Saturday, March 10, 2007

Face-Lift 291


Guess the Plot

The King's Falcon

1. By day, Homer waddles around the barnyard quacking obnoxiously and eating more cracked corn than is good for him. But by night, he's the feared and mysterious . . . King's Falcon!

2. Princess Kauril of Tarishah leaves her kingdom and becomes Falcon, secret agent working for Queen Sabrina of the neighboring realm. But has Falcon met her match in the iniquitous . . . Lord Mordent?

3. Everyone gathers in a stone hut to play strip Tarot. It's all a scheme to woo the lovely Megan. But how many layers is that wench wearing?! Is that the meddling priest at the door? And who will draw the winner-takes-all King's Falcon?

4. His Majesty could have driven a Jaguar or a Mercedes, so why is he so obsessed with the rusted Ford Falcon that once belonged to Steven King? He claims that it talks to him, but is King George insane, or is an automobile running the kingdom?

5. Raza is the Falcon -- a title given to the king's most trusted spy. She's been in love with the king for years, but their budding relationship cannot grow while the kingdom remains at war. To find happiness, Raza must first find a way to secure peace.

6. It's a little known fact that Elvis Presley liked his little red Ford Falcon better than any other car. But only Marge Taylor knows why -- she lost her virginity in that back seat -- and now she's determined to get home to Tennessee and sit in that car listening to "Love Me Tender" once last time. No matter what the evil nursing home staff say.


Original Version

Dear Evil Editor:

I am writing to you regarding representation for The King’s Falcon, a 103,000 word fantasy novel, a story of the struggle between the life we make and the paths others want us to follow.

Princess Kauril of Tarishah leads a double life. Barred from her empty throne until she bears an heir and hoping to avoid power-seeking suitors, Kauril leaves her birthright behind to become “Falcon,” the [superhero] agent of Queen Sabrina of Fayette, a neighboring realm. [Wouldn't that make her The Queen's Falcon?] [Not sure it qualifies as a double life if she's given up one life for another.] Now Kauril’s identity as Falcon is endangered by Sabrina's latest directive.

Mortally ill, Sabrina pleads with Falcon resume her life as the Princess. Heartbroken and reluctant to reclaim the throne, [Reluctant? She can't reclaim it until she bears an heir, right?] Falcon soon uncovers a threat to Tarishah. Even as she attempts to tie its exploitation [What's exploitation? What's the threat?] to the Administrator of the Regency, Lord Mordent, Falcon must circumvent his attempts to manipulate her into a loveless marriage. [To him?]

Mordent is acquitted of treason [He was trying to get the woman responsible for putting him on trial for treason to marry him? Forgiving guy.] forcing the Princess Kauril to choose between the path she was born to follow and the one she has created. Kauril vows to bring Mordent to justice even if it means she must sacrifice Falcon. ["Sacrifice Falcon," meaning return to her realm, bear an heir and take the throne? How does that help her bring Mordent to justice? "Sacrifice Falcon," meaning stay in Sabrina's realm but take on Mordent as herself rather than as Falcon? Make it clear what her choices entail.]

Thank you for your kind attention to this request.

Sincerely,


Notes

It peters out at the end. What did Mordent do, who acquitted him, why, and how can Falcon bring him to justice if he's been acquitted?

Why does Sabrina care whether Falcon goes home?

Who's the king? Where's the king? Does the king have his own falcon, or is Falcon the king's and queen's falcon?

It starts off okay, but becomes vague. Falcon discovers something, and she's forced to make a choice that may have consequences. Specific information is needed.

27 comments:

Carolina Wren said...

I don't know if this matters, but there is already a book titled King's Falcon (by Paula Fox) as well as a movie.

Anonymous said...

Okay, so after reading this twice, I'm still confused. I got the part about someone wants her to marry Mr. X but I'm not sure who X is, or what's bad about him, or what is done to get her to agree to the unwanted marriage or what happens if she says no.

I also don't understand why this dreaded arranged marriage issue goes on for the length of a novel about a superspy princess. That sounds more like the troubles that plague old-fashioned swooning princesses. Why is Kauril content to make a career out of spying for the neighboring kingdom? Why can't she swiftly zing a poison dart at ol' Mordent and spend the rest of the book making out with her man of choice and saving her kingdom?

phoenix said...

