Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Face-Lift 418


Guess the Plot

Rise of the Vorare

1. Building an orphanage on an island in the middle of the Vorare River seemed like a good idea--until the rains came. Now the bridge is out, the water's rising, and 400 kids will drown if Captain Stu Marshall can't navigate his nuclear submarine upriver.

2. The last dragon, sets off on a quest to learn why the other dragons disappeared. Along the way, she is besieged by armies of unnatural creatures and sentenced to death by the Vorare. Can one dragon prevent the Vorare from enslaving and eradicating the human race?

3. In 79 AD a wizard defeated the Vorare, a breed of unkillable vampires, by causing Mount Vesuvius to erupt and bury them alive. When volcanologist Duncan Fisk accidentally frees them, can he stop them before they subjugate all humanity?

4. When the creature emerged from the spaceship in his backyard, Dan Grossman knew he probably shouldn't grill and eat it. But it was delicious. Now, unfortunately, all the anti-nausea medicine in the world won't prevent the . . . Rise of the Vorare.

5. The tribes of Gorbrafor have suffered under the yoke of their conquerors for three generations. But an ancient prophecy is being fulfilled, promising the rise of the Vorare, an ancient apocalyptic clan of priestess-warriors.

6. As Mary Witherspoon putters around her garden in Puddleton on Anglesea, she’s not even remotely prepared for the forces of evil soon to be unleashed from their ancient hilltop barrow (the one she’s squatting on top of, in her new flower beds). Will Mary survive the . . . Rise of the Vorare?




Original Version

Attn. Evil Editor:

Already formidable at barely a day old, the dragon Caerulea is the only hope for the world of Coelithia. Malus, the most powerful sorcerer ever to live, is ruthlessly enslaving or eradicating all who oppose his rule. [And pretty much everyone opposes his rule--especially the ruthlessly enslaving and eradicating parts.] Caerulea sets off with only her innate magic, teamwork, and determination to discover why the dragons have vanished and ultimately find a way to defeat the sadistic Vorare Malus. My 95,000-word science-fiction/fantasy novel entitled Rise of the Vorare will appeal to fans of JK Rowling and Christopher Paolini.

Caerulea’s hatching sends out a vast magical disturbance, alerting both friend and foe to her existence. She is pursued by the enormous insect-like Steraspis within minutes of her lonely, confused birth, teaches herself to fly, and comes face-to-face with a mysterious woman more comfortable beneath deep, unfathomable waters than above. [Unnecessary to tell us everything that happens in the book.] Soon she learns that all dragons disappeared many years ago, but whether by annihilation or flight is still widely disputed. [Scholars will argue about anything.] Her journey begins in the company of people from three diverse races: Durand of the Acui, a magical forest people; Dulce, of a magical amphibious race called the Gencalida, and Waring, [a blender.] an Aliquantu, the inventive, clever people who rely upon mechanical ingenuity rather than magic.

[Caerulea: We need to get across these raging rapids. I could fly us across.

Dulce: I can instantaneously get us across with magic.

Durand: So can I.

Waring: With 80 yards of rope, a pulley system, a catapult, a hammer, a bellows, and a winch I can rig up a contraption in three days that'll get us across.

Dulce: Tell me again why we brought MacGyver along?]

Caerulea finds herself immediately set upon by henchmen of the Vorare Malus, constantly forced to battle or flee as she and her companions strive toward the promised haven of safety. [In two paragraphs you've hit us with Vorare, Caerulea, Steraspis, Acui, Gencalida, Aliquantu, and Coelithia. Not to mention Paolini. Think I'll peek at the next query; maybe it's about Bob.]

Before she can face the sorcerer responsible for so much death and destruction, she must survive long enough to learn to use her innate magic without the assistance of her own kind, as well as deal with prejudice [It's so unfair to be prejudiced against dragons just because they occasionally swoop down and burn people alive.] and political factions immersed in their own intrigues. No sooner does she arrive in the protected city of Interius [from the unprotected city of Exterius] than she and the allie nations are called to the aid of the doomed Acui nation, sentenced to death by the Vorare and besieged by armies of unnatural creatures in their very last refuge. Though the battle goes against him, Malus has no intention of ceding defeat. He sets off to where the dragons still exist, secretly imprisoned, their magic systematically stolen; but this time he intends not to take a small portion, but every bit of their elemental magic, killing the dragons in the process. [That plan will never succeed; but then, no one ever accused Malus of forethought.]

May I send you the first 25,000 words [25,000? That's a hundred pages. If I had to read a hundred pages of everything to decide if I was interested, the slush pile would reach from here to Coelithia.] of the manuscript? I have been writing fiction since grade school, and have won awards for poetry and short fiction in high school where I excelled in literature and creative writing. I am impressed with your accomplishments in editing, [in fact, I'm certain some of my favorite books were crap before you salvaged them,] and believe I would be a valuable addition to your client list. [Evil Editor was considering switching from query letters to synopses, but then who would be around to beg authors to delete their credits?]

