Sunday, April 08, 2007

Face-Lift 311

Guess the Plot

Revenge in Sulamar

1. A motorist in Sri Lanka cut him off, and Sidney exacted his revenge, sideswiping the offending BMW off the road and into a fireball. Now Sid's upset about the roaming charges on his phone, and the customer care center in Sulamar isn't issuing a credit. Sidney's packing his bags . . . and an Uzi.

2. Jivat and Bardi's marriage is off to a rough start, and they're still on their honeymoon. The planet Varda is lovely, but first Bardi flirted with the waitress in Rangapur, and now he's spending more time on the golf course than with his bride. Looking at the next stop on their itinerary, Jivat plots her vengeance.

3. Glamorous superspy/lingerie model Twinkie Tompkins is relaxing on the beach at Sulamar with her sidekick, photographer/stuntman Jack Tornado, when a motorized "seagull" buzzes over, and explodes. Obviously the dastardly computer-hacker fiend "Whirlwind McGee" has launched yet another revenge project. Soon the hotel and all of Sulamar will crash and burn -- unless Jack and Twinkie can find McGee's lair, cut his power, and thwart his evil scheme.

4. The Magess of Krataal has a problem--too many fashions, and not enough fashion models to wear them all at her elaborate balls. But finding humans is difficult--they live only in the forests of Sulamar. By sending a Makaka Marenta Marella to steal some humans, she'll get everything she wants, without having to pay a single bloin to Tremente Jabaal.

5. Tamar has no idea her handsome slave Fazil is actually a Sulamarian spy. When Fazil escapes, he leads a raid on Tamar's city, capturing her and bringing her home to be his slave . . . and concubine. Now Tamar plots her own escape. Or . . . should she remain in Sulamar with the hunky Fazil, who pleasures her like no man ever has?

6. They drink out of their boots, and eat their hats for lunch. Everything is done differently in Sulamar. Especially revenge! The police find two men in an oversized pickle jar, suspended from an electric wire, while their wives live it up in a neighborhood bar.

Original Version

Dear Evil Editor,

REVENGE IN SULAMAR is an erotic fantasy/romance complete at 62,000 words.

Tamar has a perfect life as a beautiful and wealthy aristocrat. She has her own household, an adoring lover and a high position at the royal court in the medieval city of Talgar. Then she ruins everything by buying a slave. [That's remarkably similar to what happened to Evil Editor. I was on the rise in the biggest publishing house in the country, editing the likes of Grisham and King, living the good life, and then this new CEO comes in and decides it doesn't "look good" for her top editor to be involved in the slave trade. Hey, who doesn't have a few skeletons in their closet?] He is Fazil, a captured warrior from the enemy city of Sulamar, a city of barbarians that have raided Talgar for centuries. [If you've been raiding a city for centuries, and they're still holding you off, you're giving all barbarians a bad name.]

Tamar does not much care for barbarians, and though Fazil is handsome, well-behaved and outwardly humble, [I'll take a well-behaved barbarian over a smug aristocrat any day.] she does not treat him well. She humiliates him in front of her lover and when she finds him kissing a maid, she orders him whipped. What Tamar doesn’t know, is that Fazil is a spy. He has allowed himself to be captured in order to find out where the royal treasury keeps its secret store of gold [and also to get it on with the cute maids in Tamar's household]. But after Tamar’s cruel treatment, gold will no longer be enough. He lusts after her and plans to take her as his share of the loot. When he learns where the gold is kept, [If you let a barbarian slave from a place that's been raiding you for centuries discover where your secret store of gold is, you had no business calling it a "secret" store of gold.] he escapes and leads a raid to capture it, taking Tamar with him. In Sulamar, he forces her to submit and makes her his slave concubine. She plots her escape though he gives her more pleasure than any man she has ever known. [Smoother transitions are needed between some of these ideas. Just because the finish line's in sight doesn't mean you should fire yourself out of a cannon.] Then she learns that she is unjustly blamed for the raid in Talgar and sentenced to death as a traitor. And so there is only one thing left -- revenge at any price. [Revenge against those in Talgar who unjustly blame her for the raid? Or against Fazil?]

Thank you for considering REVENGE IN SULAMAR. May I send you sample chapters or the complete manuscript?


Was that the first ten chapters, or the prologue? Based on the title, I might guess that this was all setup for the real story, which is the revenge plot. If the book is about Tamar's revenge, you could condense all of this into something like, Captured by barbarians raiding her city, the beautiful aristocrat Tamar discovers that she has been blamed for the raid and sentenced to death as a traitor. Then tell us about the main storyline.

A wealthy aristocrat ought to be able to afford servants and gigolos. What does she need with a slave? What are his duties?


Robin S. said...

The GTPs were especially fun for this one, expecially #1 and #3. Twinkie Tompkins, what a great name - sounds like it came right out of those cheesy Matt Helm movies from the 60s.

