Monday, November 23, 2009

Face-Lift 700!

Guess the Plot

The Last Ride

1. An aging cowboy on his last cattle drive, from Texas to Ogallala, Nebraska, plans to stampede the herd and throw himself under it--until he falls for a saloon owner during a rest stop outside Oklahoma City. Is it ever too late for romance?

2. Abandoned at age eight on a carnival ride, Sandra Fforde now studies mechanics by day and destroys carnival rides by night, both with unmitigated success. How? She made a deal with Satan. The complication? Jordan Wong, and the tunnel of love.

3. When Toni and Maurice tell conman Vinni Finch they're taking him for a ride, he offers to drive. Three state lines later he's convinced them to be his partners. But their current mark has an ace in the hole: Boss Martini wants his best muscle men back.

4. Jeff is supposed to get the kids once a month, but Julie wouldn't let him have them the last three months. Now he's taken them to Disneyland, the fireworks have finished, the kids are surly and the lines are long. And when the boat stalls on "It's a Small World," Jeff finally snaps.

5. When the angel Gabriel's wife dies, he decides it's time to start the apocalypse. But the four horsemen have settled down with good jobs and lives, and they don't want a depressed angel screwing it all up. So they saddle up and prepare for what may be . . . The Last Ride.

6. Charon has taken multitudes on their last ride. And he's sick of it. He announces that anyone who needs to cross the Styx after Thursday had better bring along a canoe. When Hades gets word of what's going on, the storm clouds start brewing.

Original Version

Dear Agent Acrimonious:

I'm writing to you because I've enjoyed [some recently published books] by [authors you represent], and believe you may be interested in The Last Ride, my 90K work [Has K become an abbreviation for thousand-word?]of humorous fantasy. [You should probably put the part where you claim you loved the books you never read by the authors you never heard of more toward the end of the query.]

When Gabriel Seraph's wife dies, he gives up on life. All life. Because Gabriel is THAT Gabriel, messenger of God and the angel sent to earth sixty years ago to bring about the apocalypse. Now that he's got nothing to live for, he's going to finish the job. [You'd have to be a pretty benevolent boss to put up with an employee who takes sixty years to start a project you assigned him. That or the angels have one powerful union.]

But he's not the only one with a say in the matter. The four horsemen are also on earth. Death owns a funeral parlor, Famine runs a food bank, Pestilence works at the Center for Disease Control and War is a peace activist.
[Famine: I've prevented thousands from starving.

Pestilence: I've cured cancer.

War: I'm working for peace on Earth.

Death: Man, you guys are killing my profit margin.]
They're quite happy with the lives they've built for themselves, and they're not about to let a disillusioned angel wreck it all.

While Gabriel sets out to recover the seven vials of God's wrath, the four horsemen saddle up for the bumpiest ride of their existence.

The manuscript is complete and available on request. My short stories have appeared in [print]. Should you require more information about me, I maintain a blog at [hollywood & vine] and my web page is [sorely in need of an update]. [More information about you isn't required at this time.]

Thanks for your time.


This sounds good. Funny and clever idea. Of course the plot summary is all set-up, so you might want to throw in some details, like where the vials are, how the horsemen plan to stop Gabriel, etc. Especially if it's amusing, something like:

As Gabriel sets out to recover the seven vials of God's wrath, guarded for centuries by the senile cyclops of Sargasso, little does he suspect that the horsemen have recruited Aquaman to assist them and will soon set out on the bumpiest ride....


Dave F. said...

And when the boat stalls on "It's a Small World," Jeff finally snaps.

I did that once. I had one kid who refused to ride anything, an adult who gave in to that kid and never said no, another kid soaking wet, a third in tears over the haunted house ride, another adult screaming at the rest of the group, so I said that we all go on it (because I had been on that ride at the New York City World's Fair) and forced them to load me onto the ride and lift me back out. It worked, they all shut up after that and behaved, even the adults.

... query? what query... OH! let me read it.

BUT FIRST -- read the number 700. EE hit 700. 700 queries critiqued. seven hundred. That's thirty-five score and none left over. It's been a long and arduous slog helping others get published but you did it. You did all of them. Hooray! You might even qualify for sainthood. The faithful might start calling you blessed Evil Editor!


Eric P. said...

700? What is this madness? This... is... the wrong movie! But heartiest congratulations to EE; all together now: "For he's a jolly good [if really rather quite evil] fellow..."

The query itself looks pretty good. Angels being married is probably inaccurate, biblically speaking (Mark 12:25 if you like), but presumably in a story that features the Spirit of War as a peace activist, you needn't concern yourself too much with such niceties.

A few more plot details would be welcome; "the bumpiest ride" on its own leaves a bit to be desired.

Apocalyptic humor is a very clever idea, and the concept looks like it should be fun here. May we hope for some playful digs at Left Behind and similar biblical potboilers?

