Monday, August 08, 2016

Face-Lift 1324

Guess the Plot

Desert Gold

1. Following a recipe with a few typos, a famous chef embarks upon an odyssey that will ensure he wins the international cooking Olympics. Pay no attention to the hungry jhinn. 

2. After crash landing in the middle of the desert, Will isn't sure how thankful he is to be alive. While he may have miraculously survived without a scratch, any other supplies did not. Now he must make his way through this wasteland searching for something more precious than gold: water. 

3. They say water is worth more than diamonds in the desert, but when Mob runs out of water while traveling endless sands under the blistering sun his pee may be . . . desert gold. 

4. To escape a forced marriage, Rajani crosses a desert, ending up in an abandoned city where she--WHOA! Giant insects suddenly burst from the ground, insects so big they could kill humans, but insects that also have a secret hoard of gold Rajani could use to buy her freedom from those who would enslave her, not knowing she's actually a princess.

5. Specially created from six different types of the finest Belgian chocolate clubbed with a tinge of orange, raspberry, and acai, laced with champagne caviar, handcrafted in the style of Faberge Eggs, sprinkled with edible gold leaf and topped with a two karat diamond…oh wait, you said desert gold….

6. One-time champion palomino Tennessee walker Desert Gold is now alone, neglected and forgotten in an overgrown field. Can he convince 13 year old Megan that he's worth rehabbing?

Original Version

Dear Agent,

I am seeking representation for Desert Gold, a young adult fantasy novel complete at 82,000 words.

Seventeen year old Princess Rajani goes on the run to escape a forced marriage to the man she suspects killed her father. [Killing his fiancée's father: not the best way to demonstrate his commitment to the marriage. Unless it was her idea.] Disguised as one of the guards, she hides amid a caravan traveling across the dessert 

Caravan traveling across the dessert

to the capital where she plans to petition city officials for amnesty, request their support in solving her father’s murder, [Aren't there any local authorities to investigate this murder?] and prevent the unwanted nuptials. [I tend to think of a princess as a member of the ruling family in a monarchy. I wouldn't expect them to bring their legal affairs before city officials, especially if it's not the city they live in.]

The caravan finds the city deserted save for a militant squad of men from the north. They claim not to know why the city has been abandoned but further discussion is interrupted as a swarm of giant insects bursts from the ground. ["Giant insects" could mean insects the size of rats or insects the size of Buicks.] 

In the confusion, Rajani is gravely wounded. She awakens, recovered, in the stronghold of the northerners. Convinced she’s an assassin, the northerners offer her a choice: become a slave or accompany an expedition to track the giant insects to their hoard of gold. [What makes them think insects have a hoard of gold?] [Also, the last person I want tagging along on my expedition is an assassin, especially one I've threatened to enslave.] If the expedition succeeds, she’ll have enough gold to buy her freedom as well as the means to avenge her father. [She'd have to be pretty naive to believe these militants are gonna let her buy her freedom with gold acquired on their expedition. They just want her to carry some of the gold back to their stronghold, after which they'll take it and enslave her.]

Rajani agrees to accompany Anthony, the expedition leader, as his bodyguard. [If I'm hiring a bodyguard because I'm worried about assassins, it's not gonna be someone I'm already convinced is an assassin.] As her feeling [feelings] for him grow, she wonders[colon] if she reveals to him who she truly is, will he still admire her [Why does he admire her?] or ransom her back to her fiancé [If she doesn't trust him not to ransom her, I don't see any upside to telling him who she truly is. Not that he'd believe her anyway.] - that is if the giant insects don’t kill them first?

Thank you for your time and attention.



Was Princess Rejani's father the king? If so, who's in charge now that he's dead? If it's Rajani or her mother or one of her siblings, it seems like she should be able to get out of this wedding without crossing a desert. Sure, maybe the marriage is supposed to prevent a war, but now that the king is dead, war is inevitable.

