Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Face-Lift 1133

Guess the Plot

Line of Dissent

1. When Protestantism is outlawed in France, Denis Lefebvre flees and braves Turkish slave ships and Caribbean maritime battles to reach England, eventually winning the earldom of Maundale. But later generations of Lefebvres fight for religious freedom in France.

2. Ethan is a spider/human hybrid who sells his artistic webs. His "friends" are always making fun of him. When humans start attacking Ethan's "friends" with brooms, Ethan could spin a rescue line for them, or just watch them all die. Also, a toddler who eats spiders.

3. Hank loved Sue, who divorced him for Greg, while Hank married Ellen and had an affair with Terri, who split with Don and had a baby with Kim, while Greg found love with Hannah, who was in love with Michael, who was really Celine's daughter in disguise.

4. Tenisha loathed being there, hated the weeping and pained faces, the gnarled bodies and fear-sweat. However, the mounting bills and repo man weren't going anywhere. So, she did all she could for the poor souls in the returns line at Walmart. Also, a guardian angel.

5. Kade joined the revolution too late. Imprisoned for treason, he fights for his only chance at freedom. If he makes it through the Line of Dissent he's a free man. If he doesn't he's dead. Ollie-Ollie-Oxen-free!

6. Inspired by the hard lives of Vietnamese frog farmers in Yemen, Smith undergrad Moon Halstead embarks on a search for her Korean birth mother and the true nature of her sexuality.

Original Version

Dear Evil Editor,

When Louis XIV revokes the Edict of Nantes and eliminates the free practice of Protestantism in France, [Isn't that saying the same thing twice?] the young and rash Denis Lefebvre, son of the Huguenot Count d’Abreaux, must flee the country. He braves Turkish slave ships, Caribbean maritime battles, and political and religious enemies of the Huguenot cause before he arrives safely in Protestant England, [If passage from France to England involves battles in the Caribbean, I think I'd just become Catholic.] eventually winning the earldom of Maundale [What exactly does one have to do to win the earldom of Maundale?] and establishing a safe haven for fellow refugees. [England being Protestant, I would think the whole country is a safe haven for fellow refugees. What needs to be established is a way to get there without braving Turkish slave ships and Caribbean maritime battles.] But when the scars of Denis's adventures turn him into a brute and his son's flight to safety [Safety from Denis?] turns into a quest for Denis's redemption, the Lefebvre family must re-enter the fight for French religious liberty.

Across the ocean, in colonial Providence, another family of religious dissenters, the Nasons, works hand-in-hand with Roger Williams to establish a land where inhabitants can truly find freedom to practice any faith — an idea previously unheard of in Western civilization. But when Williams sends one of the family back across the Atlantic to attract more settlers, the Nasons suffer at the hands of pirates and politicians — occupations as subtly different then as now — [and] they must fight for survival in a way [for which] colonial life never prepared them. [It's now a sentence, but still unwieldy. Maybe you should end it after "then as now." The rest is vague. If you can't tell us why their survival is at stake, I'd rather you didn't bring it up.]

Line of Dissent follows the Lefebvre and Nason families in an adventure saga spanning three generations, chronicling their struggle amidst the whirlwind of political, familial, religious, military, and — since this is a traditional adventure story, after all — romantic upheaval that eventually developed into freedom of religion in the West. The fast-paced yarn is complete at 84,000 words. [I don't think I'd refer to one book as both a saga spanning three generations and a fast-paced yarn.]

Thanks for your consideration.



In what way are these two families connected? It sounds like two books unless you tell us how they're brought together at some point. It's like opening with a paragraph about Sherlock Holmes, and then starting the next paragraph, Meanwhile, across the ocean in Texas, another crime fighter known as the Lone Ranger...

Three generations times two families equals six sets of main characters, with settings in France, England, the US and the Caribbean. 84,000 words sounds like barely enough to devote to three generations of one family.

It's hard enough to make us want to read a book when you focus the query on one character; true, Denis is the only fictional character named, but I'm not sure he's in more than a fifth of the book.

If a Nason meets a Lefebvre at some point, get us there quickly and tell us what happens with them. If they don't meet, convince us something is holding this together.


Veronica Rundell said...

Hi author.
Just a couple quick items:
What is the genre here? Is this narrative non-fiction, or fiction?

