Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Face-Lift 584


Guess the Plot

Stoned

1. The special seeds from Amsterdam that Dane ordered to save his gardening business from ruin will earn him a fortune, if only he can keep the cops away and stop his partner Craig from smoking most of the crop. Oh, and escape the heavies that Ted "The Shiv" has sent to kill him.

2. Alexander Weiss has been charged with a difficult task: find a husband for Medusa's sister, who has a bad habit of turning her suitors into stone. Hilarity ensues, especially when Alex falls for the bachelorette himself. Also, a javelin contest.

3. When the wizard Greybeard bequeaths the fabled Gravel of the King to the brave young halfling Mojo, no one anticipates the effect these magical elf stones will have on his smaller physiology. Only two things are for certain: they're going to need a lot of munchies and this is going to be the grooviest quest Medium Earth has ever seen.

4. Spaced-out toker, Floyd T. Droop, drops his entire stash of class A drugs when a bunch of equally out-there cops raid a neighbouring apartment searching for potato chips. With only the spirits of 1,584 dead Navajo Indians to guide him, will he ever make it back under his bean bag?

5. Melody Harker finds the alcoholic satyr Silenus stumbling around the dandelions in her window box. She takes him in, sobers him up and gives him back to Dionysus, who (also drunk almost to incoherence) gives her the Midas Touch in return. Unfortunately, he's afraid of what a sudden influx of gold will do to the modern economy and substitutes igneous rock. Now she's afraid everything she touches will be taken for granite.

6. When bumbling politician, Mike McMichaels, argues for the legalization of marijuana and is successful, he doesn't realize his campaign slogan--"Getting stoned: Not as bad as it seems"--was misinterpreted until he's found guilty of fraud and positioned against a wall for some old-fashioned punishment.


Original Version

Dear EE,

I am seeking representation for Stoned, a 65,000 word satire.

Alexander Weiss's morning routine is interrupted when a whale is dropped on his head. The twelve Olympians have returned after a much needed vacation, [I'll save the minions the trouble of Googling the Twelve Olympians. They are: Zeus . . . um . . . Mrs. Zeus . . . Michael Phelps, Apolo Anton Ono, Thor, Sauron, Penelope Cruz, Hemingway, Aquaman and the Beatles (without Ringo).] and he just happened to be caught in the crossfire of one of their squabbles. [They settle their squabbles by hurling whales? Have they considered rock, paper, scissors?]

Dying should have been easy, but when Alex crosses into the Underworld, he manages to insult Athena, goddess of wisdom. [If she's so wise, what's she doing in the Underworld?] To make amends, Alex is forced into a simple task -- find a husband for a girl named Euryale. Unbeknownst to Alex, the bachelorette is like her sister, Medusa, and has [snakes on her head, which tends to be a big turn-off to guys. Also, she has] the annoying habit of turning her suitors to stone. After amassing a hefty collection of new statues, Alex falls for her and proposes. [When the minister says, "You may kiss the bride," I'm gonna have second thoughts about marrying a woman with snakes on her head.]

A happy ending should have come posthaste, but in the celebrations, Alex bests Ares in a javelin contest and things become tense. [I bought the flying whale and the woman with the snakes on her head, but a dead guy beating the god of war in a javelin contest? Only if it was a javelin catching contest.] Fortunately, Ares is a good sport, so when he announces his intent to wage war, he gives Alex a week's time to raise an army in response. After all, there is no glory in beating down an unprepared mortal. [When you're the god of war, is there glory in beating down a prepared mortal? I wouldn't expect Tiger Woods to do a victory dance after beating Stephen Hawking at golf, even if Hawking's been practicing all week.]

Now, Alex will need the cunning of Odysseus and the strength of Hercules if he is to survive Ares' wrath, rescue his bride, [From . . . ?] and not piss off the remaining Olympians that still find his antics entertaining.

I am a chaplain, [Are chaplains allowed to say "piss off"?] have an M. Div., [Cleverly abbreviated so we won't realize you mean you have a Moroccan divan. Reminds me of the time I put on my resume that I had a Ph.D. from Brown. When they called me on it I said, "Oh that. I meant I have a Phoenician doorknob that was delivered by UPS.] and am well read in Greek Mythology. Stoned is my first novel. [Unpublished my first novel is. Why are we talking like Yoda?]

Thank you for your time and consideration. I look forward to hearing from you.


Notes

I didn't see the movie Snakes on a Plane, but it would have been cool if it turned out the pilot was Medusa.

