Friday, February 03, 2023

Help Wanted

 A new title in the query queue needs your amusing fake plots. (link in sidebar)

Wednesday, December 07, 2022

Feedback Request

 The author of the query featured just below this post would like feedback on this new version:

Zae Mir leads the spell-dancers ordered to magically assist the army opposing the enslaving conqueror Thaeredn Khatsz. Khatsz possesses god-like powers and commands formidable supernatural beings. To counter them, the dancers hope to recruit similar beings, unfortunately unpredictable, along their march.

One of Khatsz's closest henchmen sees in Mir a tool to further their own treacherous agenda. [Is "their" referring to the henchman with a plural pronoun, or is it referring to the Khatsz army? Technically, it would refer to Mir, the most recently mentioned character.] Masquerading as one of these beings, they help him rescue a fellow dancer, evade capture, and survive attacks. [I know it's no crime to use plural pronouns in place of singular nouns these days, but it's making this confusing. "They help him" means the henchman helps Mir (him instead of them), but why does one henchman get a plural pronoun (they instead of him) while one spell Dancer gets a singular pronoun (him instead of them)? It could just as easily be "he helps them" or "they help them." Does this henchman have a name? "Bob helps Mir" would be clearer.] [Also, I don't like "these beings" when no beings were mentioned in the previous sentence. Maybe end the first paragraph with: "But Khatsz's closest henchman, impersonating one of these supernatural beings, infiltrates Mir's troupe in order to further their/his/her/its own treacherous agenda." That pretty much eliminates the second paragraph.]

Then betrayals within the army [which army?] put Mir and the other dancers on the front line. And inadvertently reveal how close to Khatsz the henchman is. Mir is severely injured protecting his fellows, kept alive but held powerless by the henchman. Playing along with this traitor may be the army's only chance to defeat Khatsz--or lead to [could make] Mir himself complicit in their defeat.

[Ending with Mir facing the crucial decision: should he play along with Bob the traitor or risk losing the war? is good, but being alive but powerless is not. I'd remove the middle sentence of that paragraph, and replace it with something like: "Mir realizes he can't trust Bob, but wonders: can he use him?"

If all this leaves your plot summary feeling a bit short, add a few more details, maybe about spell dancing. 

I don't know how far into the book this summary goes. If the book covers an entire war, this query seems like it's covering just the first few chapters, which might be problematic.

Friday, November 18, 2022

Face-Lift 1429

Guess the Plot

To Dance with a Blade

1. Susan thought it would be a normal dance class. Little did she know she'd joined a dance troupe whose main source of income was assassinations. The tango is just the beginning.

2. When multiple countries combine armies to take on the brutal conqueror Thaeredn Khatsz, they know they'll need more than just their soldiers. They'll also need dancers.

3. There was bloodshed at the Bolshoi when the Sabre Dance in Khachaturian's Gayne ballet went terribly wrong. Who rigged the prop with a real blade and left superstar danseur Sasha Pashavich on the stage, legless and lifeless? Ace private eye Ivan Denisovich - after solving six Moscow opera and ballet stage murders in as many months, is pretty sure a pattern is emerging.

4. When the most handsome man at the ball asks Edwina to dance, she's thrilled. And that's before she knows he's the finest swordsman in the kingdom. And I'm not talking about the sword in his scabbard.

5. Charlie's mom always told him to never run with scissors. But she never told him not to waltz while holding a razor blade. So how is it his fault that his dance partner's back is gushing blood?

6. Seoun wants to join the ballet but his family has performed sword dances for the emperor for generations. With bankruptcy and a military draft waiting in the wings, can he convince his family there's more to art than a couple feet of sharp steel?

7. The complete history of fencing scenes in movies, from The Three Musketeers and The Count of Monte Cristo to The Princess Bride and Star Wars. Comes with a free Zorro mask. 

Original Version

Dear Evil Editor

Zae Mir leads the spell-dancers sent with a multi-country army fielded to oppose the enslaving conqueror Thaeredn Khatsz. [Immediately I'm wondering if the enslaving conqueror is a cat and the soldiers and dancers are mice. Then I have some other thoughts: 1. You  don't send a multi-country army to oppose someone, you send them to crush him. 2. If all armies sent dancers to accompany their soldiers, the world would be a better place. 3. Who sent the dancers? Were they ordered to go, or did they volunteer? I can't imagine any of the competitors on Dancing with the Stars volunteering to go into battle against an enslaving conqueror. Or being ordered to do so. 4. When I encounter the names Zae Mir and Thaeredn Khatsz before even reaching sentence 2, the only reason I'm not tossing the manuscript in the wastebasket is because they might be cats and mice.] The dancers expect to support the soldiers with healing, magical shields, and spells that enhance fighting abilities.  [How does that work? The armies see the enemy coming at them with swords, and the general says, "Dancers! To the front!" and then the dancers move up and start doing a foxtrot to Black Sabbath's "Johnny Blade"? And this creates shields that the enemy can't penetrate?] They hope to enlist the aid of perilous supernatural beings along their march. [I don't think "perilous" is the right word when describing beings. It goes better with actions. I'd go with "powerful" or "unpredictable" or "powerful--but unpredictable--"] [A multi-country army with healing, magical shields, and enhanced fighting abilities needs supernatural beings' aid? Does the enslaving conqueror have his own supernatural beings?]