Why is the Nason saga here? Seems like book two IMHO.

To me, and I'm a big historical romance fan, it reads like a whole bunch of stuff that happens to poor Denis, and yet there is no sense of his journey--it's all too shiny and glossy with little concrete substance. Does he have a romance? If it's not a significant part of the narrative, exclude it from the query.

Tell us how he wins an earldom--because that seems awesome. Likewise how does he do anything aboard ship. Most refugees would have been locked in a hold in these times. Was he crew? What influence did he develop? Was he, in fact, sold as a slave..etc.

This plot description is not specific enough, and the sweeping statements like 'saga spanning three generations' makes me wonder if you've fully developed this story--because, as EE notes--the word count is short based on the saga expectation.

Conner said...

Thanks a lot for going over the query! I'll keep working on it and maybe get a revised version up. Until then, I'm looking forward to seeing what the minions have to add.

BuffySquirrel said...

France to England via the Caribbean? Poor Denis seems seriously challenged in terms of navigation.

AlaskaRavenclaw said...

It's a shame, because the bit about the Earl of whatsis really is quite well-written, but you've got to focus on just one story arc in your query.

I'd leave the Earl out of this query and focus on the Rhode Island contingent. Who doesn't love themselves a Roger Williams story? Plus bifurcated queries seldom work. Build Rhode Island, give us characters, specific motives etc. Do as good a job on the Rhode Island part as you did on the first part. Then lose the first part.

That's assuming you're writing for the US market. If you're writing for some other market, by all means Earl away.

It's not that we don't like Earls. It's that historical fiction with a foreign setting is a harder sell.

CavalierdeNuit said...

(Haha Walmart fake plot!)

If you don't want to take Alaska's advice and cut the earl part, here's my suggestion:

If your story is about an adventurous man named Denis, here is where it starts:

Denis Lefebvre, son of the Huguenot Count d’Abreaux, must flee the country. He braves Turkish slave ships, Caribbean maritime battles, and political and religious enemies...


Denis Lefebvre, son of the Huguenot Count d'Abreaux, must flee France.
(A Huguenot is a French Protestant of the 16th-17th centuries, so that sentence is enough to introduce your character. And, the dictionary tells us that many Huguenots emigrated from France.)

You're all over the place, and, as EE said, 84k words are not enough for the kind of book it sounds like this might be.

How does a French man become an earl? Does he marry and inherit a title? He becomes brutish, but who wouldn't after all that battling? It needs to be historically accurate without sounding too stuffy.

It seems like you have a lot of room to make three books or so out of this. Women easily fall in love with adventurous, aristocratic men, and men respect said types. I'm an American woman, and I think earls are hot. So if you want to make your first book focus on Denis, it could definitely work.

As EE suggested:

What needs to be established is a way to get there without braving Turkish slave ships and Caribbean maritime battles.]

So that could be one of Denis' challenges. Perhaps he has a love interest who is still stuck in France? Maybe he had to leave his pregnant wife behind?

khazar-khum said...

EE, I'd be surprised if 1 in 10 current US High Schoolers could identify France on a map, let along recognize that anything happened there between Charlemagne and Napoleon.

Author, I am confused over what, exactly, is happening. Is this Denis' adventure? A family saga from Rhode Island? Neither? Both? Something else?

Anonymous said...

Interesting query, author, I haven't seen much historical fiction here.

I think the part about the Turkish slave ships and Carribean battles would be either the most exciting part of the narrative, or some padding dressed up as adventure. Perhaps both.

If you're writing for a younger audience, the word count is probably about right, particularly if it's structured as three novellas rolled into one. But if it's for adults, then what the others said.

As for earls, I think of them as stuffy old men with a huge sense of entitlement. Then again, I tend to think of the British aristocracy as being in-bred rather than well-bred. [ducking in anticipation of an outraged Brit hurling something sharp across to the southern hemisphere].

batgirl said...

For a saga this does seem rather short, unless you're going for the Norse sagas, meant to be recited from memory.
For a query, I'd suggest picking one character, maybe two (especially if they actually intersect) and follow that storyline. As with books that have multiple 'main characters', there's not room for everyone in a query. I'd also suggest picking a character who takes action, and show them taking action.