Is Alex seeking Euryale's bride among the dead, or in the mortal world or among immortals?

This sounds good. I think I'd like the stakes spelled out better. The stakes should be that Alex's bride needs rescuing, and that he can find happiness in the underworld only by defeating Ares. These antics of Alex that the gods find entertaining don't impress me as stakes in a war.

If you're dead and in the Underworld, does it really matter if you lose a war to the god of war?


20 comments:

Megoblocks said...

Thanks for the feedback. Just a quick clarification for plot (I had left this portion out to try and trim the query) directed at "I bought the flying whale and the woman with the snakes on her head, but a dead guy beating the god of war in a javelin contest? Only if it was a javelin catching contest."

Alex only wins because the gods are using him to get back at one another. The long-short of it being, the contest was rigged by Aphrodite to both humiliate Ares (for going against her wishes) and to set up her revenge on Athena (subplot).

Hope that makes sense.

Evil Editor said...

Women. You just can't trust 'em.

fairyhedgehog said...

I thought this was an interesting query which reminded me a bit of Tom Holt. I'd like to read the book.

I enjoyed the Guess The Plots, especially: "this is going to be the grooviest quest Medium Earth has ever seen", and your comments were hysterical, EE.

writtenwyrdd said...

Sounds like it could be good, but the letter is seriously not selling the story. I'd work on keeping the lighthearted tone (unless the book isn't a farce/comedy) and clarify what the stakes are, as EE says. The reason Alex is going through all this garbage has to be good.

It might be that you should trim the 'preamble' before the proposal. It sort of sounds like the story's just getting started when he gets married.

Dave F. said...

Well up until this morning I would have said that the plot was too contrived. BUT forget that, the stupidest man in the world just tried to sell the senate seat of the first African American elected president. Hell and damnation!

Bring on this story, a good glass of wine and some stinky cheese...

You got two hooks - one for each of the two paragraphs. That's one too many.

I'd start with Dying should have been easy, but when Alex crosses into the Underworld, he ... he becomes the play toy of the Olympian Gods.

You have to find a way to make the reader care about bored and childish Olympians. Clash of the Titans did it by telling the love story of Perseus and Andromeda. Alexander Weiss falling in love with (what's her name? Oleaginous?) Euryale is something of human interest.

Just like throwing spitballs and pulling pigtails is childish, throwing whales and stoning lovers is childish (but wonderfully god-like behavior). Even Shatner and Star Trek treated the Olympians as spoiled brats. No one wants to giggle at them. They want to giggle at the guy who's trying to win the heart of the girl he's been smitten with, or the girl he hates to much that it's really true love, or the reformed hooker with a heart of gold, or maybe Lena Horne and Zak Efron as the new Adam and Eve.

So rummage around in those 60K words and find the human side of the plot. Then write the query.

Kings Falcon said...

I kept losing track of whether the Alex is alive or dead because you refer to him as a mortal.

As EE says, if you are dead, what happens if you lose the war with Ares? Is he exempt from the stone powers because he's dead?
If the other gods are manipulating Alex, this is probably something we need to know in the query.

Why not start with:

Even dead, Alexander Weiss can't catch a break. The twelve Olympian gods have returned after a much needed vacation, and Alex is swept up in their squabbles. After dodging Athena's schemes to turn him into a statue for her garden, he marries Medusa's sister. But the wedding feast is visited by Discord. Through Aphrodite's machinations and manipulations, Alex bests Ares in a javelin contest.

****

Now tell me what happens next.

This could definately be something I'd like.

beth said...

Dear EE,

I am seeking representation for Stoned, a 65,000 word satire.

Alexander Weiss's morning routine is interrupted when a whale is dropped on his head. [great first sentence]

[I found all the rest of this query intriguing--but I did think the plot was about Alex falling in love. If this is not your entire story, then just cut this short--get to the point: After marrying Medusa's sister..."]

A happy ending should have come posthaste, but... [When I read this, I stopped: you mean the love angle wasn't the whole story? I need a sense of what the entire, essential plot is--I start off thinking it's all romance and a love story with these characters, then it ends up being a war story with Ares--which one is the actual plot?]

Megoblocks said...

Few more answers that might help in understand what goes on and maybe refine this more:

"As EE says, if you are dead, what happens if you lose the war with Ares?" Being dead/immortal doesn't mean you are immune from revenge. Near the start, Athena chains Alex to Prometheus's rock (complete with liver eating eagle) to prove this very point. This concept then carries over to Ares, as well as any other Olympians that need to give incentive. Also, by the time the war starts, Alex is head over heels with his wife, but alas, Ares has kidnapped her. So if Alex loses the war, he loses Euryale too.

