Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Face-Lift 566


Guess the Plot

Miss Midas

1. Jackie is known as 'Miss Midas' at the brokerage because so many of her stock picks are profitable. She has a secret--a time traveller from 2017 who gives her the annual reports. Can she prevent the Great Depression of 2015 while maintaining her own net worth?

2. Transferring to a new alchemy school in the middle of the term is tough on Carrie Nickel. She's got no chemistry with her classmates and all of her experiments fizzle. In an attempt to win friends, she cooks up a plot to win the homecoming title of Miss Midas. But when it comes to melting the leaden heart of the golden boy quarterback, will she learn that all it takes is a simple touch?

3. Leila brings golden luck to everyone she meets, but her own life is a wreck. When she escapes to a secluded cottage, her gift transforms her wacky, unhappy neighbors' lives. But can she win over Pablo, the hunky gardener, before her Midas touch reunites him with his long-lost sweetheart?

4. Desperate to win the heart of Brandon, Jane wishes for supernatural help . . . and gets it. Now any guy she touches falls head over heels for her. But Jane happens to touch a lot of guys besides Brandon, and they'll go to any lengths to get her. Can Jane learn to control her power before it costs her the one guy she wants?

5. She divorced him after he killed the kids by turning them into gold statuary. Remarried to a slacker, the impoverished former Queen of Pessinus is down to her kids’ last gold toenails, with no other source of income on the horizon. Dare she admit that she might...Miss Midas?

6. No woman has ever entered the Mr. Midas Contest, a grueling competition sponsored by a national chain of muffler and brake shops. Enter Julie, the target of ceaseless harassment as the only female mechanic in her uncle's franchise. Can she prove that her brake lines are as impressive as her bustline?



Original Version

Dear Agent,

All Jane Mitchell wanted was a way to win Brandon Drake’s heart—she never intended for it to be as effortless as a single touch. [It's always that effortless, if you choose the right place to touch.] Especially not when Brandon isn’t the only one who falls head over heels in love, but every guy her hands come in contact with. [An awkward sentence, and an unneeded one.] Complete at 64,000 words, Miss Midas is a contemporary YA novel with a touch of magic.

Jane is proudly entrenched in the "Middle" social strata at Avery High School. But when glamorous Caralina Guererro of the Top Strata lures Brandon into her world, the Middle is suddenly a very bad place to be. Distraught by her failed attempts to win Brandon, Jane makes a desperate wish for some supernatural help in catching a guy’s heart.

Jane gets her man all right, but she quickly realizes that, with her new Midas touch, any and every guy could fall for her. [She immediately thinks, What am I doing hanging around this cow town? and heads for Hollywood to seek out George Clooney.] However, Caralina isn’t giving up on Brandon so easily. When her tactics get dirty, Jane decides to use her powers to dethrone Caralina once and for all. And, as if things weren’t complicated enough, all those guys Jane has touched have plans of their own, and they’re willing to go to great lengths to get her. [And this is a bad thing how?] Jane must somehow control her power, and her life, before she loses the one thing she wanted in the first place: Brandon Drake.

(Personalized agent info.) I would be happy to send you the manuscript at your request. Thank you so much for your time.

Sincerely,


Notes

I like the idea. It would work for an adult romance novel as well, I think. The query is a bit disorganized; I think the plot reads better as follows:

Dear Agent,

All Jane Mitchell wanted was to win Brandon Drake’s heart—but she never dreamed it would be as effortless as a single touch. Complete at 64,000 words, Miss Midas is a contemporary YA novel with a "touch" of magic.

Jane is happily entrenched in the "Middle" social strata at Avery High School--until glamorous Caralina Guererro of the Top strata lures Brandon into her world. Suddenly the Middle is a gloomy, lonely place. Distraught by her failed attempts to win Brandon, Jane makes a desperate wish for supernatural help.

Jane gets her wish all right, but she quickly realizes that with her new "Midas touch," every guy she comes in contact with will go to any lengths to get her. Not quite what she wanted. And what's worse, Caralina isn’t giving up on Brandon. When her tactics turn dirty, Jane decides to dethrone Caralina once and for all, before losing the one thing she wanted in the first place: Brandon Drake.

Sincerely,


That's a bit short; you might want to include a specific example of Caralina's dirty tactics and/or an example of the hilarity that ensues when every guy in the school wants Jane.

I'm not sure whether Jane learns a valuable lesson or whether it's expected in YA that the main character should do so, but beyond the Be careful what you wish for lesson, It's not clear Jane has the right to complain about Caralina's dirty tactics when her own tactics involve a magic spell. And considering that Brandon is the type who is attracted to the glamorous Caralina while ignoring the more grounded and more deserving Jane, who needs him anyway? If she succeeds in dethroning Caralina, great, but if her Midas touch wins her Brandon and she's happy with a guy who's with her only because of magic, maybe not so great.

