Friday, August 27, 2010

Face-Lift 813

Guess the Plot

Demon Horn

1. Klaxons. Trumpets. Air horns. All are ear-splittingly loud. But as Lois McGillicuddy is about to discover, nothing can compare to the abject horror of a possessed vuvuzela.

2. Hearing glorious tales of the potency of human horn, but not wishing to resort to cannibalism, adult film star Dick Swingin challenges the evil creatures of hell itself in his quest for the ultimate aphrodisiac.

3. The demon horn casts its red light across the land until it falls upon a poor tavern waiter named Aden. Suddenly Aden challenges a squire to a sword fight, except Aden's "sword" is a broom. Little does anyone suspect that the outcome of this fight will decide the fate of nations.

4. When Julio's mother makes him join middle school band, he thinks all he has to fear is social humiliation. But then he picks out his instrument at that weird pawn shop. Now he plays like an angel, but the rest of the brass section are disappearing one by one.

5. Ada Parker’s newest sax student is hot. Literally. He leaves scorch marks on the couch, wisps of smoke wherever he walks, and his horn always glows when he plays. Though he pays her only what she charges her other students, she can’t help but get the feeling he wants more from her than great sax.

6. Dison Alu, the leader of the World Heritage Foundation anti-poaching task force in Kenya, faces his toughest task yet when one of the protected rhinos begins killing every local it sees, and they in turn decide to kill every rhino they can find.

Original version

Dear Evil Editor,

It is a time of war and prophecy. The demon horn casts its red light over the land. But none of that matters to the tavern boy Aden. Filthy and poor, he is too busy serving tables and hoping for a decent meal. [After hearing about the mysterious and powerful demon horn with its far-reaching scarlet radiance, it's a bit of a letdown to realize the query will focus on a filthy waiter in a bar. But that's just me.]

The great hall is loud with boisterous drinkers. Aden lingers to admire the knights who fought so well at tournament. A group of wealthy youths mock and insult him. Furious, Aden blindly throws himself at Paulo without considering the consequences. [If "blindly" means without considering the consequences, you can delete it. If it means he had his eyes closed, okay.] A tavern boy, who is only familiar with using a broom, has no business (or future) sword fighting a squire. [Or does he? Let's read on and find out.]

Ramon, the blacksmith, leaves the company of his favourite girl and follows the fight outside. No one pays him any attention or guesses at how much he knows. [There's a fight going on; of course no one's paying attention to anything else. If you're in a bar and a fight breaks out, do you look at some guy off to the side and guess at how much he knows?] Unlike the king, Ramon fears that a terrible new enemy is coming. [That's true of those insane bearded guys you see in cartoons, carrying signs that say The end is near. Why should we believe this blacksmith has better information than the king?]

From the shadows Ramon watches Aden struggle. [Normally a bunch of people pour out of the tavern and surround the fighters, cheering them on and placing bets. Why is Ramon in the shadows?] He knows Aden is special but sees a fire in him as dangerous as it is powerful. Can he forge this reckless boy into the weapon they need or is it better to let him die? [If the dangerous powerful fire in Aden isn't enough to defeat one squire, perhaps he isn't so special after all. Let him die.]

A fantasy, DEMON HORN is complete at 88,000 words.

This is my first novel. I believe it is a fresh view on a medieval world with colourful characters and Portuguese influences. [Boisterous drinkers. The wealthy mocking the poor. A muscular shirtless blacksmith named Ramon who'd rather watch guys wrestle than be with a woman. Yep, this has Portugal written all over it.]

Thank you for your time.



We want to know what happens in the whole book. This sounds like what happens on page 1. Of the prologue.

Is the book set in Portugal? Is the terrible enemy Ramon foresees an actual historical enemy that attacked Portugal? Is it a demon? Is there a Portuguese legend involving a demon horn? Is the horn the kind that grows out of a demon's head? Did Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan pass through Cape Horn?

Presumably the setup is Ramon forging Aden into a controllable weapon of mass destruction. Which makes this scene the setup of the setup. It gives a sense of what's coming, but so does this: There's a storm brewing, and it's going to be a big one. Dorothy should be in the storm shelter, but she's gone off to search for her dog Toto. Doesn't really give a complete picture of the book. Apparently Aden will develop some skills that make him the key to defeating some enemy. For all we can tell from this query, Aden gets conked on the head by Paulo's sword and wakes up in Oz.


Sarah said...

Whoever slipped the Futurama ref into GTP2 deserves a pat on the back!

To the author - I was initially intrigued by the powerful demon horn, but then it's not mentioned again for the whole query. Instead, we have a waiter who's starving (lack of practicality in the character right there; kitchens are busy places and there's a lot of food lying around). There was also an abrupt scene shift between paragraphs that left me wondering whether the great hall was in the tavern.

What's Ramon for? Presumably he doesn't just watch, so what does he do? He comes across as passive in your query. And why is Aden special? I think my biggest problem with the query was a lack of specificity about everything but the fight, which it seems is only there to clue Ramon in to Aden's specialness. I'm more interested in why he's special and what the evil demon horn is up to, assume it's not just EE's new way of announcing the start of a writing exercise. Actually, I'd still read that.

In spite of the above, I think there's a pretty cool fantasy in here somewhere. I hope to see a revision of this query at some point. :)

Anonymous said...

Maybe more about the plot and less summary of scene #1 would be better.

Dave Fragments said...

Reminds me of an old game show: I can name that song in three notes.
I can write that scene in 2000 words.

You are doing your novel a disservice in trying to sell it with that one scene -- a fight in a bar. That's not a fantasy. I once worked with a guy who was banned in four bars for fighting drunk.