Thank you for your valuable time and consideration.

Best regards,


Notes

Too much information. The last dragon hatches and sets out to learn why she's the last dragon. She discovers that the evil Vorare wizard Malus has captured the dragons and is using their magic to ruin everything for everyone. Can she save the dragons and defeat Malus? That's your plot. Expand on it with specificity, enough to get it up to ten sentences, max.

Please, oh please, I beg you, get rid of the credits paragraph.

25 comments:

Robin S. said...

Ok- this has to be a quickie- as I'm runnin out the door in a minute- but had to say...

#1t's a lot more fun to write these GTPs than I thought it woud be, and

#2 PLEASE switch for a while to synopses. That would be great. Of course, then I might have to break down and actually write one, instead of toying with classic plots to see how they work.

Will begging help? Just checking.

Anonymous said...

Malus of forethought

LOL!!!!!!!

Sarah

Anonymous said...

I keep hearing, "Vo-ra-re...oh,oh; Cantare, oh-oh-oh-oh..."

About the credits: maybe the author's banking on the publishing prejudice in favor of super-young writers, but this sounds like, "My mom thinks I'm really smart."

Also, what's an "allie?" Variant of ally?

One or more people here have advised reducing your story to one sentence that says it all. Then indulge in the luxury of adding three or four more sentences. Then stop. That's good advice.

ME said...

Since my own query has received nary a nibble, I don't often comment on the queries of others. But when I read a well-written letter with few blue words, I think the author must be very close to getting it right, or else EE is having an "off" day. And from the MacGyver and Malus of forethought comments I can tell EE is on his game, so you must be getting most of it right.I'm not a fan of the genre, but your plot line rips right along(note EE's comments about too many names and TMI). Nit pick: seems as though you are overly fond of the comma, when a semi-colon would work better.

She is pursued by the enormous insect-like Steraspis within minutes of her lonely, confused birth; teaches herself to fly, and comes face-to-face with a mysterious woman more comfortable beneath deep, unfathomable waters than above.

[in fact, I'm certain some of my favorite books were crap before you salvaged them,]

Whoo ee! you kill me!

Church Lady said...

I'm in the synopses camp. **also begging**

I thought Vorare meant something about eating everything in sight (it's what I had in my unchosen GTP).

Did you want Vorare to have a meaning?

I was confused with all the names. Perhaps focus on one or two and see what you can come up with.

Good luck!

~Nancy said...

This could be a good story, but there are too many details and way too many names to remember. What EE said is right about the plot.

I think what Anonymous 1:35 posted is a good starting point: Describe your plot in one sentence, and then go from there; don't add any subplots, and don't go into added layers of detail.

And, please, oh please, delete your credits paragraph. Editors and agents aren't going to care about awards you've won in high school competitions; the credits being looked for are for magazines that aren't produced by someone at your high school (like Realms of Fantasy, for example).

I hope that didn't sound too harsh. Good luck with it!

~jerseygirl

writtenwyrdd said...

I'm and with anon 1:35 on the name. Can't help but think of the song Volare.

Despite the plot that reminds me of the hated book by Mr. Paolini (itself highly derivative), yours sounds potentially workable. Not much to add after the other comments except it bugged me that you say this is the last dragon up top then inform the reader further down that your protag dragon isn't the last dragon. Sounds inconsistent of you the author even if that's what your protag thinks at the time.

Dave said...

I feel like I'm drowning in the names of a new world. It's like taking a drink from a firehose.
That being said...

The last dragon is born with knowledge, the abiltiy to talk (communicate), and a certain amoung of magical ability. Obviously it grows so fast, it can defend itself with claw and fire within hours. (OK with me, but you see most things have a learning period)
It wants to find the other dragons and it doesn't know where they are? That's a question mark in my mind. A creature born with so many smarts is ignorant of the evil magician who imprisoned the rest of its species. Granted that self-defense might be built into the psyche. However, communication with the forest magicians, the water magicians, and the mechanic (not so magical human, I guess), requires a bit of explanation. I hope that's in the book.

Since this is YA (like Rowling and Paolini), it can work. Interworld by Gaimen and Reaves leaves much unanswered and is a satisfying read.

My idea of the plot:
Caerulea, the last dragon on Coelithia, is on a quest with the to find her forbears, the lost race of dragons. Accompanying her are magical craetures from forest, the water and the human race. Unknown to Caerulea, the magician, Malus Vorare, is stealing the dragon's magic to serve his own designs of world domination and enslavement.

