Wednesday, December 18, 2013
Guess the Plot
Captain Henry's High-Flying Haberdashery
1. Captain Henry has horrible business sense. His first two shops closed in the red. Who knew an underwater pet store that didn't sell fish or a restaurant that served raw brains wouldn't fly? Henry borrowed money from the mafia to finance his next gig. He knows he has nailed it this time. Wing-walker's headwear today, and cement galoshes tomorrow.
2. Captain Henry is looking for an angle to make his haberdashery successful. Realizing that nomadic tribesmen don't have ready access to fine men's clothing, he rigs his shop for flight. Hey, if Mohammad won't come to the haberdashery . . .
3. When dashing Captain Henry visits the small rural hamlet, the folk are captivated by his urbane wit and charm, and tales of his wondrous Haberdashery. They don't associate him with the spate of mysterious disappearances. Like everybody else, they're just in awe of the amazingly soft leather jackets he tailors for the creme of Society.
4. Hank buys a secondhand hat store. The inventory comes from the deceased left at the county morgue. The store curses the hats--when a buyer dons a hat, the dead person’s spirit takes control of the wearer’s mind and completes the deceased’s unfinished business.
5. When orphan Divel is sold to Captain Henry for a silver coin, he expects to at last have a chance at decent clothes and a good place to live. But the flamboyant Captain isn't a tailor; he's a pimp, with the most demanding clientele in all of Outer Gabloosh. Now Divel just has to find a supply of fresh, cross-dressing gnomes. He's gonna earn those clothes.
Dear Evil Editor and co.,
Prince Leo is engaged to be married. His fiancee is Princess Isabeau, a beautiful young woman with an alarming fondness for pointy objects. Their marriage will mean peace and prosperity for their two kingdoms. There's just one problem with the arrangement: Leo doesn't love his bride-to-be. [Actually, that makes two problems, the first being the ice pick she keep under her pillow.]
Desperate, Leo flees the palace, disguises himself as a commoner, and finds work aboard Captain Henry's High-Flying Haberdashery. As part of the airborne shop's crew, Leo flies from one town to another, buying, selling, and seeing the world beyond the palace walls for the first time in his life. Along the way he befriends not only his crew mates but also the nomadic tribes of rovers who wander the kingdom. [No need to call them both "nomadic" and "rovers."] [Also, if the shop flies from town to town, when do they have time to befriend these roving tribes? In fact, has it occurred to Captain Henry that these tribes are nomadic because they're trying to escape the haberdashery that keeps landing in their midst trying to sell them fezzes? I can see landing your haberdashery near a nomadic tribe once, figuring they would find it convenient not to have to go into town to buy pants. But when they see you flying in a week later they're thinking, WTF? We bought these pants just to get rid of these assholes and they're back already? It's like this charity that was phoning me every day so I finally thought, Maybe if I give them money they'll give me some peace. So I sent them a check and they started phoning twice as often. Luckily I have caller ID. My point being, Leo doesn't have time to befriend the tribesmen unless the haberdashers drop in on them so often they develop a seething hatred of all haberdashers.]
The rovers are valuable business partners [How so?] and invaluable friends to the crew, [Wait, didn't I just quash that argument?] so when their encampments are destroyed in a series of suspicious fires, the haberdashers vow to find and stop the arsonist. [I've bought into detectives who were blind, deaf, missing limbs, paralyzed, and even Belgian. But haberdasher detectives? Come on, man!] It soon becomes clear that keeping their promise will force the haberdashers to risk their own lives- unless Leo is willing to sacrifice his new-found freedom to pull some royal strings.
Meanwhile, Leo's fiancee is hunting him, determined to marry him and gain control of his kingdom by any means necessary.
CAPTAIN HENRY'S HIGH-FLYING HABERDASHERY is a 73,000-word YA fantasy novel. [There's been no hint that this was YA. You should mention Leo's age when introducing him.] My fiction and poetry have appeared in local publications, most recently in the young adult-oriented newspaper Teen Ink.
Included in this submission are things that I would include but am not going to right now because reasons. Thank you for your time and consideration!
How old is Isabeau? Her determination to gain control of Leo's kingdom by any means necessary suggests she's older than I would expect for a key character in YA. Why is this YA? The flying shop suggests steampunk.
A series about crime-solving haberdashers would be cool. And I would expect it to be funny. And based on the title and the amount of time devoted to the haberdashery, maybe that's what we have. But based on how the query opens and closes, the Leo/Isabeau story is the main plot, and not so funny. If Leo is the main character, we need to focus on him; all he does is join the crew of a flying haberdashery. Is he active in solving the crimes or does he merely pull some royal strings, thereby allowing others to solve the crimes? Does Leo want to continue being a flying haberdasher because he has friends and freedom and is pretty good at selling pants, or is he just trying to avoid marrying Isabeau? If the latter, he's just stalling. What's his ultimate plan to accomplish his ultimate goal?
I realize the book is already written, but if it doesn't fly, consider dumping Leo and Isabeau and writing about Captain Henry's High-Flying Haberdashery and Detective Agency. They're not only great detectives, they're always dressed impeccably. You can fill lots of space describing fabrics and wardrobes the way the Nero Wolfe books talk about food and the John Rain books talk about single malt whiskies.