Saturday, February 25, 2012


Guess the Plot

Elitist Morals

1. Adultery? So last year. Drugs? Are you kidding? Illegitimate kids? Been there, done that. Starvation diet to stay thin? Don't make me laugh. Vote Republican? What--are you some kind of immoral beast or something?

2. In a world where a pantheon of gods kidnap soon-to-be-followers from the streets, Markus Mark attempts to prove he is the holiest of the holy by obeying every law ordained by every god known to man, elf, sylph, or otherling.

3. Very impressive and intense events occur that illustrate the point of the story. The point is all about Elitist Morals and how bad they are. In the end, the reader will be disgusted with the Elitists and their bad Morals. The innocent victims may or may not be saved, but anyway you'll get the point. Elitists have bad Morals or no Morals.

4. All the little mushrooms in the forest like to clump together in haphazard harmony except for one clan--the Morchella, who have created their own enclave girt with pine branches . . . or has Big Agri-Business infiltrated even this sylvan paradise?

5. In the 41st century a World War breaks out between humans and Elytes. Elytes are vampires, but note that vampires is spelled with an "i" rather than a "y." On the other hand, Elytes is spelled with a "y" instead of an "i" so you probably all hate me anyway.

6. Cassie is the new girl at a school where the entire population of students and teachers is divided into two groups: those who are elitists and couldn't give a care about what's right and wrong; and those who have actual morals and know right from wrong. Which side will Cassie choose, knowing that once she does, she's stuck there for her entire elementary school life?

Original Version

Dear EE,

Elitist Morals

It's over two thousand years in the future and the world has been torn into another world war. [World War DCLXVI. When will it end? When will humanity ever learn? When will we stop the senseless numbering of wars in Roman numerals, forcing everyone to spend several minutes trying to translate the numbers into the international language, American?] [I'm not familiar with the expression to be torn into a war. Torn apart by a war or plunged/descended into a war are more common.] Except this one is between the two dominant species on the planet-- [Sharks and cockroaches?] vampires and humans. The humans are fighting for their lives against one species of vampires called Elytes. [They actually have nothing against the Elytes except for the pretentious way they spell "Elytes." They'd have surrendered long ago, but they're afraid if they do, the Elytes will force them to call themselves Humyns.] The Elytes are fighting because they only consider humans as animals. [Didn't you ever take zoology? Humans are animals. We only consider ourselves superior to other animals because we dine on them. That's why sharks consider us animals.] [When vampires enter a World War against humans, don't they risk destroying their food supply? If they wipe us out, whose blood will they drink, given that in 2000 years chimpanzees will be extinct?] [The Elytes must have a better reason to fight than that they consider humans as animals. We consider horses animals, but we don't fight them.] [Of course, we don't need to fight them now that we've enslaved them.]

Riley Zvei is a vampire, but not an Elyte. [She'll drain the occasional human of his blood, but it's not for political reasons, it's because she's thirsty.] She is what is known as a Moralle vampire. [When you start spelling moral with an extra le, you're more Elitist than the Elytes.] She along with her twin brother, Sean, work for the humans on the largest front of the war as spies. The humans pay them to spy on the Elytes who pay them to just fight in the war. Now, though, after meeting a mysterious, mute Moralle by the name of Simon, Riley begins to wonder if she's actually playing for the right team. [She's playing for both teams.] [If you're so loyal to your cause that meeting a mute is enough to make you switch sides, your heart was never in it.] [When mutes try to convert you to their cause, do they start by organizing a game of charades?]

After an argument with the human general, General-- [I would say "the human known as 'General.'"] [Did General always go by General, or did he used to go by Colonel?] he won't tell anyone his name-- over battle tactics, Riley decides to switch sides and convert to being an Elyte. [Her first act is to change her name to Rylë.] Her brother is appalled, General is dead, Simon still loves her, and Riley is an Elyte. What more can go wrong? [It's not clear that any of this is "wrong." Now that Riley's an Elyte, General being dead is a good thing. And what woman wouldn't want to be in a relationship where she gets to do all the talking?]


