12.27.2005

#30 Crapometer

Urban Dark fantasy

When demon hunter Elise McCollum successfully exorcises a demon from a young girl named Clarice without hurting her, she's pleased to have done her job well and assured the safety of the girl. But her godfather and ally in the fight against evil, Daniel Jackson, tells Elise that they may not yet be done with the demon who possessed Clarice, as he is unable to determine what demon it was that attacked her in the first place.

No demon ID huh? No *69 on the demon dialler?

Later that day, when Elise goes to a victim of one of Clarice's attacks to try to follow up on her health, she's more than just slightly startled to learn that Clarice's possession was indeed not ordinary. Clarice, before her possession, had been dead. She's shocked to find that this isn't the only person who has been seemingly resurrected when an old college professor of hers rises and attacks her at his own funeral. Elise finds herself nearly unable to exorcise him, nervous because of how very unusual the demon she's facing is and worried she won't be able to do it. Daniel gives her the confidence needed and she successfully performs the exorcism. Unsure of how to handle these unusual exorcisms, Elise goes to talk to another expert for help, Father Mikhail Night. All that Father Night can tell her is that it's impossible for demons to possess corpses, much less resurrect them.

The next day, Elise goes to the hospital at which (where) Clarice is recuperating. It shortly becomes clear that not only is Clarice very much alive, but Elise didn't manage to fully exorcise the demon from her: Clarice, and possibly the professor as well, are still under the control of the demon. She receives a call from Father Night saying that there is a demon attack at a local book store, and Elise quickly rushes over to save both the priest and the bookstore's owner, Rebecca Ferguson. She kills the demon, only to find that it was after an unusual pendant that Rebecca has been holding onto for quite some time. Elise confers again with Daniel about the pendant's origins, but even with a little more information, they can't figure out what's going on. They return to the cemetery where Clarice and the professor had been buried, only to fall into a trap set by a witch who may be working for the demon in question. Elise and Daniel get separated, and they both get beaten badly, Daniel nearly fatally.

Elise returns Daniel to his home for recovery and goes to his office to try to track down the demon. (in the online demon registry? why would she go to an office to track down a demon?) One of his students, Ann, comes to his office as well, but she isn't there to get help. She reveals (why? this is like Dr. No explaining his plan to rule the world before he kills James Bond...it's a device used when the plot doesn't unfold naturally) that she is the witch who attacked Elise and Daniel and is working as the second-in-command for a greater demon who can resurrect the dead, and tries to restrain Elise. When Ann also reveals that she's going to kidnap Daniel as well and use him as a sacrifice to give the demon a corporeal form, Elise escapes and calls for backup, bringing Father Night and Rebecca together to get him back. While talking about their options, two of Elise's college classmates unfortunately overhear and learn of the demon underworld. For all the confusion it causes, it turns out to be fortunate, as well, because Elise's classmate Betty turns out to be a witch herself. They turn the artifact that Rebecca had at her bookstore into its true form - a version of the Book of the Dead that harbors the evil demon Ann worships.
Yea , thank dog for those undercover witches.

They take the Book to Ann's place of worship, planning to trade it for Daniel's safety, but Ann has other plans. She takes the Book from them, and while everyone watches, kills Daniel. Elise breaks into a numb fury, (breaks into numb fury?--there's a contradiction in terms) attacking Ann and almost killing her without a thought for the consequences. (cause of course, normally, she's very concerned about consequences). Before she can finish the job Daniel returns, resurrected with the greater demon possessing him. Elise fights him, but finds herself completely unable to exorcise him without his help. She's finally forced to draw off the combined power of Father Night, and exorcises not only Daniel but all of the other corpses who were resurrected -killing them all in the process, including Clarice and Ann.

When Elise realizes what she has done, she takes the now-benign Book of the Dead and ignores all warnings to the contrary, resurrecting Daniel. There are no apparent side-effects, and everyone is all right, but Elise is emotionally broken and may never be the same.

somehow, I bet she recovers for the sequel, cause yanno, the thing about demons and the Undead..they always come back in book two.

You've trapped yourself in a rendition of events and missed giving us a sense of character or voice. Possessions, witches, wizards, exorcisms and bookstore pendants are a dime a dozen. You MUST show what's new, fresh and original about your story.

A synopsis is the only thing you have that will do that other than the first five pages of your novel. Don't squander the opportunity.

6 comments:

bordermoon said...

And I almost hate to bring this up, but one of the major characters on the series "Stargate SG1" is named Daniel Jackson, and that connection is the first thing many people will think of when they see the name. (Daniel's also been dead a number of times -- on the series, that is.) Combined with a character named "Clarice" and one named "Elise", it's a bit too much referencing of other works (book, movie, whatever).

I know a lot of people WON'T think of SG1 when they see the name "Daniel Jackson", but why take the chance that the first reader of your synopsis is a major SG1 fan? (The more inconvenient any eventuality would be, the more likely it is to occur, no matter how statistically unlikely....)

Mad Scientist Matt said...

This is really weird... I was about to post a response myself about this synopsis using an all-too-familiar name. However, it was an entirely different character that I was going to mention! When I saw the name "Mikhail Night," I immediately thought of a well-known crime fighter and stunt driver played by David Hasselhoff.

Demented M said...

The thing I noticed were sentences like this:

"Elise breaks into a numb fury attacking Ann and almost killing her without a thought for the consequences."

People break out in hives and break into homes not anger. Also it could be shortened to "Furious, Elise attacks Ann and almost kills her." The extra words in the original version, imo, just slow things down without adding anything.

Another example...
"They take the Book to Ann's place of worship, planning to trade it for Daniel's safety, but Ann has other plans."

I wonder if 'They offer to trade the book for Daniel, but Ann has other plans' would work better. Because place is not important to communicating the story at this point, at least not the way the synopsis is structured now.

I know some of this is subjective and I may have even done this in my synopsis, plus no one asked me what I thought, but there just seemed to be a lot of extra words to my eyes. That and a mirroring of similar words in places, like planning and plans in the example above. These are the kind of things I like to edit for when I do synopses.

And the ending didn't work for me. I'm not clear on why she's emotionally broken? Because she deanimated the corpses? Hurt Ann? Almost killed is not the same as killed. To me, the ending sounds like a positive thing for Elise, she gets Daniel back and defeats her enemy so why the need for Prozac?

BUT I do like the premise (I like the genre) and I would probably pick it up for a read. Good luck to whosever book this is.

M

Bonnie Calhoun said...

(Smile) I'm with bordermoon and mad scientist matt. I'm an SG1 and KnightRider fan. thought of both of them! that Rebecca Ferguson sounds familiar also, but I can't put my finger on it!

Alina said...

To me Daniel Jackson is also an SG1 character, if I was reading the book, I'd never be able to shake the off. The name Mikhail Night would just cause annoyance as a mix of a (probably unwitting) reference to Forever Knight and a cliche (pretend there's an accent egu there); oh, it's also nonsensical. Children of immigrants eventually acquire names of the country where they live, while keeping foreign last name, not the other way around. And just in general, this sounds like a rewrite of Hamilton's Anita Blake books.

ali said...

Wasn't there a Book of the Dead in Garth Nix's Abhorsen trilogy?

When I read that, I kept thinking of other books and TV shows.