Thursday, April 14, 2011

Face-Lift 894

Guess the Plot

Alannian and the Sword of Azallyan

1. Alannian, an Iranian, battles Azallyan, an Albanian, for a sword made of uranium. Basically, a Mesopotamian echolalia. Plus an azalea.

2. With his sword of Azallyan, pubescent adolescent Alannian (an incarnation of Elyyian), and his shaman companion must avert armageddon.

3. Actually Alannian is short for Alannianovichinovakoff, and the Sword of Azallyan is actually the Sacred Sword of Azallvaneepsiepoopoovah, and it is best known as the weapon Alligatorman uses to annihilate aliens.

4. 17-year-old Alanian and his sister Anneallan must steal the Sword of Azallyan from the Hall of Allazynan to save the Kingdom of Allazhean from destruction at the hands of evil Emperor Annazealhan. That is, if bumbling warlock Fred doesn't ruin everything first.

5. Alannian the Aelf attempts to avert the annihilation of ancient Aelfswood by acquiring the amazing sword of Azallyan, advancing to Andromin and attempting the assassination of Aggrok, the administrative assistant of the Assailants Association.

6. Alannian was born in Tazmania and hates the rhyme of his name with his nationality. It's easier to move than to change names, but never one to think things through, he makes his new home in Romania. His treasured sword, a relic from Azallyan, is stolen, and thanks to the Internet, the catchy ditty "Alannian the Romanian lost his sword from Azallyan" catches on as the new little girls' skipping game. Alannian finally finds peace in Bouctouche Canada, which rhymes with nothing.

Original Version

Dear Evil Query guys:

Thirteen-year-old Alannian is just a prankster in his village. But when he discovers he is the next Incarnation, King Fayavor wants him dead.

For millennia, the Incarnations of the elf Elyyian have kept peace between the elves, humans and dwarves. [By doing what?] King Fayavor believed the Incarnations held the humans back from achieving true greatness, so he used ghastly magic to kill the last Incarnation. Fifty years later, war rages throughout the land and Alannian start [starts] having dreams about the elf Elyyian.

Alannian discovers he is the Incarnation. Now the king wants him dead. [He discovered he was the Incarnation, and the king decided he wanted him dead, back in paragraph 1. Why waste space saying the same thing again?] He flees his village, but royal enforcers brutally kill his uncle. With [the] closest person he had to a father dead, Alannian is more alone then he has ever been. Thankfully, an old magician hides the young boy and teaches him in the ways of the Incarnation.

With his growing powers, Alannian sets off to stop the war and the king before the races destroy each other. Servants of the king hunt Alannian and he must learn who he can trust. The lives of everyone Alannian loves are thrust into the lines of war as Fayavor pursues him. Should Alannian fail, then the war will continue and the three races will destroy each other. [Not necessarily. One of the races could destroy the other two. Preferably humans.]

ALANNIAN AND THE SWORD OF AZALLYAN is a 100,000-word young adult fantasy where the hope of a world rests on the shoulders of a boy, a prankster, a hero. My book will appeal to the fans Christopher Paolini’s INHERITANCE CYCLE. I am working on two follow up novels.

Thank you for your time and consideration,


What are the powers of the Incarnation? They must be pretty good if they allow a 13-year-old to stop a war. Yet he wasn't even aware he had any powers until recently?

Is Alannian a human boy or an elf boy, or a god? Seems like the Incarnation of an elf would be an elf. Is the mind/spirit of Elyyian in Alannian? Does Al still have a will of his own or is Ely calling the shots? If the former, why is the Incarnation called "of the elf Elyyian"?

Based on what little I know about the difference between an incarnation and a reincarnation, I would think the phrase "of the elf Elyyian" would make Al a reincarnation.

Not that it matters, but when there are three races and one is called humans, I usually expect the humans to be like us, and, say, the elves to be magical. But here the king uses ghastly magic, and there's an old magician, and Alannian has powers. How many humans have magic? Do elves?

Just have Al flee the village with royal enforcers on his tail. We don't need the uncle in the query.

If the king's magic could kill the previous Incarnation, why can't it kill Alannian? If the king needs Al to be in the same room to kill him with ghastly magic, he might as well kill him with conventional weapons.

What good does it do to kill an Incarnation if new ones have been turning up for millennia?

