Guess the Plot
The Water Still Rules
1. That old maritime saying, "Ships might sail on the surface, but the water still rules" (which I made up) inspired this story about a 17-year-old female Spartacus (even though the book has no ships or water; it does, however, have a magic tree).
2. Joy and Rock want their daughter Sylvia to take over the family drug smuggling business, but all she wants is to read pulp fiction. They hire a former teen idle to seduce her … but the plan backfires when his decapitated body washes up on the shore of their beach bungalow.
3. When Olaf Ardnolfson wakes up on an island, he has nothing but his sword, his clothes, and a vague recollection of the longship going under. He's not alone; there's a beautiful woman with a black dress and a belt of sealskin with him. But is she real--or a selkie?
4. Chloe loves the wet climate she lives in, but realizes the water has a mind of its own when her dates start disappearing on rainy nights. Are they really not that into her, or is the water a jealous and evil lover?
5. Apocalyptic Venice is overrun by masked goblins. Pierro’s sister is determined to join the goblins as their pet assassin, and his mother is too busy with her cheese business to pay attention to the goblin threat. Pierro must defeat the goblins and save Venice – but Venice has its own ideas about that.
Dear Evil Editor,
My YA Fantasy at 75,000 words, THE WATER STILL RULES, [My YA fantasy THE WATER STILL RULES, complete at 75,000 words] is the story of a teenage girl with magical abilities who is forced to fight as a gladiator. Spartacus meets the rich world building of Rae Carson’s A Girl of Fire and Thorns and a fierce female lead like Sarah J. Maas’s Throne of Glass series. [When you say "a fierce female lead like..." you need to follow with the name of a fierce female lead, not the title of a series. You can then add the series title as in: . . . a fierce female lead like Celaena Sardothien from Sarah J. Maas’s Throne of Glass series.] [Personally, I'd rather you talk about your story than liken it to Spartacus but with the Kirk Douglas role being played by Miley Cyrus.] [There's not enough to like about that paragraph to justify starting the query with it. Put the title, word count and genre toward the end. And resist mentioning Spartacus.]
For seventeen-year-old Aelia, life is a play [game] of hide-and-seek to protect the last Soultree on Earth - and the magic inside it - in the hopes that one day it will grow strong enough to aid her in freeing her people. Not like [that] she minds; hiding is better than being a slave to the Marasans – the people who took over their kingdom, enslaving or killing anyone with the ability to draw magic from the tree. [How is she protecting the tree if she's hiding? Is she the only one who knows where the tree is?] [In any case, I don't like the hide and seek analogy.
But when she gets captured by the owner of a famous gladiator school, Saro, being a slave becomes the least of her worries. [The least? I would put it pretty close to the top of her list, right below the fact that her first match is against Borgo the Disemboweler.] Saro intends to make [back] every last [piece of] gold he spent on capturing her back by making her fight in the arena. [Why is he spending his gold capturing seventeen-year-old girl slaves who probably won't last two minutes in the arena? He should be capturing linebackers and lumberjacks.] With her family dead, her tree far away, she cannot rely on anybody but herself. To her surprise, though, she finds friends at the house. [The house? You haven't mentioned a house. I assume you mean the school?] People who make the endless days of work and training endurable. Especially Zenon, who trains Aelia for her first fight, and who - with his mischievous smile and honesty - starts to feel more than just a friend. But with that first fight coming up, she has to decide - they say escaping is impossible, but staying means hurting the very people she swore to protect. [Or getting killed without hurting anyone. Do they fight to the death?] [Escaping won't help the people she swore to protect. Even if she could get to her tree, the tree isn't strong enough yet to aid in freeing her people. Plus, how will she know the Marasans didn't let her escape so they could follow her to the last Soultree on Earth and destroy it?
Thank you for your time and consideration.
P.S.: My title comes from a saying "Ships might sail on the surface, but the water still rules." There's a revolution at the end of my book. The saying refers to the slaves as the water and the masters as the ships. [In other words, the masters sail on the surface but the slaves still rule? That doesn't hold water. I think it means that we may think we've conquered Mother Nature with our titanic ships, but one big storm at sea will show us that she still rules.]
While I realize that some men get off on watching girls fight, if you want to fill an entire arena, you need athletic gladiators who are juicing. Not teenage girls. A T-ball game isn't gonna fill Yankee Stadium.
Your fierce female lead spends her youth hiding, then gets captured. We want to know something she does that's useful. Get beyond the setup of her hopeless situation and tell us what her plan is, what goes wrong, what will happen if she fails to overcome the odds stacked against her.