Friday, June 30, 2006

Face-Lift 93

Guess the Plot

Prophecy's Sons

1. A soothsaying parrot predicts that Angriel's sons will bring about his death, so he kills them as they sleep. And gets the electric chair.

2. This eighth volume in the Prophecy Jackson decalogy finds him babysitting his eight stepsons while his wife attends the annual convention of their fathers.

3. As if immortality without eternal youth wasn't bad enough, now Sybil's kids are teenagers. "Aw, Mom," they whine, "you think you know everything!"

4. Yet another fantasy in which a dying king's oddly-named sons are the subject of an incomprehensible prophecy that will suddenly seem crystal clear after it comes true.

5. Sequel to "Prophecy's Birth", it sets the scene for later books "Prophecy's Dead End Job" and "Prophecy's Incessant Nagging".

6. A woman moves to London to be close to her two grandsons. She convinces them they must kill their parents to fulfill their destiny.

Original Version

Dear Evil Editor:

From King Arthur to Harry Potter, fantasy heroes have often been born to fulfill prophecies they never knew existed. [King Arthur? You can at least go back to Greek mythology.] But what happens when you've known from childhood that a prophecy defines your destiny? [As it happens, Evil Editor is the perfect person to ask. Shortly after I was born, a crazed midwife predicted that I would gain fame as a blogger. My mother said, "A what?" Then she reached for the nurses' call button.

The woman also predicted, before she was dragged out of the room by hospital security, that Evil Editor:

1. Would be plagued by hundreds of rotini-shaped growths in his groin.
2. Would, in his later years, become intolerant of cheese salesmen.
3. Would be unable to remember the definition of "ombudsman."
4. Would win an Oscar.
5. Would have knees that bend in both directions, and tusks.]

[Until ten weeks ago, none of this had come to pass. Then I started a blog, and yesterday morning I was unnecessarily rude to a brie merchant. Now I check my groin every five minutes.]

Prophecy's Sons, a 118,000-word fantasy novel, takes place in a world in which prophecies are a tool mages use, not to predict the future, but to shape it to the will of the omniscient force they serve. The story centers on the sons of an ailing king: younger son Aodan, a dutiful soldier who has grown up believing he is the central figure of a prophecy delivered shortly before his birth, and Brannen, the king's rebellious heir. [Didn't we just do this book? No, that one had daughters instead of sons. The rest was the same, though,] Brannen is swept into a world of political intrigue and seduction when he enters into a dangerous alliance with the queen whose downfall the prophecy predicts. Meanwhile, Aodan's quest to find answers to the prophecy forces him to question his faith in it as he struggles with his growing feelings for the strong-minded warrior his brother loves. [He has feelings for the warrior his brother loves? Is this warrior a guy? Because two brothers in love with the same guy would at least make this different from the million other prophecy fantasies.] [What exactly did the prophecy say? The queen shall meet her downfall, even as her sons shall covet the warrior who shaves his chest?] [This sounds more like the plot of an opera than a novel.]

My writing experience has ranged from grant writing for an opera company [Aha! I knew it. You can take the writer out of the opera house, but you can't take the opera house out of the writer.] to short fiction in Quantum Muse, Nanobison, and AIM Magazine. Prophecy's Sons is my first novel and the first book in a proposed trilogy.

I have enclosed a synopsis and a self-addressed stamped envelope for your reply. Thank you for your time and consideration.


How is the prophecy a tool of the mages? Presumably the mages deliver the prophecy in order to get Aodan to do something, but we don't know anything Aodan does because of the prophecy. We don't even know what the prophecy says about Aodan, which would seem to be the most crucial information of all. What is this omniscient force the mages serve? Does it play a role in the book? The query is brief enough that you have room to answer some of these questions. Once you do, it will be fine.

Also, make that part about the strong-minded warrior less ambiguous.


Sherri said...

Effing hilarious. My favorite post yet. :D

none said...

If Brannen is a king's heir, he's probably already in a world of political intrigue.

EE, nice try at distracting me with the humour and the brothers fighting over the same guy, but I still noticed that you spelt omniscient wrong.

msjones said...

Now, why would anyone leap to the conclusion that the strong-minded warrior is a guy, when we have women soldiers dying in that rathole Iraq?

But E2 is probably correct, and even a literary agent as sharp as Miss Snark might read "strong-minded" and think, must be a man. So if it is a woman and not a gay fantasy, that should be explicit in the query.

Anonymous said...

If this is deconstructing the whole prophecy trope, that could be a lot of fun.

tlh said...

Actually, the 'strong-minded' part made me think the warrior was a woman (she's obviously rebelling against her society's norms, how original. And feisty and spunky); the quasi-medieval setting and the word 'warrior' are what made it ambiguous for me.

Anonymous said...

Great. Now I have an image stuck in my head, of EE alternately scanning pages of slush and minutely inspecting his nether regions. Eeewww!

Barbara A. Barnett said...

"she's obviously rebelling against her society's norms, how original."

Actually, no (I'm the author of the query). Women warriors are the norm for her society in this novel.

Thanks for shredding my query, EE. Though I'd be remiss if I didn't point out that a great many opera plots have been based on novels. :)

Stacia said...

I'm not really a fantasy fan, but this interests me. I like the bit about false prophercies made to manipulate events. Makes me think of Oedipus.

Anonymous said...

Can't offer anything - I stopped reading halfway through the first word of the title. Proph- that's enough for me.

Anonymous said...

Actually a gay fantasy novel might be interesting. It certainly would be different!

fairyhedgehog said...

I just spotted anon's comment about a gay fantasy novel being different. There are gay fantasies out there if you know where to look. is a good place to start. It's where I first found Tanya Huff, who is a favourite of mine.