20 comments:

Kiersten said...

Yay Renee! I told you it wouldn't be scary.

I've been trying to think of specific examples you could include--maybe Jacob inviting her to D&D for funny, and then her stalker for menace.

Tracey S. Rosenberg said...

This plot really didn't grab me. It seems to boil down to 'nice girl fights glamorous bitch over a guy who would rather be with the bitch than with her, then wins the guy but still has to fight the bitch over him.'

The supernatural aspect seems incidental to the plot as described here - I can't see much difference between 'attracts boys by gaining unspecified magical power' and 'attracts boys by gaining stylish new haircut, fancy new wardrobe, and encyclopedic knowledge of NBA scores'. (Or maybe I'm just still assuming that the lack of such gains on my part was the real reason I never went to Prom.)

I was also confused by the start of the second paragraph. What is the initial relationship of Jane and Brandon? Jane's in the middle strata and Caralina is in the upper and lures Brandon in, but do Jane's failed attempts to win Brandon only start when he starts social climbing? If Jane wasn't attracting Brandon before Caralina came on the scene, why not?

Sarah Laurenson said...

I got a bad feeling from the idea that Brandon is with her because of this power she has over him and not because she wins him by being who she is. Or is there something that shows he would love her without the touch or that she realizes he was a jerk anyway and she moves on to someone real that she's been overlooking?

If done with a light hand, I think it could work either way. It's a fine line to walk when you're talking about a power imbalance in a 'love' relationship.

December/Stacia said...

Oh, this is freaking adorable. I love it. I think it's a fantastic idea (provided you have something in there addressing Sarah Laurensen's concern; a message about how being loved for the you inside is the only important love and tricks are bad etc. etc.)

I don't think the query does it justice though. Were I an agent I'd probably request anyway just because I like the idea so much, but there's not much here about the actual story. Too much set-up. Try something like:

Jane Mitchell loves Brandon Drake, and she'll do anything to get him to be her boyfriend/take her to the Prom/be her kissy wissy man/whatever. So when she finds the ancient spellbook that can give her the "Love Touch"--the ability to make anyone fall in love with her just by touching them--she figures she has it made.

Unfortunately, thanks to her reckless use of the Touch, Jane finds herself embroiled in a power war with Caralina Geurrero, the most popular girl in school--and with her own heart, as she starts to think maybe manipulating people isn't the best way to make them love her. As the end of the year/Prom/the Apocalypse draws near, Jane has to make a decision: keep Brandon under false pretenses, or risk being alone again.

Something like that. All we need to know is that Carolina is a bitchy power queen. If you can find a way to slip in something about the boys hanging around Jane's house at all hours of the day & night like lovesick puppies that's great too, because it's really cute, but the essence of the story seems to me to be the Jane/Brandon story.

JMO. :-)

batgirl said...

Smoothly written, and bodes well for the book itself. On the quibbly side, saying 'win his heart' in the first sentence set me up for an adult (though sweet) romance, and I was surprised that it was YA.
Given the concerns about how much magically-gained love is worth, maybe consider changing the magical falling-in-love to a magical paying-attention-to? That eternal teen lament that 'he doesn't even know I exist' remedied by magic attention-getting? So suddenly all the boys are noticing plain Jane and seeing her good points, where before she was unnoticed?
-Barbara

Anonymous said...

Along the George Clooney line, if she literally can get ANY guy she wants with this new magic power, would Brandon Drake still be the one she wants? Out of the pool of Every Guy?

I would have to assume there is some losing of the power where Brandon figures out he really likes her??

Renee Collins said...

Oo, I feel special, I got the Evil King of Hearts. :)

Author here:

EE, your version is fantastic! Thanks so much!

And thanks to everyone who commented thus far. I can definitely see what some of you are saying about the shallowness of getting love through magical means.

I did I address it in the novel. Things basically come crashing down on Jane, as a result of her choices. Still, I'm going to go through the end and make sure that it comes across the way it should. So, thanks. That's a good point.
Also, I should make it more clear in my query.

At any rate, thanks to all. I'll try and post a new version a little later.

Anonymous said...

That's a really good plot!

...dave conifer

Sarah from Hawthorne said...

I think this is a great idea, the YA equivalent of classic kids' books like The Chocolate Touch. Something that might help you as you rewrite: I noticed you split the conflict in your query.

