Tuesday, August 24, 2010
Guess the Plot
Walk the Broken Road
1. It's not easy to get to Ambercross. Mostly because it's a fictional world created by author Casey Winter. But Casey's ex-husband, a well-known pastor, has gotten there, and he's planning to destroy the place with C4 and Napalm. Which will pretty much ruin Casey's writing career. Can she find her way to Ambercross in time to save her novel ? Also, a cannibal.
2. Isolated since 1917, when floods washed the road out, everyone in Ridgeville is paranoid of the Outside. But 14-year-old hillbilly genius Buddy Boone is determined to take his banjo to Nashville and embrace modernity. First he must invent an inflatable raft using pigskin glued with tree sap. Or maybe he'll just . . . walk the broken road.
3. Hunter Jones is on the verge of country music stardom with an album about growing up on a farm in Kentucky. Only one problem: Hunter is actually part of the British peerage. How long can he keep up the charade before that cute reporter digs up the truth?
4. Road worker Melanie is having a bad day. Her civil engineering degree hangs useless on the caravan wall as the sun blazes down on her. A bunch of drunk and disorderly giants have stolen all the road signs on route 43. And as Melanie fills another foot-shaped pothole, she fails to notice the spaceship descending toward her.
5. One day Josh oversleeps and wakes up to find zombies attacking the city. What's worse, his brain has already been eaten, yet somehow he's still walking around. Being dead feels great! He decides to help others find the same undead bliss he's discovered--while at the same time satisfying his craving for grey matter.
6. With Dorothy gone you'd think Oz had been set straight. But with her sisters out of the way, the good witch Glinda has become the wicked bitch of the South, and she's ruling Oz with an iron wand. Can the once-cowardly Lion convince the Scarecrow to stop waxing philosophic as he wanders the poppy-fields, and to drag Tinman away from crying over his tv-soaps and rusting himself, so they can finally free Oz from the last despotic witch-sister?
Dear Evil Ed.,
Fantasy novelist Casey Winter isn’t a hero. She just writes about them. Jack, her violent ex-husband, is the famous pastor of a powerful mega-church and wants her to defend his abusive history on national television. [My husband abused me throughout our miserable marriage, Oprah, but I defend to the death his right to do so.] [He wants her to defend his abusive history? What does that mean? I can only guess that instead of "defend" you mean "disavow." Or maybe "forgive." Either way, if she does this on national television, won't that just call more attention to his abusive history? Is that what he wants? You wouldn't think a guy with a widely known abusive history would have enough parishioners to fill a mega-church.] [Which is bigger, a mega-church or a humongo-mosque?] He attempts legal blackmail, threatening to seize her house if she doesn’t co-operate. [If they're divorced, surely the ownership of the house has been settled. If it's her house, how can he seize it?] [Also, if I were Jack, I would be seriously worried that Casey would go on national television and say, "Jack has threatened to seize my house if I don't disavow his abuse, but I can't lie, he brutalized me like Mike Tyson brutalizes his cellmate," and then pastor Jack loses whatever reputation he had. I'd feel safer buying her a new house in New Zealand than putting her on television.] When she contacts his former lawyer, [Why not contact his current lawyer? What's in it (whatever "it" is) for his former lawyer?] she receives a letter from a younger, saner Jack. He left Casey a set of magical paintings in the event of his death, and his artwork and letters lead to a startling discovery: her fictional world, Ambercross, is real and in need of her help. [You've lost me. If the paintings go to Casey when Jack dies, and he's still alive, how has his artwork led anywhere? Presumably she hasn't inherited it yet.] [Also, it's a little late in the query for such a radical turn of events. If your main character is a mermaid, reveal it up front.]
Her novel’s protagonist is framed for an attack on the King of the Faeries and can’t defend himself, as he’s currently stuck in the villain’s body. The King is MIA. His temporary regent is in her ex’s employ and will gladly trade the treasury for a chance to turn humans into slaves (and the occasional snack). When the King’s attacker appears in Casey’s living room, she realizes fairy-tale bad-guys don’t wear Nikes or carry .45s. [That makes no logical sense. Well, it makes sense if what you mean is that Casey used to think fairy tale bad guys wore Nikes and carried .45s, but now that a fairy tale bad guy who's not wearing Nikes and carrying a .45 has appeared before her, she realizes she's been wrong all these years; but what I think you mean is that someone claiming to be the fairy tale bad guy has appeared before her, except he's wearing Nikes and carrying a .45, so he can't possibly be the fairy tale bad guy, in which case you might tweak the sentence to read, When the King’s attacker appears in Casey’s living room, she quickly realizes he's an impostor--fairy-tale bad-guys don’t wear Nikes or carry .45s.] Pastor Jack’s on the prowl, and she’s the only one who can warn Ambercross before he introduces it to C4 and Napalm. And when Jack reveals that he’s actually the disembodied villain, Casey realizes she must fight for more than just her fiction. The fate of two worlds hangs on her choices, and whatever happens, it had better make one hell of a book.
WALK THE BROKEN ROAD is complete at just under 85,000 words. It is intended as the first of a trilogy. This is my first novel. I am a commercial baker in the trenches of a large grocery chain. I also do digital, fantasy themed artwork and have done several covers for a small press. Thank you for your time.
Not part of query: (The title comes from the main theme of faith, and the MC's realization that no matter how nasty things get, she has to keep going.) [The title and its origin sound like literary fiction. The plot summary sounds more like Who Framed Roger Rabbit.]
The first paragraph sounds like a bunch of random backstory plot threads about a woman whose violent ex-husband is making her life miserable. Then suddenly she's tasked with saving the king of the Faeries from her ex while saving humanity from cannibals. That may work in the book, but in the query it's a bit much. I'd base the query mainly in one world, starting:
Fantasy novelist Casey Winter isn’t a hero; she just writes about them. But that all changes when she discovers that her "fictional" world of Ambercross suddenly exists, and her despicable ex-husband Jack is plotting to blow it up.
The second paragraph is a list of the absurd things that are happening in Toon Town, but I think you can work some of that in without losing the main thread. Perhaps by finishing up something like:
This is not the Ambercross Casey created. Her protagonist is stuck in her villain’s body. The King of the faeries is MIA. And his temporary replacement is a cannibal working for Jack! She can't write her way out of this one; she's going to have to go to Ambercross if she wants to save her world . . . and her book.
In between those paragraphs you can have the character show up in Casey's living room to tell her what's happening in Ambercross (I assume that's how she finds out?).