Friday, May 04, 2007

Face-Lift 330

Guess the Plot

The Gem City

1. After several failed attempts at finding The Emerald City, Dorothy takes her complaints somewhere less prestigious.

2. In this epic fantasy, a young girl named Doris is swept up in a hurricane and deposited in the land of Iz. Will she and her new friends, the Straw Hobo, the Aluminum Lumberjack and the Tentative Tiger be able to reach the Gem City to plead their case to the Marvelous Magician of Iz?

3. At Gem City University, a deranged demigod imprisoned for eternity is accidentally released. Legendary superheroes The Companions come out of retirement, but aren't strong enough to capture the demigod--until they enlist the aid of . . . The Dreamwonderer.

4. Architect Ted De Beers has heard all the criticism, but he believes in his cutting edge designs. The Gem City will make his name--if he can find a cost-effective way to construct buildings out of emeralds, diamonds and rubies.

5. When homicide Detective Zack Martinez is summoned to the Gem City, a huge wholesale jewelry building, he knows two things: he'll run into his ex-wife at her boutique, and he'd better bring his new wife some earrings.

6. Eve Summer stows away on hunky Rake Crenshaw's single-engine plane, only to find out too late that he's headed for the Amazon to find the fabled lost "Gem City." Can Rake save her from her ex-husband's mob buddies hot on her tail? And if he does, can he convince her that an emerald can make a fine engagement ring?

Original Version

I'm excited to be submitting my 132 000 word novel THE GEM CITY, a urban fantasy novel set in Gem City, a metropolis populated by the descendents of archetypes and fictitious personalities from Earth's literature and mythology. The city awakes to the light of a rising moon that fills the sky and sleeps during the terrifying hours of All Dark.

After an eventful evening in the Underworks collecting folklore for a school lecture, MATTY- a Shadow Elemental training at the Gem City University- accidentally releases TRIVERA, a deranged demigod believed imprisoned for eternity by the legendary Companions. [You know how on your computer, when you try to delete a file it asks you if you really want to delete that file? There should be a safeguard in the Gem City University lockup that says, Are you sure you want to release a deranged demigod into the world?] This forces the Companions out of retirement and Matty is astonished to discover the ordinary people from his life- his professor, uncle and his own father- make up the legendary Companions. But the [legendary] Companions are told that if they once again pursue this foe from their pasts, they will be defeated. [Told by whom? A minion of Trivera? A Gypsy fortune teller?]

When Trivera kidnaps the Moon goddess, FALCO, whose magical power set him aside greatly from the other Nobles he calls family, decides he owes this goddess much for befriending and helping him as a child. [Precede "Falco" with a descriptor, something like, "the wizard." As it is, it sounds like Falco's the moon goddess, whose magic helped Trivera as a child. Better yet, dump the sentence, and make Falco's appearance in the next sentence his introduction.] Falco is brought together with Matty and Elara- the half-dragon child of Matty's uncle- by the Companions, who begrudgingly relinquish their responsibility to this younger generation. [And they call themselves "legendary"? "Over-the-hill" is more like it. That's like the Justice League of America retiring, and turning over the fight against super criminals to the Rugrats.] [Not that the name "Companions," even in their heyday, was likely to strike fear into the hearts of villains.

"My plan has gone perfectly. I need only throw the switch of doom, and I will rule the world!

"Not so fast, Captain Evil!"

"Curses! Not again. Not . . . The Companions!]

Defeating Trivera is going to be far more complex than the Companions' prior experience suggests. The young three soon realize that vanquishing Trivera alone will be nearly impossible, and help from two newly arisen entities, the Dreamwonderer and Oracle, [The Dreamwonderer? Was I just mocking the name "Companions"?] will be essential. Matty must travel to Earth, the world that dreams his own, [What kind of transportation takes you from your world to the world that dreams your world?] to find the Dreamwonderer, and Falco and Elara must cross through the Lands of the Dead to the Moon to begin the hunt for the Oracle. [How do they know what the Dreamwonderer and Oracle have to offer if they're newly arisen? Where is this moon? Up in the sky? I think we need a better idea of what this world is.] The closer the young trio come to a solution, the further they find themselves from the truth. [The truth about what?] As they uncover more and more of the mysteries behind their respective heritages, they recognize that understanding their pasts is the key to averting the upcoming perils facing Gem City.

