Friday, November 06, 2015

Face-Lift 1286

Guess the Plot

The Burnt State

1. The Empire is the greatest endeavor in the history of man. Now someone wants to burn down the whole thing. Eldritch was preventing this, but he's given up so it's up to his granddaughter. But what can one six-year-old do?

2. Someone is setting forest fires in Idaho then harvesting the burnt wood to sell as charcoal. The governor enlists the over five thousand members of the American Pawnbrokers Association to investigate and apprehend the perpetrator. But they refuse because they are getting charcoal at a huge discount.

3. Lia is immortal thanks to her phoenix blood giving her the chance to rise from her ashes every 80 years or so. Problem is, her ashes are always transported to a different country and it's a bummer to have to learn new languages and fit in to some weird culture when she has no money or identity there. At the moment she's really loving access to indoor plumbing and smart technology in beautiful Tuscany and so frankly is doing anything to avoid...the burnt state.

4. A pyrokinetic vampire must team up with an asthmatic djinn to save the state barbecue competition after a freak tornado rips through the largest firework show in Oklahoma history. Can ya'll say "firenado"?

5. No longer able to stand the overpriced world of Los Angeles, firefighteer Jessica Maclain moves to Abilene, Texas. But when the drought triggers a massive firestorm, her old captain begs her to return to...the Burnt State.

6. Five medical students at a small New England university do experimental laser neurosurgery on themselves to see if they can make themselves smarter. The laser treatments turn them into geniuses, but the effects are temporary. They persist with the experiment, amaze their professors, and go around town claiming they're a coven of vampires. Their brains are starting to fry.

Original Version

Dear Evil Editor,

Eldritch Ramsay is not going to let his grandson die.

He's going to give in and let the Empire, the greatest and most unselfish endeavour in the history of man, burn.

Let the heroes and patriots save it if they can. [Why is that three paragraphs instead of one?] [It's vague. I'd be more interested if I knew specifically what's going on. Apparently someone has told Eldritch, I will kill your grandson unless you let us burn the Empire. Which leads me to ask, How is this one guy preventing those with the power to burn the entire Empire from doing so? It's like the Death Star shows up to destroy her planet, and Princess Leia tells Darth Vader, Don't do it, and he, instead of laughing and just doing it, says, Either you allow me to do it, or I kill Luke.]

On the other side stands Indy Ramsay, his granddaughter. The best of the aforementioned patriots, in heart if not in proven ability.

Many over few. Always. The greater good. Always. This is what her grandfather has taught her. [If I'd known her grandfather was Spock I would have gone with a Star Trek example instead of Star Wars.] ALWAYS.

She will live by it. She will fight, and prove herself worthy of the Empire and the validation that was denied her.

She will ensure the survival of the Empire, Ever Eternal, at any cost. [Who is she, Supergirl? Unless this is a world where disputes between empires are settled by champions in cage matches, I don't see how this one girl/woman fighting can ensure anything.]

Then what if the cost be Eldritch? [The greater good. ALWAYS. She will live by it. Eldritch is screwed.]

THE BURNT STATE is a fantasy novel, complete at 112,000 words. I am an anonymous voice speaking to you from the ether. [I'll do the jokes, if you don't mind.] This is my first novel (If voices can be said to have novels)

Thank you for your time and consideration.



The whole thing is vague. What makes the Empire so great? Who wants to burn the Empire, and why? What's stopping them? It sounds like grandpa has been stopping them, but how? How old is Indy?

It sounds like Indy is the main character. Start with her. Tell us about this validation she was denied. List her super powers. Then tell us how she plans to accomplish her main goal, and what goes wrong. What's her big decision when the moment of truth arrives?

We're more interested in your story than your theme. If you describe the plot well, we'll figure out what the theme is. 


InkAndPixelClub said...

This looks to be a new draft of a query we saw sometime back.

The first line is a good hook. There's already drama; someone is in danger and somebody else is determined to save him. If I had just this sentence to go on, I'd have at least partial answers to two of the major questions a query is supposed to answer: the main character is Eldritch Ramsay, presumably an older man and what he wants is to save his grandson. And I'd keep reading.

Unfortunately, I don't think that's your story. Your main character appears to be Indy, the imperiled grandson is never mentioned again, and all I've got is some vague language about patriots and empires that doesn't tell me what happens or why I should care nearly as well as that first sentence started to.

If I'm understanding right, your story is Indy being pitted against her grandfather because he's about to betray the Empire in order to save her brother or cousin. That could be an interesting story, but you need to lay out what happens. The setup is that Eldritch himself taught Indy to put the Empire before all else. But now he's going back on his own teachings to save his grandson. Cover that in one paragraph or so and spend the rest on what Indy does to try and stop Gramps and what choices she has to make along the way.

Anonymous said...

Plenty of voice, plenty of big pronouncements, scarce on what's actually happening.

I think your story is Indiana Jones must save an empire from something, possibly from burning, but with the overly melodramatic pronouncements, I'm not sure if that's supposed to be literal or metaphorical. Also, Sean Connery is the villain, er he was the dad not the grandad?, anyway, and the MCs brother or cousin is going to die.

Try saying what's going on, you know: 007 has joined S.P.E.C.T.R.E to burn down the empire state building and use the insurance money to pay for life-saving surgery for Daniel Craig. It's up to Indiana Jones to foil the plot by ALWAYS following Roger Moore's secret recipe for martinis.

Anonymous said...

"Most-unsomething" is rather awkward phrasing, so I'd say "the most selfless endeavor" instead.

Now for everything else.

It seems you're breaking things into lots of paragraphs in a heavy spirit of "Let that sink in." I advise you to be more sparing with it. Also, be more sparing with the single-word sentences. Always.

You've got incredibly broad strokes here, and yet you've omitted one entire side of the story. Who are the anti-Imperialists? Why do they want to destroy the greatest thing man has ever built? (I think I know -- they're the greedy individualist/capitalist types who don't like the whole "selfless, many-over-few" thing.) Anyway, please introduce them to us. A well-written fantasy epic generally presents the bad guys on their own terms to some extent and gives them internal logic and even morality.

Indy seems to be the main character. Despite the fact that she has been unfairly denied "validation," the fate of the Empire rests on her shoulders and she has to decide what to do when the Prime Directive of preserving it clashes with her loyalty to Eldritch. Tell us what happens as a consequence -- how she struggles to save her grandpa and the Empire both, all while arguing down some tedious lords and commanders who think she's not up to the job, all while fending off the flames of the anti-Imperialists.

Anonymous said...

the previous version is on 5/8/15

Anonymous said...

One step forward, two steps back.

We know what Eldritch wants in this version--to save his grandson. Unfortunately, you don't tell us anything about how or from what. I've got a vague idea that Indy wants the empire to survive, but I'm not sure what's threatening it or how she can help.

You seem to be worried about spoilers. In this day and age when the entire plot to any movie, book, or video game is splattered all over the internet as soon as anyone interested gets their greedy little hands on it, you're still worried about spoilers. Do you ever re-watch movies? Re-read books? Re-play games? Do you really care that you already know what happens? If your book can't stand up to spoilers, maybe you should be working on it instead of the query.