Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Face-Lift 804

Guess the Plot

Thieves of Hearts

1. Two sisters from a noble family happen into Sherwood Forest where they team up with Robin Hood and steal the hearts of two of his Merry Men. Will the girls reveal their background and risk losing their outlaw boyfriends if it means preventing a plot against King Richard?

2. Carl is outraged the former Vice President ordered a younger heart be stolen to replace the mechanical one he is currently using. The quest leads him to the famed Rom Dismemberment clan of Northern Hemocardiostan, somewhere near Turkey. Also, vats of baby blood.

3. June (Gary) McBride (age 73) and May (Mark) Flora (age 75) wrote this year's top selling romantic comedy "Steal my Heart". They are kidnapped by a government think tank who claim the book's popularity is caused by their inclusion of an ancient love spell. Chaos ensues.

4. Darien is a gorgeous young man and part of a crew of four playboys, each devoted to landing a rich and beautiful "cougar" and marrying into money. But when his quarry's beautiful and very single daughter gives him the eye, he feels something he's never felt before--could this be love?

5. For years the fearsome Hawk of London has pillaged and murdered his way to infamy as he takes his revenge on the upper classes who sent his mother to Australia. But when he meets the lovely Lady Cordelia, he decides Australia probably isn't that bad.

6. Metaphor is unheard of in Danny's world. When he and his raggedy band of travelers enter an interdimensional portal, each of them falls in love. Hilarity ensues when a bloodthirsty English teacher tells them all about capturing the heart of their beloved.

Original Version

Dear Evil Editor,

Morgan and Addison have been raised as perfect medieval gentlewomen...and deadly assassins. After all, their father commands the powerful fraternity of nobles, the Parliament of Owls. [The phrase "after all" suggests that whatever follows will explain whatever came before, namely why the ladies are assassins. So it needs to be obvious what the Parliament of Owls has to do with assassins. It isn't. Using an example to clarify, in which of the following pairs of sentences is "after all" a sensible transition?

1. Maria probably can speak Spanish. After all, she grew up in Barcelona.

Maria probably can speak Spanish. After all, she drives a purple Ford.] But when he goes too far during one of his drunken rages, they take their training and run. [Okay, Quiz #2. In which sentence is "but" a sensible conjunction (keeping in mind that "but" suggests a logical relationship between what comes before it and after it; a but b means In spite of the fact that a is true, b is unexpectedly true)?

1. Vanilla is my favorite ice cream flavor, but today I bought chocolate.

2. Vanilla is my favorite ice cream flavor, but I drive a purple Ford.

Note that in sentence 2, the "but" was placed between two statements that are not related. Not unlike saying, Morgan's father commands a fraternity of nobles but she ran away because of his temper.] [Another possible problem here is that readers may think you mean the Parliament of Owls run away, as that is the last collective noun mentioned.] [So, get rid of the transitions in sentences 2 and 3 and change "they" to "Morgan and Addison" in sentence 3 and we're off to paragraph 2.]

The sisters find shelter in Sherwood Forest, and unexpected allies: Robin Hood and his band of outlaws. They come to appreciate a simple life of freedom. More than that, each sister is enjoying the charms of a certain rugged scofflaw. [This makes it sound like they're each enjoying the charms of the same rugged scofflaw. Which would make for a spicier plot, but having read ahead, I know that each has her own rugged scofflaw.] [Also, if they are referred to as "scofflaws" in your book, you may want to rethink, as that term didn't exist until it was coined in 1923.]

Then, during a mission to free one of their own from the Sheriff of Nottingham, the band learns that the Parliament of Owls is planning to strike a devious political blow against the absent king. Only Morgan and Addison have the information and abilities to stop it. If the sisters reveal their pasts, they may lose the men they have come to love--but if they do not, the throne of England could be lost for good. [Only my British minions can say whether they'd be willing to take down the throne of England in order to preserve a romance with someone they've known a few weeks. My guess: yes, in a heartbeat.]

Thieves of Hearts is a young adult novel, complete at 65,000 words, told in alternating voices. The story stands alone but sets up an intended trilogy. The first five pages are below. Thank you for your time.



Sounds like a good story. This plot works fine even if the girls aren't trained assassins. They flee their father's drunken rages, join up with Robin Hood, discover the Owls' plot, and know how to get to the old man, but don't want to reveal how they know. Thus you don't need to call them trained assassins in the query, but if you choose to do so, I think you should reveal how they plan to use their abilities. Are they considering assassinating their father? Or someone else?


BuffySquirrel said...

[T]he band learns that the Parliament of Owls is planning to strike a devious political blow against the absent king.

Good for them. He was a useless bloody king anyway. And expensive. I wouldn't underestimate the regent, however. Devious bugger.