"Is he exempt from the stone powers because he's dead?" Yes. Perk of being dead :)

Generally speaking, the manuscript is divided in two (it just worked out that way) where the first half is finding a suitor for Euryale, ending with marriage and the insulting of Ares. The second half is the war, where Alex must defend himself and rescue is kidnapped bride.

So overall, it is a love story where Alex starts alone, finds an unlikely lover, is seperated from her and must then get her back. The conflict with Ares is the source of their seperation and lack of eternal bliss.

Hope that helps. Thanks again for the feedback.

Kings Falcon said...

"So overall, it is a love story where Alex starts alone, finds an unlikely lover, is seperated from her and must then get her back. The conflict with Ares is the source of their seperation and lack of eternal bliss."

Okay, so focus on that. It's not so much that he's in a war with Ares but he has to battle Ares to get the love of his life back.


So, maybe:

Alexander Weiss never expected to find his true love after death. Or that the girl would be Medusa's sister. Or that he'd become the Olympian gods' plaything. But there are just some afterlifes that aren't worth dying for.

Through Aphrodite's machinations and manipulations, Alex bests Ares in a javelin contest. In retribution for the humiliation, Ares kidnaps Alex's new bride and promises to make Prometheus's suffering look like a day at the spa compared to what he'll do to Alex. Alex will need the cunning of Odysseus and the strength of Hercules if he is to survive Ares' wrath, rescue his bride, and not piss off the remaining Olympians that still find his antics entertaining.

###

Does that get closer to the tone and gist of the novel?

Anonymous said...

EE's words in blue were hilarious and the actual author's query piqued my interest. (I'm a myth lover from way back and the Greek ones are really greek to me.) So heed the advice of the wiser minions and please post your revised attempt. Oh, I'm rotten at the query trough, but I would like to know what kind of whale is dropped on Alex's head. Please, please, please make it sperm!!!

Meri

BuffySquirrel said...

What's being satirised?

Whirlochre said...

I think the query needs tightening up along the lines suggested, but as soon as I read it, I sensed the germ of potential.

This one will stand or fall on the way you balance the serious research of the Greek myths with the satirical poke and play at their expense. Err too far on the side of acccuracy and you'll end up with something clever/dull. Err too far on the side of satire and the myths will fall apart. Get it right, and it sounds like a stack of fun — especially if Euryale gets to sing.

Megoblocks said...

"I would like to know what kind of whale is dropped on Alex's head. Please, please, please make it sperm" Actually its an orca (aka killer whale). Thought that was a little more clever.

"Does that get closer to the tone and gist of the novel?" Yeah. I'll be tweaking all of it after I sit on it for a while and post for more feedback. Thanks :)

December/Stacia said...

Ditto King's Falcon's suggestions re the wording; cut to the chase and tell us what the story is.

I have to admit, though, that fun as this sounds (and it does sound like it could be a hoot) I'm a bit worried about the wordcount. 65k seems awfully short for a plot this intricate, and it's short for adult fiction. That doesn't make this an impossible sale or anything, but it did raise my eyebrows.

Brenda Bradshaw said...

I like it, but right now, I'm leaning into mythology more than normal. My daughter had a project and did a blog for it. She chose to be Pheme, for those in the know. It's neat to see a new "story" like the ones so odd that she'd researched.

65K does sound awfully short.

(Oh... anyone wondering about Pheme and remembering a ninth grader did this: http://inphamousphemephatale.blogspot.com)

pacatrue said...

At a minimum, your marketing tag line is set. Everybody must get stoned.

rjaye said...

Having a strong interest in Greek mythology, I would definitely read this.

Though having the Roman spelling of Heracles does irk me a little bit, but that might just be me. :D

Megoblocks said...

"Heracles does irk me a little bit" Glad you saw that, since it now bothers me a lot. Consider it fixed :)

talpianna said...

Considering the brevity, have you considered working this into a YA novel, like Nancy Springer's DUSSSIE and Esther Friesner's TEMPING FATE? (By the way, neither of those is misspelled.)

Megoblocks said...

Just wanted to update if anyone makes it back this way, I revamped the query based on all of this and used it for my pitch for the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award. Currently made it through to the quarterfinals :) Can't thank you all enough for the invaluable feedback.

(Stoned Entry Here)