Saturday, January 13, 2007

Face-Lift 260

Guess the Plot

The Challenge of Luck

1. Lillianne Dillmouth has always been lucky, in love, in work, in health. But when zombies take over her small village and make a contest of choosing their next victim, she's hoping she loses.

2. The Jim Luck Club only had three members. The Jim Luck Band never got a contract. The Jim Luck Dog Trainer's School violated a noise ordinance and was closed by uniformed authorities. The Jim Luck Mercy Dinner couldn't afford the promised chicken and had to give full refunds to both customers. His latest challenge? Talk Betty Lou Baker into judging the Jim Luck Kissing Contest. Who's his antagonist? Honey, if you're Jim Luck, you don't need no antagonist.

3. A single pull of a one-armed bandit could mean the difference between a paper cup half full of nickles and a jackpot of more than $600. With a car repair bill in the balance, first-time gambler Penny Dredful goes for broke.

4. After proposing a fast game of Russian Roulette to her fiance, Bud Necket, Amy Higher gets cold feet. But it's too late to back out as the gallant Bud produces an automatic pistol and says, "Ladies first!"

5. Depressed at the deaths of her parents, Christine drops out of school and becomes a major player in the pantheon of gods: the god of luck. Will this sudden turn in her fortunes bring happiness or more sorrow?

6. Her initials were L.U.C. Raised in the backwoods of Kentucky, she was called "Luck" by her adoptive family. When her biological father dies, he leaves her his manor in England, and tonight she meets the Queen. Can Luck be a Lady tonight?

Original Version

To whom it may concern

I am seeking endorsement for my novel, working title The Challenge of Luck. [Ultimately, you're seeking fame and/or fortune. Right now you're seeking publication or representation. Later in life, when you run for president, you'll seek endorsement.] The main character of this book is Christine, a young girl who within the last six months has lost both her parents. Christine becomes depressed and antisocial. Dropping out of school she spends more and more time in the wilderness of her aunts’ ranch. [Aren't there laws to prevent young girls from dropping out of school and living in the wilderness? What do her aunts think of this?]

One night as she is camping out in early summer she begins to rant. She screams to the night air, cursing everything that has put her in this position, including her bad luck. Surprisingly, the God of luck comes to answer. A contest ensues and Christine accidentally wins.

[God of Luck: You . . . you won! I've never lost at odds/evens.
Christine: Odds/evens? I thought we were playing rock/paper/scissors.]

Christina finds herself as the God of luck, one of the highest powers in the gods’ society. She soon finds that the loss of her title will mean death without an afterlife, complete oblivion. [Out of curiosity, what would have happened if Christin e/a had lost the contest? Because I'm not clear on why the God of luck found this contest worth competing in.

God of Luck: What's all this ranting in the wilderness?
Christine: I've had really bad luck lately.
God of Luck: Then I propose a contest. If I win, you quit your whining and let me get some shuteye.
Christine: And if I win?
God of Luck: If you win? Don't make me laugh. Okay, okay, if you win, you become a major god, and I die and get consigned to oblivion for eternity. Plus you get to change your name from Christine to Christina.]

With the help of the few gods that seem to be on her side, Time and Wind in particular, [You never want to get on the wrong side of the god of wind.] [By which I mean the downwind side.] she must learn the rules of this strange hierarchy. [What are the rules?] While at the same time she must overcome the challenges that face her, both on the Godly and the mortal plain. [What are the challenges?] In the end will she prove to be lucks true master or will she be unable to master this strange force?

The Challenge of Luck is the first book in the series. This is my first attempt at publication. Enclosed is a SASE. Please contact me at your earliest convenience. I would love to answer any questions you might have. Thank you for your time, I will be hoping to hear from you soon.


There's nothing wrong with a wrap-up paragraph, but that one has six sentences that say nothing. Even "first book in the series" isn't helpful unless you specify whether each book in the series will star a different god, or whether they'll all star Christina. A more informative and less boring wrap-up: The Challenge of Luck is a 40,000-word fantasy for young adults. Thank you for your time and consideration.

Does this god have a name? There are gods of luck in mythology, and they have names. Fortuna, Roman goddess of luck, for instance.

It sounds like the meat of the book is what happens after Chrissy becomes god of luck, but the query focuses on what happens before. Your "after" paragraph is too vague.

A few punctuation problems, and some awkward constructions that I'm sure you'll fix before you send this out.

The title is boring. Why, the five fake plots could be mined for catchier titles:

Luck, Be a Lady
Russian Roulette
Penny Dredful Goes for Broke
The Christina Luck Club


Stacia said...

