Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Face-Lift 1118

Guess the Plot

Sovereign of Night

1. For 200 years vampire Basil quietly lived in his secluded Colorado castle. When he rescues some college girls from a bear, he is instantly attracted to one of them and screw it, I'm as sick of crappy vampire novels as everyone else. Why can't he just bite a bitch and be done with it?

2. He rules . . . in the night. He's probably a vampire. And vampire books sell really, really well, so . . . he's a vampire. Yeah. That's it. A book about a vampire. Oooooo!

3. Byron Wedderburn, 18th century playboy, is bitten, rendered immortal and forced to drink toxic blood. He sleeps 250 years and awakens in Los Angeles, where he continues his hedonistic lifestyle until he runs into his old girlfriend Lenore, who's still alive because she's actually a goddess.

4. Oliver's position as supreme sovereign over the Vampire High Council is jeopardized when his rival learns Oliver's darkest secret: his human lover. Now Oliver must fight the legions to save his unborn child.
5. Virgin co-ed Mickie Night, overwhelmed with grief following her mother's death, takes a semester off to explore London. Two days in, she encounters hunky Jack Sovereign who seems bent on exploring Mickie. It's 50 Shades with a cockney twist.

6. After millenia of scheming, Lucifer is back. A horde of demons is clawing through the pearly gates and God is poised to let the tide turn unless the next soul up for Judgment is found pure. As if poor Shelly didn't have enough pressure.

7. Agnes looks out her apartment window. Somebody threw a rock and shattered the streetlamp again. Now she must use her lamp and her own money to read the romance novel she fetched from her neighbor’s trash. So she sits in the dark and imagines her heirs fighting over her money after she’s gone. 


Original Version

Dear Mr. Evil Editor,

Sir Byron Wedderburn is an eighteenth century playboy proud to call himself a steadfast hedonist. He encounters his true love Lenore on the night of a summer solstice orgy and feels complete. [In my experience, when you meet your true love at an orgy you feel complete only until she moves on to the guy over by the Adonis statue.] But his world of endless parties with illustrious guests disintegrates after he is bitten and rendered immortal by a mysterious beast of a man. [Actually, the only way to fully enjoy parties that never end is if you are immortal; why should immortality cause his world to disintegrate?] [Is Byron a vampire? A werewolf? A mysterious beast of a man? Is immortality the only consequence of being bitten?]

After Lenore, an eternal goddess, leaves Byron to hide from her abusive master, [You'd think an eternal goddess could come up with a better strategy for dealing with an abuser than hiding. Can't she turn him into a goat? What makes him her master?] rogue fiends seize a heartbroken Byron and force him to drink toxic blood. [That sounds like something your classic orthodox fiend would do. A fiend who's gone rogue would probably be a sweetie.] A deep slumber ensues for two hundred fifty years. He awakens naked and alone in Los Angeles in the year 2012.

He is rescued by Gustave, [Rescued from what? Is he naked, alone, and imprisoned?] another elegant immortal, [Is there anyone in this book who isn't immortal?] who warmly introduces him to a modern jet-set lifestyle as they pursue and kill members of a ruthless coven [of immortals]. Byron reunites with Lenore and is not sure if her past affair with Gustave will ruin their bond. He forgives her but does not trust her. [You had an affair after I'd been unconscious for only 245 years?! I can never again trust you.]

Gustave holds a rare spell that can grant him limitless power, [What will he do if he gets limitless power?] but only if he entraps two of his kind indefinitely, and Lenore and Byron are perfect candidates. Byron must choose between his true love and best friend, or survive alone in the twenty-first century, a thought that terrifies him. [Tough decision. Your true love or the guy who wants to entrap you indefinitely.]

SOVEREIGN OF NIGHT is an 80,000 word count novel that explores the world of unapologetic demoniacs, and uncovers the cravings of voluptuaries of the new millennium. [Unless you're writing to someone who has specifically stated she's looking for a novel that explores the world of unapologetic demoniacs and uncovers the cravings of voluptuaries of the new millennium, I recommend leaving this out.] The poetry of Lord Byron [, Edgar Allan Poe,] and Coleridge, as well as elements of Gothic literature from Ann Radcliffe to Anne Rice greatly inspired me. 

I am an immedicable romantic [Burn your thesaurus.] and avid reader of Gothic and Romantic literature as well as modern fiction. I have written professionally for a now extinct society column in Nashville, TN. I reside with my fiance in Las Vegas, NV. [What's with the smoking in casinos? It's the 21st century.] [This paragraph isn't needed.]

