Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Face-Lift 624

Guess the Plot

Leonard the Great

1. Leonard doesn't have any problems with being run-of-the-mill. Unfortunately, his father is Phil the Fabulous and his younger brother is Richard the Very Awesome. Is there something incredible in his genes?

2. I am tasked with telling the story of an amazing man, one who led Subiru through its greatest triumphs and darkest hours. From the horror of the great Muskrat Swarm to our victory over Hoondai, he was our King. But no one must ever learn about the goats.

3. Leonard Albacore's mission: get his master, Sir Ronald the Mediocre, a seat at the Round Table. But when Sir Ronald gets arrested for attempted bravery without a license, will Leonard have what it takes to spring him from the royal dungeon?

4. Leonard got called a lot of names growing up: Leonard the Fat, Leonard the Smelly, Leonard the Plain. Later, he became Leonard the Bald, Leonard the Flabby, and even Leonard the Limp. But now, with an unexpected inheritance and a bottle of Rogaine, a vial of Viagra, and a gutful of Hydroxycut, he can finally be . . . Leonard the Great.

5. In the twenty-third century, popes are chosen from among the crowds gathered to celebrate the winter solstice in St. Peter's Oblong. Leonard Jones, stumbling his way from one great Italian restaurant to another, pops in for a drink at the Vatican's La Trattoria PietroPaulo and finds himself anointed before he can finish his beer.

6. Leonard is just another downtrodden cubicle-jockey, until the CEO has a breakdown and declares martial law throughout the building. Suddenly Leonard's detailed knowledge of places to hide and sneak a smoke is vital to the survival--and eventual triumph--of the entire staff.

Original Version

Dear Editor,

Leonard the Great is a middle-grade fantasy novel (77,000 words) set in the days of King Arthur. It's the story of Leonard Albacore, [Already this is sounding like a fish story.] a young page who dreams of getting Sir Ronald the Mediocre, his kind but incompetent master, a seat at the Round Table. [Ah, I was wrong. It's a fish-out-of-water story.] After a chance encounter with a suicidal dragon, he cooks up a plan that will get both of them what they want -- death for the dragon and a sure-fire invite to Camelot for Sir Ronald.

But the plan backfires horribly when the [tuna cartel get wind of the plan and suggest that the] snooty Knights of the Round Table show up and arrest Sir Ronald for "attempted bravery [and fishing] without a license", dragging him off to Camelot's dungeons. Wracked with guilt, Leonard vows to do whatever it takes to free his master even if it means having to outwit dangerous monsters, doing battle with an ancient evil that has taken over Camelot, or going on a dangerous quest with a girl that takes his breath away every time he looks at her.

Full of rough and tumble action, this boy-centric novel is also rich with irreverent asides and unique characters.

I would be happy to send a sample chapter at your request.



This sounds good as it is. It does open the door to a question, namely how is going on a dangerous quest with a girl and outwitting dangerous monsters connected to getting Ronald out of the dungeon? Did the knights give Leonard these tasks, like the Wizard of Oz tasking Dorothy with getting the witch's broomstick? I would suggest dumping the monsters and quest and focusing on the ancient evil:

Wracked with guilt, Leonard vows to do whatever it takes to free his master. But now an ancient evil has settled over Camelot, causing A, and unless Leonard can B, C will happen. Presumably you know your ABCs. Better to give us one super-adversary than to make it sound like a series of unrelated events. (This might be true of the book as well as the query, but I assume the connection is made in the book.)

How hard can it be for a suicidal dragon to die? If plummeting from 20,000 feet won't do it, walking into Camelot breathing fire should get the job done.


JFK said...

How hard can it be for a suicidal dragon to die?If the situation's anything like Jennifer Fallon's Tide Lords series, very :) I'm guessing the dragon is either immortal or incompetent.

I hoped we were heading for GTP #3! I think the voice here is very engaging and since fantasy/humour is something I read (and write), I'd be on this in a flash.

As far as the specifics of the query go, I wouldn't mind seeing a bit more of what actually happens - at the moment, it's mostly set-up. I suggest ditching the third paragraph (show us what the novel is full of, don't tell us) and give us a few specifics about Leonard's quest.

Good job!

Chris Eldin said...

I like this, but the word count is long for a middle-grade. Do you have two books in there?

Anonymous said...

This sounded good for mid-grade, but the implausibility factor might not wash with some mid-grade readers, which might make this an early reader.

Teagen said...

The dragon part made me laugh. And he still might not die walking into Camelot breathing fire. He might end up killing everyone instead. In which case, I think it would be hilarious to read about his reaction.

I would almost prefer to read a novel based around a suicidal dragon than about knights, but that's just me.

Lauren K said...

Sounds like a fun story. What happened to the dragon? Was he killed?

Anonymous said...

sounds good to me!

_*rachel*_ said...

It may not be for my age level, but I'd pick it off the bookshelves at the first mention of Sir Ronald the Mediocre.

A little more plot instead of the 3rd paragraph would hit the spot well.

Chelsea Pitcher said...

I liked this, although I felt bad for the dragon. Twisting someone's suicidal tendencies to serve your own means seems . . . harsh.

Lost me at "boy-centric" though. It seems unnecessary. If you're saying the book is centered around a boy, we already get that. If you're saying it's geared toward boys only, well . . . what purpose does that serve?

talpianna said...

Maybe Merlin gives the dragon psychotherapy? He winds up not only non-suicidal but a GOOD dragon!

Author said...

Thank you EE and minions for helping me clarify and improve my query! I'm especially grateful for the notes on the second and third paragraphs. I sensed they needed some sharpening, but wasn't quite sure which route to take.

EE: Excellent fix for the second paragraph. Thank you.

@Chris Eldin: Yes, I suppose it is a little long. Maybe I have the first two thirds of yet another (dreaded) fantasy trilogy!

@Elsie K: He lives.

@chelsea: I've read interviews with publishing professionals where they lament that "boys don't like to read". The "boy-centric" line is an attempt to convey to an editor that this is a book that boys might actually want to read. Perhaps that needs to be clarified, too.

@talpianna: He does indeed turn out to be a very good dragon.

Thanks again, everyone!

Chelsea Pitcher said...

Gotcha. I thought maybe that was what you were driving at. For some reason the "centric" rubbed me the wrong way. Keep in mind, I seem to be the only one it bothered.

I'm glad the dragon lives :)

pacatrue said...

I was worried that funny suicide was inappropriate for middle grade, but no one else seems to think so, so I guess it's good.

Author said...

@pacatrue: Technically, the dragon wants to commit "death by knight" since a tragedy robbed him of his wife (he thinks). In no way is the act of suicide played for yuks in the manuscript. I agree that would be inappropriate.

Kelsey (Dominique) Ridge said...

I really like the voice in your query. Personally, I'd move that first sentence to somewhere else nearer the bottom and jump right into the story.