Thursday, September 13, 2018

Face-Lift 1382


Guess the Plot


The Blade and the Bow

1. She has a short blade. He has a longbow. Together they must find the only key that separates two worlds, but the key is held by the brutal magpie who rules Katoomba, so forget it.

2. Raised by a single Elf mother, Rachisa learns to be tough and strong to defend the family. One night she has a visionary dream about her father, and goes on a journey to find him and since you're probably bored out of your mind by now, don't worry, she gets abducted by aliens from Tau Seti and turned into a velkron trainer.

3. One single blade of grass from the fabled Lawn of Dreams, or a thin strand of silk that was once tied into a bow to hold King Rockthorn's pony-tail. Alain, the chosen one, must select his weapon wisely. The blade or the bow? Of course, he is up against a barbarian horde with a dragon and a dark wizard, so he's pretty much screwed, either way. 


4. Elmer Humbrin was taught to always be respectful to the one he duels (and with a name like that, dueling is a common occurrence). Join him as he bows, genuflects, curtsies, bends the knee, kowtows, prostrates himself, and generally cuts every single opponent to ribbons. Yes, it's a serial killer novel. 


5. Orphaned in a mysterious oxcart explosion, peasant lad Ima Trope is raised by Orcs to become a warrior -- but Ima's love of ornamental candles cannot be crushed. When the Orc kingdom of Gru'Kak'Qtlstrk is threatened by Elves, can Ima's stunning table arrangements save the day, win over the Orc princess, and restore grace to Orcish mealtimes? 



6. The Blade is sharp. The bow-tie, crooked. Peter Wells-Larkin’s adoptive father (the Principal) informs Peter he’s leaving him out of his will. Months earlier Mr. Wells-Larkin Sr. discovered he has a biological son and everything’s going to him. But that's ok, if there's one thing Peter has, it's an alibi. 

7. Running a blacksmith shop has been difficult since Tin's father died, but it is the only thing keeping her family afloat. Yet when a ranger from beyond the mountains literally crashes into her shop, she must take up the blade to defend her home. 

8. The unlikely love affair between Priscilla, an itinerant knife-sharpener, and shoe-store clerk Oswald, he of buck teeth, suspenders and chronically-crooked bow tie, plays out in a series of quotidian events of little interest to anyone, including themselves. With that title, you were expecting an exciting tale of romance and derring-do set in the days when knighthood was in flower, weren't you? 


Original Version

Dear [Agent]:
Two hundred years after the world ended in ice, humanity endures in the sealed high-tech shelter of the Jenolan Caves, bound by the sacred duty of reproduction – a duty Tag Tailor is desperate to avoid. She hopes to be chosen as a Keeper: to lead, not breed. But it’s tough to make a good impression under the shadow of her disgraced ex-Breeder sister Sale, who clings to delusions of a livable world beyond Jenolan. When Tag is assigned as a Breeder to Sale’s insufferable former husband, she turns to Sale for help, but their disastrous escape attempt ends with Tag banished to the Waste, and Sale left behind.
The world above is far from the barren nightmare her Keepers threatened. With the help of an irascible crippled hermit, and the hindrance of a charming runaway thief, Tag learns to survive, [When you said the place was far from the barren nightmare etc. I assumed it wasn't such a bad place after all. Now you say Tag has to learn to survive. What's bad about the Waste?] haunted by the knowledge that she walks free in her sister’s place. [They both wanted to come here, so why is she in her sister's place?] Determined to breach the impenetrable Jenolan and rescue Sale, she must find the only Key that ever made it out. That Key is held by the Magpie Lor, brutal ruler of Katoomba, who seeks Jenolan weapons she can use to unleash hell on the mountain folk who won’t fall into line... folk like Tag’s new friends. [Is Lor an actual magpie?] All the Lor needs is the location of Jenolan’s door - something Tag alone knows. And the Lor isn’t the only one searching. [Is Lor the Magpie's name? If so, why do you keep saying the Lor?] [Also, when one of your characters is the Magpie Lor, brutal ruler of Katoomba, no one's gonna care about any of your other characters, so you may as well mention the Magpie Lor, brutal ruler of Katoomba earlier in the query.]

To protect Jenolan and the Waste from one another, Tag knows she should walk away. But there’s someone inside she can’t leave behind, even if it means opening a door that has kept two worlds apart for centuries.
Some seeds need water to grow. Some need fire. [Some apples are red. Some are green.] THE BLADE AND THE BOW is a New Adult #ownvoices adventure with crossover appeal, featuring a diverse LGBTQ cast and a strong, flawed female lead. Building on the tradition of YA post-apocalyptic ‘shelter’ books like HIVE, this story doesn’t end with the discovery of a larger world; it kicks into a higher gear. Complete at 110,000 words, THE BLADE AND THE BOW is a stand-alone novel with series potential.
I hold a Bachelor of Arts in English (Creative Writing) and a Diploma of Professional Writing & Editing, and my short speculative fiction has won several prizes and appeared in Andromeda Spaceways, PodCastle, and Reckoning. THE BLADE AND THE BOW won the inaugural Erica Bell Mentorship Award, and was edited with the assistance of bestselling children’s author Lian Tanner.
I enclose the first (X) pages of THE BLADE AND THE BOW. Thank you for your time and consideration.
Sincerely,

