Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Face-Lift 426

Guess the Plot


1. Lila's husband was run over by an armored car. Winning her lawsuit and waking up two million dollars richer ease her sorrow, but Lila doesn't find out what real sorrow is until her ungrateful children start making financial demands and the money begins to ruin her life.

2. Henry’s wife drank all his beer and ran away with the repo man, who ran over Henry’s dog while driving away with his new pickup truck. Now he’s got all the material he needs for a hit country-western song, but he thinks he’ll just go ahead and hang himself instead.

3. Dubuque emo band Grind has a hit on their hands with the florid ode to cutting, 'Sorrow.' But when a fan goes too far and commits suicide, they are suddenly embroiled in a court case. Is this the end of their dreams of stardom . . . or just good publicity?

4. When a brutal serial killer begins stalking the gilded palaces of the Empire, Count Hashii, the infamous Lord Ash, arrives to investigate the murders and to discover the identity of the assassin known only as . . . Sorrow.

5. High-profile medium Katie Flint earned the nickname "Sorrow" because of her dour, sober predictions. Now Katie is experiencing powerful cryptic visions of a catastrophe that could wipe out the town of Grivensham. Aided by an autistic palm reader and a junkie Tarot specialist, 'Sorrow' tries to ensure that this prophesy doesn't come true.

6. Sorrow's name has served as a good description of her life so far. Friendless, she's in danger of losing her job at the library because she refuses to direct patrons to any book with a happy ending. One day a ditty-singing preacher with a spring in his step walks through the door. Can Sorrow change her demeanor soon enough to find romance with Jubilation Jones?

Original Version

Dear Evil Editor,

A new kind of killer is stalking the gilded palaces of the EroBernd Empire, striking down gentry and commoner alike with apparent impunity. His methods, efficiency, and brutality are unlike anything anyone has encountered. Count Hashii, the infamous Lord Ash, court assassin to the Superbus Tyrannus, travels to the small province of Macula Telum to investigate these murders and discover the identity of the assassin known as Sorrow. [Does the killer sign his victims with the name Sorrow? Or did the people come up with the name? Usually people come up with something scarier, like the Butcher of EroBernd or the Macula Madman.]

Faina, an orphan by assassination, lives in privileged captivity, [She lives in a cage, but she has her own chef.] relying on blood money from an unknown benefactor to maintain her safety. She is innocent, carefree, and gentle. But when the body count begins to rise in Macula Telum, Count Hashii begins to look at her in a new light [--as a possible replacement Superbus Assassin during his upcoming vacation.]

Can a 14-year old girl be the deadly Sorrow? [As she's been described as innocent, carefree and gentle, I'm guessing No.]

Sorrow is complete, a work of Fantasy/Dark Fantasy, and is 80,660 words long.

Thank you for your attention.


Fortunately this was brief; after spending seven hours creating a dinobus, I was in no mood for a drawn out query.

For those editors who don't bother to create dinobi, you might want to fill in a few holes. Like, What is it that leads Hashii to suspect Faina? Who were Faina's parents, and why would she be unsafe without blood money from an unknown benefactor? Who is keeping her captive?

So Hashii is a count, an infamous lord, a court assassin, and an investigator? That's a lot of hats.


150 said...

So Hashii is a count, an infamous lord, a court assassin, and an investigator?

Not to mention a prehistoric vehicle.

Sarah said...

I’m guessing Faina being the suspect is your hook. There must be something about her that is unusual or something about what happens with her when the murders happen – like she disappears during those times. Does she have an alternate personality like Hashii? Is she after his job? Or are we dealing with a psychopath?

Perhaps starting the query with Faina and why she is so important might help. Why is Faina a suspect? What is it about her that leads Hashii to think she might be Sorrow?

I’m not sure efficient and brutal go together. Efficient indicates done quickly with a minimum of fuss whereas brutal usually indicates excess.

Count Hashii is Lord Ash is an assassin is an investigator. Is Lord Ash the assassin? And Count Hashii is his public persona? Or vice versa? Is he investigating to stop the crimes, because his territory is being invaded, because his employment is in jeopardy?

If the killer is striking down commoners, why is it stalking the palaces? Are there commoners in the palaces? Then the killer is in a small province? This guy gets around.

The killer is male in the beginning of the query. Why would we think the girl is the killer at the end?

The Dinobus is very good, EE.

Bernita said...

Superbus Tryannus?
And I liked "Sorrow" as a name and as a character but "superbus" killed it. Dead.

ME said...

Not enough info, and is "Superbus Tyrannus" really necessary?(It struck me as a joke) The second sentence, "his methods" should be gender-neutral if "Sorrow" ends up being the girl. I'm no expert on queries, but I'm pretty sure you should be providing answers to a potential agent, not asking questions.

Anonymous said...

"So Hashii is a count, an infamous lord, a court assassin, and an investigator?"

The last two wouldn't be that hard to do if you only investigated your own assassinations.

blogless_troll said...

