trying so hard to dig himself out of. His father’s return shines a light on many other holes the people around him have dug, filled to the brim with lies of their own. He realizes he isn’t the only one in the family playing an unwinnable game of two truths and a lie against the universe, and now all the lies are catching up to them. [I'm starting to think the title should be One Truth and Hundreds of Lies. You could throw in a couple specific examples of what you're talking about.] If he doesn’t find a way to end the lies, especially his own, he’ll have to watch his family crumble and lose a truthful love he desperately wants to have. [Good to tell us what's at stake, but the rest of the paragraph is vague.]

Complete at 89,400 words, TWO TRUTHS AND A LIE is a standalone coming-of-age YA novel. It’s an honest and provoking tale of sexuality, family, and finding legitimacy in one’s own identity through living as their own true self that would appeal to fans of FIFTEEN HUNDRED MILES FROM THE SUN by Johnny Garza Villa, MORE HAPPY THAN NOT by Adam Silvera, and LOVEBOAT TAIPEI by Abigail Hing Wen.


I could assume the book's theme has to do with truth and lies from the title. By my count, forms of the words "truth" and "lies" appear at least 16 times in the body of the query. That's where I'm expecting to find the plot summary. 

Fewer metaphors, please. (caught in a crossfire of two truths and a lie, another foot living a lie, rebuilding the bridge, digging holes filled to the brim with lies, playing an unwinnable game of two truths and a lie against the universe)

Unless Mallory is more crucial than you've let on, we don't need her in the query.

You've basically provided us with your main character's situation. Which can be done in one paragraph:

Sixteen-year-old Ashton knew his parents were going to split up, but he didn't want his dad to be the one who left. Although with his dad gone, at least he doesn't have to pretend to be straight anymore. When he falls for Mason, another kid who's been hiding his sexual orientation, Ashton finds that even his crappy home life is reinvigorated. Then his dad comes back. 

Now that we know his situation, what's his goal? How does he plan to achieve this goal? What obstacles could stop him? Does he have allies? Does he have a plan B?
What will happen if he fails? Is there a point at which he must make a difficult decision that will make or break his plan? What are the pros and cons of his possible actions?

If you can answer most of these questions with specific information, especially information about what happens (the plot), your query will be much more compelling.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hi author, congratulations on finishing your book.

What you have is a bit heavy on justifying the title.

Out of curiosity, is there a reason Ashton didn't go with his dad? Is there a formal divorce or did his dad just walk out, abandoning the rest of the family? My understanding (which may be faulty/depend on jurisdiction) is that outside of competence/abuse issues children old enough to be legally emancipated can pick which parent to go with in a divorce. In a case of abandonment, I'd think the MC would be working through issues with that--does it come up?

In addition to what EE said, try to include whatever makes your book different from the other coming-of-age/coming-out stories on the market.

Good Luck