Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Face-Lift 328

Guess the Plot

Boy of the Spiral City

1. A circuitous story of a boy who finds himself in a love triangle with a girl of the Linear City and her square of a husband.

2. Inhuman dregs, disgruntled banshees, and bi-polar robots are just a few of the evil villains trying to destroy earth. Now it’s up to a young boy to learn the secrets of Spiral City and send them into the vortex of the phantom zone.

3. When the heir to the throne of Spiral City meets the girl-queen of Conical Town and they fall in love, will Pythagoras twirl in his grave or will a pointy Romeo and a budding Juliet find happiness in the equations of life?

4. Little Jeff grew up on the streets of Spiral City breaking all 24 Pillars of Righteousness and racing his hover cart in rush hour traffic. At his Coming of Age, Grand Vicar McSweeney convinces him to end his life in ritual sacrifice since there’s really no place in Heaven for a vile little puke whose only talent is driving in circles, but then Jeff gets sucked through an inter-dimensional portal and discovers NASCAR.

5. In the Spiral City, there is no level playing field, as apprentice demonologist Finn MacDougal discovers. Will Finn learn the fine art of calling the Demons of Unfairness to aid him in getting ahead; or will he find himself demoted to dragon dung hauler?

6. With his approval rating plummeting because of the war, the king of the Spiral City resolves to help his people. So he lets a poor boy move into his house. The army rebels, the king is killed, the boy is kidnapped. Maybe he should have let two boys move in.

Original Version

Dear Mr. Evil,

I am seeking representation for BOY OF THE SPIRAL CITY, a young adult fantasy novel, about 84,000 words.

Tamicus, a boy who lives in the Spiral City of Celmor, resolves to find a way to live in the King’s House, even though he is small and poor. He waits on the streets for an opportunity to find a place with the king. [Good luck, kid. If this gig doesn't work out, try standing outside The White House hoping for an opportunity to move in.]

King Aleron is plagued by his recent failure of protecting his people: he killed an innocent farmer in a skirmish against the Nazobians. Aleron goes out to the city, determined to find a way to rectify his wrong. When he meets Tamicus and the boy asks to live in the King’s House, Aleron sees an opportunity to begin helping his people.

[Aleron: My people are on the brink of rebellion because they don't think I can protect them from the Nazobians. What should I do?

Adviser: Let that small poor boy move into your house.

Aleron: Rent free?!]

Aleron takes in Tamicus and starts to change and improve Celmor.

As Tamicus grows and Aleron changes the ranks of his wild soldiers and tries to secure peace with Nazobi, his soldiers rebel and enter into an alliance with the Nazobians. Aleron is destroyed, and Tamicus is kidnapped and taken to the land of Nazobi. The leader of the Nazobians, Quel, gives the confused and distraught Tamicus a new name: Mylo. Mylo is taught to become a bloodthirsty and violent warrior [If your name is Mylo, and you want to live, you have no choice but to become a great warrior.] and is forced to forget his King. [I forget things, but the last thing I'm gonna forget is something you're trying to force me to forget.

Do not think about your king. Got it?

Got it.

Okay . . . what are you thinking about?

My ki-- Baseball.]

But the teachings of Aleron only lay buried, not forgotten. Mylo again becomes Tamicus and returns to Celmor to continue Aleron’s work.

Thank you for your time and effort. [What? That was the big wrap-up? That's like summarizing the first 100 pages of the LOTR trilogy and then saying, And everything works out in the end.] I look forwards from hearing from your soon. [If the final impression you leave with an editor is that sentence, you're in trouble.]



If Aleron was destroyed and the Celmor soldiers are working for Nazobi, it seems obvious that Nazobi has taken over Celmor. How can Mylo just walk in and start running things?

The reason we don't build spiral cities is because if you want to get from the suburbs to downtown, it can take weeks.

I would assume the plot is heavily weighted toward what happens after Tamicus is kidnapped. But the query is more weighted toward the pre-kidnapping events. I'd change the focus, to more accurately reflect what's in the book.