Of course time is on her side! (Yes it is!)

(I guess that joke was too obvious for you, EE. I have no such compunction.)

GutterBall said...

Heh, I wanna read Luck Be a Lady. GTP#6 sounds too fun.

I'm usually quiet about what I've "learned" from Mr. Evil's blog and all the other resources I've mined for query help, mostly because all the information in the world doesn't always help with my own queries, and I don't want to sound hypocritical. But one thing I have managed to both glean and implement is this: no back-story.

It's hard enough to effectively integrate back-story into a novel without info-dump, but it has no place in a query except perhaps an opening clause, like After the death of her parents and a night of ranting at Fate, Christine/a gets a visit from the God of Luck. That frees a ton of space to answer the important questions Mr. Evil raised. Be specific on the things we need to know, not on the set-up of the novel.

Does that make sense?

PJD said...

A few puntuation problems....

Yeah, but the speling is good.

I have to admit I thought the real GTP was #2. It had that feel of a real plot that EE had gussied up for the GTP entry... and #5 had that feel of something a Minion on too much caffeine and too little sleep concocted. Well, I guess if Gates can drop out of school to become one of the richest people in the world, a girl can drop out of school and become the god(dess?) of luck.

As always, EE's comments are spot on. I especially agree with the one about why the current god of luck would engage in a contest with those stakes. My only conclusion is that being god of luck is a really sh!tty thing, and eventually he decided it was better to fade into oblivion than keep being blamed by everyone for anything bad that ever happened to them.

Anonymous said...

dq wrote: Of course time is on her side! (Yes it is!)

[head slap and groan]
Dear dog, how did I miss that one?

Anonymous said...

I couldn't help thinking of Bill & Ted's Bogus Journey when they played Twister with Death. The only reason they got out of being dead was they got him to admit he had to play them for their lives if they asked. If you can't come up with a reason the goddess of luck would enter a contest, then you have a logic hole. If some of the other gods are on your heroine's side, it might be them.

Make this sound logical and it sounds like something that could sell.

Anonymous said...

In cinema they have a little concept called "audience positioning" which literary types seem loathe to discuss but it might be helpful to think about. Your project will do best if you can attact an audience that buys into the story expecting what you're going to deliver. You don't want people buying your book because they want a tear-jerking story about realistically portrayed family dynamics, then throwing it out because the story suddenly morphs into some despised kind of frivolous pagan fantasy. Meanwhile your readers who are despearately in search of humorous fantasy won't buy because they're not about to suffer through a lot of dreary emoting.

As with the previous query, this description of your story gives an impression that you haven't yet mastered the fine art of tone control. Tragi-comedy is really really hard to pull off. You might do better making a clear choice of tragic/dark or comic/light.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, shades of Bill and Ted. Best 4 out of 7!

This could have appeal, but you do need to minimize the backsotry. There's nothing inherently interesting (or appealing) about a main character spiraling down a path of angst and self-pity. Keep the set-up to one or two sentences.

Actually, now that Keanu Reeves is in my head, Christine's midnight rant reminds me of Keanu's rant atop a mound of garbage in Johnny Mnemonic. "Where's my f***ing room service?!!" Now that I think of it, that was the only tolerable part of the movie.

GutterBall said...

Yeah, shades of Bill and Ted. Best 4 out of 7!

Damn straight!

And Johnny Mnemonic had its moments. They were just...more in the idea than the execution. Heheh.

I much prefer Constantine.

Anonymous said...

The way that Christina gets the job of Luck God reminds me a little too much of Piers Anthony's Incarnations of Immortality series (If you kill the old Death, you become the new Death, etc). My first thought was "Wait - haven't I read this somewhere before?" It might be better to use the old stand-by (she inherits the post) or go with something different (The God of Luck slips on a banana peel that the God of the Wind 'accidentally' left lying around the heavens, falls from the sky, and lands on Christina's Aunt. And, as we all know, if the God of Luck lands on your Aunt, you have to take his place. Or maybe the God of Luck is murdered by another god, and, as luck would have it, Christina stumbles over the body during her rant in the woods.)

Dave Fragments said...

"O fortuna velut luna statu variabilis"

The words that begin Carl Orff's secular cantata - - - "Oh fortune ever changing like the moon."

The setup is nice, what happens in the novel? Surely you are writing more than her winning the game with "luck"? That's only the first chapter, maybe less.

Anonymous said...

Godly and mortal plane, perhaps, rather than plain? The farm might be on a plain, though.

Anonymous said...

It's a long stretch to write any story about the God of Luck losing at anything. -JTC