Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Query 37: Redux

Monarch Effect

Varoosia lies hidden from human eyes. Its inhabitants, Monarchs, are born into castes which manifest only after a metamorphosis takes place. For days young Monarchs remain inside cocoons, changing – body and mind. They emerge beautiful, minds hardwired with new instincts, free wills replaced by urges that cannot be denied. This is the Monarch way. No choices, just raw impulses.

But what happens when a human upbringing taints a Monarch’s nature?

MONARCH EFFECT is the story about two teens who believe themselves human: Samantha Gibson, an unloved, adopted girl and Greg Danaus, the son of fugitive Monarchs.

When Greg metamorphoses into a member of the ‘Guardian’ caste, his instincts urge him to find Samantha. His job is to keep her safe from thoughts of suicide and from Varoosia’s Queen, a vicious woman who knows the girl is a threat to her crown.

Finding a much-needed friend in Greg, Samantha takes shelter from loneliness and danger under his protective aura. Sparks erupt between them, but, in spite of the undeniable chemistry, the mutual attraction is wrong, only possible because Earth has short-circuited their nature, allowing them to share emotions that were never meant to be.

Their love becomes impossible when Samantha morphs. As the Monarch impulses takes over, hijacking her mind with a compulsion for Varoosia’s heir, the Queen’s only son, Samantha rages war against her new identity. She wants no riches or crown, only to know the purpose of her mysterious caste and the freedom to love who her heart has chosen.

Comments

This revision gives us a better idea of what this world is like and what your characters are facing, so good job there. However, if this is more than just a love story between two people from different sides of the track, that's not really coming through just yet.

Varoosia lies hidden from human eyes. Its inhabitants, Monarchs, are born into castes which manifest only after a metamorphosis takes place. For days young Monarchs remain inside cocoons, changing – body and mind. They emerge beautiful, minds hardwired with new instincts, free wills replaced by urges that cannot be denied. This is the Monarch way. No choices, just raw impulses.

This would have a more immediate feeling to it if we saw this change in Greg rather than being told about it up front.

But what happens when a human upbringing taints a Monarch’s nature?

I'm not clear how a human upbringing would taint them. Are young Monarchs prepared for their new lives before they are cocooned so Sam and Greg aren't prepared for their new lives? What difference would how they are brought up have to their nature if they are changed so thoroughly? Or is this the classic nature over nurture debate?

MONARCH EFFECT is the story about two teens who believe themselves human: Samantha Gibson, an unloved, adopted girl and Greg Danaus, the son of fugitive Monarchs.

"fugitive Monarchs" raises questions that are likely explained in the book but stick out here as plot holes. Are the fugitives living in the human world as humans? More importantly, if there is no free will, how are they fugitives? This basically tells the reader that the caste system can be broken and has been, so it may not be such a big deal for Sam later on. I'm also wondering why they haven't told Greg his version of puberty will be a little different from most human boys.

When Greg metamorphoses into a member of the ‘Guardian’ caste, his instincts urge him to find Samantha. His job is to keep her safe from thoughts of suicide and from Varoosia’s Queen, a vicious woman who knows the girl is a threat to her crown.

You show here what a couple of the obstacles are, which is good, except I don't really understand why Sam might have thoughts of suicide. And is it really the thoughts Greg is keeping her safe from, or from carrying out the suicide itself? Then I expect to learn how Sam is a threat to the Queen. But it seems that Sam is just supposed to marry the Queen's son. So all I'm getting from what's in the query is that Sam is the equivalent of, say, Princess Di, and I don't get how Di was a threat to Elizabeth.

Finding a much-needed friend in Greg, Samantha takes shelter from loneliness and danger under his protective aura. Sparks erupt between them, but, in spite of the undeniable chemistry, the mutual attraction is wrong, only possible because Earth has short-circuited their nature, allowing them to share emotions that were never meant to be.

Do the castes know, then, before they morph what their nature will be? It sounds like they have free will when they are children and that they could fall in love. Since Sam hasn't morphed yet, I'm not sure how "Earth" is the cause. And is Varoosia not really on Earth? I think the parallel world concept needs to be established up front as "hidden from human eyes" simply makes me think this is like the faery realm. In that case, though, I also would like a clue as to how these two seem to be able to cross back and forth between the worlds so easily.

Their love becomes impossible when Samantha morphs. As the Monarch impulses takes over, hijacking her mind with a compulsion for Varoosia’s heir, the Queen’s only son, Samantha wrages war against her new identity. She wants no riches or crown, only to know the purpose of her mysterious caste and the freedom to love who her heart has chosen.

I'm not sure what the "purpose of her mysterious caste" means. Assuming that the compulsion she has is to love/mate with him, then what's so mysterious about being of a royal caste or its purpose? I do like the "freedom to love" part very much. But ending on that note makes it seem like the plot's climax is whether she can break the nature instilled in her so she can love. And that's not really a big enough story to carry a fantasy.

Also, your world is your world, of course, but since you've set up so many parallels to an insect society, I was brought up short by there being a male heir. Males are generally pretty much expendables in insect colonies.

Here's maybe another way to think about structuring your query:

Greg Danaus has no clue he isn't human. Somehow his parents forgot to mention his version of puberty would involve spending days locked inside a cocoon, his body and mind being stripped down and rebuilt. When he emerges, he's no longer the shy senior trying to decide which college to attend. He's a confidant Guardian, hardwired with new instincts for surviving and a compulsion that he can't deny: to find a girl half a continent away.

Greg finds Sam. They fall in love. Then Sam morphs.

Now Sam inexplicably has the hots for someone she's never met and that's a problem because that someone's mom is the Queen of Varoosia, an unseen parallel world, who sees Sam as a threat (explain). Sam doesn't care about the Monarchs or Varoosia or crowns or riches; all she wants is the freedon to love who her heart has chosen. But Queenie can't let that happen, and (something awful will happen) to Greg and Sam if they can't (do what they need to do to figure out how to be together forever).

3 comments:

Matt said...

So...what do they turn into exactly? I pictured them as giant butterflies and that can't be right. Right?

Anonymous said...

Hi Phoenix! Thanks for the "Redux" I was wondering if the beginning was too impersonal, and I think it would be a great idea to tell it from Greg's perspective. I will surely do that. The love story side of the novel is pretty strong, taking about 50% of things I would say. I'd hope there is a market for that out there?? I like your suggestions, and I will surely make some changes to address the issue you pointed out.
I wonder how may attempts does it take to get it right? :)

Anonymous said...

No, no butterflies. Mostly, they turn into very beautiful individuals with enhanced minds and different powers/skills. Shallow and deep, all in one ;)