How does Rylë know Simon is a mute and not a mime?

Elytes were claimed to be a species of vampire. To convert to being an Elyte, wouldn't Riley have to change her species?

I assume you know a query letter needs word count, genre, some kind of closing.

Apparently Riley believes humans are the bad guys, and as she's the main character, we may think she's on to something. Thus we need to know what makes Riley switch sides. You don't join the other team just because you met a mysterious mute or because you disagree with your side's battle tactics. What's the real reason?

Switching sides isn't necessarily healthy when you've been a spy. When you go to the Elytes and say "I've been spying on you for the humans all this time, but now I wanna work with you. So . . . what's our plan?" you can't expect to be welcomed into the fold.

And what difference does it make which side Riley is on in a World War? If she's the key to victory you need to explain why.

Selected Comments

arhooley said...EE took a brief crack at your prose. Your repetitiveness smacks of amateurism. The following isn't what you said, but it's the impression I was left with:

It's over two thousand years in the future, and the world has yet again, in our long and war-torn history, been torn into yet another world war. Except this time, it's different. It's not the same type of world war that we typical humans in the 21st century have always known in the last couple hundred years, which would be a war between different countries with humans fighting each other as usual. No, this time it's a war between two different species: vampires and humans. In this war, the humans are fighting for their lives, and the vampires are the ones who are fighting against them, trying to take the lives of the humans. If the vampires win, the humans will no longer exist on the planet, thus ending the world war.

Riley Zvei is a vampire, except it turns out that there are actually two types of vampires, and she is the type that is NOT fighting the humans. The type that is fighting the humans are called Elytes, and she's not an Elyte -- she's another tyape of vampire, called a Moralle, which is not fighting the humans.

Okay, you get it.

Another thing: why is the title "Elitist Morals"? I see no indication that within the vampire species the Elytes are elitist and the Moralles are moral.

Dave F. said...To paraphrase your hook - 2000 years in the future and war still exists - doesn't work. You need a different hook.

One of the great boring things for me and I would guess others who do not care for the current crop of vampire literature or whatever other books I don't read because of my likes and dislikes is the suggestion that a story is wonderful, magnificent or readable if it contains TWO, TWO, Two types of mints. That is, two types of vampires in one story. My Eyes Glaze Over. I am not your audience. Worse than that, there is a paragraph explaining that there the two flavors of vampire representing good and evil (chocolate and vanilla?) (Pink and Blue?) (ying and yang?). Like, every story ever written presents some side of good and evil from Aesop's fables and Aristophanes' Lysistrata to Scott Turow's Presumed Innocent and that strange sickness in BLACKHOLE by Charles Burns. It's all good and evil.

I guess this is a lot of wind and foolishness to say after reading the query, I don't know why your story is unique and new.

In the year 4010, vampires rule the earth and humans are in short supply. So obviously, the short-sighted vampires want to eat all the humans and the far-sighted vampires want to keep them alive for future survival.

You see the problem there - Like one side wants "drill baby, drill" and the other side wants to "save the whales"... What do the vampires do when they run out of blood?

Those are different sides of the same question.

I surmise that Riley discovers something that causes her to doubt her beliefs and struggles with the old and new belief systems. Now there's a story that anyone might care about. Even a hardened cynic like me loves a good crisis of faith. The point of all my grandiose, bloviating and very windy exposition -- focus on Riley's mind changing experience and the fallout from her changing sides.

batgirl said...This is my dumb question: why are Elite and Moral spelled one way in the story and another way in the title? And if they breed, are the offspring Ethyks?

Phoenix said...Author, I'm going to go all OC on you regarding your choice of the term "species". Since I don't know how vampires are born into your world and they may not be once-humans that were turned, I won't ding you for calling humans and vamps separate species. But you say early in the query that there are two dominant species: humans and vampires. But then you further classify the vampire species into two other separate species.

