Monday, September 19, 2011
Guess the Plot
Guilty as Cast
1. Sven Swarsky has played crooks in hundreds of movies. He usually appears in the credits as "Third Gangster" or "Guy With Knife." When someone kills his estranged brother, Sven has his hands full trying to prove his innocence when half the witnesses pick him out of the lineup.
2. When Stojan goes fishing in the Sava River, the last thing he expects is to wound the Fish Princess with his hook. Can Stojan heal the Fish Princess before Poseidon finds out, or has he cast his last line?
3. Accused of casting a magic assault spell, Robert Stanford has the perfect defense: he has no magical powers. But if this were revealed, he would lose his job as a neurowizard. So he hires a magic lawyer, but it turns out he has no powers and will lose his job if anyone finds out. Hilarity ensues.
4. High school psycho Ned Nixon is cast as Hamlet, and everyone he hates also has a major role. He plots to put actual poison in the wine, so their opening performance will be their last. But his prying younger sister Ophelia knows something is wrong with Ned and joins forces with Sherlock Hamilton, varsity team quarterback and computer genius, to stop the fiend.
5. When aspiring actress Bailey James is found holding a gun next to the body of former teen hunk Jake Ryan, homicide detective Zack Martinez knows two things. One, Ryan wasn't killed by the .22 James was holding, he was poisoned; and two . . . hey, what's his ex-wife doing over by the catering truck?
6. All her life Bonita has longed to play Lady MacBeth, but now that she's cast, the director says she's never quite had the right level of passion. When she finds Michael in the arms of 18 year old Julia, all that passion suddenly surfaces.
Dear Sir Evil
I enclose for your consideration GUILTY AS CAST, a 10,000 word urban fantasy.
Tobias Mercen is a rookie defence lawyer who possesses all the wand skills of a blank wall, a situation that’s more than a little awkward considering he’s employed by one of the top magical law firms in the country. When eminent neurowizard Robert Stanford appoints Mercen to defend him against allegations of a brutal magical assault, things head straight out of awkward and smack-bang into bizarre. [Don't you have to demonstrate your abilities before you can get hired by a magical law firm? It's not easy to hide impotence.] [I've heard.]
The trial pits Mercen against Prosecutor Gregory Noakes, an old colleague and friend. Faced with the evidence, Mercen’s hard-pressed to believe in Stanford’s innocence - until an argument down in the cells sees them both raising their fists and neither reaching for his wand. Mercen’s been handed the holy grail of defences: his allegedly magic client is as blank as him [he is]. [Don't you have to demonstrate your abilities before you can get proclaimed an eminent neurowizard?] Trouble is, revealing that to the jury will destroy Stanford’s career, and his [own] right along with it.
Trapped, he approaches Noakes for help, only to find his friend is already aware of the situation; aware, and apparently unconcerned. Mercen is fuming, and Stanford’s indifference to his plight isn’t helping. Their only chance lies in the spell behind the attack, and the knowledge that, their combined lack of magic notwithstanding, some wizard was responsible for casting it. ["Notwithstanding" doesn't mean what you want it to. You want: In view of their combined lack of magic . . . Though a better idea is to delete the whole phrase, as we're smart enough to figure out why it's obvious someone else cast the spell.] Mercen’s going to prove his client’s innocent, even if he has to break the law to do it. [Not much of a connection with the previous sentence. You want something like: All Mercen has to do now is figure out who, and get him to confess.]
My stories have previously been published in [small-time publications]. I am a practising criminal lawyer and have worked in both prosecutions and defence.
Thank you for your consideration.
Yours sincerely, etc.
[Author's note: This is a short story; as such, I appreciate it wouldn't usually justify its own query. I thought it would be a useful - and potentially amusing - exercise to write one though. Thanks!]
[Evil Editor's note: This was the last item in the query queue. Summer vacation is over, minions; time to start putting some effort into those writing careers. Step 1: Start a new novel. Step 2: When you reach 200 words, stop. Send what you have so far to EE. Step 3: Write a query letter and send it to EE. Step 4: Go back to writing the novel. Too many authors finish their novels and then have to spend months perfecting their query letters and rewriting their openings. Better to have that stuff ship-shape the minute you need it.]
Not clear why the prosecutor is going on with the trial if he knows the accused is innocent.
Not a bad query. Have you considered making Noakes unaware and adding another 50,000 words?
Robert Stanford is a pretty boring name for an eminent neurowizard.