I know a query can't answer every question, but I spent far too much time trying to figure out the logic for why a princess would have to bear an heir before she could take the throne. Assuming she must have a hubby, too, then I could see the kingdom being ensured of having someone in the family on the throne if she should die. But the throne's EMPTY.

Your third paragraph is very unclear as to whether Kauril returns to her princess life under Sabrina's directive. You say "Heartbroken and reluctant to reclaim the throne, *Falcon* soon uncovers a threat to Tarishah" and that "*Falcon* must circumvent his attempts to manipulate her into a loveless marriage." Does this mean that Kauril DOESN'T return as herself to Tarishah and that Mordent wants to marry alter-ego Falcon, not Princess Kauril? The name-swapping dual-identity thing in this 'graph is very confusing. I was thinking the MC returns as the Princess and Mordent wants to marry Kauril because he wants to share her power. But no, you say it's Falcon that Mordent is after. The guy commits treason, then tries to force a nobody who looks remarkably like the woman he's currently holding the throne for into a loveless marriage that would gain him nothing. Huh? I hope it's just that you're using the wrong names to convey what's happening to whom.

Likewise, in the next paragraph, you say, "Kauril vows to bring Mordent to justice..." which seems to answer EE's question, because it's Kauril, not Falcon, vowing to do this, but is that right?

And does Falcon still have a life in Sabrina's realm anyway if Sabrina's about to kick the bucket? Is the question about the life she makes for herself even a question any longer?

I'm sorry. I'm afraid this query left me with a lot of questions, and not the good kind like "What happens next?" and "Can you send the first three chapters for me to read."

Carolina wren, I think the title choice in the end is out of the author's hands anyway.

Ooh, GTP #5 was SO close!

Maggie Stiefvater said...

After reading it twice I am definitely still confused. Is Sabrina the main character? Or the Princess turned Falcon turned . . wait, how is she barred from a throne and why doesn't Sabrina want her there?

I think this falls back on the ol' chestnut that if you can't summarize your plot in a single sentence, you need to rethink your novel.

I thought GTP #5 sounded like a good one. The author should steal that one and use it instead. ;)

December Quinn said...

I'm so glad I'm not the only one who didn't understand this one.

Anonymous said...

Mortally ill, Sabrina pleads with Falcon TO resume her life as the Princess. (You left out the "to")

acd said...

I would read #1 in a heartbeat.

blogless_troll said...

I thought this was fantasy. Where're all the centaurs and unicorns and stuff?

Kings Falcon said...

Thanks for all the comments and thank you EE for all the work.

I thought the Guess the Plots were great. GTP # 1 made me laugh. GTP # 5 was great.

I was afraid I'd stripped too much of the plot out to get it down to one page. I can't believe I deleted the King references. ACK!!! There are two King's (Sabrina's husband and Mordent) and one issue is which King's Falcon is she going to be.

Falcon is the MC.


Pheonix and Anonymous:

There's a regency that prevents her from taking the throne until she marries and bears an heir. Until she does, Sabrina's child stands to inherit Tarishah and King Jurriaan, Sabrina's husband, rules it. If Falcon/Kauril marries Jurriaan then Sabrina's son will still inherit.

So Mr. X is Jurriaan.

Sabrina wants Falcon on the throne just not in a way that will challenge her son's claim hence the marriage to Jurriaan.

If she doesn't marry someone soon, Mordent keeps running her kingdom because Jurriaan doesn't care about it.

Anonymous:

The dreaded marriage runs through the plot because everyone is trying to get her married off and she doesn't want to give up her life as Falcon. She can continue as Falcon even if Sabrina dies. She stays "Falcon" for the length of the story.

She can't just dart Mordent because she can't prove he's the bad guy.


Mordent knows who she really is. He needs to marry her because she is the Princess. He is also the king of a neighboring realm but because he's been in hiding for almost 30 years no one else knows this.


Blogless Troll:

No centaurs, just magic.

Back to the drafting table.

Kings Falcon said...

I've revised the query based on the comments here and at Hatrack.com. Can you please ask the minions to take the red pen (or bucket of ink) to it again? Thank you.

Query:

Protecting your kingdom can make you a traitor.

