Monday, October 16, 2006
Guess the Plot
1. A mistake in transcription of an ancient text sends treasure-hunters on a wild goose chase for a sword when what they should be seeking is the Dragon's Word.
2. After rejecting Elf Quest, Wizard's Spell, and Knight's Tale, a young fantasy writer comes up with the most clichéd title imaginable.
3. In this genre-busting fantasy, a motley crew searches the countryside, dodging supernatural creatures, to find the long-lost Dragon Sword needed to defeat the Evil Lord and restore happiness to the land. Also, shockingly, a young sheep herder turns out to be the heir of the kingdom!
4. When a California man gets a pixie pregnant, he has no idea his action will soon lead to his life being threatened by an evil little man. Also, dragons.
5. Orgadon The Brave is about to set out on a quest for the Dragon Sword when it is brought to his attention that there are plenty of Dragon Swords already in the village, namely in the library.
6. It has a blade twenty feet long and a grip designed for giant claws. Mildred Trout daydreams about the strong, handsome knight the sword must belong to, but is in for a surprise when the real owner shows up.
Dear E. Editor:
What if pixies were real? What if they weren’t at all like Tinkerbelle, and what if they weren’t little blue creatures from Cornwall? What if pixies were almost without exception female and found their mates in the human world? [What if pixies were so good at golf, they could all beat Tiger Woods? What if I kept asking you questions about pixies for an entire page, and it turned out my book was a cold war spy thriller?] The trouble and mischief would be overwhelming, and the romance would be unusual.
Dragon Sword is an 82,000 word fantasy with a strong romance sub-text. [I'm tired of terms like "strong romance sub-text." Why not just say, with sex scenes so hot you'll be compelled to stop reading and polish your own dragon sword every few pages.] It tells the story of Sha’na, a pixie princess, and her mate Robert. It is set in and around a small lumber town in Northern California. Most of the action takes place just after World War I. The story is told in the voice of their daughter, Sha’el.
Robert denies Sha’na’s reality. When she is ready to seal their mating [That's another phrase I hate. Can't you just say "hit the sheets," or "absorb the pancake batter?"] he says, "You’re not real." She offers her touch as proof. He says, "And I suppose dragons are real too." [Shouldn't she have this converation before considering sealing their mating?] Indeed they are, though she tells him griffons and phoenixes are just mythological. He asks with some irony if they’ll see a dragon. She suggests that’s unlikely. Dragons don’t like to be seen. But, they will see one and its child. [You have less than a page to give the plot of your book. Is this conversation that vital?] They will fight to save the dragon kid.
Robert and Sha’na mate. Robert is drawn into the world of pixie pregnancy. Pixie gestation is two weeks and involves "the hunt." [The hunt of what by whom?] [Does the hunt involve a sword?] Sha’el explains that human males usually have about thirty-eight weeks to adjust to being a father, But Robert has only two weeks, and they’re filled with the unexpected. He has no time at all to adjust to the idea of a daughter born talking and flying. [You just said he had two weeks.]
Hiding a pixie family is imperative. An evil little man accuses Robert of kidnapping a child. He misunderstood what he saw, and thought Sha’na a child. [Out of curiosity, who's bigger, Sha'na or the evil little man?] She’s about four feet tall, average height for a pixie. [Four feet? What's the difference between a female dwarf and a pixie? First LOTR has elves that are much bigger than dwarfs, and now it turns out even pixies are as big? I hope we don't find out Tom Thumb was actually five feet tall, or there may be a revolt by dwarfs who want to be considered bigger than somebody.] There will be more trouble if they stay in the little town where Robert lives. He jumps at the chance to take his family into the forest. When his boss asks him to track timber-thieves, he hauls his family off to a forest cabin. [How hard can it be to track timber thieves? Just follow the guys with the trees.] [What occupation has "tracking timber thieves" as part of the job description?]
Sha’el can talk to animals, including Robert’s horse, Daisy. Her mother shrugs it off as "early." Sha’el and Daisy become fast friends. Their adventures make up a significant part of Dragon Sword. [A pixie child and a horse have adventures that take up much of the book? Is this book for adults? On the other hand, a strong romance sub-text might not appeal to the kiddies. Who's your audience?]
Fred, the evil little man, ["Evil Little Man" was comical enough. Naming him Fred makes it even funnier. If you want him to be evil, name him Mordok the Bludgeoner.] plagues them. He tries to kill them. [With a sword?] But Fred is just a small evil. There is worse. [If Fred is trying to kill me, I'll worry about the worse evil later.] The conquest of the greater evil brings Sha’el into her own. She saves her father. [With a sword? Is there a sword in the book? Because I'm thinking you didn't see a lot of people carrying swords around in California just after WWI.] To end the more malevolent evil, they journey to the Home Forest. We meet Pixie culture head on.
I have a background in history. I’ve drawn on ancient cultures and myth to create a unique and well developed pixie culture, though I present it sparingly and as part of the story. I also have a family background in the timber industry and a connection to Westwood, the little town around which much of the action takes place.
There is much in Dragon Sword that I intend as subtle humour, including "riffs" on fairy tails. [I knew dragons had tails. Fairies do too?] [Hey, are dwarfs bigger than fairies?] If you’re a parent, you’ll probably see much in the pixie children that will remind you of your own.
May I send sample chapters or the entire manuscript?
When Fred sees Robert with Sha'na and assumes Sha'na is a child rather than a pixie, why does he also assume she's been kidnaped? Is it so unusual to see a man with a child?
I gotta tell you, I didn't get a sense of what the main plot is. Or rather I got the sense that the main plot is the fight against the greater evil, but that we've spent all our time talking about dragons, pixie gestation, Evil Fred, and Daisy the horse. What's the greater evil, how is it threatening Robert and the pixies, and what's their plan? How far into the book do we get before learning about the greater evil? I'm worried that much of the book might be a series of events that involve these characters, but have nothing to do with the main threat to their world.