Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Face-Lift 809


Guess the Plot

Hidden in Shadows

1. Adam is an online dating conman, pimping with an army of fake female profiles, waiting for the next lonely male to take the bait. The last thing he expects is the attentions of a bisexual redhead whose words burn in his inbox. Should he risk everything and break anonymity to find her? Will she still be interested when she finds out he is a he?

2. Assassin Lorna McCloud has an advantage over her victims: the power to create and hide in artificial shadows. She heads for an island nation where many people want the king dead, hoping for a lucrative assignment. When she falls for the monarch, will she give him her heart . . . or put a bullet through his?

3. When the mangled bodies of teen prostitutes are found by the La Brea tar pits, homicide detective Zack Martinez knows two things: These kids weren't mangled by Mastodons, and he'd better stop by the gift shop and get something for his son.

4. There's a whole species of Shadow-Beings who live in a parallel existence to ours. They huddle next to buildings, linger under trees, and avoid the Equator. When Darkwyn, the Shadow King, seeks to extend his rule, his first objective is a human queen: Mandy, the waitress at the local all-nite diner.

5. Jennie's dying mom will never get a lifesaving operation if Jennie doesn't rustle up some cash and fast. Unskilled and a recovering sex addict, Jennie slides into prostitution, her only option, but her fear of relapsing into addiction keeps her . . . hidden in shadows.

6. Avenging the stalking death of his sister, scientist James Fraille releases a phosphorous chemical into the air which eliminates shadows. No one can lurk in shadows; no one can spy from shadows. No one can sweep rice cake crumbs into shadows. One unexpected drawback—the air is losing oxygen and everyone will soon suffocate.


Original Version


Dear Agent,

I would love for you to consider [That goes without saying. Or at least it should.] HIDDEN IN SHADOWS, a 96,000-word urban fantasy romance novel.

Lorna McCloud is an assassin hell bent on avenging her father's murder only she has no leads [except the knowledge that the murderer has six fingers on his right hand]. Soon she has more important issues to deal with than whether to use a dagger or a gun to kill her next target. [The connection between those sentences isn't there. Either drop the father and begin: Assassin Lorna McCloud has more important issues to deal with than whether to use a dagger or a gun on her next target. For one thing, she's been captured by... Or, drop the dagger/gun "issue" and begin: Lorna McCloud is an assassin hell-bent on avenging her father's murder, but right now she has more important issues to deal with; she's been captured by...]

First, she's captured by the Paranormal Intelligence Agency, a shady, clandestine organization. A PIA henchman tells Lorna that she has the ability to create and hide in artificial shadows, a power she had unknowingly used during her nightly killings. [If she kills at night, what does she need artificial shadows for? It's dark at night.] Lorna distrusts the agency, and manages to escape.

Then Lorna heads to a small island where many of her potential clients want the king dead. [Each paragraph is a different plot. Tie them together with more than Lorna being in them.] Lorna hasn't felt the stirrings of love in a long time, but something about the noble Alaric makes her long for the light after her lifetime spent in shadow. [I assume the noble Alaric is the king? How is it that Lorna is getting to know him? You don't just go to some country and start socializing with the king.]

Torn between murder and love, Lorna has never been able to escape her past or her ardent desire for revenge, and now they may prevent her from her only chance of living a normal, happy life. [Somehow it's hard to imagine someone who longs for a normal, happy life making nightly kills. It would be easier to buy her sincerity if she'd already cut back to twice-weekly kills.]

[You have two plots, the revenge-seeking and the kill him/marry him conflict. The query doesn't need both. As you're calling this a romance, I'd dump the father/revenge angle. It's barely mentioned anyway, and you need to focus on the main plot.]

I am the author of a medieval fantasy romance series, The Kingdom of Arnhem – Woman of Honor (2009) and Knight of Glory (2010) published with Desert Breeze Publishing. I have also sold six short stories for anthologies, two of which are under the pen name Nicolette Zamora.

Thank you so much for your time and consideration, and I look forward to hearing from you.

Best regards,


Notes

First you tell us about her father, then you drop that and move on to the PIA, and then you drop that. Why use an entire paragraph to tell us how she found out she has her shadow power, when you can just tell us she has it? The correct "Guess the Plot" tells us everything that's in the query in three sentences, leaving plenty of room to go into how the Lorna/Alaric romance develops, or what an artificial shadow is.

I assume when you get hired to kill someone you get at least partial payment in advance, so when you decide you'd rather not kill him, wouldn't you have to worry that your client wants his money back? And will immediately hire another assassin to kill your true love? And will also have you killed because you know he's the one behind the assassination?