The first part is about Jane getting what she thinks she wants - which then turns out to be the worst possible thing she could have, ruins everything with Brandon, etc. But then the second half becomes about Carolina and her dirty tricks. That changes the direction of your query from internal to external, from "how will Jane fix her terrible mistake?" to "will the good girl triumph over the mean queen bee?"

I can kind of intuit how those two conflicts fit together, but it left me confused what direction you were going.

writtenwyrdd said...

I also think this is an adorable premise and that it can work very well. I'd certainly ask to read it even though this letter doesn't yet do the story justice! But I'm not an agent or editor.

Anyhow, I agree with the others who say to spell out the flaw in forcing love magically and what other drawbacks there are, even if it is just alluded to and not specifically detailed.

If the writing is good, you probably have an easy sell with this one. It's one of those plots that will work every time if the writing engages the reader.

Whirlochre said...

The odd awkward sentence aside, this has real potential.

One thing, though. Pushing Daisies has recently made use of the 'touch effect' mechanic. I didn't watch the show, but when I read the query, I thought about it. Just my association — but others may have it. Not that it matters.

talpianna said...

I too am bothered by Brandon's apparently not being worth the effort. This too, is a cliche, but would it work better:

Jane is struggling to control the spell, but she got it accidentally and knows nothing about magic. She gets help from a D&D-expert nerd (someone SHE'd never bothered with) and finds out that he's actually a better deal than Brandon. That would be learning a couple of lessons.

Sarah Laurenson said...

Pushing Daisies is quite a bit different. He has the power of life and death in his touch and cannot touch the love of his life or he will kill her for good.

Midas touch stories can be very interesting. And what Jane learns from having this manipulative power could be very deep even if it's written with a light hand.

Good luck!

Renee Collins said...

Thanks again to all the comments. You guys are awesome.

Here is my new attempt:

All Jane Mitchell wanted was to win Brandon Drake’s heart—she never dreamed it would be as effortless as a single touch. Complete at 64,000 words, Miss Midas is a contemporary YA novel with a "touch" of magic.

Jane is happily entrenched in the "Middle" social strata at Avery High School--until glamorous Caralina Guererro of the Top strata lures Brandon into her world. Suddenly the Middle is a very lonely place. Distraught by her failed attempts to win Brandon, Jane makes a desperate wish for supernatural help.

Jane gets her wish all right, but she quickly realizes that with her new "Midas touch," not only Brandon, but every guy she comes in contact with will go to any lengths to get her. It’s merely annoying when it’s the nerd from Trig class inviting her to a Lord of the Ring reenactment, but when it’s a stalker with no boundaries, Jane starts to see that she’s in over her head. And all the while, Caralina isn’t giving up on having Brandon. With the Top Strata launching a full scale attack, half the male population at Avery High pounding down her door, and Brandon drifting away, Jane knows that she must somehow get things under control, before she loses the one thing she wanted in the first place: Brandon Drake.

writtenwyrdd said...

I'm glad you incorporated EE's version into yours. It reads much better.

"with no boundaries" and "get things under control" do give an idea as to what the problems are, but they are very vague and not too visceral.

I suggest that you might say something about how a guy she's touched is resisting her, which I presume Brandon is doing. It seems like a possible plot hole unless there's some way the guys can resist the midas love touch. Also, what about the issue of her recognizing how wrong it is to have someone love her with no choice?

Overall I like this.

writtenwyrdd said...

I just read Tal's comment and I think that, while a bit cliche as a plot element, also is one of those that works. If that is in your book, it would be worth mentioning in teh query.

December/Stacia said...

I really think the business about what "strata" everyone is in is just set-up, and you don't need it in the query. The query is about the story and hook--knowing how everyone fits into their peer groups is unecessary. All we need to know is, Jane gets this power and what happens after.

Nora Coon said...

I like it - sounds like a fun high school rom-com novel - but I see a couple potential problems. I agree that the 'getting' of Brandon shouldn't be a result of her Midas touch, since most people will find that creepy.

Also, 'stalker with no limits' can mean a lot of things depending on the target audience. For a funny example, watch the Buffy episode "Bothered, Bewitched & Bewildered". However, there are levels of menace, especially when the stalker's object is a high school girl.

Julie Weathers said...

6. No woman has ever entered the Mr. Midas Contest, a grueling competition sponsored by a national chain of muffler and brake shops. Enter Julie, the target of ceaseless harassment as the only female mechanic in her uncle's franchise. Can she prove that her brake lines are as impressive as her bustline?

Not sure why that didn't register with me before, but it tickles me.

talpianna said...

Forget it, Julie. You're much too delicate.