Wednesday, August 07, 2013

Face-Lift 1144

Guess the Plot


1. The story of the forbidden affair between Brown physicist Jeremy Swakowsy and Sgt. David Kyle as they anxiously work on the brave new world of the first atomic bomb.

2. A father, a son and an unholy ghost terrorize Vatican city. Only the pope himself has any chance of slaying the trio of vampires.

3. He's a college professor with a dirty secret: he gyrates on stage at Wild Stallions. One night a member of his university's departmental committee shows up at Wild Stallions with a few of her lady friends. How will this affect his tenure status?

4. When the head of Pastor Rubens is found outside the Church of the Holy Trinity, leaving the rest of his body impaled on the altar, homicide detective Zack Martinez knows two things. One, Rubens didn't slam that chunk of rebar through his own chest, and two, this could be the start of another rash of 'vampire killings' in LA.

5. Trinity believes her father is God and her best friend is a ghost. Her priest refuses to give her communion, and her psychiatrist has quit giving her drugs. What is a teenager to do? Trinity embarks on an evangelical road trip to hell where she learns the true meaning of religion--sex, drugs, and raising money.

6. An atheist is put in charge of maintaining the balance of Light and Dark on the planet. Someone's gotta do it, and the Believers can't be trusted to give the Dark Side a fair shake.

Original Version

Dear Evil Editor,

Below is a query letter for my novel Trinity. The title Trinity comes from the union of the three essential forces on Earth: Light, Dark and the balancing neutrality of the planet itself. Thank you for considering my letter. I'm looking forward to the critique. Everyone needs a good cry once and a while...

Dear Agent,

Louden Ellery didn’t believe in God. Prayer was merely an exercise in procrastination. He was completely unprepared, then, to become the Guardian of the Amulet, a relic as old as Earth itself. Empowered by the amulet, Louden must maintain the balance of Light and Dark on the planet. [I'm not that clear on how the first two sentences relate to the rest. Apparently believing in God is not a requirement for becoming the Amulet Guardian, so why bring it up? Is everyone who believes in God prepared to become the Guardian?]

Aided by a cranky witch, with authority issues and a mysterious priest, [Neither of those commas was needed.] who is too comfortable in combat situations, Louden must consolidate the power of the amulet and stop an ambitious demon from enslaving mankind. That is, before suspect allies and newfound enemies, looking to command the amulet for their own devices, prematurely end Louden’s tenure - a life long commitment. ["That is," doesn't make much sense as the beginning of that sentence. Also this being the last sentence of your plot, I suggest you move it to a new paragraph and expand on it with some information about these allies and enemies and the "devices" for which they want the amulet. It would help to know whether the enslavement of mankind by a demon is better or worse than whatever these other characters want to do.]

Trinity is a fast paced, fantasy novel set in the near future where dragons have mysteriously appeared and the occult abounds. [If dragons mysteriously appear, I would think that would be mentioned as a main plot point, not tossed in as an aside after you've finished with the plot. It's like a query for Gone with the Wind that doesn't mention the Civil War until the wrapup.] Trinity is an engrossing hero’s journey as Louden grudgingly unravels the legacy of the amulet and masters its power. [Two consecutive sentences starting "Trinity is." Choose one or combine the best of both.]

Trinity is my first novel, but I have published non-fiction previously in a trade publication. I am currently working on a second novel while I solicit agents. I am looking for an agent that will be a partner, who will help me build a commercial writing career.

Thank you for your time and consideration. I look forward to hearing back from you. Sample pages are available upon request. [Combine the six sentences in those two paragraphs into one paragraph with three sentences. You may decide which three sentences to dump.]


I don't see what God has to do with anything. What God are we talking about? This Light, Dark, and the balancing neutrality of the planet doesn't sound like a religion of our near future.

I'm not sure what's meant by consolidating the Amulet's power. What does Louden have to do, exactly?

Who decided Louden was to be the Guardian, and why are the suspect allies and new-found enemies allowed to try to gain command of the amulet? The decision isn't automatically accepted by all?

If I were suddenly handed a lifelong commitment I wasn't expecting, and someone else wanted it, I'd say, "Take it, it's all yours." Louden's commitment seems more like what I'd expect from someone who did expect to have the responsibility that goes with the amulet.

I'm on vacation and blogging on my ipad is more trouble than it's worth, so while I will be posting comments, there won't be new posts until after Saturday.


AlaskaRavenclaw said...

What? A vacation? I have been following this blog for nearly three years, and never once have you attempted a vacation.

Of course, neither have I, but.

Writer, here are my tear-jerking suggestions:

1. Learn the care and feeding of the comma. EE didn't point out all your errors of a comma-ly sort, perhaps because he was distracted by the sights at the beach.

2. Avoid complimenting your own work (eg "engrossing"). It's like telling your boyfriend how beautiful you are.

3. Give us more of a sense of Louden as a person. Saying he doesn't believe in God isn't giving us much to go on.

4. Give us something to root for. You're starting out with the imponderable (God) and then you give us an amulet, demons, shadowy enemies... and I just don't find myself wanting to pick up the book. What've you got for us workaday folks who argue over what kind of pizza to order?

AlaskaRavenclaw said...

(Did my comment go through? I didn't type the captcha number because I couldn't see it.)

Unknown said...

Ah ha. I am not the only one who struggles with iPad posting! Remember to use sunscreen. I can't imagine how evil you'll be while suffering charred flesh!

I really wish I had a better sense of your story. I'd like to suggest short sentences that clearly define the conflict, stakes, and complicating factors Louden faces. Each of these should build logically one from the next, and draw the reader into your world.

Right now this heroes quest sounds kitchen-sinky. He's thwarting a demon, he's balancing Dark and Light forces, there are dragons and the occult and a magic whosit controls it all. Try to simplify and present a cohesive story a reader can get behind.

Half of your query space is filled with fluff. Shave it down to the bald facts of plot, character and voice. Best of luck.

Alaska, the only advantage of using an iPad to interact here is this: I can expand the captcha image to unsmear the code.

CavalierdeNuit said...

EE, have fun on your vacation!

It seems like stuff has been thrown together in your query to end in an "also, dragons".

If you're going to feature God, a witch, and a priest, it's a good idea to stick with demons and angels and not throw in fantasy creatures (unless the demons have taken the form of dragons). At least for me.

Who is Louden? Does he have a day/night job? How near is your near future? Who gave Louden this amulet and why?

If you said that Louden was a personal trainer who drove a ten year old Porsche, I would get a better understanding of the sort of character I was being introduced to.

Mister Furkles said...

Drop nearly all of the last three paragraphs. Include your pub history. If you were paid for that, you need to be specific. And finish with “Thank you … consideration.”

The only things in the first paragraph of interest is the amulet, the role of guardian, and the meaning of light and dark.

Take the second paragraph and expand on it to tell what happens in the story. Who is Louden and what choice does he face? What obstacle does he face? Who tries to stop or to destroy him? What does Louden do about it?

khazar-khum said...

Thirding the kitchen-sinkiness. That completely turns me off.

Unless, of course, it's a comedy. If it is, tell us.