Friday, August 20, 2010

Face-Lift 810


Guess the Plot

Wayward

1. A meta-literary romp in which the author meanders plotlessly--until the characters revolt and plot against him! Unfortunately, their plot involves him bagging his writing career and getting a nine to five job!!

2. When Deanna gets lost on a hike in the Pyrenees, she stumbles into a pristine painted cave, a cave occupied by . . . cannibal cavemen!! Can she convince them she's their goddess before they decide she's . . . their dessert?!

3. Jolana has spent her life in prayer, fasting, and meditation on the holy book The Way of Rom. Which is why she's taken aback when Rom shows up at her convent . . . as a beer swilling eighty-year-old woman with a taste for younger men and terrible puns!!

4. After Helena Wayward suddenly develops magical powers, she runs away to work on her motorcycle. Her family plead with her to return and kill . . . an immortal sorcerer! But Helena knows that once the sorcerer's out of the way, her family will be able to . . . enslave the human race!!

5. "Got no class and take no sass" is the motto of Dakota McGill, a 23-year-old former runaway. But will she change her tune when handsome sheriff Joe Karodzik needs her help in solving . . . a rash of alien abductions?! A little voice keeps telling her No . . . in Martian!!

6. Minerva has always been wayward: cigarettes at thirteen, booze at fourteen, and motherhood at fifteen! That, however, proves to be only apprentice waywardness, for when she turns sixteen, she experiences . . . the waywardness of the undead!!



Original Version

Dear Evil Editor,

The Wayward family is the Cosa Nostra of all things that go bump in the night: magical malfeasance, soul stealing, show business -- you name it. Born without magic, seventeen-year-old Helena "Hex" Wayward is an embarrassment to her power-hungry relatives. When her dormant magic erupts in an uncontrollable display that kills a member of a rival family she has to make a choice: embrace the powers that threaten to destroy her soul or run away to escape the inevitable vengeance. [The show biz joke isn't working because "things that go bump in the night" isn't strong enough. If you want it to work, you could change it to . . . all things inherently evil: black magic, soul stealing, show business . . . But I don't think you want to open with a joke when the story is about a serious threat to all of humanity. Thus I would go with something like this:

The Wayward family are the Corleones of the black arts. And seventeen-year-old Helena "Hex" Wayward, born without magic, has long been an embarrassment to her power-hungry relatives. When Hex's dormant magic suddenly erupts--in an uncontrollable display that kills a member of a rival family--she must choose: embrace powers that could destroy her soul; or flee inevitable vengeance.]

Life hidden amongst the humans isn't so bad. The boys are cute, there's plenty of time to work on her beloved motorcycle [, the boys are really cute,] and no one's tried to kill her for at least a month. [Did I mention that the boys are cute?] When the past finally catches up with her, instead of the expected attack, an emissary comes bearing an offer. The families need her power to settle a centuries-old feud that will finally cement their control over the entire world. In exchange for her help, Hex will be left in peace.

Returning to her old life is easier than it should be. [Possibly because she doesn't have a steady boyfriend yet, possibly because she accidentally kills every boy she goes out with.] But when she comes face-to-face with the enemy, an immortal sorceror [sorcerer] who is equal parts seductive and deadly, fulfilling her part of the bargain becomes less than simple. [Killing the immortal always looks simpler than it is.] He calls to the terrible darkness inside of her but destroying him will remove the only barrier between the magical families and enslaving the human race. Sparing him means having what's left of her own humanity consumed. [Not clear. I would think sparing him means she can go back to the cute boys and her motorcycle, with no fear that all humanity will become slaves, while destroying him, thus causing the enslavement of humanity, would consume her remaining humanity.]

WAYWARD is a YA paranormal novel, complete at 75,000 words.

Thank you for your consideration.


Notes

It's well-written, but perhaps it needs an indication that Hex has grown attached to the human world, instead of the claim that returning to her own world is easy.

I don't see why these two (or more) highly experienced magical families are helpless against the sorcerer, but this one girl who's shown no ability to control her magic is much more powerful than the sorcerer. What's so special about her?

You claim the families need Hex's power to settle a centuries-old feud, but from what I can see she is there to destroy the sorcerer, not to settle a feud. What does the sorcerer have to do with the feud? What are they feuding about?

Does "wayward" describe Helena, or is that the title just because her last name is Wayward? It's kind of a ridiculous last name, one that sounds like it was chosen just to match what you wanted the title to be. The main character of Dostoyevsky's The Idiot isn't Prince Lev Nikolayevich Idiot. That would sound even sillier than Helena Wayward. John Jakes wrote a novel called The Bastard, but his main character was named Philip Kent, not Philip Bastard. Think about it.

4 comments:

arhooley said...

The families need her power to settle a centuries-old feud that will finally cement their control over the entire world.

Confusion. How will a feud cement the Black Magic families' control over the entire world? They're feuding already, aren't they? Isn't that why Helena has fled? Or will settling the feud cement their control over the entire world?

In exchange for her help, Hex will be left in peace.

More confusion. If Hex succeeds and the families gain control over the entire world, why would Hex's peace be threatened any more?

He [the immortal sorcerer] calls to the terrible darkness inside of her...

Which complicates her all-important mission of destroying him...

...but destroying him will remove the only barrier between the magical families and enslaving the human race.

Confusion upon confusion. Now destroying him is a bad thing? Anyway, I thought the families' intent was to control the entire world? How is that different from enslaving the human race?

Sparing him means having what's left of her own humanity consumed.

Because he calls to her dark side, I guess. But it also means that the entire human race won't be enslaved, and the families will not control the entire world, right? Wrong? What?

Also, why was Helena nicknamed "Hex" if she was thought to have no magical powers? "Wimp" or "red-headed stepchild" would be more like it.

AA said...

I think her name should be Helena Handbasket.
Well, SOMEBODY had to say it.

batgirl said...

I wonder if what's missing is a sense of Hex's interior journey (if that doesn't sound horribly pompous). If I get it right, she's brought up as part of a magical-mob family, but disaffected because of not having magic. When she runs away to the non-magical world she finds a haven and begins (does she?) to re-evaluate the mores she was raised with. So her battle with the sorceror is also a battle with her own conflicting destinies and desires - to win acceptance from her family by defeating him, or to throw in her lot with the human world and um, not defeat him? This is where I get a bit lost. Would not defeating him destroy her?
Maybe clarify the stakes and the possible outcomes of this climactic battle?

_*rachel*_ said...

I think this is well-written enough that if you address each of EE's comments and questions, this'll do well.

To me, Helena sounds like Helena Bertinelli, aka the Huntress. It's the name, the talk about crime families, and the potential to be very, very dangerous.