Sunday, December 23, 2012
Evil Editor Classics
Guess the Plot
One Small Night
1. It was just one small night, out of 365 that year, but June 18th, when a herd of zombie cows came through Butte, seemed like it would last forever.
2. Smedrick the Sorcerer congealed the entire year's nights into marbles to impress the object of his affections, Princess Plubea. She couldn't have cared less, until he lost one: her sixteenth birthday. Now she'll never be old enough to drive, and oh! is she pissed.
3. Sentenced to dig trenches one night from dusk till dawn, serial killer Joe Ogilvie figures he's gotten off easy--until he learns his sentence will be served at the south pole, where one night lasts six months.
4. Madeline Jones wakes up one night to find that she's only six inches tall. Any other time, it would have been okay, but if she can't return to normal before dawn today, she'll miss the first day of school.
5. Noreen had been looking forward with excitement to the junior prom. Now she's looking forward with trepidation to the results of her pregnancy test.
6. The tale of Sir Enneth, a diny night from Denmar, and the sneay warloc who idnaped all the letter 's.
Dear Evil Editor:
Waking up in the middle of the night to discover you’ve been shrunk to one-tenth your normal height would be disturbing. [Let's examine that claim:
Advantages of being tiny
Lower food, clothing and housing costs.
Easy to sneak into movie theater.
Elevator never so full you can't squeeze in.
Able to hide in bowl of mixed nuts.
Disadvantages of being tiny
Far-sighted hairstylist could cut your head off.
Can't lift bowling ball.
Too short to ride roller coaster.
Learning you may be stuck that way forever would be devastating [enough]. But realizing you’re going to miss the first day of school? Catastrophic on an epic scale. [Is any teacher gonna buy this: Please excuse Madeline for missing school yesterday; she was only six inches tall, so she couldn't climb the steps of the school bus.]
Madeline Jones, a twelve-year-old girl who loves school, marshmallows, and toe socks, [Evil Editor likes to put a mini-marshmallow in each toe of his toe socks. It cushions the blow when I kick authors out of my office. Plus my toes end up smelling--and tasting--sweet.] wakes up one night to discover she’s only six inches tall. To blame is a kindly, absent-minded sleep gnome named Jerry, who, between tearful outbursts, tells her he doesn’t know how to fix her.
One Small Night is a middle grade novel filled with mythical creatures, magic, and conspiracy. With the help of a cranky elf named Frank, his hyperactive sister Doris, and a beautiful but conflicted fairy named Ingrid, Maddie and Jerry race against the waning night and a group of power-hungry fairies to find a way to return Maddie to her normal size in time to start seventh grade the next morning. [Being excited about the first day of school strikes me as an elementary school thing; when you're starting 7th grade, you're already jaded.] In the process, they discover a truth that has been hidden from the magical world since the time of Eden. [Which is . . . ?]
With its light, humorous tone and quirky, lovable characters, One Small Night is a delightful, slightly off-the-wall read that will appeal to boys and girls ages eight to twelve. [Few books with fairies and elves can appeal to both an eight-year-old girl and a twelve-year-old boy. To appeal to the older crowd, you might want to focus more on the conspiracy. Who wants Maddie to stay small, and why?] At approximately 42,500 words, this novel is complete.
While at college, I tossed away a promising career as a veterinarian in order to become a creative writing major, much to my parents’ dismay. [Next time, listen to your parents.]
[A Veterinarian's Life
Make animals feel better.
Make pet owners feel better.
Cash huge paycheck every week.
A Writer's Life
Try to think of something to write.
Wait for inevitable rejection.
Cash puny check every six months.]
I now work as an editorial assistant for a division of Random House. [See if anyone there wants to publish Novel Deviations 4, will you?] Though presently unpublished, I plan to base my career—and life—on the craft of words. [Considering what they're paying you, the least Random House should do is publish your book. Think what laughingstocks they'd be if their own employee wrote the next Harry Potter, and it got published by Scholastic. They can't afford to take that risk. Make sure you point that out to them when you submit it.]
Thank you for your time and consideration. I look forward to hearing from you.
Clearly written and sounds cute. I'd probably leave off the word "delightful." The idea is to convince the reader that the book is delightful without actually declaring it as fact. As for the part about switching from veterinary school to creative writing, the last thing you want to do in a query letter is convince the reader you're insane.
If this book is to appeal to boys in 6th and 7th grade, you might want to elaborate on the conspiracy and make the bad guys power-hungry dwarfs. Fairies may not cut it as villains for 12-year-old boys now that they've seen orcs.
