Sunday, June 18, 2006

Face-Lift 73


Guess the Plot

A Book of Hours

1. An alcoholic priest returning a medieval book to the library finds a date due notice from a secret society: the Office of the Dead.

2. When realtor Mandy Jenkins loses her day-planner, leaving a client stranded, she vows to make it up to him. Little does she know he's a vampire.

3. Bare-knuckle boxer Zezu DuBarry uses emergency room wait-time to chronicle his life in tiny pictures in magazine margins, colouring with his blood and other bodily fluids.

4. Secret Service Agent Jack Hadley has only 32 hours to stop a terror organization and bring the traitorous vice president to justice. The story is told in 32 chapters, each of which takes exactly one hour to read.

5. A young knight and an escaped slave fight each other, as well as spirits that would enslave, corrupt and destroy the minds of mankind. Also, a vampire.

6. The funny, sensitive diary of a public-school student who documents his life one painful class at a time.


Original Version

Dear ,

When belief determines the presence and details of magic and spirits, warfare centers on the control of truth. [Evil Editor was wondering when he would receive his first query for a philosophy textbook. Maybe that course in Kierkegaard will finally pay off.] A Book of Hours is set against a backdrop of introspective questing and brutal combat. Dartayne, a young knight of a growing empire, and R'narl, an escaped slave rediscovering an ancient tradition of sorcery, fight each other as well as spirits that would enslave, corrupt and destroy the minds of mankind.

Dartyane [Uh oh, two different spellings of the main character's name already. Hope it isn't Dentyne next time.] is a favored son of a frontier lord, trained to fight and lead. He is both shackled and empowered by the controlling religion that he represents. [Quakerism.] His quest begins with going out into the world to assassinate those who resist gentler conversion, [The Quakers mellowed in later years.] whether those targets be demons or disagreeing men. His opposite, R地arl, [Come again? R地arl? It was bad enough when people were adding y's and apostrophes to names; now we're adding rectangles?] is a third generation son of a conquered people who have nearly had their truth extinguished [Explain.] by the growing empire of Dartayne痴 people. R地arl [Well, we already had a character named human #FGY-K7195, so this was inevitable; I suppose eventually we'll have one named 痴0~痴^/>0.] [On planets where names like Phrxtry'mlon and Husfregh'kaunh are common, I wonder if editors go nuts when writers name a character "Bob."] is rescued from a sentence of death for heresy by the first of many spiritual allies that once empowered his ancestors to act as diplomats between the scattered beliefs and peoples of the world.

Dartayne and R地arl struggle for personal meaning and the advancement of their respective systems of belief, even as they discover that there are darker forces preparing war on both their people. As they contend with agents of various nations, and the vampire [The what? How did a vampire get into this? Putting a vampire in a story about a knight is like putting zombies in Brokeback Mountain.] that Dartayne is sent to kill on his first, failed mission, they slowly come to understand that the greatest threat is an ancient spirit that moves to destroy belief itself.

A Book of Hours is a dark fantasy novel of 143,000 words. I have been writing supernatural horror storylines for ten years for world of darkness live action game groups in Sacramento and San Jose, and Adventurers Unlimited, a dark fantasy live action game. I hold a black belt in kenjitsu, a Japanese sword art, and study European martial arts in the local SCA tournament circuit. [I have a theory that if you put together a whole bunch of less relevant credits, they would add up to something impressive. Let's try it with a list of credentials I've culled together from various queries we've critiqued here:

I presented research papers at the American Society for Public Administrators 65th National Conference, I am a big fan of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and for ten years, I've made my living entertaining: performing magic, palm reading, and balloon sculpting. Also, I have been both student and tutor of metaphysics for more than twenty-five years, and as a union activist, I wrote contract grievances in elevated diction laced with Shakespearean quotations. In addition, I’m married to a resident in Neurology at Mt. Sinai, and I hold a black belt in kenjitsu, a Japanese sword art. I will soon begin writing my next novel.
Imagine how easy it would be to sell a book if one person could claim all of that!]

According to your submission guidelines, I have enclosed with this letter the first three chapters and a self-addressed stamped envelope. If the premise of A Book of Hours appeals to you, I would be happy to send you the completed manuscript. This is a multiple submission. Thank you for taking the time to read this material.

Best Regards,


Revised Version

Dear ,

In my novel, A Book of Hours, Dartayne, a young knight of a growing empire, and R'narl, an escaped slave rediscovering an ancient tradition of sorcery, fight together against spirits that would enslave, corrupt and destroy the minds of mankind.

Dartyane is a favored son of a frontier lord, trained to fight and lead. He is both shackled and empowered by the controlling religion that he represents. His opposite, R'narl, is a third generation son of a race long ago conquered by Dartayne's people. The two uneasy allies struggle for personal meaning and the advancement of their respective systems of belief, even as they discover that there are darker forces preparing war on both their peoples. As they contend with agents of various nations, they slowly come to understand that the greatest threat is an ancient spirit that moves to destroy belief itself.