This is a multiple submission. Thank you for considering my submission and look I forward to hearing from you!


Most of the character names--and the title--seem silly or blah.

What is the source of the moon's light? Why doesn't that source light the world? Is this world real, or a dream?

What does Matty bring to the table? Do shadow elementals have super powers? The last person I'd want on my team is the klutz who released the demigod.

Matty's uncle married a dragon? Or was it just a fling?

To me, this is all over the place and needs to be reworked. It's not clear enough. Take out the stuff that leads to more questions than it answers. That will leave very little. Then add some clear information. How does the villain escape? What happens if they don't capture him? What powers do they have that might enable them to capture a demigod?


BuffySquirrel said...

I'm guessing Falco isn't the name of the moon goddess. I know it looks like it should be....

sylvia said...

Loved GTP #1 -- I thought of Oz immediately when I saw the title too.

The names in the plot really bothered me, by the time I got to FALCO I found my mind had shut down to protect it from endless repeating Rock Me Amadeus.

It's not really my genre so probably my fault. Sorry :(

Bernita said...

So, these decendants of legends have to come to the real world and do research(or find Terry Pratchett) to figure out which legendary figure they are descended from so they know which magical power they can use to defeat the deranged demi-god?
Holy Golden Bough, Batman!
There's a neat story in there somewhere.

blogless_troll said...

Gem City, a metropolis populated by the descendents of archetypes and fictitious personalities from Earth's literature and mythology.

This is a very original way to be unoriginal. At the very least, I would drop "archetypes" because it sounds like an excuse to be derivative. Personally, I couldn't identify the fictitious ancestors of your characters, but I haven't consumed all of Earth's literature and mythology either. Unless you tie these "descendants" to recognizable fictitious personalities (which you don't in the query), I would drop this all together.

Also, what does the Dreamwonderer wonder about? And how does he/she help vanquish Trifecta? Does he bore him to death with metaphysical introspection?

Evil Editor said...

Thanks Buffy. I've reworked my comments with this new understanding.

pjd said...

It's way too early in the morning (where I am anyway) to try to imagine the coupling involved to create a "half-dragon child." Egads.

Does Trivera get defeated in the end, or is this the first in a series of live-action Saturday morning shows like Power Rangers? The culmination of all these trials is that the kids learn about their past, and they find that that's important to facing the future perils of the city. Not a real compelling conclusion, unless this is literary fiction, which clearly it's not.

What, exactly, does a Shadow Elemental need to train for? Is this like a readin', ritin', and rithmetic school or more like Rica's sword school where heavenly beings often appear to crown royalty? Or is it supposed to be like Hogwart's in some ways, only full of random mythical/magical creatures? And is there a whole class full of Shadow Elementals taught by an elderly Shadow Elemental, or does the teacher have to be really well schooled in diversity and have to teach all kinds of elementals, half-dragons, demigods, etc.?

Why is the city called The Gem City (is that its name or nickname)? Why is the novel called The Gem City? The story is about Matty and her friends, not about the city, right?

Are there lots of cities in this world, and do they each have their own university? Do Shadow Elementals go on university trips with their parents? Does the university have a football team and offer scholarships? Are there college entrance exams?

And exactly how does one have an "eventful evening" doing research in what sounds like a school library? (OK, I know some people who had extremely eventful evenings in the library in college, but I doubt that's what you mean.)

Sorry, I think I've gotten sidetracked.

Do what EE says. Start over with GTP #3 and put in only the necessary stuff.

Dave said...

