Monday, August 02, 2010

Face-Lift 803

Guess the Plot

Knight's Honor

1. Honor Phelps was just a typical high school girl until a magic locket sent her back to the medieval era. Now she's a typical high school girl inhabiting the body of Eleanor of Aquitaine's personal bodyguard.

2. Gwyllim is a cripple, but he still dreams of joining a revered order of knights--if they'll have him. Then he learns that his cherished knights are plotting to destroy his cherished gods. How would an honorable knight handle this?

3. Jaka'el is a knightmare, a spirit haunting the dreams of sleepers and feeding off their emotional distress. Until one day when Jaka's sleeper dies in his sleep and Jaka takes over his body. He wakes up and finds out what it's like to be alive and married to the dead-man's beautiful wife. She loves the new change in her formerly dour husband. But will the other spirits let him stay in the real world?

4. Theodore Knight is a conman on the run from, well, everyone. But, if he can help save Australia's National Three-toed Platypus Preserve, maybe they'll believe he's gone straight long enough for him to steal enough money to buy an island and retire. Also, an ex-girlfriend mob-employed hitman.

5. Det. Kevin Knight and his partner, Det. Jack Wagner had an understanding, look after the other’s family if anything ever happened. Wagner didn’t mind taking on Knight’s only dependent, Crisco, the diabetic Schnauzer. And Knight didn’t mind taking care of Gwen and the kid. In fact he looked forward to it as he pulled the trigger. Little Honor Wagner would finally get to know her father.

6. Jennifer Knight has been a respected journalist for seventy years; but when her prints are found all over a mass-murder scene, some wonder how far she is willing to go for one last big story.

Original Version

Dear Evil Editor,

Gwyllim, a crippled liege-knight, dreams of becoming a Knight of Incaris. The Shae – discredited guardians of the gods – have other plans. [Wouldn't it be kind of embarrassing to be gods and to need guardians?] [How do guardians of gods get discredited? Wait, I know, they lied on their resumes. They weren't qualified to be god guardians.]

Tricked [By whom?] into a vow to rescue Elica, a young woman with forbidden magic abilities, Gwyllim finds himself pitted against the Order he reveres. [Is Elica the knights' captive?] Suspicious of the Shea’s motives, [Their motives in what? Tricking him?] wary of Elica’s emerging shaman skills, and at risk of losing his prized knighthood, Gwyllim struggles with his sense of honor – until he discovers the Knights’ scheme to destroy the gods. [No wonder the gods need guardians. They can't defeat a few knights? Do the gods live on the planet with the knights?]

Aided by Elica and a renegade, half-mad Knight, Gwyllim must penetrate the Order’s citadel and steal back a Shae artifact before the gods die. [That doesn't quite make it clear that the gods won't die if Gwyllim steals the artifact. Changing "before" to "lest" would, but who says "lest" nowadays?]

Knight’s Honor, an heroic fantasy, is complete at 105,000 words.

Thank you for your time and consideration,


Here's what I think the plot is: The Shae had some artifact, which we will call the cup, that allowed them to protect the gods' one weak spot, which we'll call their groin. The Knights of Incaris stole the cup, leaving the gods' groin vulnerable. A relatively useless guy decides to steal back the cup by recruiting another useless guy and a novice shaman, and storming the Knights' citadel. If they succeed, the gods' groin will be safe.

If that is your story, I would bring in the artifact earlier than the last sentence. Open something like this: For centuries the Shae have protected their inconceivably weak gods' Groin of Vulnerability with their mystical Cup of Vigilance. But now the incredibly powerful Knights of Incaris have stolen the Cup, and threaten to destroy the gods by attacking the Groin.

Gwyllim, a crippled liege-knight, has long dreamed of becoming a Knight of Incaris. But when he learns of the Knights' plot, he recruits a half-mad knight and a etc. etc. Somehow this ragtag trio of misfits must infiltrate the Knights' citadel and steal back the Cup; otherwise the people will have no puny and inconsequential gods to pray to.

