Monday, July 24, 2006

Face-Lift 132


Guess the Plot

Lost Magic

1. When little Billy Martin's birthday party ends in tragedy, Mrs. Martin wonders if it was a mistake to hire a magician who goes by the stage name, "The Child Butcher of Brenau."

2. Hired to find a missing cat called Magic, a pet detective finds himself drawn into a ruthless gang of international fur traders.

3. A ruthless vigilante sorcerer traps all magic for his own use, ruining everything for Jessa, who wanted to practice magic herself, but instead must take a job as an innkeeper, having no marketable skills.

4. When an archaeologist unearths a Celtic talisman, he releases an ancient druid who has been trapped for millennia. The druid finds a world where all of the old magicks have been lost. He eventually gets a job as a stablehand, having no marketable skills.

5. Stage magician "Samson" Blackstone wanted his wife to spice up their love life, but he didn't count on waking up stripped of his pubic hair--and his magic powers.

6. Telling callers that she’s out getting cigarettes won’t fly forever. It’s three months now and high time his wife gave up living at the truck stop and moved back home.


Original Version

Dear AgentName,

I have completed a 90,000-word fantasy novel called LOST MAGIC, set in a world politically and technologically similar to our colonial America.

Jessa, a young human woman, [One difference between this world and colonial America: when Evil Editor reads books about colonial America, the authors never find it necessary to point out that a young woman is a human.] wanted to study healing magic. But ten years after a rebel sorcerer [Please. Vigilante sorcerer. Ruthless vigilante sorcerer. First time here?] trapped all magic for his own use, she is struggling to earn a living as an innkeeper in her devastated village.

When the sorcerer is finally killed, [That's one incompetent sorcerer, if he controls all magic, and still gets himself killed.] Wren, his former assistant [Magicians have assistants; sorcerers have apprentices.] and a spy for a faction of the colonial government, shows up at Jessa's inn with the stone containing the trapped magic. Jessa discovers she has a talent for destructive magic when she helps Wren escape the rebel soldiers chasing her, and jumps at the chance to help bring magic back.

They travel to the famed college in the colonial capital, where their work is complicated by the fragile political equilibrium among several factions of humans and human-like iseair [I'm less interested in the fact that they are human-like than in how they aren't human-like.] in the colonial government, who are trying to find and keep magic for their own.

With tension between the species rising after two political assassinations, Jessa questions Wren's true goals and her own growing love for one of the iseair, Seliveon. [That name made me think of saliva, so I anagrammed it. Now it's Evil Ones.] At the same time, the woman who wanted to be a healer struggles with her unwanted talent for destructive magic.

To defeat a plot that threatens to start the whole rebellion over again, [Makes it sound like the rebellion is over, but they were just being chased by rebel soldiers.] Jessa must trust her new allies [What new allies?] despite growing evidence that one of them is an agent for another faction. [How many factions are there?] As soldiers arrive to steal magic, Jessa harnesses her unwanted destructive talent to set magic free. [Suddenly it's not even clear to me what magic is.]

I was a reporter for [paper], [city's] major newspaper, for three years.

Would you like to see more? Thank you for your consideration.

Sincerely,


Revised Version

Dear AgentName,

I have completed a 90,000-word fantasy novel entitled LOST MAGIC, set in a world politically and technologically similar to our colonial America, but in which humans are not the only highly intelligent species, magic exists, and rebellious factions fight for control of the government.

Jessa's dream of studying healing magic ended when a rebel sorcerer trapped all magic for his own use, and she now struggles to earn a living as an innkeeper in her devastated village. When the sorcerer dies, Wren, his former assistant and a spy for a faction of the colonial government, shows up at Jessa's inn, running from rebel soldiers. Wren has with her the stone containing the trapped magic.

When Jessa discovers she has a talent for destructive magic, she helps Wren escape the rebel soldiers, and accompanies her to the capital, where together they work to return magic to the world. But their work is complicated by the fragile political equilibrium among several factions of humans and human-like iseair in the government, who are trying to find and keep magic for their own.

With tension between the species rising after two political assassinations, Jessa questions Wren's true goals and contends with her own growing love for one of the iseair, Seliveon. At the same time, this woman who once yearned to be a healer must come to grips with her unwanted talent for destructive magic.

If you'd like to read more of Jessa's story, I'll be happy to send along the complete manuscript or sample chapters. Thank you for your consideration.

Sincerely,


Notes

If humans and iseair are coexisting, we might want some mention of what the iseair are like. Also, you're being awfully vague about what magic is. How was the world different before the sorcerer trapped all magic?

10 comments:

Elizabeth said...

Thank you! That wasn't as painless as I'd feared. Except for that last paragraph of plot, which proves I shouldn't write queries at 7:30 a.m.

Poor Seliveon; I'll never be able to look at him in quite the same way.

Jessica said...

What's with the name Jessa? It's ALMOST the best name ever.

Anonymous said...

"To defeat a plot that ..."

I think I've been defeated by this plot -- but hugely entertained by EE's comments.

daniel said...

I'm not crazy about the names Seliveon and iseair.

Have you tried using the word verification to generate names? It works surpisingly well. My current one is...bqjoprkk. Now that's a name.

Anonymous said...

Here's Bqjoprkk's little brother--
Bjxbo. Or perhaps it's his cat.

garden minion said...

Is Wren male or female? Is Wren actually the supposedly dead sorcerer? That would be pretty cool.

It's confusing how Jessa can have magic if all the magic has been stolen away. Has she discovered a new kind, or something along those lines? If this is complicated to explain, you could refer to "destructive magic" simply as "destruction" and let the reader guess / want to know more.

As a fantasy reader... I'd want to know more about the romance too. ;)

Minion #1555 said...

I'd suggest giving the editor a physical manifestation of the magic like EE said. Is it light, a kind of liquid, shadows, runes, or what?

I kinda like iseair, but am not thrilled with Seliveon.
How about... Selion? Or Sevion?

word verification: rhhnxwrr. Obviously a big fishfrom an alien planet with pointy teeth and radiation poisioning.

Zombie Deathfish said...

I'm intrigued by the plot and Jessa's predicament as someone with a gift for destruction who wants to heal, but put off by the term "iseair." I keep wanting to pronounce it "Aesir," as in the Norse Gods.

Evil minion #667 said...

Zombie Deathfish: Best commentor-name EVAH. I'm insanely jealous.

Elizabeth said...

garden minion and minion #1555 -

Clearly I have to explain the magestone better.

I may say something along the lines of "the sorcerer created the magestone, which prevents all magic from working except for destructive magic wielded by someone close to the stone." Except worded more gracefully.

The fun thing about summarizing books for a query is making the things that are true also make sense in only a few hundred words.