Now, you can't divide a single species into multiple species. You can divide it into breeds, races or subspecies, but a thing divided is no longer the original thing.

You may have some genetic difference that separates them into their individual classifications, but when you name them so allegorically, it sounds as if there is a choice involved.

Sorry, I was so baffled by the multiple species thing I couldn't figure out what was happening at the end: why Riley changes sides, what the mute has to do with anything, and what the stakes in general are.

M. G. E. said...Puns. I hate them in titles. I doubt I'm alone in this. Let's say that you're book was a wonderfully written, well-done story, chances of it keeping the current title = virtually zero.

Next, you completely skipped over the central rationale for your MC's change of heart. I'd like to know what new information makes her reassess her entire life up to that point. That's key to the query; it's the central motivating incident on which the story hinges.

Focus on things that are important to the story and leave out that which isn't--the fact that a general is named 'General' and doesn't tell people his name is totally irrelevant, or at least is beyond the scope of a query. Leave it out.

The "It's..." sentence construction is weak. Stronger to begin with a real word:

"Two-thousand years from now the world is embroiled in war between..." etc.

Good luck on your re-write!

Joe G said...Two kinds of mints?! What sort of strange world is this you speak of?!

I think perhaps the author realizes nobody in their right mind would pick up a book called Elytist Morrelles. Surely whann that Apprille with his shoures soote, the droghte of Marche hath perced to the roote... and bathed every veyne in SWICHE licour...

The most interesting thing in the query to me was the General who is such a General he actually calls himself General. I was in such suspense about what his name might be, and then you killed him off in the last paragraph. Ah well.

Anonymous said...I tinkered/boiled it down to see if I could get clarity.

It's two thousand years in the future and a world war between vampires and humans has erupted.

Riley Zvei is a vampire She and her twin brother, Sean, work for the humans as spies and soldiers for the vampires on the bloodiest front. The humans pay them to spy, the vampires pay them to fight.

After meeting Simon, Riley and her brother have to choose one side and dump the other, making life more dangerous. The general of the humans ends up dead after an argument with Riley. Her brother is scared, Simon loves her, and Riley is running scared (determined whatever fits).

I tried to reduce it to just the facts ma'am. I hope this helps. Rethink, reorder, rewrite. It is very hard to condense a story into a query. Good luck, takes great heart to let it hang out. Look forward to your next version, Bibi

Stick and Move said...Queries are hard, author, and this one needs work. You've already missed the peak of the vampire craze, I'm afraid, but it'll come back around. Get this one ready for the next cycle.

Not Completely Anonymous :-) said...Good for you for posting on here and letting us (good-naturedly) take our cracks at it. As you obviously know writing is a lonely "sport" and any chance to laugh at ourselves (especially if "ourselves means someone else!) is welcome.

As for the "basic facts" -- I'm sure they may seem exciting and unique to you. No author intentionally writes a bad or boring book...yet the fact is that only 1 in 200 (or more) completed novels gets close to a publishing deal. only 1 in 100 gets an author agent representation.

But the painful truth is that the facts of your book...the way they're presented...they're BORING! Not only that they don't really make sense based on our knowledge of vampires/vampyres and humans/humyns. Just saying it's 2,000 years in the future doesn't make it make sense that world war between vampires and humans doesn't really make sense. We need some sort of set up that both makes sense and hooks us.

Read "Hooked" by Les Edgerton. It's an entire writing book that discusses how to hook a reader. My sense is, as someone else commented, you need some time away from this one to get a better sense of what the story is about and how to pitch it to make it sound interesting and unique.


Rashad Pharaon said...

You know, I'd really like to see someone write a vampire parody one day. Bubbles, the Vampire Monkey. Polly, the Moralle Parakeet. Anything to breathe life into this battered genre.

I've yet to read any recent vampire novels, I thirst for one beautifully written. Who knows, yours might be it?

Anonymous said...

Read Toys by James Patterson. Scary that this bad query is in many ways telling the story which was already written into a bad book.