I'm going to resist using the rhetorical Can Caerulea. Instead I'll add this

Caerulea's quest becomes more than a search for her dragon kin, she must defeat the magician and free the dragons from Malus's deathgrip.

And in the process how does she grow as a person? What does she achieve when she defeats Malus Vorare? Does she become "empress" of the dragons? Or does she go off to live a quiet life on amountain as a hermit contemplating dragonic navel? What is her motivation?

Now this probably a little lifeless for a query. But it's a start.

blogless_troll said...

My idea of the plot:
Caerulea, the last dragon on Coelithia, is on a quest with the to find her forbears


You've got her confused with Goldilocks, Dave.

However, author, Dave makes a good point about the dragon's learning curve. And it might work better toward her character development if you show her gradually learning, even the basic dragon stuff, rather than being so powerful right out of the egg. For instance, while learning how to breathe fire, she could accidentally scorch her three companions, and then the MacGyver guy could laugh at the others because they're naked and he's not, having recently invented flame retardant clothing. Maybe it's just the query that makes it sound like she's born with all this knowledge. I dunno.

Can't remember the other point I was going to make, because I've got that friggin song stuck in my head.

Robin S. said...

I had the Volare song in my little GTP - but I think my biggest GTP fault is that I write almost a story rather than a "tagline" kind of thing - hence the necessary excision.


So, is this query just about a synopsis, rather than a query?

If I had any good advice of my own to give, I'd give it. Since I don't - I like what Dave did with your story, for query purposes. And not a rhetorical question in sight.

Precie said...

Add me to the list of "Vo-Ra-Re" singers.

As for the query, I agree that it would benefit from a tighter, clearer hook and description.

And I agree that those credits are best left out.

Dave said...

forebears - forbears
It's only an E's difference between three Ursines and parents! Gave me a giggle before dinner.

greencat said...

Please, oh, please, don't mention Paolini in your query. If I were an editor I would have stopped there.

Phoenix said...

You've gotten good advice here already about tightening, including fewer names, and never mentioning Paolini.

I wondered about the word "Vorare." Is Vorare a title rather than a first name?

she and her companions strive toward the promised haven of safety What promised haven is that? The only mention before this is that the group is headed to find the mystery behind the disappearance of the dragons.

I would rather know WHY Durand, Dulce and Aliquantu are accompanying Caerulea on her quest than be told WHAT these people's races are.

The query says Caerulea learns how to fly and communicate on her own pretty quickly, but makes it seem like a big deal that she must learn how to use her innate magic on her own. It doesn't bother me so much that she doesn't know where her folk were taken since that all happened outside of "innate" experience, but the innate stuff should at least be consistent.

I have no idea what "protected city of Interius" means, who or what's protecting it, and why the characters or I should care. Is this the "promised haven of safety" I was confused about before? The answer scarcely matters because it really doesn't serve any purpose in this query and appears to be a story element that can be readily deleted to help shorten the letter.

Interesting that you say the Acui nation is doomed when the battle goes against Malus and he's forced to seek greater magic to win. This seems to be another instance where the authorial voice appears uncertain about what happens in the story.

I also wouldn't call this science fiction in any guise of the word. Even if your mechanic invents an atomic bomb, there's no mistaking this story for fantasy and, forgive me for being blunt, derivative fantasy at that. (Perhaps some day I'll trot out my first closet novel that features a group of diverse races battling a powerful, evil sorcerer and we can share a giggle...).

If there's something truly unique in your story, let's see it up front. Try crafting your query around that idea, and let us have another peek when you're done.

Anonymous said...

Dave - three ursines? But it's FOUR bears.

-mb

Phoenix said...

OMG, EE! You were smokin' on this one!

Malice of forethought
unprotected city of Exterius
the whole MacGyver scene

I am SO glad I work from home and don't have to explain myself to my coworkers when I'm reading this blog.

Anonymous said...

ME - what number was your query. I'd be happy to read it over.

Sarah

Anonymous said...

TO Author: Query letters are supposed to be one page typed. I don't think there is any way this whole thing fits on a single page. Get out your writing machete and cut this down! It's reading more like a synopsis than a query. With queries think more like the back of the book or a movie trailer, less a summary of the whole plot as hitting the high points and grabbing interest.

I also must say you should cut your credits at the end. If there is nothing stellar to put there best leave it off altogether.

TO EE:
PLEASE, PLEASE could you do some synopsi (synopsiss...sp?) critiques? You could ask for short ones...please?

~Moth

Author said...

Revised query:


Attn: Evil Editor

In a land that has endured four decades of suffering during the dragons' inexplicable absence, a tiny glimmer of hope emerges. Caerulea is unaware that in fighting her way free of her egg, she is broadcasting news of her presence throughout all of Coelithia. Sent to find her are emissaries of good as well as the remorseless giant robots of the evil sorcerer, Vorare Malus.