A Book of Hours is a dark fantasy novel of 143,000 words. In accordance with your submission guidelines, I have enclosed with this letter the first three chapters and a self-addressed stamped envelope. If the premise of A Book of Hours appeals to you, I would be happy to send you the completed manuscript. Thank you for taking the time to read this material.

Best Regards,


Notes

I did not get much of a sense of what happens in the book, so it's likely the revised version has plot inaccuracies. And there's room to add something important to replace the unimportant stuff that's been removed. But at least it now has some focus, and no longer contains phrases like "introspective questing," "extinguished truth," and "scattered beliefs." And the vampire.

16 comments:

McKoala said...

# 4 - like it!

Fish Monkey said...

Suggested storyline #3? Awesome. I'd write that.

evil minion 666 said...

Dartayne - shades of D'Artagnan - better than Dartyane - shades of inane.

Rarl - shades of snarl - better than Bb - shades of sqare.

BK F HURS - shades of houris...excellent title for book about Islamic suicide bomber on a tight schedule: 72 houris...

late night free association strikes again.

Novelust said...

I would've killed to see Brokeback Mountain with zombies. After sobbing my eyes out at that movie, I really could've used a sudden curveball--Jack turns back up alive and tells Ennis that zombies are taking over the state. Then it's all shotguns and exploding heads and a big, manly screen kiss at the end, and no one is dead (except zombies) and I don't have to leave the theatre looking like Aqualung.

*Waits patiently for 'Wyoming Stories 2: Judgement Day'*

Anonymous said...

Glad to see you revising the queries again. While the comments on the original versions have me laughing hysterically, it's the comparing of the originals with the revised ones that are informative.

M.C.

pjd said...

R地arl: Yet another name that works better when spelled backwards.

And EE, zombies would have made Brokeback Mountain SO much more interesting. And I think the rancher was a vampire.

verification word: dumxes
dictionary.com suggestion: dexes
(Both of which perhaps work better backwards, though I think "Dumxes" would be a good name for a sorcerer's apprentice who battles an evil vampire king).

Anonymous said...

Every time I read one of the query's with those stoooopid names I am reminded why I have only read 3 fantasy novels. Why do writers feel the need to come up with rediculous names for their characters? I think a warrior, dragon slayer, whatever named Kevin would be just fine. Kevin the Wizard Killer. Justin the Just. Calvin the Dragon Cowboy. Anything but Agrnthnzkk the Avenger. -JTC

Anonymous said...

Kevin the Wizard Killer! Awesome! Good comment but I'll bet the writer would get even more flak by doing that because in the fantasy world, wizard killers can't be named kevin.

ello said...

Dentyne?!! That's awesome! But what really made me pee my pants was the list of irrelevant credits!!!! I am at a loss in deciding which irrelevant fact is funnier in a query letter, writing contract grievances in elevated diction laced with Shakespearean quotations or stating that the writer is married to a resident in Neurology at Mt. Sinai. Both crack me up in totally different ways.

Although, I knew of a supermarket cashier who was writing the great American novel about bison, vegetarians and Cirque du Soleil contortionists and loved to quote Poe while ringing up customers. Now that would be a query worth looking out for... Nevermore...

Rei said...

Hilarious ;)

R地arl

FYI, the character that shows up for me is 地 -- in Japanese, "Ground", the first character in "chikyuu" (Earth)

I would've killed to see Brokeback Mountain with zombies.

Me too. It'd be an instant bestseller.

kis said...

"72 Houris!" I laughed so frigging hard, I think one of my lungs just collapsed. :D

Luna said...

See evidence of my ever-growing devotion to Evil Editor abovem, in the change of Blogger name...

I just want to state, along with everyone else, that I would read this book if it wasn't for the damned annoying character names.

Mad Scientist Matt said...

I'm with Rei - I'm seeing "R地arl" on my screen as a mixture of Roman and Kanji symbols. Only, unlike Rei, I can't actually read mine. I wish the author considered the audience - how many readers know how to pronounce a 地?

My word verification, Oacut, sounds like a more servicable name.

Evil Editor said...

I think we can safely assume that the name was spelled R'narl when it left the author's computer, and that some email strangeness converted the apostrophe and the following letter to a rectangle before it reached Evil Editor, allowing me to have some fun with it. Maybe it's a font thing. Oddly, it didn't happen in the first paragraph. Which is not to say that the name R'narl is a whole lot better than R地arl.

kis said...

I'm confused. You mean the rectangle was on purpose? I kinda thought it might be a format issue with different email servers or somthing. I've seen the exact same thing happen to apotrophes elsewhere on my travels through the blogosphere.

Of course, if the character's name is really R'narl, that ain't much better. Apostrophes need to not only mean something, they need to result in a pronounceable word. R'narl don't exactly flow off the tongue, now, does it?

kis said...

Oops, guess EE got to it first.