Falcon is the outcast princess of Tarishah barred from claiming her empty throne until she marries and bears an heir. Content to serve, she becomes the agent of Queen Sabrina of Fayette and avoids personal entanglement in the political gambits and romantic liaisons she reports. Now, however, detachment is a luxury Falcon can’t afford. Mortally ill, Sabrina demands that Falcon choose King Jurriaan, Sabrina’s soon to be widower, as her consort. To placate Sabrina, Falcon agrees to get to know Jurriaan by acting as his informant.

But there is more at stake than succession. Forced into hiding by civil war, Lord Mordent, the King’s First advisor and a mage, is secretly the sole heir of Sabbatus, a neighboring realm. He compels Jurriaan to delegate responsibility for Tarishah to him. Creating false tax reports, Mordent plunders Tarishah to rebuild Sabbatus. Discovering that Falcon is the elusive Tarish princess, he endeavors to seduce her into marrying him. Success secures his control over Tarishah. Failure requires her assassination.

Falcon must avoid being manipulated into marriage and protect Tarishah from the ambitions of Sabbatus. To stop the exploitation of Tarishah until she can regain her throne, Falcon leads a group of Tarishah rebels into a civil war that could tear her kingdom apart.

ME said...

I'm still confused. I think you will soon receive some helpful suggestions, but they won't be from me. Sorry. Here's one nit:

Success secures his control over Tarishah. Failure requires her assassination.

I think "success will secure...Tarishah; failure will release his wrath.

Ok, I will try to state your plot (as I understand it) in one sentence.

A princess, barred from the Throne of Tarishah until she marries and produces an heir, assumes a secret identity, is pursued by two seemingly undesireable rival Kings who foment unrest in her kingdom, leads a faithful contingent of her subjects into fierce battle all the while tormented by her own need to choose between her royal heritage and her alter-ego, Falcon.

Is a "mage" a well-known entity in the genre, like a wraith?

Good Luck.

Wonderwood said...

I think the revised version is a huge improvement. Congratulations on your persistence and willingness to learn!

Anonymous said...

ME: Mage, another word for magician or wizard, is in the dictionary.

Dave said...

You let some of the details get in the way of the synopsis portion of the query. It's perfectly natural thing to do because you're close to the story and we're not.
For instance, "Forced into hiding by civil war, Lord Mordent, the King’s First advisor and a mage, is secretly the sole heir of Sabbatus, a neighboring realm. He compels Jurriaan to delegate responsibility for Tarishah to him. Creating false tax reports, Mordent plunders Tarishah to rebuild Sabbatus."

ARGHH.

Try something clearer: "First advisor to King Jurrian, Lord Mordent is using his influence to steal money from the treasury and rebuild the neighboring kingdom of Sabbatus."

Do you see how that simpler version sets up the statement that "Discovering that Falcon is the elusive Tarish princess, he endeavors to seduce her into marrying him in order to seal his dominion over the two kingdoms. His failure requires her assassination."

Now I'm puzzled about Mordent- he was ruler deposed or installed in a civil war in Sabbatus... It might not be necessary to reveal that in the query.

sylvia said...

Hmm, you have a tendency to use a clause and then a comma before making your statement proper.

"Xed into Y, A does B."

I'd consider dropping the first half of the phrase to make it stronger. I've marked the bits I would take out in italics, I hope that is readable. In all cases, I think your main statement encompasses the information, so you are giving it twice (throne implies queen, widower implies death)

Falcon is the outcast princess of Tarishah barred from claiming her empty throne until she marries and bears an heir. Content to serve, Sshe becomes the agent of Queen Sabrina of Fayette and avoids personal entanglement in the political gambits and romantic liaisons she reports. Now, however, detachment is a luxury Falcon can’t afford. Mortally ill, Sabrina demands that Falcon choose King Jurriaan, Sabrina’s soon to be widower, as her consort. To placate Sabrina, Falcon agrees to get to know Jurriaan by acting as his informant.

Anonymous said...

This should be my genre, but your plot structure seems to have flaws at the most fundamental levels. This is trying to be a fantasy adventure but the crux of your premise seems illogical and is too much about a celibate person's womb. Your writing seems to be improving but I don't envision this plot being competitive in a commercial setting no matter how you dress it.

writtenwyrdd said...