EE - you're on fire today, aren't you? "I'll take a well-behaved barbarian over a smug aristocrat any day." Yeah, me too.

Thanks for the holiday laughs, you all.

Hope everyone isn't too full from all the food.

whitemouse said...

Hope everyone isn't too full from all the food.

More like birthday-party sick from the ginormous chocolate bunny I just ate. Blech. You'd think, one of these years, that I would learn my lesson.

The book is supposed to be an erotic romance, so it's perhaps not surprising that the query focuses on the relationship rather than the revenge. However, that fact does make the plot seem as if it was contrived simply to get the characters into bed. It would be better to flesh out (no pun intended) the non-sex-related storyline.

I always have a problem with stories where someone who is essentially being raped falls in love/lust with their rapist. At least in this one, Fazil and Tamar take turns being the abuser. Go, gender equality.

Some people find sexual power games hot; some find them very distasteful. For this novel, be aware you will have to find an agent/editor who falls into the former category. This won't be to everyone's taste.

Xenith said...

The turnaround in roles sounded interesting in the GTP, but less so in the query. Maybe if you kept it short and sharp...

Obligatory name comment, Tamar is the name of a river, two actually, one of which I can see if I turn around. This could be distracting to a (probably small enough to not matter) number of potential readers.

(And I can't log in: beats Blogger with a teapot)

Anonymous said...

I'm of the violence-isn't-sexy camp so I would pass on this.

Anonymous said...

I agree with robin s. -EE is very funny with this one.

There is some potential in the basic plot, but I think it would be very tough avoid some of the problems pointed out by EE and whitemouse. -V95

pacatrue said...

I'm unfortunately in the same camp as whitemouse, anonymous, and v95 in not finding power games erotic. However, the good news for the author is that many readers of erotic romance do find this very thing super sexy. Just as a bit of evidence, there is an entire category at Ellora's Cave named Capture and Bondage. You will find similar themes in the Fantasy category there as well, including books like His Mistress. Moreover, the role of the forced seduction has a long (and controversial) history in "non-erotic" romance. One recent discussion at an academic romance blog is here.

Everyone can insert their own psychological interpretation.

Robin S. said...

I didn't comment on the content of this query letter after I read it yesterday. Wasn't quite sure what I wanted to say, to be honest.

Thanks to pacatrue's comments, I think I may know now.

I believe that in the fantasy of erotic romance, forced seduction carries with it the promise, implicit or otherwise, that there is, or will be, some caring going on - that the man forces himself on the woman because he can't stand not to be with her - when the reality of rape is that there is no seduction, and certainly no caring going on.

Years ago, I volunteered with a rape relief center, and worked one weekend a month as a victim's advocate, going through the physical exam process with her (usually, her) in the hospital, staying with her when the police spoke with her if she wanted me to (and she usually wanted me to). There was never a weekend that I was on call that I wasn’t needed. Man’s inhumanity to man, or woman, doesn’t ever seem to call a time out.

My point is that I think the fantasy of forced seduction carries with it, as the article pacatrue gave us the link to mentions, the idea that the object of the man's desire is so dear to him that he can't make it (pun intended) without her, which is not at all the reality of rape, but it was never meant to be.

Erotic romance is a separate fictional reality, where feeling matters, and, I think, where the forced seduction/rape carries with it the promise that the woman involved is very, very important to the man perpetrating the involvement, which is what makes it sensual and gratifying to many readers.

Bernita said...

Except for the revenge question as EE points out, think this is probably a very good query in the sub-genre for which it is intended.

phoenix said...

Pacatrue, Did you mean Everyone can insert their own psychological interpretation about you hanging out at Ellora's Cave?

I'm not sure this is erotic romance (or "romantica"). ER should still focus on the romance and have an HEA (that's a "happily ever after" for the uninitiated). Your query ending does not sound like there's an HEA in store, but then, you don't tell us if it all works out or not. So sounds more like erotica (lust for lust sake, in which case there may well NOT be any caring or hope of caring going on, per robin's comments).

Plot in an erotic novel can be a little looser, but the writing still needs to be tight. In the novel and in the query. As xenith said, "short and sharp."

sylvia said...

Well, I like power plays and as it was described as a romance, I assumed that they would end up together at the end (thus the "can't live without her" twist).

But! I had difficulty with his freedom in servitude (he's wandering around, checking out gold stores, kissing maids, then leaves when he wants to -- this is a slave?).

Also, if someone made me his slave, I have to say insults in front of his lover wouldn't be the primary issue at that point, unless you are touching on love interest issues.

After hundreds of years of raiding, they take the ruler with just a snap of the fingers?

I liked the general idea but the specifics given in the query went beyond my suspension of disbelief, I'm afraid.

batgirl said...

Is slavery common in this culture or not? That Tamar buying a slave suggests it's uncommon, but then how does the spy plan work? Or is it that she buys the wrong slave?