The PIA sounds like a CIA that handles paranormal stuff, like the FBI branch on The X-Files. I assume they aren't just a gang of small-time thugs. Thus it seems odd to refer to one of their agents as a henchman. It's like referring to an MI-6 goon or a Secret Service gorilla.

11 comments:

150 said...

First the payphone book, now this? I smell a crossover!

M. G. E. said...

For someone so hard as to be a trained assassin, I find it difficult to buy that she's wrestling with her feelings over a target.

I would think such a person realizes they've traded in any chance for a normal life. And that a target is dead even if she doesn't kill him.

Now, the great way to deal with this problem is presented in Kill Bill: pregnancy.

So, does the king knock her up? Who employs her anyway?

I could buy her being a bit more sensitive if perhaps her style of assassination was very hands off. Like, if she was a poison expert, for instance, and never got her hands dirty.

The whole paranormal subplot was rather bizarre and seems tacked on, as it's never important again. You can probably leave it out.

batgirl said...

Why were there no payphones in the Guess the plots? I feel cheated (damn phones, keeping my change...)

Author, this seems to start out as an urban fantasy, with a modern setting, kickass heroine and shadowy (ha!) gov't agency in a slightly altered our-world. Then it slips over into some sort of epic / heroic fantasy, with a king called Alaric and an island kingdom. Which is it? And who killed the heroine's father?

BuffySquirrel said...

There's no throughline here. You need to show the agent/publisher that you can write a coherent plot, but your version here isn't doing that. Why does Lorna go to the island? is her journey connected with finding her father's killers, or with escaping the PIA, or what? Try to develop a query that shows us Lorna pursuing her goal and the obstacles she meets.

Becca C. said...

Hmmm, GTP #1 sounds a bit like the plot of my current WIP. Odd.

arhooley said...

Lorna McCloud is an assassin hell bent on avenging her father's murder only she has no leads.

Bad. Needs a comma.

...the Paranormal Intelligence Agency, a shady, clandestine organization.

Shady AND clandestine? Clandestine alone is fine.

You're going to get a lot of complaints about your nonexistent flow. To get an idea of how it strikes your readers, try this:

Dorothy is a farm girl hell bent on getting home. Soon she has more on her plate than shoes and traveling companions. First, she's captured by the Wicked Witch of the West, but manages to escape. Then she goes to the Emerald City, where the citizens agree with her. Torn between her new friendships and her homesickness, Dorothy has never been able to reach the other side of the rainbow.

Did that make sense? No?

Beth said...

Author, take note of Guess the Plot #2. There's the core of your story.

Sarah from Hawthorne said...

Yeah, what EE said. Focus on the relationship between Lorna and Aldric and all the juicy conflict and deception that must be going on, i.e.:

"Posing as an innocent tourist, Lorna lets herself get swept up in a royal romance, but dreads the day Aldric's suspicious security chief uncovers her true identity."
or
"Lorna becomes the king's silent protector, but struggles to find the courage to step out of the shadows."

More detail please, especially if the king is somehow involved with the father's death as you seem to imply in the last paragraph.

_*rachel*_ said...

Nightly killings? Wow, she's in demand. And why does everyone hate Alaric so much?

So, which of these plots takes most of the book? Elaborate on that, and kill everything else. *snicker*

AA said...

Sounds like you've got a lot going for you already. Urban fantasy is a cool genre. The word count seems about right for that, and the title is good. But the agent MUST know what the story is about. Now is not the time to be coy.

Besides the missing links, I see another problem. For an action-oriented MS, this query seems awfully passive. Examples: "only she has no leads," "whether to use a dagger or a gun to kill her next target," "she's captured by," "she has the ability to," and possibly the worst offender, "manages to escape."
Who's going to believe the actual novel is exciting?

Here is your query with nothing else changed but the passiveness. See how much better it is already:

Lorna McCloud is an assassin hell bent on avenging her father's murder. She doesn't know who killed him, but she's determined to find out. Soon she has more important issues to deal with than whether to kill her next target with a dagger, or use a gun.

First, the Paranormal Intelligence Agency, a shady, clandestine organization, captures her. A PIA henchman tells Lorna that she can create, and hide in, artificial shadows. He says she'd already used this power without realizing it. Lorna distrusts the agency, and escapes.

Lorna sails to a small island where many of her potential clients want the king dead. Lorna hasn't felt the stirrings of love in a long time, but something about the noble Alaric makes her long for the light after her lifetime spent in shadow.

Torn between murder and love, Lorna fights to escape her past and her ardent desire for revenge. This may be her only chance to live a normal, happy life.

See what I mean?

The other comments so far are very good. I suggest you pay attention to them.

Angela Robbins said...

i was really hoping for the recovery sa one. that sounded interesting.