--Note for Evil Editor on the meaning of the title--

'The Blade and the Bow' has a couple meanings within the story. Tag is given a small blade early on that she uses in a variety of ways to get herself out of trouble (excluding ever actually using it as a weapon). The hermit who rescues and then mentors her in the Waste uses a longbow. He's also the story's hidden primary villain; his motivations are similar to that of the Lor, but he's far more subtle about it. He already knows where to find Jenolan's door so, under the guise of helping Tag, he uses her to pinch the Key from under the Lor's nose. So the blade and the bow are references to the two main characters and the weapons they carry; and weapons (and how they're used) are really the focal point of this story.

The 'blade' and the 'bow' are also the formal names of the two parts of a key. The point I'm making with the title, which should become clear by the end of the story, is that it took two people to turn this particular Key.


Notes

That second paragraph has more information than the average reader wants to consume. "Im not sure the query needs the hermit and the thief and the hill people. Maybe it should start, Determined to rescue Sale, Tag must find the only key that can unlock the door into Jenolan. 

So the situation is, Tag knows where the door is but doesn't have the key. The Magpie Lor, brutal ruler of Katoomba, doesn't know where the door is, but has the key. Perfect opportunity to make a deal. I'll show you the door, we both fo in, and while you get Jenolan weapons, I'll rescue my sister. Win win.

I wouldn't call Sale's beliefs of a world beyond Jenovan "delusions." 

Why do Jenolan and the Waste need to be protected from one another? What would happen if the door were permanently open?

Why would they banish someone they'd chosen as a breeder to the Waste?


2 comments:

Iamanoldvampirechild said...

I love the magpie idea. Magpies love to steal things...I think? I'm not sure how a bird can have such an important role? Is it just a normal magpie? Maybe you can spin it n a way that gives the idea more depth. I remember visiting the Jenolan caves as a kid, and they are intriguing. I think it's cool you set a book there.

- I found the first sentence too long. Perhaps you could break it up a bit.

- When you say the sister has delusions of a better world beyond Jenolan, I'm wanting you to spell it out for me that they are stuck and not allowed out, earlier.

-With this bit, ( about being a Breeder ) I'd also try to simplify. as you kind of jump from her being assigned to her sisters husband to their escape attempt failing disastrously, rushing reader, and It meant the information just felt cluttered and I didn't digest it.

-Maybe: When Tag is assigned as a Breeder to Sale’s husband, she attempts to escape. Tag just isn't ready to be locked into having babies. But it means she has to leave her sister behind.

- With: 'The world above is far from the barren nightmare her Keepers threatened.'
this is what I was expecting earlier, just something like, 'the world above is barren, according to her Keepers' to set the scene and explain the situation.

- With 'Determined to breach the impenetrable Jenolan and rescue Sale, she must find the only Key that ever made it out.' I'm thinking, If she escaped without a key, why can't she re-enter the way she came out? I mean she'd have to face the people that expect her to breed, but you haven't actually explained that this is dangerous. The Jenolan people appear set of breeding but don't come across as threatening the way you have it here. Ihreat is only referenced in the need to escape or be forced to marry. Is it the law that MC has to marry a man who chooses her as a breeder? What is the punishment if she refuses? ie; why must she escape

Deleted my first comment as it was messy. Good Luck!

St0n3henge said...

I'm not visualizing your world. Unfortunately it comes across as really generic.

The thing is, there have been tons of books with these themes. Movies, too. Even TV shows. I can't help but think of the default/generic "outside world that's supposed to be an unlivable wasteland but turns out not to be," woman used as breeders trope, and so forth. The "chosen one" (why her?) who must find the key to open the door but doesn't know if she should, etc. That may be my fault, but I can't unsee or unread things that are already in my brain.

What you can do is focus a little more on what makes your story stand out.
If I can imagine a different world that I'd like to explore, that would be great.
Another angle is to create more of an emotional attachment to the characters. One way to do this is to make the stakes clearer. Who lives or dies if the MC doesn't succeed? What if she does? Does she have to decide between two choices that may have tragic consequences? Does she have to decide between the greater good and the good of her family?

The Big Bad is coming across as generic as well. Your story needs a villain, by why one from outside Jenolan? He on the Jenolans seem to be on the same side. I don't see why the Jenolans wouldn't simply unleash hell on the mountain folk themselves. They probably would, if they knew about them. It seems unlikely that the Jenolans wouldn't be on board with this plan. Fresh breeders? Sounds good.
So, why do you need an outside villain? What does he do that the Jenolans can't or won't do with their own weapons?

Anyway, I know this is hard. Repost when you get another draft ready.