Dominique said...

It sounds like an interesting read.

I do have one question. Who is Gabriel's wife? If she's mortal, that implies that she's human. Last time the sons of God (angels) went unto (took for their wives) the daughters of man (human women) they fell from grace with God. So, how does that all work, exactly?
You don't really need to explain that for the query to function, but it did create a 'say, what?' moment for me.

Chris Eldin said...

LOL at this:
Famine: I've prevented thousands from starving.
Pestilence: I've cured cancer.
War: I'm working for peace on Earth.
Death: Man, you guys are killing my profit margin.

But the author's not too shabby either. Love this idea! Sounds fun!

Steve Wright said...

Seven hundred face-lifts? That's more than Joan Collins. It deserves recognition.

As to the actual query - so far, it looks like a comedy version of The Prophecy - which is not necessarily a bad thing, if you can pull it off. But it would probably help to have more information about the plot, as well as the set-up. It's not very long right now; there's probably room to fit in a short paragraph about the storyline.

wendy said...

This is a compelling story. Setting it within a biblical context instantly increases the level of tension. There may be some kick back, though, from those who are not amused with a parody of the end of the world.

I'm not an agent or an editor so take my next statement with a grain of salt. The overall tone of your query seems flippant and that makes me doubt your skills. Actually, it makes me doubt that you're done with the story too. I don't know why that is, sorry.

EE made a very valuable observation in pointing out that your query lacks detail. I think it lacks important details regarding character motivations. To me it looks like you've got one "almost character" in Gabriel and three more cardboard cut outs. We need more (but not more words). Some of the "how" would be nice too.

Good luck on your story. This is a book I might pick up. I'd probably even buy it if it looked like it was fully realized.

Congrats to EE on number 7-0h-0h!

I spend most of my time writing now, so I don't get to take part as often as I'd like. However I do still lurk and learn.

Over the past three years I have written two novels and three screenplays. The crowd on this site has made them better, and whenever I become tired or a bit discoraged I check in with you and the minions. Your energy and guidance always revives me.

In fact, per one of EE's more insightful suggestion regarding a screenplay query I submitted I have gone back to novel writing and am working on my third. I am slowly improving and one day hope to be good enough to be published. If that ever happens your encouragement and the minions help will have played a large roll in any success I achieve.

I do hope you never come to doubt the difference you make. Sometimes writing has nothing at all to do with getting published. Those are the good days.

Thanks again EE. I hope you and your family are well, and I send my very best to all the minions!



Dave F. said...

I came back to the query.

Your query should start where your current query ends. Try starting out with something like "The road to the Apocalypse is filled with peril. Not so much for the mortals waiting to be judged but the four horsemen have been dogging it and boy, are their asses dragging."

What makes their journey so memorable and how does it prevent the apocalypse? This sounds like a light and fluffy satirical romp. It needs a light and fluffy query. You started out in the right direction, keep going.

Anonymous said...

What they said. I agree that this set-up has amusing qualities but the query somehow gives me doubt about whether the narrative plays out in a way that fully realizes the potential. I think consistent tone & subtle irony would be best.

I've written at least 1200 GTPs, many of which also had amusing qualities, so I'm a lot less impressed with clever plots than I used to be, and a lot more impressed with good execution.

Adam Heine said...

I like the introduction of Gabriel, but I wonder why he is only doing the apocalypse now. What stopped him before?

I got distracted with the personifications of the Four Horsemen because I was thinking of where I'd seen that before, particularly in humorous fantasy.

The bottom line is now I want to know what makes this different from Gaiman and Pratchett's Good Omens. One strong way to start is by giving me a character I care about. Right now the query makes me laugh, but not necessarily care.

Kings Falcon said...

Yea for face lift 700!!!

I was so hoping it was this GTP because I REALLY like GOOD OMENS. And that's what you sound a lot like, which could be good. But it also makes me wonder how you are different since your horsemen take the flip side of Terry Pratchett's and Neil Gaimon's by denying the role they are suppose to play.

I also agree with Dave that the Query needs to start where yours currently ends.

Who is your MC? Gabriel or the Horsemen?

If it's Gabriel, then you could stay something like -

The road to the apocalypse is filled with peril. Love made Archangel Gabriel stay his hand. But now grieving the loss of his wife, he finally understands pain and wants it to end - for him and all of humanity. He marshalls the horsemen only to find that they prefer thier "human" existance.


Make sure the tone of the query matches the tone of the book. I want to see your sense of humor and get a sense of what the book's will be like.

Good luck with this one.

Anonymous said...

Congrats EE, on 700 face-lifts without botox, although you have kept me in stitches! Hey, GTP #1 sounds an awful like Terms of Endearment, er, no, I mean, The Last Picture Show?? Will wait to comment on the rev. to this query.