The situation is still cloudy. First, Falcon goes to Fayette, which implies possible disloyalty/betrayal of her homeland. Wouldn't they keep her close as the heir in waiting until she bears a child? Wouldnt' a state marriage be foisted upon her willy nilly?

Second, Falcon agrees to be a spy, discovers a plot against her homeland? A bit too convenient. The explanation may by wonderfully portrayed in the book, but as presented in the letter, it is too glib and makes you sound like you have taken the Idiot Plot route, where your characters are idiots and only act to suit your convenience. (This makes your book sound like a Sims game.)

Third, you give us lots of things Falcon does but you do not get us inside her head. We need a bit about her motivations and why she left home, why she chooses to serve a probable rival of her land, etc. All you tell us is that she is "content to serve." Thumbs down on that. Too glib, weak explanation and even weaker motivation. This makes me also wonder if your plot has some serious basic problems. YOu cannot just have your characters do what you want because you want it; you need to have them behave like rational beings in their culture and station would behave. That means something causes her to leave, and not just being content to serve.

What it comes down to (IMO) is that the story is missing from this letter. The story is not just the events, but the meanings behind those events, too. Put yourself in your character's shoes and feel what she feels. Tell us what motivates her, and tell us the ending-- or at least hint at the resolution.

phoenix said...

Yes, me, "mage" will be a familiar term to anyone who reads fantasy (says she who uses the term in her own upcoming query).

Author, I'm sorry. I'm still not getting some of this. What civil war has forced Mordent into hiding? (And if Falcon is fomenting another civil war against Mordent, does that make it a world war?) And how did acting as the King's First advisor make it onto the list of acceptable hiding places? Kind of hard to hide when you're in the public eye. Especially when you're royalty. Someone's bound to notice.

If Mordent is a mage, does that mean he's compelling Juriaan through magic to delegate Tarishah to him? While that makes more sense than any other reason I can think of, why doesn't he simply compel Falcon to marry him? He's certainly not one to insist she love him for love's sake. If he's not using magic to compel Juriaan, then why is he a mage?

It's also not clear in the query what the relationship of Jurriaan is to the throne of Tarishah. If he can put Mordent in charge of Tarishah, then he must be the king. Why doesn't he put Falcon on the throne? Why is Falcon outcast? You don't have to be a pariah even if you can't rightfully sit on the throne just yet.

Okay, so much for the "I'm confused" questions. Now, look at your paragraphs. How many pages of your book does the second paragraph cover? What happens in those pages? Is there anything exciting happening? This is genre fiction. I want some action! Same for your third paragraph. Except for sleaze trying to seduce and a bit of white collar crime, not much going on. How far are we now into the book?

Then here comes the last paragraph, which I hope is a good chunk of your story, but you have only two sentences devoted to it. And you're repeating yourself in them: "protect Tarishah from the ambitions of..." and "stop the exploitation of Tarishah" say pretty much the same thing.

Sorry, but I think one more pass on this is warranted...

Kings Falcon said...

Thanks again for all the comments.

Thinking about the comments from Dave, aninymous and writtenwyrrd -

Should I add:

1) The regency that prevents her from claiming the throne bars arranged marrages and has an alternate plan for power sucession?


2) She's been a spy for 14 years at this point?


ME nailed the plot in his one sentance.

Thanks for the streamlining tips Dave and Sylvia.

writtenwyrdd said...

You do not need to spell it out; that would probably make the letter too awkward. What you might do is word the situation in such a way that we know the reasons as well as the action.

"The regency that prevents her from claiming the throne bars arranged marrages and has an alternate plan for power sucession?"

Might be reworded to something like:

Fleeing a plot on her life by the mage Jurrian, Princess Falcon deserts her rightful heritage and becomes a retainer to the queen of a neighboring land.

We don't have to know the details, just the dramatic gist. (And I know you don't mention any plot on her life, but something has to make her run or this doesn't make any sense.)

writtenwyrdd said...

PS...Is Jurrian the regent to Falcon's throne? If so, then he's the Evil Adversary, the constant which her actions/reactions reflect. You might want to make that more clear, because it took three readings to get it for me, and I'm not usually quite that dense.

Deborah K. White said...

Kings_Falcon, how in the world did we both end up writing stories about queen's leading the rebels among their people against evil lords in their kingdom? Boggles the mind.

