Monday, September 12, 2016

Face-Lift 1328


Guess the Plot


From the Skies

1. Everyone is running, for the birds of the sky have a delivery for anyone below. If you thought Hitchcock's version was bad, just wait until you read the aftermath:  From the Skies: The White Deluge


2. It drips. It sprinkles. It dribbles, drizzles, plops, splashes, pours, and mists. There are many ways to describe rain. But what's coming down isn't rain. It's blood. And it reeks. 

3. Apprentice falconer Charles cleans the mews, treats the leather gloves, jesses, and hoods, etc. When one of the prized gyrfalcons falls ill, Master Abdul orders Charles to kill her. Instead he spirits her off to his quarters and nurses her back to health. Under his command, his new friend will take out Abdul, making Charles the head falconer.

4. The leader of the Skye Mission has been swooping in aboard his dragon and burning entire cities right and left. No one else has done anything to stop him, so it's up to Logan Winters to save the world. But is this thirteen-year-old girl up to the task?

5. When crack cable-car operator Hafno Witz suddenly discovers that his gondola is in free fall, he springs into action, organizing his panicked passengers into a synchronized arm-flapping team.

6. On a routine reconnaissance mission, air force lieutenant Chichun Liddle finds holes in the sky leading to another dimension. Unfortunately, the top brass are too concerned with budget cuts to fight off an alien invasion. Also, Cthulhu. 

7. The official cause of Mark Rugger's death is 'fall from an airplane'. But why does he have giant claw marks on his back?



Original Version

Dear Evil Editor,

Novel Title: From the Skies

Logan Winters has been chosen to join the Celestial League, a warrior alliance which governs her world. Logan is thirteen; her parents and friends tell her she is too young to survive on her own in the vast country of Lunos. [What's the connection between joining this warrior alliance and surviving alone in Lunos? That's like if you got drafted by the Golden State Warriors and when you show up for practice they tell you you're not actually on the team, you're playing alone in Antarctica.] [In other words, why are her parents saying, "You're too young to survive on your own in Lunos" instead of "You're too young to join the warrior alliance that governs our world."? She and her best friend Tracey set out to prove their naysayers wrong, confident they are capable of wielding Celestians, magical creatures with which humans have a fraught history. [Apparently to survive in Lunos you must be capable of wielding Celestians? What does "wielding Celestians" mean? Maybe there's a better word than "wielding."] [Also, I don't like "fraught history." A history fraught with betrayal/mistrust/treachery.] Shortly after leaving home, [Did their parents agree to let them go, or are they sneaking away?] Logan and Tracey [Has Tracey also been chosen to join the Celestial League?] encounter unexpected obstacles within themselves and without. Logan struggles to reconcile who she is [Logan Winters.] with who she wants to be, [Ariana Grande.] and Tracey is visited nightly with strange nightmares of darkness and terrible voices.

Logan and Tracey are blissfully unaware of the massive conflict threatening to strangle [a massive threat to] the Celestial League: the anarchistic Skye Mission, a once-noble organization whose leader has been burning cities left and right atop his golden dragon. [How did all these cities get on top of his dragon?] Will McCrae, who has served the League for years, joins his peers in an attempt to quash the destruction. [Rebellions are quashed. Destruction is ended.] An upheaval stirs the League; those who would choose peace struggle with those hungry for war. [As usual, those hungry for war are the ones with the dragons.] Will himself must decide which he values most: his duty to the League, or his duty to those he might lose if he remains loyal. [Whom will he lose by staying loyal?]

The Skye Mission suffers corruption of its own. Skylar Lethe, its leader, is a dangerous yet noble man, focused not on destruction [This is the guy who's been burning cities left and right, right?] but reconciliation with his past mistakes. [Once he's incinerated every city he ever made a mistake in, he'll finally be able to sleep at night.] His obsession with what was has blinded him to what is: an uprising within the Mission, led by a woman with a love for depraved killing methods and a man whose incredible intelligence only enhances his sociopathic tendencies. [Finally, some characters I can identify with.] Skylar is ruthless: he sees the clear path from point A to point B and he will do absolutely anything to achieve his ultimate goal. [Which is point C.] [He sounds a lot like the depraved woman and sociopathic man. What's Skylar's ultimate goal, and what's theirs?] 

All sides in this war threaten to converge in a cataclysmic final battle in the city of Columba. Logan and Tracey will suffer betrayal; Will, heartbreak; and Skylar, treason. [Everyone ends up miserable? Is this fantasy or litfic?]

