Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Face-Lift 484


Guess the Plot

Mission to Zulaire

1. It's Kama Sutra meets Eyewitness to History as hundreds of sexual positions are described in pages torn from personal journals. Starting with a Franciscan monk detailing his "Mission" with an altar boy, the book finishes with a British soldier's raucous encounter with an entire Zulu war party.

2. Zulaire--fabled land of the ancients, where the towers are made of precious metals and the legendary Jala plant grows wild. The legends say poison from the Jala plant is the only way to stop the marauding raiders, and Cameron is the unlucky one sent to Zulaire to find some. He finds more than that--he finds true love.

3. Three outworlders and a blue-scaled lizard with a computer for a brain. Can this unlikely trio make their way through the starways to Zulaire in time for the Imperial Galactic Wedding?

4. Sister Rosemary has a drinking problem. She embarks on a Mission To Zulaire, a dry region where whiskey is unknown, to teach organic chemistry and save souls. Hilarity ensues when she demonstrates fermentation and the boiling point of alcohol, inadvertently introducing moonshine to a grateful populace. But how can she explain the sudden surge in converts when Bishop Casey drops in to find out the secret to her success?

5. Special Forces captain Tom Deverane is looking forward to retirement when HQ sends him on one final mission, rescuing a civilian from some backwater hole. Little does he know that failure will lead to a massive bloodbath that will destroy the entire planet--and possibly the rest of the galaxy.

6. After 'borrowing' his Dad's space-cruiser one night, Lenny crash-lands on the dock at Grimmet. Fortunately, there's a flight back to Zulaire leaving in twenty minutes. Unfortunately, it's been hijacked by a deranged priest who, dismayed at the ungodliness of the space age, wants to fly them all to heaven--the short way.

7. Space Captain Bazzor and his Intergalactic Commandos cross the galaxy to the frozen planet of Zulaire to rescue a stranded ship of space colonists! But the evil giant space worm Granat fights them! And just when they're going to get away, the vicious space meerkats attack! And lovely Darla falls in love with Space Captain Bazzor!


Original Version

Dear Benevolent Editor:

Captain Tom Deverane thought his hitch in the Special Forces was all but over, and now he could figure out what to do with his retirement bonus. That was before HQ decided to send him on one last mission to some backwater hole to rescue a civilian. The woman is stranded in the middle of nowhere on a planet that is days away from erupting into a violent civil war. Someone has pulled some serious strings to get this one woman plucked out of the hot zone by Deverane and his team. Bracing himself for some rich, air-headed party girl, instead Deverane gets tough and intelligent Andrianda Markriss.

Andi isn’t about to run off and insult her host family on Zulaire just because of Deverane’s orders, though. Deverane’s never met anyone as hard-headed as Andi is- or as appealing. Just as he manages to persuade her to leave with him, rebel fighters infiltrate the village to brutalize and massacre everyone. Andi, Deverane, his team, and two other survivors escape and are forced to hike through dense forest and enemy territory to get to the relative safety of the capitol. [If you mean the city, rather than a building, you mean "capital."] On their frantic journey through the mountains they discover evidence that Zulaire’s so-called civil war is just the first strike in a terrifying alien race's attempt to subjugate the entire Sector. ["Assimilate." It is the Borg, right?]

Deverane, busily falling in love with Andi, fights his way across half of Zulaire, trying to protect her at all costs from rebel fighters and the dangers of the planet’s untamed wilderness. He only hopes he can get his people to the capitol in time to stop the whole planet from being consumed in a massive bloodbath that would destroy all of Zulaire, and maybe take the rest of the galaxy with it. [If you're a terrifying alien race whose goal is to subjugate an entire sector, and your first step is to destroy a backwater hole called Zulaire, and one Special Forces team can thwart you, I'm thinking you were overreaching. True, Gimlet, Lego and Arrogant managed to hold off six million orcs, but if the orcs had had the firepower of the Death Star it might have been a different story. When a dozen Borg cubes are in orbit over the Earth, we'll need more than Jack Bauer and Chloe O'Brian to get us out of this one.]

Mission to Zulaire is a 100,000 word military science fiction novel set against the beginnings of a violent and devastating civil war on the alien planet of Zulaire. I look forward to sending you the complete manuscript, and thank you for taking the time to consider my work.

Sincerely,


Notes

I think this could be tightened up a bit. For instance:


Special Forces Captain Tom Deverane has just started thinking about how to spend his retirement bonus when HQ assigns him one last mission: rescue a civilian woman stranded on a planet on the verge of violent civil war. Someone has pulled some serious strings to get this one woman plucked out of the hot zone by Deverane and his team.

Andrianda Markriss isn’t about to pack up and leave Zulaire just because of Deverane’s orders, though. Deverane’s never met anyone so hard-headed--or so appealing. And just as Deverane finally does persuade Andi to leave . . .


That's fewer words and not much less information.

Even if your goal is to take over Zulaire, rather than the entire sector, I wouldn't think you'd bother sending your forces in to massacre a village. You'd go after the capital. When the Borg attack Earth, their opening salvo isn't going to be the destruction of Oulu, Finland.

For some reason I expect major war in military science fiction (perhaps I shouldn't?), and here I get the impression that Deverane's team may prevent war entirely. How many aliens are on Zulaire, who are they, what kind of weapons do they have, and is there more military action than Deverane's team being chased through the woods? A little more about the war would help us see how the action on Zulaire could affect the whole galaxy.

