Wednesday, May 15, 2024

Face-Lift 1458


Guess the Plot

Moonlight Disco

1. This comprehensive biography of Elon Musk includes a stunning interview where the zillionaire lays out his grand plan for humanity: use SpaceX to cover the moon with mirrors, then live-stream on X  as millions of Neuralink-implanted partiers are driven by their autonomous Teslas to a midnight dance in the desert. Because only one of his many companies is Boring, and, well ... because he can.

2. When her plan to fund her college education by selling stars fails, Rhode comes up with a better idea: posing as a deity to scam people out of money. She calls herself Moon Goddess. Her popularity skyrockets, her face gets plastered over the Internet, and who cares about college? Also: Disco.

3. Disco is dead, but having an undead revival. It's safer for the Weres and the Vamps to have a dance-off than the usual bloodletting boiling over into the daylight world. So, sequins, bell bottoms, and chest hair, with a side order of Romeo/Juliet romance. And there's still plenty of bloodshed.

4. Former dance king Freddy "Phantom" Lichten overhears what he thinks is the code phrase to get him into a new underground club. Further misunderstandings leave him as a courier on the run from hostile government agents, the mob, and an ex-girlfriend The fate of a few countries rides on a  successful delivery. He was told there might be dancing along the way.

5. Some werewolves celebrate the full moon by gathering in stadiums and dancing to disco versions of "Werewolves of London," "Hungry Like the Wolf," and "Mama Werewolf." But people would rather read about my werewolves, the ones that go on killing sprees in nursing homes.

Original Version

Dear [First Name Last Name], [More common: Dear Title (Ms., Mr.) Last Name]

I am seeking representation for MOONLIGHT DISCO, an 80000 word sapphic young adult contemporary fantasy novel inspired by the Japanese folklore [folk tale] The Tale of Princess Kaguya. It combines the ambitious heroine of If You Could See The Sun by Ann Liang and the [reason] of [title] by [author]. [Princess Kaguya is an ambitious heroine, so I see no reason to add a comp title based solely on its having that same feature.] [That many adjectives in a row should be separated by commas. Better yet, get rid of some of them: 80,000-word, young adult retelling of the Japanese folk tale...  [Putting this paragraph after the plot summary would be better.]

Sixteen-year-old Rhode Ouyang catches stars to sell each summer to fund her future college expenses. However, this summer’s star sales is [are?] a total failure as her middle-aged buyers no longer want a star from a no name teen. [They want a star from a star.] Rhode also gets chastised by Sei, her childhood friend and fellow star catcher, for attempting to sell hand painted stars to drive up the price tag. The greatest source of her stress comes when she’s forced to pay back Sei’s dad for freeing the rabbits he captured.  [Okay, I've tried to be patient but you're losing me. Whattaya mean, she catches stars? The stars up in the sky, the ones that are giant balls of fire bigger than 300,000 Earths? Even if a star were a mile away instead of 20 trillion miles away, and the size of a bird, I don't see how Rhode catches them. Can she fly? If she can catch them, and she can sell them for enough to pay for a college education, wouldn't everybody be catching them? If hand-painting the stars drives up the price, wouldn't everyone hand-paint them? Or is she hand-painting rocks to look like stars?Easier than that would be to buy some cat's-eye marbles, which are pretty cheap and look kind of like stars and wouldn't need to be painted if she just used the yellow ones.]

 [All my comments could be avoided if you change "stars" to "starfish."]

When Rhode wakes up with her hair turned white, she has an idea: instead of worrying about finding a summer job, she’ll pose as the Moon Princess, the village deity. With help from other villagers, Rhode begins selling self-dubbed “moon blessed” stars to tourists for hundreds of dollars. [This is almost as bad as Trump selling Bibles.] [How many stars would I have to buy to get a degree from Rhode University?] For a price tag of thirty dollars per person, she’ll include fortune telling and photo opportunities. Even malformed stars can sell for one hundred dollars if they come from her hand. Not everyone is enthused about Rhode’s fame, one of whom is Sei. Rhode agrees to compete with her for who’ll earn the most money from selling stars. [Not a fair fight: Rhode's stars are moon-blessed.] The loser must pay the winner and do whatever they are told to do. [That's vague. What do they want each other to do? Is this where the "sapphic" part comes in?]

Except, it’s easier to fantasize about wealth and success than it is to achieve it. As Rhode’s popularity skyrockets, her face gets plastered over the Internet, gaining clout but also recognition. [You make it sound like recognition is a bad thing. It would lead to more sales. Plus, she'd be like Sybil the Soothsayer in the movie Network, with her own segment on the number one rated TV show.] Rhode must make sure she doesn’t get outed as a fraud or she’ll end up paying back the money and even be sent to juvie. [Any tourist trap worth its salt is gonna be crawling with hucksters selling overpriced souvenirs. When the tourists get home, they either display their junk, or they toss it. They don't take the huckster to court, because admitting they fell for the sales pitch would be humiliating.]

[bio here]

Thank you for your consideration.


It sounds like Rhode's moon-blessed stars brought in enough to pay for the rabbits, which, for some reason, was her greatest source of stress. Main problem solved.

Somehow, a contemporary novel involving college expenses and summer jobs and the Internet doesn't jibe with a village deity known as the Moon Princess.

Such details as the rabbits, the white hair, the malformed stars, the fortune telling and photo opportunities aren't moving the plot forward. In a description of an 80,000-word book, the price Rhode can get for a malformed star is trivial.

I'm not sure who's going to out Rhode as a fraud. The villagers helped her sell her moon-blessed stars to tourists. That makes them co-conspirators in the fraud, if there is a fraud, which I've already pointed out there isn't. When I went to New Orleans, there was a guy on the street who had painted himself gray, and he would stand still pretending he was a statue. Tourists would walk up to him and then suddenly he'd move. It was pretty cool, and the tourists would throw money in his bucket. I doubt he was taken to court because he wasn't really a statue. Tourists would consider the Moon Goddess part of the experience, and buying a moon-blessed star would be like paying admission to an amusement. No one was forced to buy one.

Anyway, even if we accept the catching and selling stars part, which we must because it's something that happens in this fantastical world, I still don't find the stakes believable. She's not going to juvi, she's becoming a celebrity who doesn't even need college because she's rich, rich rich!

Start over. Possibly focus more on how Rhode learns (too late?) that her friendship with Sei is more important than money and rabbits. If that's what happens.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hey author, congratulations on finishing your book.

I'm a bit confused as to where this takes place. Being contemporary fantasy, I assume something close to here and now. However, the cultural mix on names would indicate someplace like the US as opposed to asia, but a village with a traditional goddess doesn't jibe with that.

A brief explanation of the stars she's capturing might help. Girl with a net hanging out on a corner in Hollywood is probably not what you want springing to mind. Although it has possibilities....

Has something changed that middle-aged buyers no longer want her stars? Or was it that they were cute from a child but now that she's grown up.... type thing? If so, that's what you need to state.

It also might help to highlight what parts of your story are inspired by Kaguya Hime. I don't see any tie-ins at all from what you've described here.

Hope this helps,
good luck