Tuesday, February 05, 2013

Face-Lift 1102



Guess the Plot

Lady Champion

1. In the true spirit of "It's not the size of the dog in the fight, it's the size of the fight in the dog," pure-bred Chihuahua Lady overcomes three bungling dognappers, two maltese rivals and one frighteningly bad hair day to win Best in Show at Westminster.

2. In the highly competitive world of cross-dressing pageantry, the crown for the Lady Champion event is the most sought-after of all. Will joyous tears of victory finally streak the cheeks of drag-queen Red Blushing at the crowning ceremony? All that stands in his way is his 5 o'clock shadow, and the fact that competition doesn't even begin until 4:30.

3. 12-year-old Saylor is determined to prove that her puggle Lady is every bit as good as those snooty purebreds. At the dog show she learns that hard work and determination are worthless when all you have is a mutt. Now Saylor's out for revenge.

4. Khameleon loses every writing contest she enters. So she decides to ruin the publishing industry. She hacks into computers throughout publishing. She replaces sentence termination with commas, comma splicing her way to chaos. She’s the Comma Comma Khameleon and her sentences must be terminated at all cost. Also a talking thesaurus.

5. A librarian is dragged two miles beneath the Earth's surface, where she is expected to battle a champion twice her size. At stake: whether humans with no magical powers should be slaves of the gods. Also, a Voltaire-tutored Fari idealist.


Original Version

Whether fighting opponents or shelving books, librarian Luke Liddell loves fairytales and hates not knowing the story. So it’s irritating when her plans get changed [What's irritating is when he turns into a she.] without notice: From teaching martial arts at a Nashville community center to staring down a leather-pants-clad king two miles beneath Britain. [I don't see enough connection between loving fairy tales and being irritated by a change in plans. In fact, I would expect someone who loves fairy tales to be thrilled at the opportunity to fight a leather-clad king instead of teaching a class.] The good news? Her parents were wrong; Luke wasn’t crazy for saying she had a fairy prince for a friend till age 12. The bad news? She’s been brought to the Under to fight as King Ethain’s Champion. [I'd like more connection between these two events if you're using the good news/bad news line. Is it the fairy prince who's brought her to the Under? Consider: The good news: I won a car. The bad news: It's a 1971 Ford Pinto. Versus: The good news: I won a car. The bad news: They were out of cheese danish at the bakery. Show how the bad news event is related to the good news event. Or just provide the info without the good/bad.]

For a world-class martial artist who trained Marines but couldn’t trust the military enough to enlist, swearing as anybody’s Champion is a problem…until she realizes why Ethain’s heirdom to the High Throne is at stake: He doesn’t believe humans should be slaves. And in much of the Under—where Olympian gods are Fari (humans keep getting that wrong), [Possibly because they have no idea what it means.] human geniuses visit after faking their own deaths, [Huh?] and every fairytale has a hidden angle—a lack of kharis magic condemns you to slavery. [Those with kharis magic are considered charismatic.] [Should I know what kharis magic is?]

Luke’s passionate about justice and equality; fealty to the Voltaire-tutored Fari idealist who dragged her here could be just the chance she’s waited for—to fight for someone she trusts to do the right thing. After all, if you can’t trust a monarch trying to turn his kingdom into a democracy, who can you trust? [A United States Marine. Semper fi.] Not to mention that Ethain’s beauty nearly sends her blind when he smiles, or that she’s had dreams about him since her first night here. [How long has she been here?]

But becoming his Champion will bring its own problems: Figuring out how to defeat an undefeated Champion twice Luke’s size and 30 times her age—and then figuring out how to survive the price of victory. [Anyone over the age of 3 should be able to defeat someone 30 times her age. Just kick over his walker.]

LADY CHAMPION is a 110,000-word fantasy-romance, first in the 3-book KING’S CHAMPION series (330,000 words). [That's a lot of words. ] I’m a medicine/law (MD-JD) student two years from graduation, with a degree in English. [Shouldn't someone in med and/or law school be too busy to write 330,000 words?] I’ve won awards for both poetry and prose in SCOPE, and written fiction and essays while devouring mythology, classics, fantasy, and martial arts for three decades.

I would be happy to send you the complete manuscript. Thank you for your time and consideration.


Notes

Can you be more specific about how she got to the Under than she was dragged there?

Between the time she was 12 and the time she became a librarian, has she seen her fairy prince friend?

I want more of the story. Here's the setup: A librarian is dragged to the Under where she must defeat Borgo the Disemboweler in hand to hand combat in order to keep Ethain on the throne. Otherwise humans will be enslaved. Now, what happens? There's gotta be more than that in 110,000 words.

Get rid of Luke's parents and kharis and Voltaire and just tell the story.

17 comments:

150 said...

There's a lot of promise here, but a lot of red flags. "Fari", really? EE is correct: remove the kitchen-sinkery and tell the story in terms of Luke's (really?) choices and their consequences.

BuffySquirrel said...

So the king who doesn't believe humans should be slaves has enslaved your protagonist.

Uh?

Veronica Rundell said...

In general, this query raises a lot of questions. It's okay to raise questions in a query--particularly if the question is: Author, may I have pages?
However, when the questions are of the logic and structure of your story that is not good.

