Thursday, July 27, 2006


Guess the Plot

Walk On

1. Paraplegic Stacey is ecstatic to get a new pair of robotic legs - until the "off" button breaks.

2. The lone ranger and a child-like giant form an unlikely friendship and walk through the forest, unexpectedly emerging in the center of a war.

3. When Ida sees her cruel Boss, Marty, mugged, will she use her cameraphone to snap a picture of the perps to aid in their capture, or will she Walk On?

4. It's murder backstage at the Hightown Drama League's production of The Scottish Play. Can walk-on extra Barbie McDaniels solve the crime before she's axed from the cast?

5. Bored with his humdrum life, Jeremy Brighton set himself a challenge - to walk all the way from New York City to Los Angeles . . . without stopping. But hunger and sleep deprivation weren't the only obstacles Jeremy would face on his cross-country trek; his ex-wife, a young Elvis impersonator, and an elite group of Australian ninjas all had their own reasons for stopping Jeremy before he reached LA.

6. Arnold Plush, dashing carpet salesman extraordinaire at Rugs to Riches, dreams of shag, but his sales assistant, Bitsy Berber, no doormat herself, has one piece of advice: Walk on!

Original Version

Dear __________,

I wish to attain your interest in my fantasy novel, entitled Walk On. Written as the first book in a three-volume series, the story concerns a young man named Jordi. Jordi is considered by many to be “a special boy”, [Because he's blind, but can see with his amazing visor.] despite the fact that this “boy” is twenty-one years old, seven feet tall, and mightier than any normal creature on the face of the earth. [Mightier than a rhinoceros? Mightier than the mightiest bull elephant? Mightier than Mighty Mouse?]

The reason Jordi is considered “a special boy” is because he has the mind of a child. He is a lackwit, a simpleton. Mentally challenged. [Okay, I get it. Did you think you were talking to a lackwit?] But to the villagers who live with him in a small place on the edge of the frontier, he is also is a miracle, a living wonder, for they have seen his true essence underneath the simple mind and childish persona. They know Jordi has the power of a god.

Those powers are put to the test one summer afternoon. A band of creatures unlike any the villagers have ever seen emerge from the wilderness and attack their settlement. [And Jordi uses his godlike powers to destroy the attackers and save his people?] The beasts move fast and smart with the controlled fury of professional soldiers. They waste no motion. Spare no victim. The violence occurs so quickly that when the initial shock finally dissipates, only one survivor remains. [Turns out Jordi was as mighty and powerful as a tall guy.] Alone, Jordi finds himself surrounded, confused, and near death. Then something else emerges from the wilderness. Or rather, someone. His name is Wethyn and he is a ranger. He helps Jordi escape from the monsters and together they flee deep into the forest where no foe can follow. [If a seven-foot guy who was near death a while ago can go somewhere, why can no foe follow?] From then on, the two men form a bond similar to that of Lennie and George, a la Of Mice and Men, and begin a journey [to a rabbit farm?] that takes them into the center of a war sweeping over their land. [A war that symbolizes a rabbit farm.]

But this is only one-third of the full manuscript. The tale includes two more storylines, detailing the life of a royal councilor guiding the kingdom’s war effort and a century-old priest seeking a savior to liberate his people in another land. [I don't recommend Jordi for the job.]

The novel is 132,000 words and complete through three drafts. May I send you a sample chapter? I have also enclosed an SASE for your response.



All we really have here is one early scene from the book. The other two storylines sound more interesting, though presumably they all intersect.

The main problem is the slow and simple pace/style. It sounds like a children's book:
Jordi is considered by many to be “a special boy." . . . The reason Jordi is considered “a special boy” is because . . .
Then something else emerges from the wilderness. Or rather, someone. His name is Wethyn and he is a ranger. He helps Jordi escape from the monsters

The letter needs to sound more impressive if it's to impress an editor.


Anonymous said...

Fake plot # 1 made be laugh out-loud. Thanks to the writer.

And once again I guessed the correct plot.

For the author, queries are difficult to write. Now that EE has identified the genres for the past submissions, you can read through all of the ones (fantasy, or children's) that may help you figure out a better way to do this.

Good luck.

anne said...

The actual plot made me laugh out loud.

I think a lot of that is the fault of the query being a little overdramatic and minutely detailed, which is easily scaled back - I think it would be most interesting to hear about the three plot lines, and how they intersect to make the larger story.

But it was also because you keep using the phrase "special boy." Ha!