(word ver: lateroi)

Sarah said...

"Only my British minions can say whether they'd be willing to take down the throne of England in order to preserve a romance with someone they've known a few weeks."

Weeks? Hell - days. Hours. Actually, I'll take down the throne for no reason at all, then write a book about it.

fairyhedgehog said...

Only my British minions can say whether they'd be willing to take down the throne of England in order to preserve a romance with someone they've known a few weeks. My guess: yes, in a heartbeat.

You're right as always, EE.

As you are about the query letter. It sounds like a fun story but needs tidying up. I'd love to know more about the Parliament of Owls.

The Invisible Writer said...

I would never read this because I'm a man's man (no, not a man's lover - I'm a DUDE) and this sounds a little heavy on the romance for my personal tastes. BUT . . .

It is a very interesting story! Well done author! Clean up the query and if the writing and voice match the cleverness of the plot I expect to see your book on the shelf! Very cool!

Dave F. said...

I can easily imagine a scene where the two ladies and Robin Hood bound into a room with the head of the OWLS who says "It would take you two to gain access to my hidden lair" and the ladies say "But Daddy, you want to overthrown the king and we can't abide that"... Then of course, eyes grow to the size or dinner plates or fried eggs (pick one).
All in the best swashbuckling manner of Robin Hood.

It's a different take -- two lady assassins. And it sounds like fun to read. Robin always saves Marion (kiss, kiss, hug, hug)and keeps the king on the throne (bow, scrape, bow, scrape). In every Robin Hood story it's about how they get to the historical outcome.

Stephen Prosapio said...

I'd like to review this query, but I drive a purple ford.

Seriously, I'll hope the mistakes in common English usage was a product of trying to spice the query up and not a sign of things to come in the novel. I have a tendency to "over write" when tring to write queries, so I relate.

I bet agents would be willing to give the opening a read once some of EE's catches are cleaned up.

Good luck!

Anonymous said...

"Morgan" and "Addison"? Look, it's 1184, not 2010! PLEASE consider names for the protagonists that are even REMOTELY in period!

vkw said...

ohhhh a new take on Robin Hood where the ladies are the heroines and not the fainters.

The ladies don't even have to be assassins.

They could not doubt march into the Keep, beg for forgiveness, poison their daddy and then go back to Sherwood and faint when they here of their fathers death.

And, the general populace, will believe that it is Robin Hood who saved the day, and of course, never to let a free propoganda get away and being the scallywag (don't use that word that's from the civil war - I looked it up.) that he is, he takes credit for the ladies' actions.

Meanwhile they and their betrothed, attended, bedmates, are smug in the true knowledge of what really happened.

Yep, it's a good plot and I can imagine sequels after sequels. The boyfriends get caught and need to be rescued. Robin Hood gets caught and needs to be rescued. The King gets caught and needs to be rescued. The Parliment of Owls recruit a witch for evil doings and she needs to lose her head.
A troll comes to chop down the forest and it needs to be rescued.

I think the author has something here.

arhooley said...

"Morgan" and "Addison"? Look, it's 1184, not 2010! PLEASE consider names for the protagonists that are even REMOTELY in period!

"Morgan" is possible (enchantress in King Arthur's time), but "Addison" is highly doubtful. Author?

BuffySquirrel said...

Morgan is fine; Addison is right out. But as I keep seeing Parliament of Fowls for Owls, you can ignore me.

Oh. You already were!

Sarah from Hawthorne said...

I too was seriously tripped up by the names. May I suggest Alison instead of Addison? It appeared in the Canterbury Tales, written in the 14th century.

M. G. E. said...

Dang, I was sure GTP #1 was a fake because of the inclusion of Robin Hood material.

I'm surprised to read so many complimenting the plot, I don't think it's a very good plot at all.

For one thing, do we even have a protagonist here? Why is it two girls instead of one girl? If you don't need both girls then the plot is likely improved by condensing it down to one protag. Otherwise things can become diffuse and mottled.

If only the girls have the knowledge and skills to save the throne, why do we need Robin Hood and the Merry Men at all?

Why is saving the throne even important to two girls running with the anti-establishment crowd?

When things get tough and your reader asks why your protag doesn't just walk away rather than face certain death, what's the answer? I don't see them as personally involved.

All of EE's grammar comments are right on, and probably indicates the novel itself is rife with problems.

As for the comments about names and slang-usage, I have to disagree with most of you. What's needed is not -actual- period slang or period-names, just the appearance of it, and barely even that.

"Scallywag" would be fine, it's got ancient-cred, while "scofflaw" is a bit too recent to truly come off as old-sounding.

pacatrue said...