She is forced to master her use of magic in a very short time, guided and protected by members of three allied races who must work together in spite of their differences if they are to survive the Vorare's terrifying reign. He has subjugated one country, captured or forced the occupants of another into hiding, and now his legions of death are gathering to utterly annihilate the third.

Relentlessly pursued by the murderous robots, Caerulea is drawn into the allies' cause, knowing that if Vorare Malus succeeds in conquering all of Coelithia, no one will remain to help her discover what has become of her race. She joins their preparation to stand up to the sorcerer despite the seeming futility, unintentionally becoming the rallying point for the resistance.

Together, they make their stand in the Sacred City of the Acui, deep within the concealing Garagna Forest, amid secrets and treachery that none could have foreseen.
The Sorcerer and The Dragon is my complete 102,000-word science-fiction/fantasy novel. I am now working on a sequel to this book as well as conceptualization for third and fourth installments.

May I send you the first few chapters of my manuscript? I am impressed with your record of representation, and believe I would be a valuable addition to your client list.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

150 said...

Hmm, okay. This left me very confused. My eyes seemed to bounce right over the words and absorb no meaning at all. I think that's due to a lot of general, slightly clich├ęd phrases. I rewrote it so that I could understand the barebones plot.

Caerula just hatched yesterday, and already her life is in danger.

As the first dragon seen in Coelithia in forty years, she attracts plenty of attention: from the evil sorcerer Malus, and from the members of the rebellion determined to end Malus's reign. Fortunately, the rebellion finds her first. The three allied races rally around their newfound dragon, and Caerula joins their cause--if only because she needs their help to learn what happened to the rest of her species.

Before the rebellion can finish training, Malus moves to end the rebellion and seize the dragon by attacking the Sacred City. Can Caerula come into her magical prowess in time to save herself and the world?


I had to guess on the last bit, obviously. Looking at the rewrite, this doesn't sound like it should nearly take 102,000 words to cover. It feels like you could include more conflicts in the middle there. Others might disagree.

On looking back, this is a lot better than your first try.

Good luck!

Author said...

Hi 150:

Thanks for your feedback; you've got a pretty good understanding of my story, but the dragon is not just in it for herself. I don't know how to make that point clearer, and I am not completely happy with the way

Caerulea is drawn into the allies' cause, knowing that if Vorare Malus succeeds in conquering all of Coelithia, no one will remain to help her discover what has become of her race.

sounds. Her life is repeatedly saved by her guardians, and she forms deep bonds of friendship with them. They are also enthusiastic about helping her find out what happened to the dragons.

Sarah said...

I agree with 150. I kept saying 'who?' 'what?' and then looking back and realizing you had mentioned them or it previously.

I get a better sense of what's going on from 150's rewrite. Perhaps that can help you shape the information you want to include in the query.

150 said...

Maybe:

Caerula joins their cause--not only because she needs their help to learn what happened to the rest of her species, but because of the deep bonds she has formed with her protectors.

writtenwyrdd said...

150's revision deals with all the problems brilliantly. I'd use that. In order to deal with the dragon not just being in the fight for her own reasons, you just need to say something like, "Now in order to save herself and her friends," and forget the mention of seeking the rest of her people, because it sounds like she can't actively seek them while in the midst of being hunted and during a civil war.

Your rewirte didn't provide an emotional focus. It's my observation (which may be wrong) that a query needs to provide the emotional hook, the whys of the action, along with the details that make the story interesting. If you look at 150's version, that emotion is immediately apparent.

Author said...

Thanks 150, Sarah, writtenwyrdd... Here goes again...

Attn: Evil Editor:

The moment Caerulea hatches, her life is in danger.

As the first dragon seen in Coelithia in thirty years, she attracts plenty of attention: from the evil sorcerer Vorare Malus, and from members of the three races determined to end Malus's reign. Fortunately, the good guys find her first. The three allied races rally around their newfound dragon, guiding and protecting her as she grows and learns to use her magic.

In order to save herself and her friends, Caerulea joins their cause to prevent Malus from seizing an enormous source of power and murdering an entire race in the process. Along the way, she collects tantalizing clues and hints regarding the whereabouts of the missing dragons.

As Malus moves to crush the resistance and gain control of the entire land of Coelithia, the allies gather to protect the powerful magic amid secrets and treachery that none could have foreseen.

The Sorcerer and The Dragon is my complete 102,000-word science-fiction/fantasy novel. I am now working on a sequel to this book as well as conceptualization for third and fourth installments.

May I send you the first few chapters of my manuscript? I am impressed with your record of representation, and believe I would be a valuable addition to your client list.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Best regards,