Unknown said...

"Special boy" groan .

However, your writing is skilled -- it's just the execution of the query that is lacking. You need to weave all three plots into the query and fashion it into something that would intrigue an adult.

Anonymous said...

My brother's a "special boy." For gosh sakes, just say "mentally retarded." We can take it.

I would highly recommend not comparing your book to Of Mice and Men. It will only come up lacking. Take out the reference and then let your readers feel smart when they notice the similarity between the two.

Anonymous said...

Hyperbole aside, maybe a YA if it was shorter.

HawkOwl said...

What I think is the most wrong with it is that the main character didn't do anything the whole time. 132,000 words of a mentally challenged dude reacting to monsters and knights in shining armour doesn't appeal to me.

Anonymous said...

Dear agent,

In my new fantasy novel, Walk On, the conflict starts in the usual style. An unnamed prophet of unknown origin confronts the king’s council with portents of imminent doom, vast disaster, epic ruin. Monsters are going to rise up from Hell itself and lay waste to all that is good, all that is kind. Everyone will die. We must act now. Etcetera, etcetera....

The council rolls their eyes. The prediction reeks of stock clichés and trivial tropes. It’s the sort of story anyone can create and everyone can dismiss. So the council dismisses the claim, expels the prophet, and creates what they think is a more accurate forecast: “Come here again with such foolish talk and we’ll cut your foolish tongue right out!”

Two weeks later, the monsters arrive. Twelve hundred are slaughtered in a sudden attack. The prophecy becomes reality. An old kingdom suffers a quick end.

But that is only the beginning. Walk On focuses on the aftermath of this destruction, when an earthquake splits the continent into two new realms. One becomes the monsters’ conquered territory, known as “The Forsaken North”, wherein a demon lord rules mankind and an old priest seeks a legendary savior to liberate his people.

The other realm is known as “Blessed Terra”, a beautiful place where man’s kingdom is rebuilt and prosperity restored. The people here worship a new deity—Terraso, God of the Earth—and keep his land clean of all foreigners, especially refugees from the north.

All is well for a long time in this land, but old dangers slowly find new ways to threaten. And as a royal councilor discovers, there is no prophet to forewarn them this time around. A new threat comes fast. A frontier village is massacred. A bad-tempered woodsman discovers the lone survivor, a “lackwit” young man, and though he doesn’t seem like much at first, the lad’s simple mind conceals godly powers reminiscent of discarded lore.

Walk On is the first book in a series examining three themes in three storylines:

The myth of duology, illustrated by the fugitive priest in the Forsaken North
The cost of isolationism, suggested by the royal councilor of Blessed Terra
The loss of innocence, shown in the story of the woodsman and the “lackwit” boy.

I have included a brief synopsis, biography, and SASE, for your review. The novel is 132,000 words. May I send you a copy of the manuscript?

none said...

Unfortunately, I stopped reading at "the usual style". Don't tell us what's exactly the same as all the rest about your novel; tell us what makes it stand out from the rest.

Evil Editor said...

Paragraph 3, it sounds like it's the monsters being slaughtered.

It's a bit long, and wordy. The 2nd and 3rd paragraphs could be shortened to

The prediction reeks of stock clichés and trivial tropes. It’s the sort of story anyone can create, and so the council dismisses it and expels the prophet. Two weeks later, the monsters arrive, and an old kingdom suffers a quick end.

You could also drop the paragraph about the lackwit and drop the third theme. Two themes is plenty.

Anonymous said...

Out of curiosity, does the theme carry the story? One thing about the first version was that you got a sense of who the main characters were, whereas in this case I understand a great deal more about the background and the point, but I don't have a strong sense of what the actual story is.

I would suggest doing something like, "After a village at the frontier between Blessed Terra and the Forsaken North is massacred, a forest ranger finds the lone survivor--a lackwit young man. (What are their names, by the way?) They team up (why?) in a struggle to find out what has happened, only to discover that the young man's simplicity conceals powers reminiscent of ancient lore (how discarded is the lore? Is it forgotten, or simply put aside as unfashionable?). Perhaps the assumptions made about the world in the aftermath of earthquake, invasion, monsters rising up from hell, etc, are not quite accurate."

I'm sure you'll want to change most if not all of that, but I would suggest focussing on the characters, their situation, and the story. The theme should arise out of the story; you needn't state it baldly. (I mean, leave the high school students doing book reports something to do!)

Just my two cents.