I think the "but" connects the idea of the previous paragraph with the events of the next. In this case, they are "perfect medieval gentlewomen" with an important father (which suggests a possible life of ease), BUT in fact he gets into drunken rages and they must leave.

And so, I think it's a perfectly good use of the conjunction. (As I think "and" is perfectly fine in my sentence just now because it connects the idea of the last paragraph with the new idea, not the last sentence with the new one.) However, whether this use of conjunction is legit or not doesn't matter. It bugs some people and should be therefore removed.

Phoenix said...

So, has this to say about "Addison":

The name Addison derives from the Old English patronymic surname meaning “son of Addie” or “son of Addy.” “Addie” or “Addy” were nicknames for Adam, so the name also means “son of Adam.”

So, period? Yes. For a medieval gentlewoman? No.

Oh, and yes, there were "assassins" during the period. But they drove purple Fords. Er, but the sisters don't seem to fit the description:

a member of a secret sect of Muslim fanatics operating in Persia and Syria from about 1090 to 1256, murdering their victims, usually Crusaders.

Are the sisters double agents? Shouldn't they be pro-Crusaders if they care about Richard and the throne? You could get away with the term in another era, perhaps, but to call them assassins during the time the original assassins were on the prowl is a big red flag.

Also, the sentence "They come to appreciate a simple life of freedom" stood out for me. The Merry Men were outlaws (a perfectly period word), fugitives, not free. The bright, breezy life and tone of the story doesn't quite ring right in an historical where two young women are cast as assassins (whether they are of the Muslim, hashish-eating kind or not).

Clean up the grammar and the research and the kick-ass-Valley-Girl-meets-Errol-Flynn feel and it does sound like it could be an interesting read. I've been devouring all things Robin Hood-related for a long, long time.

Evil Editor said...

I think the "but" connects the idea of the previous paragraph with the events of the next.

Actually, there is no previous paragraph. The "but" is in the first paragraph.

Joe G said...

E.E. was criticizing the flow of the writing. The ideas feel disjointed.

I do think it's a fun idea though. I actually kind of like the idea of Morgan and Addison, valley girls with ninja powers, fighting side by side with Robin Hood. I'd watch that cartoon.

batgirl said...

Yeah, this sounds like a Saturday morning cartoon, and I would have loved it when I was about 8, and watching Rocket Robin Hood (which had an even sillier premise). Is this middle-grade? That's how it reads (cartoon or fanfic).

At my present advanced age & crankiness, I'd probably toss the book across the room as soon as I hit the name 'Addison' for a 12th c. gentlewoman.

batgirl said...

Oh, and I'm with the squirrel - getting rid of Richard would do wonders for the economy of England. The Parliament of Owls wouldn't even have to kill him off, just set him up in a nice cottage somewhere with Blondin.

Kellye Parish said...

Sounds like a really promising premise to me, and the query letter wasn't horrible either. I'd totally ask for a partial. Of course there are issues to be contended with, and maybe I just have a really soft spot for Robin Hood stories, but I'm interested to read more.

Word verification - dormenit: n. the central dwelling area of a mouse hole.

writtenwyrdd said...

I have to agree with pretty much everything said here, but I really agree that it's nice to see the role reversal on the Robin Hood story.

Given that Robin and his merry men are mythological, my feelings aren't wounded by having you make fast and loose with anachronisms...but you need to use them appropriately, and that is generally done via humor. So if you mean this to be a straight romance and not a funny one, be very careful about that.

Just my 2 cents worth. Keep at it, you have an idea that can sell. You just need to make sure the writing does it justice.

Anonymous said...

This sounds like fanfiction with a pair of self-insertion Mary Sues.

Keep writing, and keep learning about writing, Author. We all start out here. :)

Sarah Laurenson said...

Make it an alternate reality story and you can use any name and have them all drive purple Fords.

Steve Mooser already wrote Young Marion's Adventures in Sherwood Forest in the Girls to the Rescue series.

_*rachel*_ said...

Parliament of Owls? Like, Glimfeather and co.?

The main thing I have trouble with here is believing that they're really trained assassins. Tomboys I could believe pretty readily.

I'd read this. It doesn't horrible mess up anywhere, and it's about Robin Hood!

Anon: Morgan is a name from Arthurian legend; it's fine. Addison--you've got a point.

M.G.E.--I disagree: Robin Hood is essential. His name is a two-word hook.

Anachronisms can be used to great effect. Anyone remember "A Knight's Tale?" It's memorable, even if only for the anachronisms.

Grant said...

Nobody mentioned it in four years- the Parliament of Owls is the name of the secret meeting of talking owls from one of the Narnia books. It was The Silver Chair.

I only know this because I was bored and re-read it last week.

Grant said...

Dammit, stop the e-presses. Looks like *Rachel* caught it before me.