Thursday, July 13, 2006
Guess the Plot
Expatriate I: Conscription
1. 390 BC: Exiled from Rome on trumped-up conspiracy charges, Lucius Titus is enslaved and conscripted into the Gallic army. When the Gauls sack Rome, Lucius escapes and seeks revenge on those who wronged him.
2. 1914: Scientist Richard Pennyworth leaves the patriotic fervor of London for Singapore, where a colonial mutiny draws him inexorably into the war.
3. 1989: A Russian conscript soldier hatches a secret plot to overturn all of Communism while a hapless American president gets the credit.
4. 2003: When a mechanical engineer inadvertently steps through a portal to another world, will his knowledge of science help him survive against the magic of monsters?
5. 2006: Jack Hemingway is living the good life on the beaches of Tuvalu, when a mix-up with his forged paperwork forces him to enlist in the army, where he sets off a chain of events that lead the tiny country to war against Australia.
6. 2243: Fatality Facilitator Mark Mercury took the job no one wanted--eliminate the CEO of Maxforce, largest defense contractor in the universe--but got captured and imprisoned on the labor internment planet Cobalt IV. Now Mercury must escape before anyone collects the reward of freedom that has been offered for his death.
[The author submitted a revised query with a new title for the book.]
Dear Submissions Editor,
In the tradition of really, really long fantasy novels you publish, I would like to submit my novel for your consideration:
Title: Priest (World of Prime : Book I) [Do we need the "World of Prime" part? It sounds like a steakhouse.] [It's not like anyone has the slightest idea what World of Prime means anyway.]
Length: 200,000 words
A mechanical engineer unwittingly steps through a portal to a world of magic and adventure. But at forty years old, he doesn’t want adventure; he just wants to go home to his wife. [Isn't 40 the age at which guys do want adventure, without their wives?] While using science to survive, [Is he MacGyver? Great premise for a book. MacGyver steps through a portal into a world where he must battle Merlin, Doctor Strange, Rincewind, Saruman and David Blaine, using nothing but a paper clip, an egg timer, and a fourteen-inch strip of velcro.] [I seriously recommend scrapping your 200,000-word book, and writing an 80,000-word MacGyver book.] he discovers the terrible price of magic – an unspoken arrangement with monsters that trades the lives of the young for power. [Unclear. Does he save the young by giving power to monsters, or does he give up the young when he gains power for himself? What young? Young in the world he came from, or the world he went to?]
This novel is the first of a series, and is followed by “Prophet” and “Patriarch.” [See how much cleaner those sound without "World of Prime" after them?] In the second book, he struggles to reform the society he has fallen into; in the third book, he battles the gods. [In this corner, weighing in at 158 pounds, the favorite, a mechanical engineer, MacGyver. And in this corner, Thor, Neptune, Zeus, and George Clooney.]
Thank you for your consideration.
· Critters Workshop, the on-line workshop/critique group for serious writers of SF/F&H, 2004
Writing as __________
· “Heartwyrm”: Dragons, Knights, & Angels, July 2006; Honorable Mention, DKA 2006 Fiction Contest
Writing as __________
“La Ceinture” (“The Belt”): eXtasyBooks, 2007
· “La Reine Rouge” (“The Red Queen”): Finalist, 10th Annual Dixie First Chapter Contest (Magnolia State Romance Writers), 2006
Obviously the author doesn't think she can describe the book in a one-page letter, and plans to attach a synopsis. Even so, what little is in the letter can be expanded. How does MacGyver use science to survive? How does he discover the unspoken arrangement? What power does he gain or cede with this arrangement? What's his name? Describe these monsters. If you don't have room for all this, eliminate the credits.