Thank you for your time and consideration. Synopsis below.

Yours very truly,


Hard to believe you could be asleep and naked for 250 years without anyone stumbling upon you. Do these rogue fiends maintain his sleeping body for 250 years, inexplicably transporting it to Los Angeles at some point? Or do they ditch his sleeping body, at which point Lenore takes on the task of caring for him in his comatose state? And if she is in LA keeping tabs on him as he sleeps, why does Gustave have to rescue him? Why didn't she rescue him?

Was Lenore forced to be at the orgy by her abusive master? Because normally abusers don't give their victims permission to go to sex parties. 

Not clear whether Byron and Lenore have a lengthy relationship after the orgy, or if she leaves him during the orgy to get away from her master. If the former, is the  abusive master just letting Lenore have a romantic relationship with Byron? If the latter, did Byron really expect a woman he met once at an orgy and never saw again to be faithful to him during the 250 years he was sleeping it off?

If Gustave needs to entrap two immortals, why doesn't he just entrap Byron from the beginning instead of rescuing him and introducing him to a jet-set lifestyle?

Not sure what is meant by Gustave getting limitless power if he entraps B & L indefinitely. If he entraps them for a week, does he have limitless power for a week? Because if I had limitless power for a week, I think I could set things up so I wouldn't need much power going forward.

We need to focus on Byron/Lenore. There are too many villains: abusive master, mysterious beast of a man, rogue fiends, ruthless coven, Gustave. Save three or four of them for the synopsis or the book. The setup: Lenore, a goddess, and Byron, a whatever, find true love, but when Byron drinks toxic blood, he falls into a 250-year sleep, waking in 2012 Los Angeles.

The plot: I'm not sure. Lenore and Byron are reunited, but must work together to prevent Gustave from . . . what? It's too vague to say they need to prevent him from getting limitless power. What's at stake?


Alice said...

Everything here is a little vague, and I don't feel like I understand any of the characters. Even for a synopsis, a few adjectives could go a long way to starting a sketch of the hero that would intrigue me.

I'm also not sure WHY Lenore is an immortal goddess, except to fulfil a plot point. If she is an immortal goddess, how did she end up with an abusive master?

The ancient vampire who wakes in modern day sounds a bit like Dark Shadows--are you bringing anything new to that table?

150 said...

If you're going to treat eternal youth as a bad thing, you've got to tell me why a wealthy hedonist would find it so. Maybe start with the poisoning-and-reawakening.

Tk said...

Hi author, this feels as if the book is all atmosphere, no plot. I think you need to dial back on the adjectives (especially the superlatives).

And make Byron more sympathetic. It sounds as if he's contemplating entrapping Lenore and Gustave himself, which... why would I want to spend 80,000 words with someone so selfish? Being terrified of surviving in the 21st century is really not enough to make him sympathetic since all your readers are currently having to do the same.

AlaskaRavenclaw said...

Mr. Adjective is not your friend.

Parties are more interesting when they're not endless. "Endless" sounds too much like certain wedding receptions we've all suffered through. Guests are more fun when they aren't illustrious. Beasts who bite you and render you immortal need hardly be described as mysterious.

I'd go through and cut adjectives till they bleed. Then you'll have more space to make us feel some sympathy for Byron and explain how he wound up in LA.

Where presumably he wakes up and is all:

Indistinctly I remember--was it June? Perhaps December?
When each paid-up orgy member writhed about upon the floor.
Eagerly I sought some lady; vainly, though there was this shady
Person who I kind of fancied-- who I think was named Lenore...
'Twas a rare and radiant maiden who I'm sure was named Lenore--
But some other dude snagged her before.

Kelsey said...

Alaska, you're putting the rest of use prose-commenters to shame. Well done!

khazar-khum said...

Hwy now--I have a very personal interest in Lenore, so don't bash her. Not all gods are equal, so she could easily be the thrall of a more powerful being.

My big problem is that I can't tell who is doing what to whom. Is Byron Lenore's lover and protector, or is he her toy? Is Gustave a puppet master? Frankly, Gustave sounds like a fun guy and Byron sounds like a dud.

CavalierdeNuit said...

Author here. Thank you for your comments. I am reworking the query and will resubmit.

EE: Thank you for your input. I will apply all of it. I think smoking in casinos will always be legal, but each place has its own unique scent creation to mask it. The strongest musk permeates the Rio.The Cosmopolitan smells like fresh soap. Older places just smell like smoke.

