Monday, September 22, 2014

Face-Lift 1223

Guess the Plot

The Spirit Swindler

1. Hey! Hey you! Cubicle meat sack. That soul thing? You're not using it, right? So I'll give you a million bucks now, and another million later. Come on. What have you got to lose?

2. A unicorn promises the late Brobro a new life in a new body. Naturally he jumps at the opportunity, but be careful what you wish for: his new body turns out to be Adolph Hitler's! And the SWAT team is at the door!

3. It was a classic tale of fame and fortune. He had it, but it could also be yours – for a price. All you need do is take care of the Nigerian Prince. But be careful what you wish for – because he's . . . The Spirit Swindler.

4. The ghost of Al Capone returns to 1960s Chicago and wreaks havoc on the city's hippy counterculture. Ultimately prohibited from committing any worldly sin, Capone is consumed by a hatred of Bohemianism bordering on the fanatical. Only Shaggy and Scooby can stop his nefarious plans to exorcise the desire for pleasure from the human spirit.

5. Jake has realized that spirits are not souls. No one in Hell wants to buy any, and Jesus just chuckles at Jake's ambition. But why do so many useless specters keep appearing at Jake's door? Is Jake a Specter Whisperer or an unpublished writer with a too-big imagination?

6. When little Bobby Bacardi came over from the old country, one step ahead of the prohibitionists, he thought he might have at last found a refuge. But that was in 1919, and things went down the hatch quickly. When a drunk-with-power Sammy Seagram catches up with him, Bobby knows he's in for the bar fight of his life. Wearing a mask, and working mostly in the dimly lit back rooms of speakeasies, Bobby becomes the vigilante known as… The Spirit Swindler.

Original Version

Dear Evil Editor,

Brobro was tired of being dead. The service was bad, the rent was too high, and the frequency of teenage girls trying to summon him at sleepovers was just exhausting. When a unicorn named Swagfast promised him new life in another body, how could he refuse? [No reason that paragraph can't be in present tense.]

Now Brobro's alive, exactly where he died. Everything's just as he remembered [remembers] it, right down to the time on the clock. The only difference is his wife's terrified expression. Oh, and the fact that his "new" body is Adolf Hitler's. 

It doesn't take long for the SWAT team to arrive. [Why are they arriving?] Brobro's alone against the law, and his narrow escape just means they'll crack down harder. His retreat leads him into the NYC sewers, where he finds a fellow misfit named Jazzhands. The winged clown claims to have been a beautiful pegasus, before Swagfast cheated her out of her body.

Together they decide to search a world that hates them to find Swagfast and the lives that he stole from them. [Swagfast didn't steal Brobro's life; Brobro was already dead when they met.]

THE SPIRIT SWINDLER is a 128,000 word historical romance. [Really? Whether the romance is between Brobro and his wife or Hitler and the winged clown (or Brobro and Hitler, in which case it would be a Brobromance), you need to have something about the romance in the query. And if it's historical romance, reveal the historical period in which it's set. Even now that I know the romance is the main focus of the book, I'm inclined to think romantic comedy or paranormal romance or farcical fantasy.] If you are interested, please email me at ___________. Thank you for your time and consideration.



The tone is good, assuming it fits the book.

Not clear if Brobro has possessed the body of the real Adolph Hitler or just has a body that looks like Hitler's. As there were no SWAT teams when Hitler was alive, I assume the latter, but as dead people can be given new lives, perhaps it's the former. Perhaps Hitler, too, got tired of being dead and Swagfast gave him a new life, except he was being as big an asshole in his new life as he was in his old one so Swagfast let Brobro have the body, figuring he couldn't be any worse in it than Hitler. Then again, Swagfast is apparently the villain, so he'd probably be happy if Brobro were worse than Hitler. New title suggestion: The Man Who Was Worse Than Hitler.

I always thought Pegasus was one specific creature, rather than a species or race. Or that if there were lots of them, that Pegasus was the name of one winged horse and the other winged horses had their own names. 


InkAndPixelClub said...

It's certainly an attention grabbing premise, but I'm a bit lost.

Is the SWAT team after Brobro for something he did before he died or because he just turned into Adolph Hitler? If it's the former, doesn't Brobro have an excellent case that he's someone else, someone who has the misfortune of looking exactly like Adolph Hitler?

Are pegasi (EE, "pegasus" is a common term for the species), unicorns, and winged clowns common in this world or only in the realm of the dead? The fact that they all show up with minimal surprise or fanfare is is stretching your already thin definition of "historical romance."

I can buy that unicorns and pegasi might think that "Swagfest" and "Jazzhands" are appropriate names. But unless you've neglected to mention that Brobro is an alicorn, his name feels very weird for a main character in a historical romance.

Anonymous said...

Is this a joke? Is the whole query a joke, or is the word count and genre at the end a joke? You don't joke around with genre. Genre is sacred.

Presuming this is a serious query for a satirical novel riffing on My Little Pony, complete with Brobro the Brony crushing on a pegasus, it sounds fun...but it's not a historical romance. Calling it a historical romance makes the query look like a prank. Call it a commercial comedy, comedic fantasy, or any of EE's suggestions instead.

Evil Editor said...

"pegasus" is a common term for the species

I don't see anything about this on Wikipedia. Is there a species of pegasi in Greek mythology, or have a few modern authors who didn't have enough imagination to come up with their own original creatures stolen the flying horse idea from mythology and declared it a species, which they named pegasi so they could say that their winged horses weren't outright thievery, but an homage to the original?

InkAndPixelClub said...

I'm surprised that Wikipedia doesn't mention that usage of it. While Pegasus does appear to be a singular creature in Greek mythology, I've seen the term used tons of times to describe a generic winged horse. I've seen the term "pegasus" used far more often than "winged horse" or anything similar. In fantasy, it would soind about as natural as calling a unicorn a "horned horse."

AlaskaRavenclaw said...

First thing: This is not historical romance. It is fantasy. Any time you have unicorns and/or winged clowns, or winged anything other than birds, insects, bats or aircraft, you're in fantasyland.

Second thing: This situation needs context. Your prospective agent probably knows that Hitler committed suicide in a bunker under Berlin in 1945. Either your character is Hitler before 1945, in which case you've got a time travel "What If" story (and you need to get the historical details right); or you're killing him long after 1945, in which case you need conspiracy theorists who don't believe he died in the bunker in 1945. From the query, we can't tell which.

Either way, though, it's fantasy. Just as well, 'cause 128k is pretty long for anything but fantasy.

If you're querying by email, don't tell the agent where to email you. She will respond to your email, so you should be sending from the address to which you want her to reply.

EE, authors who have the imagination to come up with their own original creatures bore their readers to tears. Nobody wants to read about a sminkdernaronus. They would rather read about a pegasus.

Also, your Captcha is being mean to me.

Evil Editor said...

Oh yeah? Then how come there's no Pegasus or Fairy or vampire in the bar scene in Star Wars? They probably wouldn't have even let flying horses into the bar for fear of boring the other patrons to tears.

SB said...

I might point out, AR, that hobbits seem to have done pretty well at entertaining readers.

(But yes, 'pegasus' is totally a widely-used term for generic flying horses.)

Selena said...

The female fans of MLP call themselves pegasisters, fwiw.

I'd comment on the query but I think it's a hoax. Apologies to the author if it isn't!

CavalierdeNuit said...

I breezed through your query, so you're not a bad query writer. What does a winged clown look like? A traditional clown with wings? It with wings? Or do you have some new crazy clown on your mind.