Monday, August 13, 2012

Face-Lift 1063

Guess the Plot

Reign of Magic

1. Magic, a buff Orpington hen, rules the illegal backyard coop. Magic struts her stuff at the top of the pecking order. When high winds blow down the fence and reveal the hen house to the chief zoning enforcer, Magic charms him with her bright eyes and enticing plumage.

2. A mysterious force rips through the army, killing thousands of men instantaneously and sparing only Lewan. Magic devastated the realm in centuries past, and unless Lewan acts fast, it will happen again. But a sorcerer drags Lewan into another world, so everyone's doomed.

3. Five dragons divide the world between themselves, keeping the lesser creatures such as elves and men in check with magic. All goes well for centuries--until someone invents gunpowder. Is the reign of magic doomed?

4. A special school grooms the best and brightest men in the land for rule. But when Lloyd discovers that the headmaster is infusing the students with magical abilities to create his own personal army, Lloyd must fight back with help from his friends to save the kingdom he loves.

5. When Princess Eln’thm-Måia finds a musical pea in her consomme, she knows she must rein in her brutal cousin Drák-Zym y Gül, else the kingdom will see thirty years of acid rain and suffer the fall of her father Yth’Dnb’Eén’s benevolent Reign of Magic.

6. Seventeen year old Princess Magic had seven elder siblings but alas, they all perished from mysterious maladies, so yay! the crown is hers!! And OMG, she can't wait to tear down that crappy old palace and replace it with a mile-tall tower, fire those fools in Parliament, make war on France, and build a resort on Mars.

7. First, there was Agriculture. Then, there was Industry. Now, it's all Magic. This is great news for Fridol Skemshaw, evil elf of the north, who has been trapped in a standing stone for 3000 years, hollering for someone to break him out. Soon a pair of teen magicians will do exactly that and at last he will be free to take his revenge on Myrna, the goddess of oats.

Original Version

Dear ***,

Lewan gasped as a mysterious force ripped through the army, killing thousands of men instantaneously. He was only a volunteer, answering his king’s call to war. Why was he the only one spared? And how did this happen? Magic was just a story told to scare small children, but what else could kill an army in seconds? [Tainted meat or giant sinkhole.]

Lewan flees the battlefield and reports the events to his king, but no one believes him. [Even after he says, Come, on I'll show you the battlefield with the thousands of our dead soldiers lying on it?] No one, that is, except the watchers – a secret organization dedicated to destroying magic. [What do they watch, and how does watching it destroy magic?] The watchers are unable to eliminate the magical power, [Watchers is a good name for them. Is there an organization called doers?] and must contend with politics and internal coups as they struggle to contain the situation. [A secret organization whose sole purpose is to destroy magic, and they're helpless the first time they encounter magic? What was their plan? Maybe they'd be more effective if they capitalized the name of their organization. An enemy will think twice about attacking Watchers, but watchers sounds like a few guys sitting around watching sitcoms.] [What is this "situation" they're struggling to contain? Has anything else happened since the soldiers were killed?] To make matters worse, a sorcerer appears in the land after centuries of absence with an agenda of his own, and drags Lewan into a world he never knew existed. A power struggle ensues, a fight between men and kingdoms to control a force long hidden from the land. Magic devastated the realm in centuries past, and without interference it will happen again.

REIGN OF MAGIC is a completed 75,000 word fantasy for adult readers. I have one published short story in Byline Magazine.

Thank you for your time and consideration.



I assume the power struggle takes place in Lewan's realm. And since he's in another world, he's powerless to do anything. Not that there's any reason to think he could do anything anyway, except that he seems to be immune to magic or to inexplicably have been chosen for greatness despite being a lowly nobody.

It's all setup. Magic destroys an entire army, except the guy who just happens to be your main character. Then some sorcerer drops in and kidnaps one guy, who just happens to be the same guy. Chaos ensues.

Now that we've condensed the setup to three sentences, there's room for the story. What's so special about Lewan, what's the sorcerer's agenda, and what does Lewan plan to do to make everything right?

Why do we need the watchers in the query? They do nothing.


AlaskaRavenclaw said...

With one eye on the children's bestseller lists, I have to report that if magic is just a story told to scare small children, it ain't working.

I agree with EE: this feels like set-up, and I don't get a clear sense of what happens in the story.

BuffySquirrel said...

There's a word for a king whose entire army has just been wiped out: deposed.

Seriously, the enemy destroy the whole army then do nothing? They don't take over? They don't even wander up to the king's castle/tower/fortress of doom, buff their nails, and say hi? What then was the point...?

Plus they can't even catch the ONE guy who hasn't been killed? You'd think he'd stick out.

Anonymous said...

You put lots of noise and explosions in that plot, but what is it for?

khazar-khum said...

Who, or what, uses the magic that wipes out the army? Why does it wipe out the army? Were they all allergic to magic?

Actually, that'd be a good twist--die if you're allergic to magic.

What did the army do--open a door, break a standing stone, insult a god? All I'm hearing is Lewan is immune to magic, and there's a sorcerer guy and some useless watchers.

Anonymous said...

What mysterious force? Who doesn't believe him? Why? How is magic destroyed? How do the Watchers contain it? What's the sorcerer's agenda? What's the world Lewan didn't know about? Who is the power struggle between? What's the hidden force Lewan has to control? How does magic devastate and who needs to interfere to prevent it?

Nearly all of us fall into the vagueness trap. Try what happens if you replace all the vague words with your story specifics. Obviously this example is not your story. But if you were this specific, we wouldn't misunderstand your story either.

Lewan gasped as [a electric buzzing] ripped through [his brain. Around him,] thousands of men [screamed and died] instantaneously. What could kill an army in seconds? Why was he the only one spared?

Lewan [tries to report]to his king, but [court bureaucrats won't let him in without report forms in triplicate, and Lewan can't read or write.][But one official admits what really happened.] The Watchers – a secret organization dedicated to destroying magic [by teaching kids analytical logic] [has failed in their centuries-long guardianship, thanks to] politics and internal coups [that gutted the education department and forced kids like Lewan into the army instead of into school.]

When a sorcerer appears after centuries of hiding, [determined to re-establish innumeracy and get revenge for his exile], he drags Lewan, [whose very existence sets magic free, into the fifth dimension.] A power struggle ensues, [as Lewan tries to resist the lure of endless sorcerer-supplied video games to secretly study books smuggled in by the Watchers.] Magic devastated the realm in centuries past [by preventing accurately built buildings and a working financial system], and without [Lewan learning enough calculus to trap the sorcerer in the fifth dimension forever], it will happen again.