FROM THE SKIES is the first in the six-part Celestial Cycle and is [complete at] 100,000 words in its completed form. It follows a close-third-person point of view style and is told in the unique voices of five characters from different sides of the conflict (Logan, Tracey, Will, Skylar, and a conflicted member of the Skye Mission named Natalia). It’s a fantasy novel that examines the morality of war, along with the fundamental definition of a good person. It will appeal to new adults who grew up on the Harry Potter series with its diverse cast, youthful protagonists, and adult themes hidden beneath dragons and adventure. [It is a standalone fantasy novel with series potential.] [If that's not true, you'd best make it true, as there's no chance of selling a six-part anything at this stage of your career.]

I am a graduate student at Villanova University, studying for a Masters in Theater. I am an avid reader of fantasy; I was reared on The Chronicles of Narnia and Harry Potter. [I don't see any of that helping your cause.]

Sincerely,


Notes

So in a few days a planet-ruling warrior alliance and a guy with a dragon capable of burning entire cities and Goldfinger and Dracula's bride and a thirteen-year-old girl with her best friend will converge on one city. Lemme guess: the kids win.

This is mostly a list of characters with some information about each one. It's pretty vague when it comes to what happens. The people threaten to converge. If you choose one character to focus the query on you might have room to get to the plot. Obviously the most intriguing character is the woman with a love for depraved killing methods, but it seems Logan and Will play bigger roles. I'd focus on Will, as he's the one with the obvious conflict, and Logan, being thirteen, is more likely to appeal to sixth-graders than new adults.

You might consider putting this project aside while you write a 90,000-word fantasy. Like The Hobbit. When you reach the point where everything you touch turns to gold, you can hit them with your epic hexalogy.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

A lot of your phrasing is awkward. If you can't see this by looking at it or reading it out loud, find a friend who can. I suspect the same will be true for the book, in which case it will need more polishing. The agent/editor will not want a book that still needs to be worked on (even though the one they say yes to will still end up being worked on--that's different).

The person who reads your query knows nothing of your book or the world you've created. You need to both simplify and be more specific. I agree with EE that focusing on one character and their goals and conflicts would probably help.

If this book doesn't have a satisfying ending, you will have a lot of difficulty selling it.

Who is the main character in this book? Pick one, preferably the one who has a satisfying conclusion to their conflicts, which are hopefully the main conflicts of this book.

What problem does the MC have that is solved in the book or what aspect of their world changes for better or worse?

What obstacles are faced by the MC? What resources are they going to pit against these obstacles?

What is at stake for the MC?

Good Luck

alaskaRavenclaw said...

If the protagonist is 13 years old, the assumption is that the book is is middle grade.

But it's clearly not middle grade.

So this is another issue.

AA said...

“Logan and Tracey  encounter unexpected obstacles within themselves and without. Logan struggles to reconcile who she is with who she wants to be...” This is too vague to mean anything.

“Tracey is visited nightly with strange nightmares of darkness and terrible voices.” Is there any explanation for this? Usually people have nightmares for a reason. If he's “blissfully unaware” of the conflict, why would he have nightmares? (Wait- is Tracey a boy or a girl?)

“An upheaval stirs the League; those who would choose peace struggle with those hungry for war.” War with whom? Do you mean to say they have a choice whether to follow their leader or break off as a separate faction? Why should an “anarchistic”organization object to Skylar's violent tactics? Are you sure you know what anarchist means? “a person who believes in, advocates, or promotes anarchism or anarchy; especially : one who uses violent means to overthrow the established order.”

“Skylar Lethe, its leader, is a dangerous yet noble man, focused not on destruction  but reconciliation with his past mistakes.” Is this the same guy who's been burning cities left and right? He CAN'T be an anarchist leader who commits acts of extreme terrorism constantly, yet also not be focused on destruction. Say ONE thing and mean what you say.

“Skylar is ruthless: he sees the clear path from point A to point B and he will do absolutely anything to achieve his ultimate goal.” Which is?

“All sides in this war threaten to converge in a cataclysmic final battle in the city of Columba.” Again, what war? You've described an anarchist burning cities from a dragon, an alliance, and an organization with internal conflicts. You have not described a war.

Start over with this in mind: We haven't read your manuscript. I don't know what is going on. I don't know why people are fighting. I don't know what they're fighting for or about. I don't know why young teens feel the need to get in the middle of it, and I don't know why anyone in their right mind would let them.