Brenda Bradshaw said...I LIKE this and I'm not even the target audience. I know my two middle daughters would pick it up.
Sweet tasting toes...
Anonymous said...Seems like it could be a nice little story.
The letter threw too many names at me too quickly. I lost track of who was a fairy and who was human. I'd simplify and leave some names out.
The bit about the vet might be okay, maybe. The part about basing career and life on "craft of words" was pretty annoying.
Anonymous said..."With the help of a cranky elf named Frank, his hyperactive sister Doris, and a beautiful but conflicted fairy named Ingrid, Maddie and Jerry race against the waning night and a group of power-hungry fairies to find a way to return Maddie to her normal size in time to start seventh grade the next morning."
That sentence needs work. So many names in succession -- Frank, Doris, Ingrid, Maddie, Jerry, Maddie again -- is too much information.
Did Madeleine turn to Maddie one paragraph later, or is Maddie another fairy? (I know the answer but am making a point.)
It looks like the conflicted fairy's name is "Ingrid, Maddie and Jerry". It took several reads to understand what was going on there.
Dave said...I'd certainly be a conflicted fairy if my name were "Ingrid, Maddie and Jerry" all at once.
This sounds like fun. Kids are going to like it.
Anonymous said...You might reconsider the "starting seventh grade" part in favor of fifth or maybe sixth. Seventh graders are a fairly sophisticated crew these days, and a story featuring fairies and gnomes comes across as sounding like it's geared toward a younger audience (and yes, I know that most MG stories usually feature protagonists a year or two older than the targeted audience.)
Robin said...I like this; the summarization is easy to follow. It's written in a light tone to match the tone of your novel. I especially like the ending sentence of the descriptive portion of the query:
"In the process, they discover a truth that has been hidden from the magical world since the time of Eden."
The only thing I might leave out is the sentence about veterinary school versus a writing career -(and please feel free to take this with a large grain of salt, as I'm still working on my query) -
Phoenix said...Don't you let EE get you down, author. I was a Registered Vet Tech on my way to a degree in Vet Med when I dumped it all in favor of an MA in English. Today I make a comfortable living writing fiction. Of course, it's ad and marketing copy for a national corporation. But it can get pretty creative at times ;).
There are always options. You have a bright voice and a fun concept here.
But in light of the recent Q and A, doesn't this query need more plot description? Or characterization? Or motivation? Why would a cranky elf and his sis help out when it's clearly the gnome's fault and they could just point fingers without getting involved? What's the conspiracy? Why's Ingrid conflicted? What makes an elf power-hungry? I'm fine with not seeing these things explained in the query, but is EE and his ilk really so easily appeased?
I do think the whole paragraph that begins "With its light, humorous tone…" can go. You've adequately demonstrated all this already, with two exceptions. The first, word count, you can easily throw into the previous paragraph. As far as 12-year-old boys getting caught up in a story with a girl as the MC and fairies as her backup singers, well, I, like EE, would need some heavy convincing -- and a book cover that isn't pink. Plus, taking that 'graph out leaves room to answer the burning questions above!
Good job all around.
writtenwyrdd said...What's with the Vet theme today? I too dumped a preVet degree to major in English/Creative Writing.
phoenix said...Wow, one small author, writtenwyrdd -- just look at how many of us vet-wannabe's-turned-literate-types are coming out of the closet! Maybe we should form a support group. Get a blog going. Better yet, write our memoirs, go on Oprah, and set ourselves up as role models for those not quite ready to admit that they, too, preferred a major with far fewer labs!
one small author said...Thanks so much everyone (and, of course, Evil Editor)! I adore constructive criticism and have sorely missed it since finishing college and no longer having classes with grad students out to prove how much they know. :) My maschistic side on display.
Great comments and suggestions by all. I can't wait to put them to use.
sarkychick said..."My maschistic side on display."
Jesus, and you're an editorial assistant at Randon House? God help us all, the worst part is that the fact that you can't spell isn't even that much of a surprise...
Evil Editor said...I could say, If you can't spell "Random," where do you get off berating someone who can't spell "masochistic," but my guess is that both of you can spell. It's eazy too gett kairless inn the coments.
snarkychick said...cos I'm not paid to be an editor. duh.
Evil Editor said...If you're saying those who aren't paid to edit shouldn't have to be able to spell, I must take exception. My point was that when you're sending to someone's blog you often aren't as careful as when you're editing your manuscript, or someone else's. Also, you spelled your name sarkychick the first time and snarkychick the second.
Posted by Evil Editor at 10:42 AM