Is there evidence that her fiancé murdered her father? Did he have a motive? 


Anonymous said...

and plot....
This happens and then that happens and then the other happens. It doesn't feel cohesive. It also doesn't make logical sense.

If the king is dead, who's forcing the MC to get married? Who is now in charge of the kingdom? Why aren't they trying to solve the murder?
Is the MC traveling to the capital of another country? Is that why she thinks she might obtain amnesty? Why would they help solve the murder?
What does the murder have to do with the rest of the plot?

The MC doesn't wake up until she's fully recovered? How badly was she injured? Is magical healing involved?
Was she disguised as male before? Can she fight well enough to pass as a caravan guard? Why would the northerners think she's an assassin? Why do they think the insects have gold? Why bother offering her a choice when they could have both options? If she picks option 2, why does she still need to buy her freedom?

Then, it ends on the hints of a romance and the MC questioning whether the guy will still respect her in the morning????

Be advised that if the problem is the plot, a good query isn't going to help you much. That being said:

MC: Rajani

Plot worthy change to the MC's life that is brought about the events of the book: ???? I have no idea.
Focus on what the book is about. We don't need every little event along the way. If the murder/fiance/etc isn't the focus of the book, it doesn't belong in the query. If it is the focus, the insects and gold hunt don't fit. If they both fit, you need to show how. Give us a logical string of events that sets up the situation and indicates the direction it's heading. Don't include the ending, but you can mention events leading up to the final showdown.

Stakes: ?
What's primarily at stake for your MC? Marriage to her father's murderer? At the point where she's playing bodyguard, that no longer seems relevant. A relationship with Anthony? Then who cares about the gold. What is it that she primarily wants and may lose/gain through the actions of the plot?

Obstacles: You've mentioned lots of possible obstacles, but I can't comment on which ones might be most useful to mention since I don't know which direction your MC is going.

It does sound like it might be a fun story if it ties together. Good luck on the rewrite.

davefragments said...

I don't think you need that first paragraph about the arranged marriage. The first part of the story can be summarized in one or two sentences -- fleeing an arranged marriage to the man who killed her father, princess Ranjani finds a deserted city and northern invaders. Under threat of slavery etc...
The main part of the story is her falling in love with the northerner and fighting the giant bugs for their gold.

khazar-khum said...

If her fiance killed her father and her brother the took the throne, he would have a vested interest in making the marriage happen. Once she's in love with Anthony, she has to convince him that staying on her good side and killing her brother will make him king with her as queen. Maybe they can connect with the gold bugs and get them to do the killing, while Rajani and Anthony come in, 'remove' them, and become queen and king.

St0n3henge said...

“traveling across the dessert” LOL
  “to the capital where she plans to petition city officials for amnesty...” I think city officials are more for building violations. Couldn't you use a title, like “petition the Grand Vizier”?
 “militant squad of men...” You mean a battalion? Or a militia? Precise words exist so we don't have to describe everything using long phrases.

“further discussion is interrupted...” No, current discussion is interrupted. Further discussion never happens.
   “She awakens, recovered, in the stronghold of the northerners...” Does this group have a name? Are they still arguing over what to call themselves?

How did a seventeen year old princess acquire the skills needed to be a bodyguard? Why would anyone mistake a teenage princess for a large, beefy caravan guard? Part of being a guard is that you look so intimidating nobody even tries to do anything wrong.

There is no plot. Things happen in a sequence. That's all.

You need to stop and think: What is the most likely thing to happen right now? How would a teen princess think? She will behave according to the way she thinks. How would a militia leader think and behave? What is his primary goal? What is hers? What motivates insects? Food and mating opportunities, mostly. Also, what has to happen here to get my character to the next plot point, and does it seem natural and logical?

Anonymous said...

Author says:

Currently banging my head against the keyboard. Repeatedly.
Maybe I'll have better luck with this tortuous endeavor.
Thanks for all your comments and insights.
It's back to the drawing board for me, the masochist.