This is like those old Mickey Rooney and Judy Garland movie where they need to save something and they stage a musical to raise money. That's also the plot of THE BLUES BROTHERS. Now people watched Rooney and Garland because they were great and people watch Jake and Elwood because they entertain (my personal favorite is Cab Calloway's Minnie the Moocher).

So what is the story after Ramon and Aden share a plate of chorizo sausage? Why would we fall in love with Aden like people fell in love with Edward and Jacob?

Stephen Prosapio said...

Agree with EE (as usual). This is written pretty well, but one situation in the story isn't a query. Interesting to compare/contrast this with the query immediately preceeding this. Striking a balance between not enough information and too much information is key.

Methinks these writers aren't reading enough...

M. G. E. said...

Hahaha, I love GTP#1. #5 Was pretty funny too. And I hope GTP#6 got you 'cause that was mine ;P

WHAT?! It's #3??? Seriously?

For a query I think you at least have to give away the opening, the complications, and most of the middle of the story, until we reach the 2nd plot doorway, the "will he or won't he moment."

That's not to say a query is a synopsis, but it's much more like a synopsis than what you've got here.

If I were to boil this down to an actual query format it might go something like this:

Aden is a young barboy in a land wracked with war, poverty, and ridiculous prophecies.

But Ramon, the local blacksmith, knows about Aden's secret past. No one believed Aden's mother when she claimed to have been raped by a demon, but Ramon saw the whole thing. Too scared to confirm her story, he's watched the boy grow up, knowing Aden is half-demon, and could be the key to overthrowing "the wicked antagonist" if his latent powers are properly guided.

And that would really just be like a start--I simply don't know what else happens in your story :P But we'd want to get some sense of how Aden goes about it and what personal challenge he faces, and who the enemy is.

Right now, too much of this query is completely cliche for me to be much interested. Even the writing was overly familiar.

Stephen Prosapio said...

M.G.E.'s opening hooked me!

Anonymous said...

>>Interesting to compare/contrast this with the query immediately preceeding this.

>>Right now, too much of this query is completely cliche for me to be much interested.

Joran/Aden/Luke Skywalker was a farmboy/waiter/farmboy with latent powers, and a brown mage/Ramon/Obi Wan perceives his specialness and potential for defeating the imperialist enemy.

Despite your adherence to convention, I think you got a good start on distinguishing Aden from his counterparts in Star Wars and Stool Wars. But it was a little jarring that he is both resigned to his fate and furiously resentful of it -- hoping only for a good meal and then fighting madly for his honor. Can you work out his psychology better and, as the others say, give us the plot?

Kelsey (Dominique) Ridge said...

I think the voice present speaks well for the writing of the book. On the other hand, this query has told me next to nothing about the book. With more about the plot, I think you could garner some interest, but it needs to show more than it currently does.

Whirlochre said...

Can't see how the Portuguese influence manifests itself here — unless, after chapter 1, Cristiano Ronaldo sidefoots evil into the Mediterranean.

Your first paragraph tells me more about your story than everything else combined.

But, poor boy vs demon thing could work.

Looks like you're lopping everything after para 1.

Tiger said...

4. When Julio's mother makes him join middle school band, he thinks all he has to fear is social humiliation. But then he picks out his instrument at that weird pawn shop. Now he plays like an angel, but the rest of the brass section are disappearing one by one.

Aww. I was hoping for this one.

St0n3henge said...

I hoped it was #6, but then realized it wouldn't be 'cause #6 made sense.

I didn't get past the part where a waiter is going hungry. HE IS SURROUNDED BY FOOD.
They didn't even mind eating after each other back then, since germs had not yet been discovered.


M. G. E. said...

"They didn't even mind eating after each other back then, since germs had not yet been discovered."

Oh, it's worse than that. London in the middle-ages had children fighting each other for undigested chunks of food found in the feces floating through the street's open sewers.

And while they realized that disease could be spread by the air, they believed foul air could be warded off by good-smelling things, and often wore a pouch of good-smelling herbs and scent around their neck (otherwise known as potpourri") :P

Anonymous said...

Hey Dave,
How many bars was the guy banned from fighting sober?
Kidding aside, the comments seem to be in agreement overall.
Not enough story. Holes to be plugged with fewer old reliables. What is the demon horn about? More please.
According to wisegeek "Historical squires were young men, usually around the age of 12 or 13, who were interested in becoming knights. Initially such men worked as pages, glorified messenger boys who would carry messages, serve at the table, and perform an assortment of other menial tasks."

They don't sound wealthy to me. But maybe this is an exceptional group of wealthy 12 year olds whose knights allow them to fight after they are finished serving dinner.

Good luck, looking forward to the re-write.

angela robbins said...

As usual, the previous comments--including ee's have said it all.

We need the meat and bones of your story, not just the appetizer.

What MGE wrote was excellent, and I would focus on writing a query more in the lines of that. Or just steal it! ; )

I was so hoping for either 4 or 5...

Chicory said...

A squire could also refer to a landowner, but that would've been a later time period than the middle ages. (I think there were some land owner/squires in Jane Austen.) Is that the kind of squire you mean? Because Annon is right. Fighting a twelve or fourteen year old is odd, unless your waiter is also twelve or fourteen, in which case you may have wanted to mention that fact.

none said...

Bibi, you haven't understood. The squires would come from wealthy families, as knights had to be able to 'furnish their helm', ie provide their own horse and armour, and men to fight on foot alongside them. The menial tasks they carried out were no different from those performed by ladies in waiting, who were nobility.

St0n3henge said...

Thanks M.G.E.! Now I remember why I don't study this time period! :P

Anonymous said...

Thanks Buffy, clearly I need to read up a little more. Best, Bibi