Thursday, May 04, 2006

Face-Lift 12

Guess the Plot

The Dark Legacy

1. Mrs. Mcgregor thinks she can save money by buying generic washing powder. A bout of diarrhea amongst her children soon sets her straight.

2. Jason Dark dropped out of society to pursue a calling as an impoverished monk at the Brotherhood of Self-Help Books Monastery. But the Dark Legacy forces him to confront the world - with $40 million in cold cash.

3. Col. Sooner's wasteful fried chicken recipe goes bust in this tale of corporate greed and deep fat accidents.

4. Stacy Mollub's life takes a turn for the worse when she exchanges her rose-colored glasses for an oversized pair of haunted Jackie O's.

5. A young woman's birthday celebration is interrupted by the discovery that her father is a demon, and that every witch, sorcerer and demon in the netherworld is suddenly after her.

6. Mr. Wallace Darling bequeaths his entire fortune to those who really need it: The local school for the blind. Now the students' dogs are missing and there seem to be a lot of obstacles popping up in the hallways -- obstacles with sharp edges. Can Wallace Jr. clear his name?


Original Version

Dear (Agent’s Name Here)

I have completed a 100,000 word fantasy novel titled The Dark Legacy. I would like you to consider representing me in selling this and future books. [Let's start with this one, and see how it goes.]

In The Dark Legacy, ELI WAY’s biggest problem on her 21st birthday is deciding how to celebrate, until she finds out that her father is a demon. [After 21 years, she finally walks in on him while he's polishing his cloven hooves.] Overnight, Eli’s boring world is blown apart as she becomes one hot property [darker tone needed] for those who make their life in the netherworld. Every demon, witch and petty sorcerer wants to use her gifts [What gifts does she have, and why didn't she notice these gifts earlier? And why do demons want this half-demon? You'd think demons would be twice as powerful as half-demons.] to their own ends, with her consent or without.

During an attack by a coven, she finds another half demon like herself: ALARIC. [Not exactly like herself; this is a hunky male half demon.] He can control the dead but has been imprisoned for 400 years by a coven of witches. [Shouldn't he have made the dead free him? There are a lot more dead than there are witches. And the dead have a big advantage, in that they're dead. Evil Editor learned this watching Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King.] [Wait a minute, what do you mean she finds Alaric? The witches mount an attack on Eli, and they bring Alaric along, in his cell? Why didn't they just leave him behind? He's dead weight.] Eli frees him [For 400 years he couldn't free himself. Then she comes along and says, Moron, the door's not even locked!] and is strongly drawn to someone who understands her world. [Someone? Who?] When he takes her best friend, MANDY as a lover, Eli feels more isolated than ever.

Alaric decides to kill all the witches so they can never imprison him again. [He's powerful enough to kill all the witches, yet they are powerful enough to imprison him? Interesting. It must be a home turf kind of thing, sort of like Batman is much cooler than Aquaman, but put them at the bottom of the ocean, and Aquaman wins.] [Wait, I get it, he wants to kill them because once they're dead, he'll control them. Then he'll command both an army of zombies and an air force of broomstick-riding crones. And if he can kill Aquaman too, he'll have a navy of mackerel.] Having recently survived several attacks by witches, Eli is sympathetic but can’t condone the killings. [Why not?] When she rejects his plan, [He's been a man-beast for over 400 years, yet he needs the approval of Eli, who's been a she-beast for eight hours, to kill a few witches?] he turns Mandy over to the demons as revenge. [Eli commits the mild faux pas of not condoning his plan, so he seeks revenge on her by turning his own lover over to demons?] Mandy’s body and mind are nearly broken. [Wait a minute, didn't I see this same plot on Lost last week?] Magic is able to heal her physically, [Which character has magical healing powers?] but Mandy leaves, [Leaves where? And goes where? Where does this take place? On Earth? This isn't one of those books where someone wakes up at the end and it was all a dream, is it? Because those never sell.] blaming Eli. [Her lover turns her over to demons, and she blames Eli? I say good riddance.]

When Alaric decides Eli must be killed, [Now what did she do?] [For God's sake, she frees him from 400 years of imprisonment, and now he wants to kill her, and we get no explanation?] a pitched battle ensues. Eli finally comes into the full use of her telekinesis power during the battle, [Why is this relevant?] but it is Mandy [I knew this was going to happen; now Evil Editor can't get that damn song out of his head.] who kills Alaric and sends him to live in the realm of idiots with his demon father. [Evil Editor is beginning to think he's been sent to live in the realm of idiots.]