In the second paragraph, you start one sentence with " Creating..." and the next with "Discovering..." Maybe make the second one "When he discovers that..." or some such.

While this make the clearest summary so far, you lose momentum as you go along. As everyone told me, cutting it will help keep the pace up. It would also help to use more active words for Falcon. So far, it sounds like she avoids conflict: she leaves her homeland when they won't make her queen instead of fighting for it, she placates her boss, etc. It's probably fine in the book, but you need to try to make her sound more 'fighting spirit heroic' in the query.

phoenix asked some good questions about Mordent. Frankly, I think that you can lose most of his paragraph for the query.

This example isn't that good, but how about something like:

Protecting your kingdom can make you a traitor.

Falcon is barred from claiming her empty throne until she marries and bears an heir. She has no interest in marriage, so she becomes the spy of Queen Sabrina of Fayette to avoid the many men who want to court her. When Sabrina falls mortally ill, she demands that Falcon choose King Jurriaan as her consort after her death. Falcon reclutantly agrees to get to know Jurriaan by acting as his informant.

There is more at stake than succession. Lord Mordent, the King’s First advisor, has been using his magic to compel Jurriaan to delegate responsibility for Tarishah to him and has been stealing money from Tarishah to further his own ends. When he discovers that Falcon is the elusive Tarish princess, he attempts to seduce her in the hopes of becoming her consort and securing his control over Tarishah. If she refuses, he plans to assassinate her.

Falcon rejects both of her suiters and attempts to stop the exploitation of Tarishah. The only way to do this is for Falcon to lead a group of Tarishah rebels into a civil war that could tear her kingdom apart.

Author said...

So this has been a while. In the intervening - ahm- 2 years, EE's editing the story - ahm - twice (thank you EE and Brenda Novak). Based on EE's fairly wonderful suggestions, I was able to collapse the second “book” into the first and keep a reasonable word count. Now it’s really ready to shop around for a home and so, I need Minion assistance on the revised query.

Thanks.

*****
Falcon, the disinherited princess of Tarishah, is the agent of a foreign king. She avoids personal entanglement in the political gambits and romantic liaisons she reports. Then she’s asked to investigate possible abuses of the Tarish regency. The maze of intrigue, sorcery and dual identities draws her ever closer to her long abandoned throne.

Mordent, the exiled mage sovereign of a neighboring warrior kingdom and the Tarish Administrator, secretly plunders its treasury to rebuild his land. Discovering that Falcon is the elusive Tarish princess, he attempts to seal his dominion over the two realms by seducing Falcon with romance and a bit of magical persuasion. Failure requires her assassination.

Falcon flees to Tarishah where she discovers Mordent’s treachery. But she cannot break his magical control over the king. War is imminent. Left with few options, Falcon fights in the rebellion against the king she serves. Now she must assume the responsibility she’s tried so hard to avoid before war destroys Tarishah or Mordent kills her.

****

Evil Editor said...

This feels very dry, like a summary from Sergeant Joe Friday. It needs life.

Changing "Then" to "But when" in paragraph one, and blending in the next sentence is a possible help, alerting us to conflict and providing better transition between ideas.

Blue Mouse said...

I suggest you lead off with GTP #2.

_*Rachel*_ said...

I'm a bit confused about who's from which kingdom and staying where, just reading the new query.

batgirl said...

Here's my shot at a more dramatic version, for what it's worth:


Falcon, disinherited princess of Tarishah, takes service as the (secret? be specific, or I'll be thinking of real estate) agent of neighboring king Juriaan. Sifting through political and romantic intrigue, she never lets it get personal--until she’s ordered to find the truth about corruption in the Tarish regency. As she struggles through the maze of intrigue, sorcery and dual identities, she comes inescapably to her long abandoned throne, and the man who stands behind it.

Mordent, the Regent of Tarishah, secretly plunders its treasury to rebuild the kingdom he was exiled from, hoping to return and claim it. When he discover that Falcon is the elusive Tarish princess, he sees a way to claim two kingdoms. He will use his magic to seduce Falcon and marry her. If she refuses him, he'll have her killed.

Falcon turns to King Juriaan, but finds him under Mordent's spell. War is imminent.(give that another sentence - war between who and who?) Falcon's only path to freedom is to join the rebellion against the king she serves. To save herself--to save her kingdom--she must claim the throne of Tarishah.