Why did it take fifty years for the new Incarnation to show up? Is that the standard time period?


alaskaravenclaw said...

I just want to say how I appreciate the writer's use of "elves, humans and dwarves" instead of the ubiquitous and cringeworthy "Elves, Dwarves and Men". Writer is aware s/he is not an Oxford don writing in the 1950s. Always an excellent sign.

The names are hard to read past. Unfamiliar names always put an extra burden on the reader (and therefore on the writer).

"Prankster" shows up twice in the query, but we don't see Alan actually committing a prank. Nor should we if it's not important to the plot. Leave it out?

Katie the YA Librarian said...

The writer refers to Al as a "young boy" so I had to go back and check his age. Thirteen is not a young boy. Do you treat the character as if he were a child who needs the help and guidance of adults to do anything, including survive? If so, maybe this is more of a middle grade novel than a young adult novel. Or is the story really more about Al growing up and embracing his destiny as a great leader? If so, address that. He seems like a victim in the query, not a potential hero.

Also, I'm not really impressed with the Incarnation business. The Incarnation was an important figure in this world until the bad guys said, "Why don't we just murder him?" So they did and it all worked out for them. It doesn't seem like the Incarnation is very effective anymore. He's certainly not spreading peace if he's being hunted and people are being killed wherever he goes. Clarify the role of the Incarnation and what Al needs to do/overcome to become this great figure.

L. said...

I want to hear Fred's story :)

Dave Fragments said...

I swear this query is going to give me nightmares.

Anonymous said...

You need to make the title easy to pronounce so people will feel comfortable asking for it at the bookstore and the clerks will know wtf they're talking about. Plus, if it's easy to spell, more people will be able to find it on Amazon. If your readership and their parents can neither spell nor pronounce the title, your book is doomed.

This is why no publisher will ever use this title.

no-bull-steve said...

You're doing it wrong.

A common mistake of a newbie writer is not differentiating names of their characters & places thus making it confusing to the reader. It's bad enough when it's Anna, Adam and Amy...let alone: Alannian, Azallyan, and Elyyian.

Correct way is to use unusual names that are easy to pronounce and differentiate:

See what I'm sayin'?

batgirl said...

The name thing is trivial and easy to change, I wouldn't stress over it. What is more of a problem in this query is that Ally isn't shown as doing anything. Protagonists should make choices and do things. Ally is passively chased, sheltered, etc. Once you've cut the uncle and the repetition, you should probably put some thought into clarifying what Ally does with Evvy's amazing powers.

Xenith said...

I'm wondering what makes this different from every other story about a teenage boy with newly acquired powers going off to save the world? You might to focus more on that.

100K seems a tad long for a YA novel.

(Tazmania? *grumbles at WB*)

Anonymous said...

Focused my prior comment on the title because we see so many middle grade / young adult fantasies in which the main character turns out to be -- The Chosen One! They all have fundamentally the same plot so it seems authors can best distinguish their query by having clear sparkling prose, showing market savvy, and avoiding qualities likely to annoy, such as gimmicky names no one can spell or say.

Think of 'Harry Potter' -- such lovely simplicity -- easily spelled, pronounced, and remembered by the average third grade reader. Brilliant.

Anonymous said...

Alannian isn't too bad, as far as fantasy names go. But chuck in Azallyan et al, and I wonder when Aslan's going to make an appearance.

The query didn't mention Aza's sword at all. Is Alanninan seeking the sword? Will it confer powers on him?

The query's a little thin on detail - you say what will happen if he fails, but my question is -fails to do what?

BuffySquirrel said...

This sounds like the plot to Star Wars. You might want to make it sound less like it.

D. Lemma said...

Actually, the plot reminds me a bit more of Avatar (the tv show, last airbender, etc, not the movie with blue people).

I agree that Al seems passive in the query. Focus more on his emotional journey: What does he need to discover about himself to effectively change the world? Make it more personal than "figure out how to use his powers and defeat the bad guy." That's what will make the plot seem less like a standard fantasy quest.

batgirl said...

I'm coming to the conclusion that the commonest flaws in queries are a)vagueness, and b)passive protagonists.
The books themselves may be fine, full of specific dramatic events and with wily, take-charge protagonists, but somehow the process of query-writing pounds everything into a bland jelly.

BuffySquirrel said...

yeah, I think it was the dead uncle that crystallised 'star wars' in my poor head.