My writing experience includes fifteen years as a corporate communications writer and technical writer. My publication credits include newspaper and magazine feature articles. Enclosed is my SASE.

Thank you for considering this novel. I look forward to hearing from you.

Sincerely,


Revised Version

Dear (Agent’s Name Here)

I have completed a 100,000 word fantasy novel titled The Dark Legacy, for which I am seeking representation.

ELI WAY’s biggest problem on her 21st birthday is deciding how to celebrate--until she discovers that her father is a demon, and that she herself has preternatural powers. Overnight, Eli’s boring world is transformed, as every demon, witch and petty sorcerer in the netherworld seeks to use her gifts to their own ends.

During an attack by a coven, Eli comes upon another half-demon, ALARIC, who has been imprisoned for 400 years by the witches. Eli frees Alaric, and finds herself strongly drawn to this man who understands her new world. But when Alaric takes Eli's best friend, MANDY as a lover, Eli feels isolated and betrayed.

Alaric decides to kill the witches so they can never imprison him again. Having recently survived several attacks by witches, Eli is sympathetic, but can’t condone the killings. When she rejects his plan, he reacts angrily, turning Mandy over to the demons. Mandy’s body and spirit are nearly broken.

Hungry for power, Alaric sets out to kill Eli, and a pitched battle ensues. Eli finally comes into the full use of her telekinesis power during the battle, but before she can use it against Alaric, Mandy kills him and sends him to live in the realm of idiots with his demon father.

Thank you for considering this novel. I've enclosed an SASE for your reply.

Sincerely,


Notes

Evil Editor has attempted to make the letter sound more polished, but he doesn't recommend submitting the letter in this condition. He suspects that the book needs its own complete makeover before a query can be produced that does not leave an editor saying, "Huh?" after every other sentence.

Oh Mandy. You came and you gave without...

11 comments:

Anonymous said...

I think you're doing a brilliant job polishing up these query letters.
You make them sound like the book behind them may actually have something worth reading.
This is what I've learned from this exercise:
If you can't write a decent query letter, you probably can't write a decent book.
Aren't you afraid that the query letters you 'fix' are going to mean deception and disappointment for the agents and editors who read them and request manuscripts?

Anonymous said...

Eli? As in Eli Wallach? For a girl - well half-girl? By Jove, Jeeves, rum work done at the font.

And now I've got that sodding song in my head too.

Tawny Taylor said...

Cool! Blog karaoke :)

...taking, but I sent you away.
Oh, Mandy well, you kissed me and stopped me from shaking...

And I do agree with earlier comments. This example does read like a synopsis. It's rather long--even the revised version. That font's going to have to be pretty small to fit it all on one page, assuming you're putting editor/agents name, address, date, etc. at the top.

Eleora said...

It is so helpful to read your thoughts on these queries. You have really made me think about what details belong, and don't belong.

Are we actually supposed to gloss over the whole story in the query? My instincts tell me that almost any story conclusion is going to sound cheesy in a query since it is the characterization that makes it real. Can I leave off just shy of the "end" to make you wonder, and rely on the synopsis for the whole plot?

Anonymous said...

Aw, my crummy query letter is never going to get reviewed. What a jip.

Anonymous said...

So... does that mean you don't want a partial? Damn, I was hoping to quit my day job next month. Seriously, thanks for the help. Edix

Anonymous said...

This may be getting off topic, but I just wanted to mention that I can control the dead too.

Mad Scientist Matt said...

Well, that is a good way to cheer me up if my query letter doesn't make it. That may be a sign that it doesn't need quite as many corrections, or at least isn't good material for humorous comments...

Gabriele C. said...

Now, what has the poor Visigoth king Alaric (370-410 AD) done to be ressurrected as demon, vampire or some other paranormal creature? This is the third book with a MC named Alaric I've come across the last months.

I'll so get into trouble for writing about the real one. Someone will shelve Towards the Kingdom of Tolosa as Paranormal Romance, should it ever get published. *grin*

Tiff said...

Alaric? Dammit, and I'd managed to forget all about Night travels of the Elven Vampire! Roll on the giant furry eyeballs...

Anonymous said...

Forget Lost and Lord of the Rings, is anyone else thinking 'Charmed' rip off?