After a genius dancer doesn't return from negotiating with one of these beings, [Can a dancer who approaches powerful--but unpredictable--supernatural beings alone really be called a genius?]  Mir stages a rescue.  He risks creating a powerful enemy at the army's back.  However, he's both reluctant to lose his colleague's skills and determined to bring all the dancers home from the war. ["Reluctant" doesn't sound strong enough. Dump the red words, or at least replace them with something like he needs his colleague's unique skills. Of course if he couldn't afford to lose this specific dancer, maybe he should have sent a more expendable negotiator.]

Meanwhile, one of Khatsz's closest henchmen sees in Mir the potential to further their own treacherous agenda. [Is "meanwhile" the right word? Is this happening at the same time as the rescue operation?]  Incognito, they help him evade capture and survive attacks.  Their continuing assistance will be the army's best chance to defeat Khatsz.  Even if it is a setup. [In view of the book's title, I would argue that the dancers are the army's best chance to defeat Khatsz.]

To Dance with a Blade is a stand-alone fantasy adventure with series potential complete at 97K words.

Thank you for your time and consideration,


Assuming the book progresses to the encounter with Khatsz, I don't see the need to include the paragraph about the missing negotiator and the rescue attempt. If you tried to condense the history of World War II into three paragraphs, you wouldn't devote one of the three to the saving of Private Ryan.

Is Khatsz pronounced like cats or cots?

Do the dancers use music? I mean, I know they don't have a band, but do the soldiers sing a cappella numbers to help the dancers stay in unison?

Do the dancers have swords while they dance, as the title suggests? That would lead to cool choreography, but it could get messy if they actually have to use the swords and get them bloody or stuck in peoples' guts.

Here's what I'd put in each of three paragraphs. Expand these with additional sentences as needed.

Paragraph 1: Zae Mir, leader of the "spell dancers," whose movements can mystically enhance fighting abilities, agrees/is ordered/volunteers to bring his squad/troupe/company to [place name] to assist the soldiers attempting to crush the enslaving conqueror Thaeredn Khatsz.

P2: When Khatsz's forces begin to gain the upper hand, Khatsz's closest henchman sees in Mir a tool to further his own treacherous agenda, and helps Mir evade capture and survive attacks.  

P3: Mir must decide how far to trust this traitor, knowing that doing so may be the army's only chance to defeat Khatsz--or may lead to a quicker and more devastating defeat. 

Monday, October 31, 2022

Face-Lift 1428

Guess the Plot

The Devouring Dark

1. The Halloween episode of a foodie competition goes horribly wrong when the lights go out. Can an epicurean vampire expose a vengeful murderer or will they both be blamed when hysteria descends into cannibalism?

2. It's dark. It eats people. But what's an elder cosmic horror supposed to do to get a hot date and pay the rent? Also, ancient kudzu-ravaged temples.

3. When Jarv received a "Wish you were here" postcard from Hell, he thought it was a joke. Now he smells brimstone, hears howls and screams from dark and gaping maws, and sees rotting, blood-dripping teeth. As a dentist, it's all pretty normal.

4. The planet Rojan rotates so slowly that night lasts fourteen Earth-years. Also, it devours all life, forcing inhabitants to constantly move with the rotation or die. Can one teenaged girl slow down the planet's rotation enough to celebrate her sweet-sixteen birthday party?

5. When shadow creatures battle soul eaters, the balance of power will be determined by which side one young woman fights on. Will she fight against the side that murdered her family, or will she lead them to victory so she can then have the satisfaction of murdering them all by herself?

6. No one knows where this entity comes from or why it exists. It descends upon the land once every year without fail, devouring sunlight, bringing darkness upon humanity, and lasting months. All cringe in horror at the fearsome entity known as . . . the end of daylight savings time.

Original Version

Dear  Evil Editor,

A secretive order of assassins, twelve initiates, eight magical houses, three deadly trials and one quest for revenge that will tear it all down... [If you can add 7 other items to this list, you'll have a song called "The Twelve Days of Darkness." Which is probably a better title for the book.] [I don't think that sentence is needed.]

