Monday, June 14, 2010
Guess the Plot
A Tale of Youth and Sorrow
1. Behind the bars: wailing and weeping. Outside: the holy object lies alone, unreachable. Will any hero rise and save the day? Who will come and reunite Sammy with his blankie?
2. Like, this one time, my parents go, "Clean your room," when i already had, like, way too much homework, dude. Life can be so unfair.
3. Jack Sorrow, New York's toughest homicide detective, quickly learns that today's kids are even more dangerous than he thought when his partner is found murdered at a tough inner city Kindergarten.
4. When 12-year-old Minette Bublee finds evidence that her boozing, potty-mouthed, ill-tempered guardian is a minion of the demon Belphelial, she unwittingly opens a door into an arcane realm where past and present intertwine and a confrontation with a grim remnant of her world's tumultuous history transforms a young woman into a monster.
5. The son of a fallen politician, eighteen-year-old Devon joined the police force to help restore the family name. But as he becomes entangled in corruption, a dangerous affair, and an unsolvable sex slavery case, he careens toward his own fall from grace. Also, an incorrigible cat.
6. When fairy tales become classics, their characters get immortality instead of a slow, fading death. Can Princess Ytira convince her wicked stepmother and bumbling godmother to work together long enough to make their shambles of a story memorable?
Dear Agent X:
Twelve-year-old orphan and Potioneer girl Minette Bublee knows next to nothing about the Rogue, Ilona Njis; the boozing, potty-mouthed, ill-tempered master thief who, strangely enough, has been her guardian for the past two years. Then comes the shocking revelation: that Ilona is a murderer, and possibly linked to Belphelial, a restless demon rumored to have broken free from the bonds of his ancient prison. [That's more than enough info for one paragraph. Start a new one here.] [But first let's cut it back to what's essential. Do we need to know Minette is a Potioneer girl? I have to guess what that means, and then I have to consult Google to make sure I'm right, which I don't feel like doing in the first line of a query. Turns out it's pretty much what it sounds like, but that it's not capitalized unless it's part of the title Master Potioneer. No way do you become a Master Potioneer at the age of 12. Also, if this wasn't a word before Harry Potter, I'm not sure it's suddenly become one. Belphelial is "rumored to have broken free"? You've read the whole book; did he break free or not? We don't need to know about rumors that prove false. You tell us Minette knows next to nothing about Ilona, and immediately reel off a list of things Minette knows about Ilona. Why is "Rogue" capitalized? Is it Ilona's superhero name? There's already a superhero named Rogue. Okay, so what have we got? Two years after the death of her parents, Minette Bublee learns that her ill-tempered guardian Ilona is a murderer--and possibly a minion of the demon Belphelial.] Torn between escape and saving her only friend [With friends like a boozing, potty-mouthed, ill-tempered murderer, who needs enemies?] from spiraling further into self-destruction, Minette unwittingly opens a door into an arcane realm, where past and present intertwine, and a confrontation with a grim remnant of their world's tumultuous history [I need a glass of bubbly.] transforms a young woman into a monster. [Is the young woman Ilona or Minette? I don't consider 12-year-olds women.] [That sounds impressive, like you were writing the script for a movie trailer. Unfortunately, it's vague. I'd keep: As she tries to stop Ilona from spiraling further into self-destruction, Minette unwittingly opens a door into an arcane realm where past and present intertwine. Now we're down to two sentences of back story. Put them together as your first paragraph and you have plenty of room to give us specifics about your story, which starts when Minette enters the arcane world. What does she do? Start whipping up potions? Is her goal to save Ilona? Defeat Beelzebub? Get home? Save the world? What's she got going for her that gives her the slightest chance of doing any of this?] With the ghosts of their yesteryears threatening to tear them apart, Minette will voyage through time to learn one of life's greatest lessons, and unlock the secrets of a power greater than any magic. [That's a good last sentence if it follows some specifics about the story. Here it's just more vagueness.]
I am seeking representation for A Tale of Youth and Sorrow, my 53,400-word young adult fantasy novel. [That title sounds more like Anne Frank's bio than wizard kid vs. demon.] I am querying you because of your interest in this particular genre.
Five of my short stories were published in Malate Literary Folio (De La Salle University, Philippines) between 1997 and 2002, one of which won second place in my university's 1999 Literary Awards. [Leave this out. Everyone knows that all Philippines award ceremonies are fixed.] A member of Writing.com, I received the 2007 WDC Wonderfuls Award for outstanding writing. [Leave this out, and suggest to WDC that they come up with a better name for their awards.] In my most recent job, I was a game writer tasked with the detailed write-ups of characters, settings, and stories for games. [Leave this out; it's a deal killer.] I am currently residing in the Philippines.
Thank you for your time and consideration, and I look forward to hearing from you soon.
With a 12-year-old main character, you're looking at readers who may be 10. You might want to show in the query that you can write for this audience by using less-complex sentences.
There's nothing in the query about what happens in the book, except a door gets opened to some realm and there's some time travel to . . . some other time.