For example: The protag is in Nashville--then is sucked away to Under, under Britain? Why in Britain? Why not Under Nashville?, Or, why isn't she a librarian in London?

Why would a world-class martial arts librarian even consider to train Marines, let alone join them? I can't imagine a combat career being a logical choice for an educated, presumably-centered woman.

As to that: how does a 12 y/o respond to a Fari (Fairy? Faerie?) prince? Especially as he now is a King who wishes her to battle for him? And, why does she consent to a battle that could cost her life in order to secure some King's throne? For his idealism? For his blinding beauty? To prevent the enslavement of humans lacking kharis magic? Does Luke even HAVE kharis magic?
It seems WAY out there as a premise.

Why would human geniuses fake their deaths to visit an underground land where they are to be enslaved? This choice will boggle the non-geniuses picking up your novel.

Focus on the protag. Get her character across and define her goals and how those are upset in the
story. Let us know how she will rise above her challenges to save the humans from ultimate enslavement.

Omit the fact that you've completed all three novels.
The SCOPE credit--is this the literary journal at your med school? If so, omit it.
In fact, omit everything about med school. No agent is going to want to tangle with an author who is concurrently enrolled in both an MD and a JD program--it indicates you've got too many things going to adequately address manuscript revisions.

I'm with 150--Of all the names for your female protag you came up with: Luke. Your first consideration might be to hit the Find/Replace on Word-because this gender confusion is not likely to help your cause.

Scientiae said...

Thank you, thank you, thank you! *seizes her lexical seam-ripper* I'll get to work on this.

AlaskaRavenclaw said...

Luke is a boy's name.

Examples:

St. Luke the Apostle

Luke Skywalker

See? Boys.

Think of writing a query as an obstacle course. Calling your heroine "Luke" is like voluntarily throwing in an extra obstacle to lower your chances.

And believe me, nobody needs to lower their chances in this business.

150 said...

Cheers! If you post a revision in the comments, we'll take a second look.

Veronica Rundell said...

Love to see how this shapes up!

Anonymous said...

author, kudos for doing two degrees that would sap most mortal's energy and write a hefty novel in the meantime. What do you do in your spare time? Run marathons?

Personally, I thought it was interesting, despite the query being a little convoluted.

I, too, stumbled over the name. Then again, The Norse figure Loki was a shape shifter and occasionally appeared as an elderly woman. And he fought gods, too. Is your character loosely based on him?

My suggestion is to go easy on the neologisms in the query, and follow EEs suggestions to the letter.

BuffySquirrel said...

She can't be a librarian in London. They've all been made redundant.

james said...

I'd change the name to Charley. Or is that Charlie? ... Charli? I don't know, maybe Luke's alright.

Veronica Rundell said...

@BuffySquirrel--

Are teleporting 'Fari' redundant in Britain now, too?

BuffySquirrel said...

Hard to say. Never seen one sobbing at the Job Centre.

AA said...

There's a lot here that I just plain can't understand without reading your MS, or at least a thorough synopsis.

For instance: "And in much of the Under—where Olympian gods are Fari (humans keep getting that wrong), human geniuses visit after faking their own deaths, and every fairytale has a hidden angle—a lack of kharis magic condemns you to slavery."

Some questions:
1. Why Fari instead of Fairy or Faery?
2. What is the Under? Why is the Under under Britain and not, say, Mount Olympus?
3. What human geniuses?
4. Why do they fake their own deaths?
5. What is kharis magic?
6. Why does a lack of it condemn you to slavery?
7. What does that have to do with fairytales having hidden angles?
8. What, exactly, is a "hidden angle?"

And that's just ONE sentence.

You're trying way too hard to be witty. Your protag isn't just a liberated female, she's trained as a Marine and even has a guy's name! Your fairies aren't just different, they're actually Olympian gods and spell it "Fari"! Okay, pat yourself on the back for turning some conventions on their ears.

But in a query letter, you don't have enough space to be so self-congratulatory. All you have room for is to tell the story. The agent wants to know what happens, and that's totally obscured by the way the query is written.

I'd get rid of the stuff about the Marines (since she isn't actually a Marine,) cute author asides, like what humans keep getting wrong, human geniuses faking their own deaths, surviving the price of victory, and other things that are either confusing or rabbit trails.
Re-write the query with a focus on the story alone.

Scientiae said...

Again, thank you all for your feedback; it's absolutely invaluable.

One of the things EE's feedback made me realize is that my plot arc isn't smooth enough. It doesn't require major rewriting, but it does require tweaking and reshuffling--so my rewritten query may be some time in coming (clinical rotations are kind of like holding 2 jobs at once). I hope that two or three months from now, some of you will still be willing to offer feedback on the rewritten query.

And to Mr. Evil Editor, "AA" and "Veronica Rundell" especially, thank you for taking the time to give such detailed criticism. Finding peer review given so directly and disinterestedly in the murky world of publishing is like stumbling across treasure in a dark forest (the pain of barked shins doesn't make me any less ecstatic).

Scientiae said...

PS: 'Fari' is the present infinitive of 'speak' in early Latin. The word is relevant to the story itself, but not--as has been so cogently pointed out--to the query.

AA said...

I, for one, will be glad to look at the revised version. It's good to know your enthusiasm isn't dimmed. You take criticism well so most people will be willing to help you.

150 said...

You've got all the time in the world! Good luck!