If you are using gods, demigods, and other archetypes from literature and mythology then you have to stick to those archetypes. You just can't invent a new "archtype" to solve the problem. I think your letter has a flaw there.

Also, defeating the villian is described as complex and nearly impossible. I am guessing that (in plain English) you mean that pure physical force isn't going to work and that the heroes must do something nifty and smart to trap the villian and re-imprison him.

This reminded me of Niell Gaimen's American Gods.

150 said...

Believe me, after six fruitless months of queries, the excitement wears off. :)

Word ver: kuess. No, go on, kuess!

Rei said...

First off, I love this concept:

The city awakes to the light of a rising moon that fills the sky and sleeps during the terrifying hours of All Dark.

Sort of Dark-City-ish. Places without sunlight are nifty.

After that, you degenerate into blah, cliche, vagueness, etc. In your last hook paragraph, we start to get a glimpse of what's going on here -- and it could definitely be interesting. They're our dream world, etc. But by then, there was too much blah for me to really care.

I agree with all who said "ditch the names". Especially "Falco". What is this, Starfox? It's hard to have a name that's one character away from a common word (like an animal) and not sound a bit cheesy. "In the land of Nectarin, our heroes Squirre, Dolphi, and Elephan set out on an epic quest..."

Dhewco said...

Before you get too disgusted with the 'half-dragon' concept, people need to understand that in fantasy some dragons morph into human form. (Raymond Feist's books set in Midkemia are a case in point)

PS. Ever since the Google/Blogger union, I haven't been able to sign on, despite having the right dang passwords...ticking me off.

Xenith said...

This makes me think comics, particularly DC. I think it's the city name (Star City, Opal City...). Then there's the team of Companions fighting great evils. And Companions passing the mantle to the next generation.

(Dhewco, I always have to go to the Dashboard to log in, it nevers works if I try to log in on the comments page. Silly.)

Anonymous said...

Here is the problem. You included pretty much all the usual genre devices but nothing exceptional. Nothing that I haven't seen before. No surprises. No great jokes or suspense or sparkling prose.

In the future you might try mentioning only the plot and character points which are both exciting and unique to your story. Plus iron out the sentences so people aren't stuck puzzling over who Falco is etc.

AmyB said...

The problem I had with this is so many names and unfamiliar concepts were thrown at me at once that my eyes glazed over. Though I like fantasy novels, I have a hard time with the ones that give me no anchor to something I understand.

Dave mentioned American Gods. I see the similarities too, but American Gods had the advantage of opening with normal characters in an ordinary modern-day setting (a prison). So when Gaiman started introducing the fantastical elements, I was firmly anchored and ready to absorb them.

The world in this query seems to be one of those in which absolutely everything is different, but I still need something I can relate to. A character in a situation I can sympathize with, perhaps. Lots of characters were thrown at me in this query, and I never had an opportunity to connect with any of them.

I do think the idea of a world populated by people's dreams is pretty cool.

Anonymous said...

The "half dragon" concept brings on rapid rejection not so much through "disgust" as because we get no description of it and no reason to be excited to read about any "half dragon", never mind this one. It just comes off as a shallow gimmick. We don't even know what the undragon half is. Human? Toad? Pixie? Bat? Who cares? So what?

At age 10, I was agog for anything dragon, but now it's a tough sell. Especially if it acts like an ordinary dog in a dragon suit or, Zeus forbid -- speaks English and acts like a guy in a dragon suit. I'd rather you just ditch the dragon suit. They're so cumbersome.

Kings Falcon said...

Kill most of the first paragraph. Being "excited" makes you sound less than professional.

It reads a bit like The Neverending Story , a kid from the world the created this fantasy one by dreaming it must now save it.

Focus on the current quest/ problem not the Companions's back history. I think the query would be stronger without them.

Bonnie said...

So this Gem City is basically the embodiment of the collective unconscious, and that's why there's such a mishmash of weird people running around? If so, I'm not sure you need to explain any more than that in the query. Focus on the story instead of the back story.