Sunday, October 01, 2006

Face-Lift 204

Guess the Plot

Symphony of Devils

1. Socialite Mrs. LeMoyne Perfnaffer is a patron of the arts. But what will happen when one of her gala fund-raisers turns into a Hell-raiser?

2. Maestro Luigi Plutz taps his baton. Instantly the hissing, spitting and low screaming stops. The Maestro raises his baton, a secret smile at the book of spells he has found, his "orchestra" ready to perform. Loren Mazeltoff over at the NY Phil will never make fun of him again.

3. Ted just wants a normal life, but instead he falls into a world of Machiavellian manipulation and supernatural terror, where he is opposed by Lucifer, Ruler of Hell.

4. The judges at the Hog's Hollow County Fair always said Darleen Butz's angel food cake could make them hear bells. But that was before they tasted Joyleen Hoggle's devil's food cake.

5. Pewtie Hollander had dreams of conducting the Philharmonic. But his job as seventh grade Music Director at Eustace Middle School was even more demanding.

6. Genevieve Marshall thought she was ready to take over her father's opera company. Then she learned that he employed forty baritones who all wanted to play Mephistopheles.

Original Version

Dear Evil Editor,

I am seeking representation for my completed modern fantasy/political thriller, "Symphony of Devils", set in the present day and involving events six millennia in the making. With an epic plot spanning the globe, this 100,000 word character-driven story brings biblical figures into our modern, politically-charged time, and like "The DaVinci Code" and "This Present Darkness" parallels supernatural forces with the grim realities of the mortal world. [Editors just roll their eyes and sigh when they read "like The DaVinci Code." Not because there's supposed to be a space between "Da" and "Vinci," but because your book is undoubtedly nothing like The Da Vinci Code.] [It's actually gotten to the point where I find it rare and refreshing any time a query doesn't cite The Da Vinci Code.]

Journalist Ted Johnston only wants to leave his past behind and forget his brief tenure as a pastor, as well as the broken marriage that ended it. But murder [Whose?] and political ambition [Whose?] will draw him into a web of Machiavellian manipulation and supernatural terror, where he will be opposed by both Michael, Archstratege [Not sure how many people you send this to will be familiar with that word. wants to know if you mean "orchestrate."] [Google, on the other hand, wants to know if you mean archistratege, and it turns out you do.] of the Hosts of Heaven, and Lucifer, Ruler of Hell. [Michael and Lucifer are teaming up against some guy named Ted? How long is this gonna last, one second?] In this conflict, however, he will find unlikely allies. One is Bronwyn, an agent for a secret mystical society that has been keeping watch over evil since ancient times. One is Lillith, [You gotta start spelling this stuff right, or no one's gonna trust that you've done any research on your characters.] the first wife of Adam, transformed into a demoness for her sins and whose evil is only tempered by her desire to escape judgment. And one is none other than the first murderer, Cain. He is cursed to walk the earth forever [relying on lessons learned from Master Po, seeking justice and his brother Danny.] as the progenitor of horrific creatures of darkness, struggling with his own feelings of regret and anger from his past. For six millennia he has fought Heaven and Hell alike, [You gotta admire anyone whose spent six millenia fighting Heaven and Hell, and is still hanging in there.] seeking to undo the evil he has created, and for six millennia his enemies have risen up with a single purpose: to cause the final battle between good and evil, and end the world. [Basically you've told us who's in the book, and a little about each of them. I still know nothing about what happens, other than there's conflict. Is this conflict the final battle that ends the world? Is there a plot besides that? Why is Ted the person drawn into the conflict?]

I am an avid reader and writer of fiction of all genres, whose hobbies include history and religion. [If everyone viewed religion as a hobby, there'd probably be less hatred and hostility.] In 2002 I began working for Paradigm Concepts, Inc., a publisher of fantasy and modern role playing games, winner of the prestigious Gold Ennie award in 2005 for Best Publisher. I have written many fantasy adventures for PCI's critically acclaimed "Arcanis" campaign setting, and contributed to PCI's sourcebooks: "Player's Guide to Arcanis," "Magic of Arcanis," and "In the Shadow of the Devil". I am currently working on a new novel, as yet untitled. [I can't speak for all editors, but I would expect that credits writing role playing adventures would actually work against you with some of them.]