I am a Dark Shadows fan, but prefer the old series, including the '91 version. Although the Tim Burton movie was fun. So yes this is similar but Byron does not glide around in an ancient estate in the '70's. He hangs out in LA, Vegas, and New York. It's fresh. I will work on making my characters less vague.

Thank you I will.

My goal was a gothic novel, and these do have a lot of atmosphere, but I did risk losing the plot. It's basically Byron's fight to find and be with his true love. He is a conceited killer but has found something real and wants to hold on. I think this makes him more human. I will focus on this.

I have broken up with Mr. Adjective, but we have agreed to remain occasional lovers. If this ever gets published do I have permission to add your stanza? I laughed so hard. I will credit you of course.

AlaskaRavenclaw said...

Kelsey, thanks.

Cavalier, thanks for being a good sport. Sure. But I see now that the last line is off. So please change to

Alas, some dude snagged her before.

Veronica Rundell said...

Still, is Byron a vampire? I can't figure that part out. And, is it a coven of vampires he's destroying?

Tell us, or me, because it seems integral that he's an immortal playboy.--but I'm snagged on WHAT he is.

Also, who is the Sovereign of Night? Byron? Gustave? The way this is structured, my money's on Gustave.

Shadow said...

Alaska, as I remember the rhythm, that last line is STILL way too clipped, and falls short of the genius of the rest of them.

Yet some other fop had dragged her out the door...

Zachary Gole said...

The last line of Alaska's revised version is definitely not "too clipped" -- just the reverse; if anything, the revised last line is still a syllable too long. In the original poem, the last line of each stanza only had seven syllables (with one exception, a line with only six syllables but presumably a pause to make up for it).

If it's really necessary for the meter to match exactly, the "Alas" could be changed to a "But". But, eh, what Alaska wrote is probably close enough.

Zachary Gole said...

(By the way... EE, given that it's a book about vampires, is it safe to assume that the pun in your final question was unintentional?)

Author said...


Dear Mr. Evil Editor,

Sir Byron Wedderburn wakes up in an alley in Los Angeles in the year 2012. He remembers being forced to drink toxic blood, and getting thrown in the street at dawn. That was two hundred fifty years ago.

He also remembers the woman he met at a party, Lenore, and that she made him happy. Both are vampires, but Byron is afraid he will never see her again. He treasures his immortality, desires virtue, and embraces the adventure. It means nothing without her.

After his new friend Gustave, also a vampire, introduces him to a jet-set lifestyle, Byron discovers that Lenore and Gustave were once lovers. Their relationship ended with Gustave's broken heart.

Lenore finds Byron, but she warns of a rare spell Gustave holds. It gives the possessor the ability to walk in and out of heaven and hell, and explore worlds beyond the earth. It only works if two vampires are imprisoned indefinitely in coffins.

Byron has noticed Gustave's spare black coffin, and fears he and Lenore will become cobblestones that lead to celestial kingdoms. But Gustave has been an ideal companion, and has shown no desire of wanting to harm.

Lenore refuses to be with Byron if Gustave is around, but Byron cherishes his friendship. When Lenore shows up to spend time with both of them, Byron will know if she wants to be with him, and if Gustave is really his friend.

SOVEREIGN OF NIGHT is a 71,000 word novel. The poetry of Lord Byron, Edgar Allan Poe, and Samuel Taylor Coleridge, as well as elements of gothic literature from Ann Radcliffe to Anne Rice greatly inspired me.

Thank you for your time and consideration. Synopsis below.

Yours very truly,

Veronica Rundell said...

Hey Cav, this is better than before, however--to me--it reads more like a one-page synopsis than a query.

It's a good plot summary, but it's lacking a hook, and the tension is too muted. Also, I fear it's still a bit long.

Why not reverse the order in the first paragraph?

Two hundred and fifty years ago Sir Byron W... was turned into a vampire, fed poisoned blood, and tossed into a London street at dawn. Today he woke in an L.A. alley.

I'd cut the second paragraph.

Aided by fellow vampire, Gustave, Byron adapts quickly to the jet-set life of his nocturnal brethren. Reuniting with Lenore, a vampire he desired when he was still human, Byron thoroughly enjoys the pleasures of his immortality.

Then he discovers the sordid history between Gustave and Lenore and attacks by a rival coven shake his loyalty further. Now Byron doesn't know whom to trust: his mentor and friend, or his love.

Byron chooses to escape with Lenore and soon faces the full extent of Gustave's power. It could be that Sir Byron is the only vampire in history to be killed twice.