20-year-old Briar Gem has been hiding among mortals for over a decade since her family was killed, waiting for her chance to get revenge. And so, when the Soul Eaters, the order of assassins that killed them, holds trials for new initiates she decides to enter, [Can anyone "enter"? They must vet the applicants.] [Also, maybe the order of assassins wouldn't have to keep looking for new initiates if they had a less-intimidating moniker. The Republican party was once known as the Soul Eaters, but they had the good sense to change their name (though sadly, not their platform).]with the goal of destroying them from the inside. [No eight-year-old kid would have the patience to wait more than a decade for anything. Plus, the turnover rate in the Soul Eaters would be so high that the ones who killed her family are already dead, in prison, or have gone into witness protection and settled down in the suburbs to raise families of their own.] But before she can get her revenge, she must first survive a deadly series of trials, competing against initiates who will stop at nothing to earn their spot. [Here's a tip for the initiates willing to do anything to become Soul Eaters: If you just want to assassinate people, you don't need to survive deadly trials and join an order of assassins. You just need a sniper rifle. Unless . . . are there perks to joining the Soul Eaters, like health insurance and a 401-K?]

As she struggles to navigate the trials and hide her true identity, [I don't see how hiding her true identity is a struggle. Just don't tell anyone. If they didn't find out when they vetted you, you're probably safe.] [Although, now that I think about it, anyone who applies to be in the Soul Eaters would be wise to use a fake identity. That's probably the first deadly trial. They ask you if you're using a fake name, and if you say no, they kill you because they don't want morons in their order.] Briar meets Wraith, one of the Soul Eaters’ most deadly assassins. [That's three "deadly"s in five sentences. Maybe use a "dangerous" or "lethal" now and then.] When Wraith begins to suspect Briar is hiding something, she must figure out the unexpected connection between them before he uncovers her secret. [That's pretty vague. What is the connection, and how does she even know there's a connection, and how does she know it's important to "figure out" this connection?] Briar’s plans are put to the test when she begins to develop strange new powers [What are her plans and what are her powers?] as mysterious shadow creatures attack the order. Briar and Wraith are forced to work together to unmask the true evil lurking within the Soul Eaters [This deadly assassin wants to help unmask the evil in the Soul Eaters"? Isn't he a major part of the true evil?] before Briar suffers the same fate as her family. 

THE DEVOURING DARK is a dual perspective adult fantasy novel approximately 106,000 words in length. It will appeal to fans of CITY OF DUSK by Tara Sim, as well as NEVERNIGHT by Jay Kristoff.

I have been a book blogger and influencer for the past six years, working with publishers for the promotion of books on many occasions. [Anything you can do to influence people to buy Evil Editor's books would be appreciated.] My content focuses on fantasy novels, which has given me extensive experience with the genre. This would be my first published work.

Thank you for your consideration.



As Briar wants to take down the Soul Eaters, why doesn't she just disappear and hope the shadow creatures do the job for her, instead of helping her sworn enemy defeat them

Is Wraith one of the Soul Eaters who killed Briar's family? If so, I think in her place I'd kill Wraith and worry about the shadow creatures later. Unless she's a groundhog, shadow creatures are no big threat.

Briar's secret is that she's on a quest to destroy the Soul Eaters from the inside. Briar must "figure out" the connection between herself and Wraith before he uncovers this secret. I don't see how Wraith will be any less pissed at her if she's already figured out the connection when he uncovers her secret than he'll be if she hasn't yet figured it out.

Possible opening paragraph:

20-year-old Briar Gem wants to take down the Soul Eaters, the order of assassins who killed her family a decade ago. Her plan: join their ranks and destroy them from the inside. But first she'll have to deal with Wraith, the deadliest of the Soul Eaters, who suspects Briar is not who she claims to be.

Any specific information you can work in after that will help, even if it means leaving out a few things. Her plan has to be more concrete than finding out an unexpected connection between her and Wraith. For instance if she's about to kill Wraith with her super powers, and he says, "Wait, Briar, I am your father," it's okay to reveal that in the query.

Saturday, October 29, 2022

Friday, October 28, 2022

Halloween Film # 9

                         The Letter

Wednesday, October 26, 2022

Halloween Film # 8

                              The Clown

Tuesday, October 25, 2022

Halloween Film #7

                                     The Thing that Came in My Window

Monday, October 24, 2022

Sunday, October 23, 2022

Saturday, October 22, 2022

Halloween Film # 4

                                                            Trick or Treat

Friday, October 21, 2022