What everybody else said, plus you need to be more specific as to Sorrow's methods, because since it's fantasy, "unlike anything anyone has encountered" could go either way. In a kingdom used to murder by sword, dead people full of bullet holes would be new and different. Or, at the other end, Sorrow may be like that guy in those Saw movies, and he/she may devise clever ways for people to kill themselves, which, with a name like Sorrow, probably involves Sorrow reading aloud from his/her own brooding, melancholy poetry. You don't have to give a lot of detail, but some would help.

Phoenix said...

I think Sorrow is the red herring, and that anon 2:16 has it right. If Faina lives in Macula Telum and the body count didn't start rising there until Lord Ash comes on the scene, then I'm betting Ash is the real assassin. Would an "efficient" killer start killing in their own hometown just when an investigator shows up?

Otherwise, it's the aliens in chapter 14 syndrome. Without some hint in the query that she could be a killer, it'll be coming out of left field if she is because only the question itself raises the thought she could be.

Also, what makes this fantasy apart from the names? Acquiring agents will want to know.

Loving the dino bus, EE!

And the GTPs are all winners, too!

Anonymous said...

It's standard to round your word count to the nearest thousand, i.e. 81,000 words.

Anonymous said...

I feel the immediate need to write a short story about a dinobus.

Having said that, I'm guessing the author was going for a glorified version of "Superb Tyrant, not a prehistoric vehicle.

I still want to write about a dinobus.

Kings Falcon said...

The dinobus was amazing.

Right now you might have back jacket copy but not a query. Just tell us what happens.

People are being killed. The Emporer sends his assassin to investigate. The assassin finds an orphan who happened to lose her parents in an assasignation and for some reason suspects her.

What reason?
Do they find out who Sorrow is?
Does the blood money matter to the query?
How does it end?

It could be my kind of story but I don't know enough to tell.

pacatrue said...

What's interesting to me about Superbus Tyrranus is how important stress is. If you are saying mentally "suPERbus TYRanus" or "suPERbus tyRANus", then it would never even occur to you that it could be thought of as a "SUPerBUS".

Interesting facts about stress - it moves:
but ELevator OPerator




MISsissippi MUD

Also, a BLACK BOARD is a board which is colored black, but a BLACKboard is a type of board found in classrooms and might be green.

writtenwyrdd said...

"superbus Tyrannus"? Words fail me...

Church Lady said...

I prefer my dinobus much more because it's evil.

It will only be up for a short while, so get it while it lasts...

Phoenix said...

Church Lady, about that clip art -- Let me break it to you kindly. You're no EE when it comes to cheesy art. Perhaps you should stick to writing and cussing and pontificating ...

(But it WAS oddly satisfying seeing EE behind the wheel. Reading, of course. While driving.)

Andrew said...

Well to a certain extent a good start, the idea reminds me of a dean koontz book "door to december" which has a young child coming under suspicion for paranormal murders (awesome book by the way).


1) Firstly an easy one. Count Hashii, Lord Ash, Superbus Tyrranus, 'Sorrow' and Macula Telum. One sentance! This will put agents off immediately. You don't need to know about the Dinobus guy, nor Lord Ash. They do nothing to explain the story.

2) Hook! or lack thereof. NOthing in that first paragraph grabs the attention (except the dinobus - quality EE). If its in the 3rd paragraph, it should be in the first.

3) If you are going to include background detail then you run the risk of needing to quantify it. This is hard, I know. The problem is you end up answering with specifics, which end up seeming like needless infodumping. So Faina's 'blood money from an unknown benefactor' is a real nasty generalization as it opens up a number of questions you haven't spent time answering. There must be a better way to, in one sentance, sum up Faina's situation. Get this right and people immediately have an idea of who she is, and may start having an emotional connection to her (should her plight be that bad)

4) Your 'voice'. It's getting lost in names and cliche's. 'body count begins to rise', 'look at her in a new light', 'Unlike anything anyone has encountered'. Ick! This is your shot to show the reader an idea of what's going to be in your novel. If you're query is clogged with names and cliche's they will assume your book is.

On the positive side though you've almost grasped what you need for your query, the format is fine, you could even stretch to another sentance or 2 to get some more information in there that adds to the plot, points out conflict etc etc.

~Nancy said...

I'm sorry, but Superbus Tyrannus made me giggle (and as I was scrolling by and saw that pic, I thought this was going to be some quirky kids' book - not that I have a problem with that ;-)).

Also, I don't think there's enough detail to here to get an idea of who Lord Ash or Faina are. Is Lord Ash going to this part of the empire simply because of the body count and to get Sorrow? Or does he have another motive, and he can use the murders as a convenient excuse to be there?

And what about Faina? Why does Lord Ash suspect her of being Sorrow? Does he find her hovering over one or more of the bodies? Or is there other evidence that points to her? These questions might not have to be put into your query, but it might help you get an idea as to which direction you want to take here.

This could be interesting (in fact, I liked the idea in the list, and you unfortunately took it! ;-)), but I think you'll need a little more detail to get asked for partials and fulls.

And I think you need to lose the Superbus Tyrannus or whatever it is; to me, it just too distracting and sounds too silly.


Good luck!