Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Face-Lift 1175



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.



Original Version

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!

Sincerely,


Notes

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.

26 comments:

Down Girl said...

If the haberdashers rather than the flying police must rescue the nomads, this is a wacky world indeed. What is YA about it? Is there a girl haberdasher or nomad that Prince Leo fancies? It seems to me we need some romance or some rebellion against patriarchal authority. I sense MG fantasy from the title on down.

Curious, how does Prince Leo's new-found freedom allow him to pull royal strings? Shouldn't his royalty alone do the trick?

Alice said...

Hi Author!

Good query! I like the idea a lot, and I hope I'm not reading the tone wrong--I see a light-hearted, steampunkish romp, so I hope that's true.

I'd like to know more about the conflict between Leo and Isabeau. Her description is cool, but there's nothing about Leo to say why he wouldn't be okay with pointy objects as well. Description will help set up the initial conflict and his motivation: 'Leo is a laid-back pacifist whose dream is to strengthen foreign relations through diplomacy and free chocolate. Unfortunately, Isabeau's solution to everything is to stick it with a spear. It's a match as likely to succeed as a jellyfish in a bowling alley'. More description of the conflict between the two will help flesh out the love/not love story between them, and make Leo sound more interesting.

I really love the idea of an airborne haberdashery, but from the title, I expected the book to be about Captain Henry, and he's not even mentioned. Is he even a character in the book? I'd suggest changing the title--maybe just dropping the name and having it as 'The High Flying Haberdashery' (or whatever).

I'd like to know more about the rovers. Does Leo make a new best friend among the rovers, find a new love interest? Why are they valuable? Why should I care about them? Being specific about why Leo cares about the rovers will help me care about them as well.

This sounds like it's going to be funny and light-hearted, and maybe that tone could come across more clearly in the query. The line about 'alarming fondness for pointy objects' is funny, and is also what immediately made me interested in the story. But I'd like to know more about Leo--just a few words, a line of description like the above, something to make me like him.

Anonymous said...

Hi, author here!

I've been trying to re-work this, but I think the ending (Leo's decision) might still need some more clarity/drama... Anyone care to help a sister out?

QUERY:

Eighteen-year-old Prince Leo is engaged to be married. His fiancee is Princess Isabeau, a beautiful young woman with an alarming fondness for pointy objects. Their union will ensure peace and prosperity for both their kingdoms. There's just one problem with the arrangement: Leo doesn't love his bride-to-be.

Desperate, Leo flees the palace, disguises himself as a commoner, and finds work aboard Captain Henry's High-Flying Haberdashery.

Life is good aboard the airborne shop, despite Captain Henry's infatuation with freshly-swabbed decks.
Leo enjoys the company of his crew mates and relishes the chance to see the world beyond the palace walls. Spending time with deckhand Wilhelmina isn't exactly a hardship, either. If only the haberdashers didn't do business with the rovers, merchant tribes hated by the nobility for their tax-shirking, draft-dodging ways.

Leo is cautious around the rovers at first, but soon finds that far from being thieves and troublemakers, they are kind and hard-working people. However, their life beyond the law leaves them with nowhere to turn when their encampments are destroyed in a series of suspicious fires.

The haberdashers vow to stop the arsonist themselves, and Leo is faced with a decision. He can let his crew mates risk their lives to protect the rovers, or he can give up his new-found freedom and 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. My fiction and poetry have appeared in local publications, most recently in the young adult-oriented newspaper Teen Ink.

(Stuff attached) Thank you for your time and consideration!

Sincerely,
Me

CavalierdeNuit said...

"because reasons" haha! This is a very cool concept. EE broke down where you need to go to make it work. It could be a fun crossover! Just make Leo nineteen or something. I do think that if you want female readers to adore Leo, you should make him love Isabeau eventually (the names rock), and vice versa. Women aren't going to be into a guy who ignores his fiancee. What a jerk.

SB said...

The first paragraph sets it up like maybe a romance, or at least that the main conflict is the arranged marriage. The last line of the first paragraph is problematic for me because once you tell me that he's a prince who's been arranged to marry a princess for the betterment of their kingdoms, I'm assuming they don't love each other, so the last line falls flat. The other problem is that, based on where the query goes, it doesn't seem like the problem is so much that he doesn't love her as it is that he hasn't experienced the world and doesn't want to get tied down with responsibility yet. Well, that and the possibility that the princess is a disturbed psychopath, but that's not really mentioned as a problem either.

Being that it appears to be mostly a fanciful adventure novel, it sounds more like MG to me. I could still totally buy a girl that age being the antagonist, if she's power-hungry and kind of psychotic, especially if it's a world where people get arranged-married young.

