Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Face-Lift 972

Guess the Plot

Elementals

1. AU loves Fe but Fe only has eyes for the nobles, like sexy little Argon. Meanwhile it's H to Oh! behind the bleachers.

2. When the elemental gods of Earth and Air get into an argument over the game of Rock, Paper, Scissors, Fire burns the paper and Water rusts the scissors. Rock wins.

3. Lori, Max and Nellie start a band whose name is composed of their initials (L, M, N-tals, get it?) but learn they can only get a record contract if they agree to let drug smugglers use their apartment for storage.

4. The last 2 letters of Anna Thompson's first name are the atomic symbol for sodium. The last two letters of her last name are the symbols for oxygen and nitrogen. No, it's not relevant to the plot, but who said there was a plot?

5. A team of superheroes, each of whom has control over an element from the periodic table, take on a quartet of villains, each of whom controls one of the classical elements. Will the Hydrogen Twins join forces with Oxygen Girl to destroy Fire Man?

6. Watson (working on crossword puzzle): Holmes, what's a 10-letter word for mythological beings first appearing in the alchemical works of Paracelsus? Holmes (playing Paganini's Duetto Amoroso on violin): Elementals, my dear Watson.


Original Version

Dear Agent:

18 year-old Anna Thompson has been cursed by a locket and is running out of time. [How much time does she have? What does she have to do before that time runs out? What happens if she fails to do it? We'll be much more concerned if we know she's going to die than if we think her hair will turn green.] When she meets a mysterious young man named Bristan, she thinks all of her problems will be solved, [What makes her think that? What's mysterious about him?] but she couldn’t have been more wrong. Others are after the locket [Who?] that cursed her and are willing to do anything to get it [Does Anna have it? If so, why is she keeping it? If not, what difference does it make if others get the locket?] and Bristan isn’t as innocent as he seems. [Who said he seemed innocent? All you said was he was mysterious.] [If someone used the locket to curse Anna, state that she was cursed by the evil witch Grimblech, not by the locket. If the locket itself is somehow able to curse people, why do people want it? They should be trying to stay clear of it.]

Complete at 95,000 words, ELEMENTALS is a young-adult fantasy novel.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Sincerely,


Notes

This is nothing. Start over. Write a plot summary that answers my questions with specific information. It should sound like this:

18 year-old Anna Thompson has been cursed. If she isn't married by the day she turns 19, her locket will explode, scattering her remains throughout the kingdom. Is there no one willing to marry Anna the sewage collector?

When she meets a young locksmith named Bristan, she thinks all of her problems are solved, but he informs her that she doesn't need a locksmith, she needs a locketsmith. The only locketsmith in the kingdom lives in the Bog of Death, so Anna sets out to find him.

But the Beagle Boys want the locket; they can use it to curse Uncle Scrooge and finally acquire his riches.
They trail Anna through the Bog of Death, hoping to grab the locket as soon as the locketsmith removes it from around her neck. Now, unless Anna discovers the sewage has given her power over the elements, allowing her to call forth a rainstorm of beryllium and tungsten, Scrooge McDuck is doomed to become a pauper.

14 comments:

Emily S said...

Bahaha. Nice.
Yes, please give details.
Let us know how this story is different from the others.

AlaskaRavenclaw said...

Watch out for tense shifts, too.

When she meets a mysterious young man named Bristan, she thinks all of her problems will be solved, but she couldn’t have been more wrong.

shd be

When she meets a mysterious young man named Bristan, she thinks all of her problems will be solved, but she couldn’t be more wrong.

for grammar.

For scansion it should be

When she meets a mysterious young man named Bristan she thinks all of her problems are solved. But she couldn’t be more wrong.

For protagonist-who-protags, it should be

When she meets a mysterious young man named Bristan, she shakes her head at his mysteriousness and returns to her regularly scheduled program of kicking ass and taking names.

Chicory said...

Nooo! Not a pauper McDuck! Talk about raising the stakes.

Seriously, EE is right that the outline doesn't give enough detail, AND that `mysterious' is not the same as `innocent'. In fact, as soon as the word mysterious was used to describe Bristan I instantly suspected him of being a vampire, which is about as un-innocent as you can get.

Anonymous said...

What they said. It is good to be able to blurt out a your plot in just a few words, but this description provides too little info to distinguish your project from the slush. At least we can tell it belongs to the fantasy genre.

If you send pages also, maybe the agent's minion will glance at those. Maybe not.

Anonymous said...

Well, I think EE's full of poo. There's too much detail in here--take some out. For example, Bristan would be even more mysterious if you didn't tell us his name. Just call him "Mr B", or better yet, "a mysterious stranger."
And instead of thanking the addressee, use that precious space to tell us how good your book is and why other YA novels are really stinky.

And by the way, I'm a famous agent and/or editor, so do what I say, or you'll never eat lunch in whatever town you're from again.

vkw said...

As written - the solution to the problem is simple - give the stupid locket to the people who want it (and who cursed it) and move on with your life already.