Thank you for your consideration. I look forward to an opportunity to share the manuscript with you soon.



It's just not clear what happens in the book. A guy's marriage ends, he quits his job as a pastor and becomes a journalist, and suddenly he's fighting alongside Lilith, Cain and some other guy against angels and devils? And not just run-of-the-mill angels and devils, but the big guys. Could you fill in a couple of the in-between steps? While also making it shorter?


Dave Fragments said...

naughty, naughty, naughty:
"Loren Mazeltoff over at the NY Phil will never make fun of him again."

I sat four rows behind Lorin Maazel's Mother for many years at the Symphony. She would have been firfst to laugh at this silliness.

Anonymous said...

EE: I think if you damn the author for the incorrectly spelled names, you gotta give him props for getting "judgment" right. In my experience, there is not a single person in corporate America who can properly spell "judgment" without the aid of a spell checker.

Where does the symphony come in?

Xenith said...

"I can't speak for all editors, but I would expect that credits writing role playing adventures would actually work against you with some of them."

As a slush reader for a SF&F short story magazine, anything that smells of roleplaying makes my hand creep towards the 'close' button.

So does any mention of Lucifer & co. To keep reading, I would have to be convinced that the current story is somehow different and significantly better than the e/n/d/l/e/s/s/ many other stories featuring said characters.

Anonymous said...

GTP # 6 was my favorite.

Author,I thought Lilith, the first wife of Adam, was rather amusing. Other than that, I wasn't very taken with this query. Seemed heavy, intense and not what I'm interested in. (I like heavy and intense to be real. nonfiction.)

Sorry for the lack of helpful comments. good luck.

acd said...

He opposes both Michael and Lucifer? Doesn't that sound a lot like God, the Devil, and Bob?

Kate Thornton said...

I don't like demonizing Lilith - and while I am usually a sucker for religious fantasy, this just doesn't hold my interest. I think a more simple plotline and manageable cast of characters would help a lot.

Nancy Beck said...

I'm with EE - it sounds like a few steps are missing. After ditching the preacher bit, he becomes a journalist...and then, how does he become involved with Lilith, et al?


Verification: zikes!

HawkOwl said...

Dave - I'm soooooo jealous. That's like, the ONE thing I'd want to see in New York.

For the rest, I'm with EE. Why Ted, and what actually happens?

Anonymous said...

I actually think there's a book I'd like somewhere in this query. But please, please, please remove the words "Da Vinci Code" from it. It's such a turn off.

The idea of some random human teaming up with Lilith and Cain to fight Lucifer is something of a turn on, however. I think you just need to trim away some irrelevant details to make the letter a little sharper and more direct.

pacatrue said...

I love EE's line about Lucifer and Michael teaming up to take out a guy named Ted. Makes me want to say, after blowing up the scenery with fireballs, "there are those who call me... Ted."

To me, Cain was the most interesting character. He seemed to take over the query, in fact, and you begin to wonder what Cain's going to get from hanging out with Ted. Maybe we need a Cain novel. I assume he will wear a trench coat and live in an abandoned warehouse or loft with blonde lingerie models. Isn't that where all immortals suffering from 6000 year angst live? If Cain likes the model as a person, she will of course die or bear several demon children by season 2.

Author, if you do keep some of the gaming credits, there was an ambiguous part for me. I wasn't clear if you worked for the company which made an award-winning fantasy game - you know, like working in the mail room, keeping the network up, doing accounts receivable, etc. - or if you actively designed the game. Your later credits hint that you indeed had a role in the creative design. Reword your sentence so that your role is clear.

Pete Tzinski said...

Sounds like a certain author is terribly fond of his Da Vinci Code, as well as his old John Constantine: Hellblazer comics. So, while I can't fault your taste for the latter of those two (and will mercifully pardon you over the former) I'm sorry to say, Alan Moore already done it, and he done it better.