If the princess is the antagonist, I'd like to see more description of her and more time spent on the conflict between her and the prince. If she's incidental to the haberdasher plot, I don't see why she needs to be there at all.

CavalierdeNuit said...

I would like to read #4.

Evil Editor said...

Are the rovers customers or do they provide cloth or labor to the haberdashery? Either way it seems to me the haberdashers would be spending the vast majority of their time selling their goods in towns rather than making friends with tribesmen.


What are these strings Leo can pull?

Leo: Someone is burning the rovers' encampments, dad, can we send in the royal army to put a stop to it?

King: If you're talking about the tax-evading, draft-evading rovers, that's us burning their encampments, idiot.


The point of the marriage is supposedly to bring peace and prosperity to both kingdoms; How does the marriage help the princess get control of Leo's kingdom? Even if she marries the prince and then stabs him to death with a pointy object, I don't see that she has control of his kingdom.

T.K. Marnell said...

This novel sounds like fun, but the prince needs a stronger motivation for running off than "he doesn't love his bride-to-be." That makes him sound like a selfish, sentimental brat. He can bring peace and prosperity to tens of thousands of people, but he won't bother because he can't get it up for his fiance. It's like, shut up and sign the damn registration.

The last sentence of the first paragraph has the potential to be a real kicker, if Leo has a better reason to be "desperate." E.g., "There's just one problem: Isabeau wants to kill him."

Veronica Rundell said...

Hi author,
I've been mulling this one a bit. See, I like steampunk, and YA, and romance, but I think your plot arc isn't sounding strong enough.

I also felt the Prince sounded like a wimp. What 18 y/o boy runs away? I mean, he's the Prince. God knows he'd be able to mess around if he wanted someone other than Isabeau. (I'm not a fan of the names, unlike Cav above. I've read too many Izzy's of late)

I'd love to see more intrigue here. Right now the conflict sounds naive and pedestrian. I'd find it more appealing if, say, Leo agrees to marry Isa then she tries to murder him on their wedding night, or something.

Maybe it's me, but I just can't fathom a male character running away from a marriage b/c he's got a romantic notion of the institution.

These rovers seem out-of-place. I get how Leo'd want to save his shipmates, but putting himself into harm's way for what are essentially gypsies? He wouldn't even marry a girl for guaranteed peace and prosperity of his kingdom. So the altruistic motivation feels thin.

Those are my thoughts.
Best of luck!

Kelsey said...

I agree that while the second query version is stronger, it still brings up unsatisfying questions around character motivation and weak plots points. Especially clarifying who the antagonist is and beefing up the conflicts.

But, OK--why on earth is a princess's name is MALE noun for 'pretty'? This novel isn't contemporary fiction, where girls are named Ryan and Jordan and Parker. There's a reason the traditional names are IsaBELLE for a girl and BEAUregard for a boy.

Now, if Isabeau secretly turns out to be a man I would think this is a hilarious and clever way of hinting at future romps. However, right now it sticks out as a modern trendy name that ignores traditional gender roles. It just doesn't seem to be consistent with the time period your world is set in, unless your worldbuilding plays with all kind of tropes and expectations (which is might, based on the tone so far).

Good luck!

khazar-khum said...

T.K. Marnell nailed the biggest problem: Leo's sheer selfishness. So he doesn't love her? Welcome to the real world, kid. You're a prince. You man up and deal with it.

Now, if this were going the 'Lion King' route, where Leo hangs with his buds until he realizes he's really needed, that could really work. But just running away because he's not in love with Isabeau doesn't fly.

Jo Antareau said...

Ha ha, my mind was going along the same cross-gender lines as Kelsey's, ie, wondering if the name could be construed as Is-a-beau, hinting that Leo might be in for a big surprise on the wedding night were he to go through with it. Maybe Leo guesses the truth about Izzy's deep voice and five o'clock shadow and makes a run for it before having to say I do. It"s a more convincing motivation for not wanting a wedding than 'I dont love her' which makes him come across as whiny and failing to appreciate his royal duty, as others have pointed out.

Overall, it sounds like a fun concept but just needs a little more oomph.

Anonymous said...

Author again:

Wow, thanks for all the feedback, you guys. Obviously I have a lot of work to do- right now I'm looking over the manuscript itself, trying to make sure none of the problems you guys have with the query letter (rovers, etc.) are as pronounced in the novel itself...