Somehow, I think there must be more to this story.

I hope, anyway.

vkw

Stephen Prosapio said...

A woman with a locket is going to die but she runs into a mysterious stranger who's not as innocent as he appears to be?

This is the story I've waited on my entire life!!!!
A++++++++++++++++++++++++++++ Ralphie!!!!!!!!

Sorry just watched A Christmas Story. Isn't that always the way it is? We have this AMAZING idea in our head and when we write it down it turns into a C+. Sigh.

Yes details. Specifics. Where have I heard that before?

Jo-Ann said...

When reading it I wondered whether the only way to destroy the locket was to throw it into the fires of mordor.

Not what you want people to think.

You've written 95000 words on the topic. Its great that you worked really hard to condense the plot to a few paragraphs in your query, but it really doesn't tempt anybody to want more. I'm sure your novel brims with backstory and subplots, and kudos that you resisted the temptation to include such detail in the query. But just a little more about Anna and her dilemma would be helpful.

chekurtab said...

I'm sure you can pull something coherent out of 95000 words MS to make a query. EE can make a query out of nothing. Cudos to her.

Author said...

Dear EvilEditor:

Time is something 18 year old Anna Thompson doesn’t have. She has been cursed by a locket and if she doesn’t remove it her soul will be devoured. When she meets Bristan, a young man knowledgeable in all things supernatural, she thinks her problems are solved.

She couldn’t have been more wrong.

Bristan is a Fire Elemental and royal citizen of a world called Everanthia. He tells Anna that she isn’t human but a Water Elemental. He believes the key to breaking her curse lies in his world and convinces her to travel there with him after she loses her parents in a fire. Once in Everanthia, Anna discovers she's not only a Water Elemental, but Everanthia’s future Queen, destined to be hunted by other Elementals in a centuries-old power struggle.

Even worse, she is being stalked by blood-hungry creatures who want the locket. They believe the soul of their malevolent Queen is trapped inside and that if the curse is broken, she will die.

Not sure if she can trust Bristan (or her growing feelings for him), Anna must find a way to rid herself of the locket and its curse while running from enemies intent on one thing: her death.

Complete at 95,000 words, ELEMENTALS is a young-adult fantasy novel.

Zachary Gole said...

Much better, IMO. It does raise a few new questions: is everyone in Everanthia an elemental? Does she have any special powers as an elemental? If her parents died in a fire, does she ever suspect that maybe Bristan, a Fire Elemental, might have had something to do with it? But I don't know that those questions necessarily have to be addressed in the query.

The end of the last plot sentence bothers me a little, though. "Anna must find a way to rid herself of the locket and its curse while running from enemies intent on one thing: her death." Aside from its sounding a little melodramatic... well, no. They're not intent only on her death. They're intent on saving (and perhaps releasing?) their Queen from the locket. Her death is only collateral damage. Just "enemies intent on her death" would get the point across more accurately and without the melodrama.

Also, FWIW, I'm not a fan of the fact that Elemental is always capitalized, especially if everyone in Everanthia is an elemental. (We don't generally capitalize Human, after all.) Yes, I know such capitalizational profligacy isn't uncommon in the fantasy genre, but that doesn't mean I have to like it.

Emily S said...

This is much, much better. I can see the potential, maybe some darkness to it.

The query still needs personality though.
Maybe if you try this it will help with the voice.

Also, even though having more information is good, the query now raises too many unanswered questions such as:
How did she end up tied to this cursed locket? How does he know she's a water elemental? and how do they know she's the queen? and is this power struggle because of another heir who wants to kill her so he'll inherit the throne? or is it a different kingdom they're warring with?

Because answering all of these in detail would make a long query - maybe it would help to answer some of the questions and leave some of the other question raising bits out.

Oh and the sentence that mentions her parents dying writes it like an afterthought. It doesn't really go with the rest of the sentence.

AA said...

This has more details, but it's not much clearer, unfortunately.

I'm still not sure why Anna can't remove the locket. I'm assuming that's part of the curse, but I'm guessing those that are chasing her wouldn't have to kill her if they could just get the locket away instead. Doesn't Anna's death break the curse? That couldn't work because if the curse is broken the soul of the Queen dies. This would require Anna to remain cursed after her own death. First, kill Anna WITHOUT breaking the curse (??), then get the locket?

There's still no explanation as to the origin of the curse. Apparently Anna is royalty in another world, but that doesn't automatically equal wearing a cursed locket with the soul of another person in it.

The Evil Queen being inside the locket is a good detail and I think definitely should be included.

AlaskaRavenclaw said...

This is better in that it has more details. But it's still got the grammatical error. If you're in present tense, stay in it: she couldn't *BE* more wrong.

And it's still got the cursing locket that threw people first time through. Find another way to say "cursed by a locket".

Things seem to be happening randomly. Why are lockets cursing your protag, why is she a water elemental, and why do evil creatures want her dead?

And why did her parents die in a fire?

It must all hang together somehow-- show us how.