10 comments:

pjd said...

I like the potential of this. Sounds formulaic, sure, but it also sounds like a fun book and a good read. From the writing of the query I can imagine being swept up in the gritty chase through the forests to the capital.

EE clearly points out the plot hole in the attack on nowheresville. I bet you could come up with something that makes it work, though. Or if you already have, try to fit it into the query to eliminate the question.

I also really like GTP #4, though a better title might be "Little Miss Moonshine."

Phoenix said...

I've seen this query in a couple of its earlier incarnations, and whle, yes, it can still be tightened and improved (can't ALL of them?!), it's 1000% improved from before.

So MAJOR kudos to the author for picking and choosing from proferred advice (I CLEARLY see sections that you've improved based on feedback - on their frantic journey, for example) to move these revisions in the right direction.

Is it corny for me to say the most enjoyment I get from these critique sites is watching the metamorphosis of the works of people who actually hear advice, think about it, GET IT, and put the applicable bits to proper use?

BuffySquirrel said...

They fight their way on foot across half the planet? How many years does that take?

talpianna said...

After bringing up the heroine's attachment to her host family, surely they should be among the escapees? A mixed party of (presumably peaceful) natives and Green Beret types should make for interesting character revelation and a natural way to show what the culture of Zulaire is like.

But I think the author should take a look at Gordon R. Dickson's Dorsai novels to pick up on some really clever and innovative military tactics.

Wonderwood said...

Like Phoenix, I've seen this query before - not sure if it was here or on Elektra's crapometer - and I agree, this is a HUGE improvement over the previous one. I'm no query genius like some of the folks around here, but I think this one is pretty close to go.

Anonymous said...

This query is surprisingly good (I wasn't expecting much after reading the opening posted a while back. You've got a strong voice and have included specifics of plot and action (maybe you should use this voice for your opening).

Only one suggestion do I have: I initially thought I was reading a synopsis, because it's a little long.
EE is correct that you do need to compact it a little; just a little.

writtenwyrdd said...

This is far better from the crapometer version. Addressing one of EE's nit picks, you could insert a mention that the alien invasion of this planet appears to be part of a larger plot that will take over the system/galaxy/empire/republic. I think that this particular issue still lacks urgency in the letter. Otherwise it seems like submission ready to me, if you tighten it up as EE suggests.

Anonymous said...

Here's the revised version, I hope its a little better now.

Dear Benevolent Editor:

Special Forces Captain Tom Deverane has just started thinking about how to spend his retirement bonus when HQ assigns him one last mission: rescue a civilian woman stranded on a planet on the verge of violent civil war. Someone has pulled some serious strings to get this one woman plucked out of the hot zone by Deverane and his team.

Andrianda Markriss isn’t about to pack up and leave Zulaire just because of Deverane’s orders, though. Deverane’s never met anyone so hard-headed- or so appealing. Just as he manages to persuade her to leave with him, rebel fighters infiltrate the village to brutalize and massacre everyone. Andi, Deverane, his team, and two young members of Andi’s host family manage to escape the slaughter. The ragtag band finds themselves forced to hike through dense forest and enemy territory to get to the relative safety of the capital. On their frantic journey through the mountains they discover evidence that Zulaire’s so-called civil war is only part of a larger plot in a terrifying alien race's attempt to subjugate the entire Sector.

Deverane, busily falling in love with Andi, fights his way across half of Zulaire, trying to protect her at all costs from rebel fighters and the dangers of the planet’s untamed wilderness. He only hopes he can get his people to the capital in time to stop the whole planet from being consumed in a massive bloodbath that would destroy all of Zulaire, and maybe take the rest of the Sector with it.

Mission to Zulaire is a 100,000 word adult science fiction novel set against the beginnings of a violent and devastating civil war on the alien planet of Zulaire. I look forward to sending you the complete manuscript, and thank you for taking the time to consider my work.

Sincerely,
Scott D.

Wes said...

Just a few comments rather than an indepth critique.

Good job of tightening the query. It reads much better, but there is a bit more you can do. Consider the first sentence, "Special Forces Captain Tom Deverane has just started thinking about.....". It could easily be "Special Forces Captain Tom Deverane is thinking about......."

I feel a need to know how he is planning on stopping the bloodbath that would destroy the planet. That's a pretty tall order.

The plot reminds me of the Bruce Willis movie in 2003, TEARS OF THE SUN. It has a special ops team led by Willis to rescue a hot, intelligent, determined babe who doesn't want to go even though she's endangered by a civil war and genocide. There might be some resistence due to the similarity of story lines.

Best wishes.

Phoenix said...

Just about there, I think!

A couple of final edit suggestions:

I'd go with Wes' revise for the first sentence.

"this one woman" - change to "her"

delete "and two young member's of Andi's host family" - they neither add nor subtract from the query.

Do three non-military personnel added to a hot shot team turn a group into a "ragtag band"?

"finds themselves" - change to "are" or "is" depending on what kind of group/band/unit you decide on.

"only part of a larger plot" - delete "only"

Is "terrifying" supposed to be modifying the alien race or the attempt?

Delete "at all costs"

OK, it's SF, but are there any "tamed wildernesses" in this universe?

"He only hopes he can get his people" - change to "His only hope: that he can get his people"

"whole planet" - delete "whole"

"adult science fiction novel" - delete "adult" and stick a period after "novel."

Delete all of "set against ... of Zulaire" - that's what you've just finished telling us in the hook.

Good luck!