Anyway, here's the latest query letter. I don't think it's perfect by any means, but I'd like to see what you guys think about this slightly different approach (not mentioning the rovers, starting a bit more abruptly, etc):


Dear whoever,

Eighteen-year-old Prince Leo is desperate to escape an arranged marriage. His fiancee is beautiful, charming, and determined to gain control of his kingdom, even if it means committing murder in the marriage bed.

Disguised as a commoner, Leo flees the palace and makes his way to the nearest town, where he hopes to barter passage aboard a ship. Instead he finds a job opening aboard Captain Henry's High-Flying Haberdashery.

Life is good aboard the airborne shop, despite Captain Henry's infatuation with freshly-swabbed decks.
Leo enjoys the company of his crew mates and relishes the chance to see the world beyond the palace walls. Spending time with deckhand Wilhelmina isn't exactly a hardship, either.

Trouble enters Leo's new existence when a series of suspicious fires put the haberdashery's business partners at risk. With profits dwindling and their friends in danger, the haberdashers vow to stop the arsonist, but doing so will force them 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...

CAPTAIN HENRY'S HIGH-FLYING HABERDASHERY is a 73,000-word YA fantasy novel. etc. etc. etc.


The "royal strings" issue may still need to be addressed.

Thanks again for the feedback and please please please keep it coming!!!

Publish

Evil Editor said...

Shorter is better.

I still don't see how murdering Leo in the marriage bed helps Isabeau gain control of his kingdom. In fact, it is more likely to lead to a separation of the two kingdoms which were being brought closer by their marriage. It could even lead to Isabeau being executed.

I also don't see how stopping the arsonist risks the the haberdashers' lives. Do they know who the arsonist is? They should just land the haberdashery on top of him.

These issues are probably covered in the book, but if they aren't covered in the query, maybe they can be avoided. For instance, if you open: Desperate to escape an arranged marriage, eighteen-year-old Prince Leo disguises himself as a commoner, flees the palace and makes his way to the nearest town, hoping to barter passage aboard a ship.

...we won't be wondering why his fiancee would kill him. If we know specifically how Leo can safely stop the arsonist...

Also, it seems to me the whole kingdom would be searching for Leo (rather than his fiancee hunting him).

Also, if you state that Leo falls in love with Wilhelmina, we have the romantic subplot. Maybe the decision of whether to marry the one he loves or the one he's duty-bound to marry is more interesting than the decision of whether to marry the one he loves or the one who wants him dead, which is a pretty easy choice.

Anonymous said...

Author here, yet again!

It's not a complete re-write, although maybe I should do one. On this one I've taken the "less is more" approach (as per His Evilness's instructions):


Eighteen-year-old Prince Leo is desperate to escape an arranged marriage. On the night before his wedding, he disguises himself as a commoner, flees the palace, and makes his way to the nearest town, where he hopes to barter passage aboard a ship. Instead, he finds Captain Henry's High-Flying Haberdashery.

Life is good aboard the airborne shop, despite Captain Henry's infatuation with freshly-swabbed decks. Leo enjoys the company of his crew mates and relishes the chance to see the world beyond the palace walls. Spending time with deckhand Wilhelmina isn't exactly a hardship, either.

Trouble mars Leo's blissful new existence when a series of suspicious fires puts the haberdashery's business partners at risk. With profits dwindling and their friends in danger, the haberdashers vow to stop the arsonist, and Leo is forced to make a choice. He can let his crew mates risk their lives confronting a murderer- or he can 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...


Does that shift in the third paragraph from "arsonist" to "murderer" throw anyone off? Or is it alright?

As you can tell, I'm pretty attached to the "Meanwhile, Leo's fiancee is hunting him" ending line, but response to Isabeau in the query hasn't been very positive, so what do you think? I think it gives a last jolt of suspense, but if it just gives confusion then it'll have to go.

As for specificity ("Specificity?" "SPECIFICITY." - Inception) regarding HOW the haberdashers intend to stop the arsonist, I'm not convinced it's necessary. Of course confronting a flame-obsessed murderer is going to be dangerous, right?

Happy Holidays, everyone!



Anonymous said...

What about:

"Meanwhile, Leo's fiancee is hunting him, determined to gain control of his kingdom through marriage... even if she has to force him down the aisle."

How's that?

Evil Editor said...

"Murderer" doesn't bother me. Apparently the arsonist is burning encampments while the nomads are in them, asleep?

This version still doesn't address how murdering the prince gains one control of his kingdom rather than a date with the guillotine.

Also, Leo being the hero, we want to see him save the day, and all you'll say is he pulls strings? If that means he's getting someone else to do the dirty work, that someone else may as well be the main character. What does Leo do?

