Friday, September 13, 2013
Guess the Plot
The Lair of the Twelve Princesses
1. I know it's blindingly obvious that the title's a reference to a calendar, but Prince Ydloown doesn't know that, so let's see how far along I can string him, OK?
2. The Vatican has rejected Jack's petition to join the priesthood. The Pope cites Jack's proclivity to do any Royal within arms reach as the reason. Now a King wants Jack's head and eleven others want him dead. The beanstalk is starting to look more tasty everyday.
3. Sean thought the book's title was interesting enough, and after he opened it twelve lovely ladies were at his service. Every night after midnight they pulled him in, but they forgot to tell him about their jealous master with red eyes.
4. King Croody has discovered a new and entertaining means of selecting his successor. His twelve daughters enter the lair... And only one will emerge.
5. Bay will be executed if she can't solve the mystery of how many princesses can dance on the head of a pin (twelve). Should she use one of the three wishes she's been granted by her imp in a bottle to get her out of this? Or should she save the wishes for a real emergency?
6. Each hour, from noon to eleven PM, a different princess emerges from the lair of the twelve princesses, and says nothing. After which Prince Rupert has until midnight to choose his bride, the future queen. It's kinda like The Bachelor, but he doesn't have to talk to them.
[Author's note: This isn't a query, but jacket copy for a short story I'm re-releasing soon. Similar idea, so I thought the minions might have some solid advice. (And if the queue's empty, it's better than nothing.)]
Recently discharged from the losing side of a war that claimed her homeland, [When I think of the losing side in a war, I think of a country rather than an army, so "discharged from" doesn't sound right.] Bay has nothing to show for her service but the clothes on her back, a bad leg, and a sardonic imp in a bottle who's more harm than help. When she comes across an open call for investigators into a royal mystery, she thinks its rewards might be enough to reverse her fortunes. But everyone involved in this strange curse seems determined that the secret stays hidden--including its "victims". [You speak of "this strange curse" as if we know all about it. You haven't mentioned a curse. Is the strange curse the same as the royal mystery? Same with "the secret." What secret?]
Luckily, Bay has a trick up her sleeve. Her imp owes her three wishes, and is desperate to grant them. She's been hoarding his magic for an emergency, [She was just on the losing side in a war that claimed her homeland, but that wasn't enough of an emergency to warrant using even one of her three wishes?] but it might be time to cash in: if she cannot solve the mystery of the dancing princesses in three nights, she'll be executed the following dawn. [When they put out this open call for investigators, was the execution clause buried in the fine print, or is that a new development?]
This 9000-word novelette first appeared in InterGalactic Medicine Show in January 2012. This ebook edition includes two bonus stories [Set in the same world?] and an essay. [An essay? I was on the fence, but now I must have this.]
You could open: With nothing to show for her three years of military service but the clothes on her back, a bad leg, and a sardonic imp in a bottle who owes her three wishes, Bay is seeking a way to reverse her fortunes.
That increases the space with which you can tell us about the mystery/curse/secret. You don't have to give everything away, but just tossing out the words mystery, curse and secret isn't intriguing enough.
Of course this also puts into the first paragraph the problem that was previously in the second, namely, there's no explanation of why Bay doesn't reverse her fortunes through imaginative use of her three wishes rather than by trying to solve the mystery of the dancing princesses, with death as the price of failure. Presumably there are major limitations on her wishes?