BuffySquirrel said...

I found that apostrophe you lost, EE.

Here it is: '

Hwalk said...

Thank you for your comments, they are helpful. I struggle when writing a query letter-it's harder than writing the book.

Some things were misread, and the plot synopsis is somewhat wrong, but it's helpful to know how people see it and what I need to do to make it so people don't misread it.

Dave said...

EE once took me to task for using the phrase "Metalloids of Epsilon Orionis" to name my characters. He said that calling them something one word like Karnaks or Lorgans or McMice would shorten the novel by 10,000 words, save ink and eyestrain.

That begs the question, why is it "Spiral City of Celmor" when one word would do?

The spiral character of the city better be essential to the story. The story is about a war between two cities and the man/boy who saves Celmor.

Anonymous said...

EE is generous, kind, and restrained.

1. Secrets don't "lay buried".
2. Your last paragraph contains several errors. Proofreading is important.
3. Agents have to assume the query represents the best you can do.
4. Try to make the plot sound logical. Let the reader understand something of the characters' motivations. Give us a reason to care.

Anonymous said...

It bothers me that I can't see a specific point to the plot. From the information we're given, nothing changes.

Does Tamicus manage to restore peace and independent government to Celmor? Does he finally achieve Aleron's dream? Because "returns to Celmor and continues Aleron's work" isn't the emotional payoff a reader needs from a story.

It's like a romance where boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy gets girl back and then ... they keep on dating.

Anonymous said...

Aleron? The king is named after part of an airplane wing?

Mylo? I suppose this is YA as stated, but is there anyone over 30 who won't associate that name with this?

I also kind of have a problem believing that a king at war will be seriously troubled by the death of an "innocent farmer." Maybe I just read it wrong: I assumed the king was plagued by his conscience, not plagued by bad poll results.

I also agree with the other commenters: It's hard to see a point in all this.

150 said...

I just don't buy anyone's motivations as you described them. Tamicus can't come up with any way to get into the palace other than stand around waiting for the king to invite him? And then the king DOES? Out of remorse for killing a single civilian in a long-term defense of his kingdom from a serious aggressor? I can't believe that this kind of event would have the same effect in a monarchy as it would in our democracy. Why would the Nazobians let Tamicus live in their raid of the castle? (Is he the only captive or are there many? If many, say so.)

And you MUST MUST MUST tell us what prompts Mylo to become Tamicus again and return to Celmor, because that is the crux of the story: how one man escaped captivity and brainwashing to return to save his people.

This seems like a pretty straightforward storyline. It would only help you to point out any quirks or twists.

Good luck!

writtenwyrdd said...

I'll have to weigh in with the others. I think based on what you have shared here that the story has some plot problems. I could be wrong, but it sounds like there are the apparent logic holes (Saving a farmer to appease the constituency? Getting asked to live in the King's House by the King?) and there is no motivation for anyone's actions but the king in defending his realm.

Good luck with this, though. I was picturing lots of Greeks running about hacking at each other with bronze swords as I read this, btw. And I haven't seen Troy.

phoenix said...

OK, [breathes a sigh of relief], here's my chance to redeem myself.

EE got it absolutely right this time!!

No, really!

GTP #6 -- Go back and re-read it.

This story is allegory all the way. The king's approval rating is plummeting because of the war. He makes a token gesture to appease the people. His ranks rebel. Easy enough to figure out who the king really represents. Now it's up to us to figure out who -- or what, perhaps? -- the boy, small and poor, symbolizes. And are there weapons of mass destruction involved?

Anonymous said...

Do not bother to see Troy, it was a sucky wimpy sissy movie. Too much tie dye, pink lipstick, and stupid dialogue. Go to a theater and see 300 on the big screen instead, it is totally awesome and unlike any movie you've ever seen. If you write any sort of "heroic fantasy" and only see 1 movie this year, it should be that one.

Anonymous said...

"This story is allegory all the way..."

So was the Wizard of Oz, but the plot and character motivations made sense.