Also, Isabeau doesn't live in this kingdom, and has no way of knowing whether Leo was killed, kidnapped, or bartered passage on a ship headed to another kingdom (which was his original plan), so how can she hunt him? Does she have an army at her disposal in Leo's kingdom?

Apparently you don't wish to answer these questions, so it's probably other minions whose comments you eagerly await.

Anonymous said...

Of course I wish to answer you questions, Your Evilness, but I want to make sure that I do so in a way that improves my query.

When mention of the rovers was raising too many questions, I took the rovers out of the query. Nobody liked the murder bit, so I changed that to Isabeau trying to FORCE Leo into marriage, with no mention of killing him. I moved the focus of the beginning of the letter away from the marriage, and onto Leo joining the haberdashery.

I thought I WAS answering questions- if not directly, then by changing my query in response. I'm sorry if it came across as me ignoring you.

PART 2 OF THIS COMMENT BELOW

Anonymous said...

PART 2 OF COMMENT:


Some straight answers:

"This version still doesn't address how murdering the prince gains one control of his kingdom rather than a date with the guillotine."

... Well, I took OUT the bits about her trying to murder him, and changed it to her FORCING him into marriage. I thought that was enough to avoid confusion, but apparently not.

As for Leo "pulling strings"... yeah, I can see why that's bugging people. He DOES do more than pull strings in the novel, but I guess I've gotten stuck on that line when it comes to writing the query. I'll fix it!!!

"Also, Isabeau doesn't live in this kingdom, and has no way of knowing whether Leo was killed, kidnapped, or bartered passage on a ship headed to another kingdom (which was his original plan), so how can she hunt him? Does she have an army at her disposal in Leo's kingdom?"...

1. Leo leaves an apology not when he runs away, because he's like that. 2. Isabeau HUNTS him. She has spies, soldiers, people willing to be bribed. She's hunting him throughout the entire novel (thus the "meanwhile"), it's not like she just finds him overnight. They search the cities, the docks, question ship captains, and eventually find out that the haberdashery was in town the same day Leo was. Then it's time to call in the Sky Fleet, dun-dun-dunh. 3. Yes, Isabeau has an army at her disposal. She's in Leo's kingdom for the wedding, she has her personal guard with her, and she can e-mail (or pigeon-mail, or whatever) her daddy and demand her kingdom's armies come and help, too.

...I decided not to address every single comment, unless I could use them to directly improve my query. but here I am, responding, SO:

"Isabeau" is a very old-fashioned name, not at all modern. I didn't make it up. I used it because I liked how it started feminine but ended masculine- like the character, who seems like a perfect princess but who is actually rather bloodthirsty. If people really hate the name, though, I can see I have a problem.

Leo IS kind of selfish, at least at the beginning. He runs away because he doesn't want to spend the rest of his life with someone he doesn't love, and because he's spent most of his life trapped in the palace. Over the course of the novel, he gets less and less selfish, even helping to save the rovers, who he initially distrusts. At the end, he DOES return to the palace. He talks to Isabeau and they agree to try to ally their kingdoms together other than through marriage. He arranges a fair trial for the arsonist, chooses justice over revenge, is willing to give up his freedom to be a leader, all that good stuff. A lot of the story is him maturing from sheltered young noble to future king material.

In the novel, I think (I HOPE) that the haberdashers' relationship with the rovers makes sense. There's a romance between a haberdasher and a rover, which is good motivation for helping to stop the arsonist. As for trade, the rovers are artisans who often head into town on their own, anyway, to sell their wares. The haberdashers make for good go-betweens. But of course, there's no more rovers in the query, so...

I hope that satisfies people? I never meant to sound like I was ignoring people, I just wanted to answer via query improvements.


I agree that Leo can't just "pull strings," he has to be active. I'll work on that, I promise!

Thank you to everyone for your feedback. I read it all, even if I didn't answer every single time!

And thank you for your patience with me, Your Evilness, even if it does appear to be wearing thin!

Sincerely,
the author person

Anonymous said...

Author person, I love the idea of the flying haberdashery.

Yes, murderer felt out of nowhere for me.

I think saying Isabeau is hunting him is important. It ties the two plot arcs (take-over-fiance and arson-mystery) which proves there _is_ an overall plot and not merely a string of adventures for the prince on the lam.

Count me as one who thinks it sounds pretty crappy for a prince to abandon his country. In earlier versions it sounded downright negligent, with the idea that the person taking over is violent if not murderous. In this version he just sounds selfish. I see you say he is, fair enough, so can you work into the query something that hints he changes? Are there royal parents in this story? I guess it's not so bad if he left someone reasonable in charge.

I'm sorry for the additional questions. No need to answer me in particular. The way you're working on this query is admirable.