If that isn't your story, you have even more work to do, because you're not conveying what happens with any clarity. Perhaps if you allowed yourself nine or ten sentences to summarize the story, rather than five, it would be clear to us.


Dave Fragments said...

Crisco, the diabetic Schnauzer.
That's a name that's worthy of choking on your lunch.

EE's explanation makes me think of opera (Parsifal by R. Wagner) and the reasons the query isn't working.

There doesn't seem to be a tie between the disabled Knight, the gods and Elica. That's what I think is missing. These seem to be three people that are strangers and that doesn't make for a compelling story. Something has to tie these three together.

If they are perfect strangers, then something in the narrative has to link them together. Think about Thornton Wilder's Bridge of San Luis Rey.

Anonymous said...

I don't see a motive for anyone. Why did the Shea betray the gods? Why did the Knights betray the gods? Why did the Shea (?) trick Gwyllim into rescuing Elica? Why would Elica and Gwyllim want to save the gods? No one else seems to want them at large.

Also, the title suggests the book is about Gwyllim's great conflict in saving someone he shouldn't. But if he was tricked into making the vow, doesn't that lessen if not clear the dishonor in breaking it?

By the way, if Elica has magical powers, why can't she use them to escape wherever she is? But I guess that's a trivial matter in a world where gods are finite and weak.

vkw said...

someone needs to write #5 and the author needs to write EE's query.

Well enough hard work for today. When does Judge Judy come on?


none said...

What does the knight's liege lord think about all this?

Evil Editor said...

Also, can you say "Knight's liege lord" five times fast?

none said...

Now my tongue is all tied up. I blame you, EE!

batgirl said...

Very confused, and my amateur medieval knowledge isn't helping. What is a liege-knight? Who is he in liege to, or is someone in liege to him? What's the difference between a liege-knight and a Knight? If Gwilym is a cripple, how does this affect his knight-suitability? Who are the Knights of Incari that Gwilym would want to be one of them? Is he in liege to them? Is a liege-knight something like a squire? How can he he be a squire if he's crippled? What does it mean for him if he's crippled in this society? What does it mean to have magical abilities?

Okay. Gwilym is your main character, right? And his goal is to become a Knight of Incari. The obstacles are that he's crippled(?), that he's been given an assignment that will discredit him if he succeeds (rescuing the magic girl), and that the Knights are in reality a bunch of scumbags (in some way). I'm guessing that the Shea will turn out to be the good guys, and he'll cast in his lot with them.
The gods seem even more irrelevant than the Shea. I'd suggest concentrating on Gwilym, Elica, and his disillusionment with the Knights.

M. G. E. said...

I'm surprised this post has gotten so few comments. I think it's because the plot's got as many holes as Swiss cheese :P and we've seen that come out in the few posts so far.

I'm going to say that the plot is a bit of a mess. I am actually interested in the genesis of this book / idea. Were you in love with the characters and setting and then put a plot to them, or the reverse?

I would probably rework the plot, going back to basics. Or, discard the plot and start with a new one if its the world and characters you love. That's a bit harsh though if you've really completed the novel.

In that case you need to figure out the cause and effect, the logical sequence of plot events, your character's motivations, etc., and systematically, rigorously fix them.

What you've seen in these responses is just how quickly reader's will become upset when things don't make sense, or pick out plot holes and problems in motivation.

If at any point your main character can just walk away and live happily ever after, your reader will be screaming at the page, "Just WALK AWAY!"

Now, maybe your book doesn't need fixing at all and it's just difficult to condense its essence into a query. In that case, that's what we're here for ;)

none said...

No, there is no difference between a knight and a liege knight in our mediaeval world. What it may be like in the book's world is anyone's guess.

_*rachel*_ said...

It would Help if you Cut Down on the many Strange Names and Interesting Capitalizations.

If nothing else, I'd be less confused.

Actually, when you start over, it wouldn't hurt to use the first two sentences of the GTP to explain his situation. Then tell us what he does about it--ie, he teams up with Elica, an illegal magic user, to take down the knighthood he once wanted to join.