SOV OF NIGHT (complete at 71,000 words) is adult paranormal fiction. Enclosed is (agent's preference of pages). Thank you for your time.

Just some thoughts...not sure how much novel revision has been done, so I hinted at the external conflicts discussed in earlier versions...take whatever of this suits you.

Best of luck, man.

Evil Editor said...

Too many paragraphs. Try to get your plot down to three paragraphs.

I find it hard to swallow a guy thinking life isn't worth living without a woman he met at a party 250 years ago. He's awakened in a world with airplanes, television and Internet porn.

This two vampires in a coffin spell seems kind of lame. Vampires sleep in their coffins, so there are always two vampires in coffins somewhere in the world.

The stakes are pretty low. I'm not sure I want to read this just to find out if Lenore wants to be with Byron and if Gustave is really his friend.

More interesting would be if Gustave had plans to rule the world and only Byron and Lenore could stop him.

150 said...

It only works if two vampires are imprisoned indefinitely in coffins.

I don't know what it says about either me or the query, that this was the line that sounded the most like plot-convenient baloney. Surely there's a better way to describe...whatever is going on here.

Mister Furkles said...

The conflict between Gustave and Byron – assuming it is the main conflict of the book – isn't emphasized enough. In the query, Gustave is too much of a cipher. He doesn't have enough depth to draw me in.

AlaskaRavenclaw said...

The first paragraph, and the first sentence of the second, work fine. After that it falls apart with the awkward "Both are..." sentence.

You've got the first two paragraphs devoted to Lenore. Then in the third paragraph it's Gustave City. You've set us up for a Pursuit of Lenore story and then suddenly he's being introduced to the jet set by Gustave.

Decide what the main conflict is. If it's the Gustave thing, then Lenore can be introduced in a sentence or two.

Watch out for sentences like this, which are tough going in a query:

Byron has noticed Gustave's spare black coffin, and fears he and Lenore will become cobblestones that lead to celestial kingdoms.

CavalierdeNuit said...

Thanks for your comments! If I didn't have a day job, I would have been up all night writing the last chapter(s).

Thank you for helping me realize this book is not actually finished. I have struggled with the ending. I thought it was good enough, but there's no intense climax. Byron and Lenore just drive back to LA together from Palos Verdes. Boring.

Gustave is going to become very evil in the end. It's inevitable. Thanks EE for the suggestion. It's Byron/Lenore vs. Gustave. They must stop him from becoming the sovereign of night.

Veronica, thanks for the rewrite. My last edit involved cutting adj/adv and boring sentences. And revisiting the thing to get the story straight. It needs an ending.

AlaskaRavenclaw said...

Neil Gaiman said something interesting on his blog, I can't remember the exact words, but the basic idea is to keep writing until you get to the center of the story, and that is the end.

Kurt Vonnegut said the story should begin as close to the end as possible.

One of my writing teachers said the end should make the reader say "How surprising, and yet how perfect."

AlaskaRavenclaw says the end should be reflected in the beginning, and vice versa.

If you haven't read it, Nancy Kress's book Beginnings, Middles and Ends may be helpful.

CavalierdeNuit said...

Alaska, thanks for the suggestion, I will check out that book. Endings are tricky.

CavalierdeNuit said...

Sir Manfred Wedderburn wakes naked and alone in a dark alley in Beverly Hills. His magnificent parties in the English countryside ended two hundred fifty years ago, but he's still alive. Will he ever make love again to the beautiful woman he left behind? She said she was immortal, too.

Gustave, Manfred's new friend, is a bored four hundred something year old vampire, and his desire to make the apocalypse happen is as wicked as the inferno in his violet eyes.

Can Manfred stop his only friend from cloaking the earth in darkness? Or will Gustave's strippers and luxury cars keep Manfred from doing anything but partying all night.

Evil Editor said...

P1: I don't think dark alleys are allowed in Beverly Hills. Once you tell us he wakes up, you don't need to tell us he's alive. Especially since the technical term is undead.

P2: It feels like he just woke up in Beverly Hills for the first time, so how does he have a friend? Maybe you could expand the paragraph to include some transition from waking up in a strange and wondrous place to actually knowing another person there.

P3: The two questions aren't that interesting, but if that's the whole paragraph, they're in the wrong order. Finish with the Apocalypse, not the nightly parties.

Is Gustave trying to end the world because he's bored? I think you should write a novel in which a vampire successfully cloaks the Earth in darkness so that he can hunt people 24/7. But the joke's on him, because all the people die from cold or hunger.