Anonymous said...

Author here. Hello, fellow "Anonymous" comment-leaver!

Jarring mention of "murderer" duly noted.

I'm now wondering if Isabeau needs more than one line in the query...

Yes, Leo's parents are in the story, in good health and in command of the kingdom. The problem is that it's Leo who will one day inherit, one day rule, etc. By fleeing the marriage he isn't leaving the kingdom in immediate danger, but he is leaving it with an uncertain future and he's making it look bad to their allies, and vulnerable to their enemies. Isabeau's kingdom faces more immediate threats, so her marriage to Leo -and the ensuing alliance with his kingdom- is very important to her.

One of the things I wanted to make sure of in the story is that even Isabeau, one of the main antagonists, at least had semi-heroic motivations. Everything she does is for the good of her kingdom. At the end of the novel she mellows out, enough to work things out with Leo civilly, to ensure the safety of both their kingdoms.

But yes, what Leo does IS crappy, and is treated as such in the novel. He feels guilty, Isabeau grows extra hostile toward him (she would do anything for her kingdom, he won't even marry a pretty girl, etc.), and Leo's parents, the king and queen, are none too pleased. I'll try to work in a bit of his development into the query!

Thanks for your kind words, Anonymous! I was quaking in my boots from the Evil Editor's comments- although a little fear is probably good for me, at this point. It definitely keeps me humble.

Veronica Rundell said...

Perhaps instead of making it sound like he's running off forever, you could tweak it to sound more like a last ditch fling--with plans to return prior to the wedding....

I dunno. Just a thought. I want your character to sound as noble/likeable as possible.

Some of these new changes work for me, but I'm still hung up on the runaway prince.

Evil Editor said...

You're supposed to quake in your boots. If I were Nice Editor there'd be too many queries and I'd never have time to watch TV while eating ice cream.

If there's a king and queen in power, once again I don't see what Izzy has to gain by eliminating Leo. He has no current power and there must be a law against killing the prince.

Even if her ruthlessness is removed from the query, if it's in the book, what's the explanation?

I find it hard to believe that Isabeau's father, whose kingdom faces immediate threats, would send his armies to Leo's kingdom at Izzy's request just to hunt for one man.

Kelsey said...

Hi author,
I think, regarding Isabeau's plot arc, that the issue is believability. I like the idea of the pretty princess being a main antagonist in the novel and actively hunting down the hero. (Although, she "mellows out" by the end? I was expecting a show-down! That sounds terribly anticlimactic.) So it's not that she's hunting him that poses the problem for me, it's me believing her motivations and the plausability of it all.

I agree with EE that I find it hard to believe that killing her new husband would help her gain more control than, say, producing an heir. (Now, if the parents were out of the picture and they'd already given birth to an heir, with Leo dead she could be queen regent. That would make more sense to me.) Maybe what you really mean is, instead of her seeking control over his kingdom, she's really just seeking a guarantee that her kingdom won't be attacked? Although again, that seems like lowering the stakes rather than raising them.

Just make sure you're addressing these plot holes in the novel and not just glossing over them. Figuring out how to fix plots holes while keeping your character's actions similar might force you to add layers to their motivations or extra complications to them achieving their goals--which would probably improve the story.

Have fun with it.

PLaF said...

The arsonist aboard the haberdashery is tripping me up.
We don’t care about the haberdashery business partners. We care about Leo. How do these fires affect his situation? What danger does it put him in? (i.e. unable to escape the royal guards and the princess that are searching for him.) Dare I suggest HE be framed for the fires and all his new friends turn against him? (Yes.)
Only when he’s lost everything will he be able to gather his wits, utilize all the new tricks he’s learned while traveling the world, and lean upon the friendships he’s forged to find the real arsonist, stop the princess, and return the haberdashery to the skies. And be a better man for it.

Anonymous said...

Hi, Author here again, hope everyone is having a lovely holiday.

PLaF: "Only when he’s lost everything will he be able to gather his wits, utilize all the new tricks he’s learned while traveling the world, and lean upon the friendships he’s forged to find the real arsonist, stop the princess, and return the haberdashery to the skies. And be a better man for it." That is PERFECT. That's what I want. Argh, to be able to sum it up as you have...

I'm off to ring in the new year, so I might be gone for a while, while real life starts up again (sigh). I'm working on the manuscript at the moment, trying to incorporate all the lovely suggestions/tweaks you've given me. After all, what's the point of having a good query if the novel itself sucks?

But a good novel with a sucky query won't do, either, so I'll be back with a re-write soon.

Happy 2014 everyone!!!