Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Face-Lift 265

Guess the Plot

Vesper of the Blue Wind

1. In an effort to both liven up Evening Prayer and provide a modicum of warmth in the freezing stone chapel, Brother Crudfile experiments with lighting his own gaseous emanations.

2. Ever since "Fragments" Vesper ate that indigo bean dish there's been as much hot air coming out of his back end as there always is from his pie hole. Is that why FOX News suddenly wants to hire him?

3. Sister Flatulata finds inspiration for her liturgical compositions in the most mundane objects. Peanuts, beer and a blueberry slushy will be immortalized in song at vespers next Sunday, but will the parishioners be prepared for the nun's unconventional performance on wind instruments?

4. Psychologist Vesper McNeil overcame many obstacles to land her dream job: Chief of Group Therapy at the Hormel Research Institute for the Clinically Depressed. Now if she can only convince management to stop serving black bean chili for lunch.

5. Japali wants to be friends with Kottre, but the only way she can work up the courage to approach Kottre is by taking on the persona of Vesper, an albino duelist in the Blue Wind, an online role-playing group.

6. Vesper, Kansas. Population-not enough to be interesting. Wind-enough to make Linda Dunaway tired of dust, tired of bleak fields, tired of her no-good husband, Chance. Her only hope is faith in God--and the hunky unattached engineer looking to build a wind-powered energy plant on her property.

Original Version

Dear ---,

Japali, role-player and suicidal teenager, drives away her friend, Kottre, fellow role-player, with erratic behavior. Afterwards, Japali pulls herself together and wants to be friends with Kottre again. But shame keeps her from going to her friend directly. So Japali seeks Kottre through Aether, an international, virtual reality network that hosts thousands of role-playing games. In order to (secretly) get to Kottre again, Japali will have to take on the role of Vesper, an albino duelist. [Is that an albino who fights duels, or a duelist who only fights albinos?] [So "duelist" is this character's occupation? You'd have to fight an awful lot of duels to reach the point where, when someone asks what you do for a living, you say, "I fight duels." Of course, if we assume duels are fought when someone insults someone else, I'll have to concede that albinos probably would get involved in an inordinate number.]

But Kottre, aka Kearheart, has a legendary status on Aether that ostracizes Japali [aka Jalopy]. Japali must start from the bottom, going from game to game, earning notoriety, before Kottre and her group, the Blue Wind, will even consider her. When it becomes apparent that Japali will never accomplish this in one lifetime, [Everyone else who has accomplished this has done so in far less than a lifetime. Probably in a year or two. If it's going to take Japali more than a lifetime, she must suck at role playing.] [If Kottre was willing to be Japali's friend before, despite the fact that she sucks at role playing, why does she now have to attain the highest levels to regain the friendship?] she must reveal her identity, contact Kottre outside the game, or let a good friend go forever. [A good friend of a suicidal girl would not be driven away by erratic behavior; she'd insist on helping.] But shame and fear keeps Japali trapped in indecision. [I think you should swap their names; then when Kottre wins her way back into Japali's good graces, Japali can say, "Welcome back, Kottre." Also, spell it Kotter, and change Japali to Horshack.Then when people Google Welcome Back, Kotter characters, your book comes up and you sell millions.]

VESPER OF THE BLUE WIND is the 90,000-word, science fiction/fantasy novel that covers Japali’s adventures. [Her adventures? What adventures? I hope you don't mean Vesper's adventures, because adventures that take place on a computer screen or at a card table aren't gonna fly as a 90,000-word book. If Jalopy has adventures, bring that up in the query letter. It's gotta be more interesting than reading about teens and their role-playing games.] As per your submission instructions, I have included a bio, synopsis, and sample pages. The completed manuscript is available upon request.

Thank you for your time.



It's not clear who the audience is. If it's for people who are addicted to role-playing games, say so. The number of people addicted to role-playing games who also buy books is highly limited, but fortunately, most of them read this blog, so you may find a sympathetic ear. If the book is for twelve-year-olds, make that clear as well.

The main problem is that the only thing at stake is whether some teen regains a friendship that we have no reason to believe is even worth regaining. Even those who want to follow Jalopy's climb up the Aether ladder will be disappointed when she fails to reach the top in her entire lifetime.

If you aren't going to give anyone a normal name, at least mention where the story is set so we know whether it's on Earth.


Anonymous said...

Forgot to describe the book as a "thriller".

Anonymous said...

I nominate the 'albino duelist' for membership in the Evil Editor League of Protectors. Other members I know of are Brutal Eunuch, Fierce Weenie and Vigilante Sorceror.

Anonymous said...

I see an EVI (the Evil Editor equivalent of an OSCAR) in the future for this critique. There are at least four LOL moments!

Anonymous said...


One of the many problems with kids writing books is that most of them have had few or no experiences, and thus have nothing to write about.

If the author is not a kid, he/she may want to spend a few years as a merchant marine, war correspondent, bartender, professional hitchhiker/wrestler/confidant to the stars, or rehabilitated drug addict. Then write a story.

Anonymous said...

Maybe you'll hook the Dungeons and (what a) Drag-ons and Evercrack crowd. But, like EE said, I don't think they spend much time reading. -V95

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for your input! Greatly appreciated. I think I'll scrap Vesper and focus on other stories that have more plot, conflict, etc. Maybe I'll replot Vesper, and I'll be more specific about audience and such on it's query letter, as well as queries I write in the future. It's tough listening to these criticisms, but it's better I hear them from EE and the snarky commentors than from someone who would actually pay me money.

Thank again.

kiss-me-at-the-gate said...

The number of people addicted to role-playing games who also buy books is highly limited, but fortunately, most of them read this blog, so you may find a sympathetic ear.

LOL!!! EE, you are incredible.

I actually thought the story could be interesting (and I've never role played in my life, although my father and younger brother went through a phase).

Seems like most disagree, though...

Anonymous said...

Author, you have an excellent attitude. EE & The Minions do indeed shred the works, but like the snarky real estate person who tells you you can't sell your house with the stinky decor, it's all to make it better and get you more of what you write for in the first place ($$ or accolades or LOLs from the Minions or just improvement in your craft)

Dave Fragments said...

uh EE - for future reference: after a burst appendix resulting in three surgeries in 21 days, I no longer eat beans. Mushrooms have the same effect, though. (fugitive emissions)

It is also interesting to note that at the END of the opera, The Sicilian Vespers by Verdi, which memorializes the 1282 rebellion of Sicily against the Angevin King, all the characters lie dead. Dead as doornails. A vesper bell rings the nine tailors.

That's all I wanted to say. More or less, however, does the "Hormel Research Institute for the Clinically Depressed" get any porkbarrel spending from congress?

Anonymous said...

Then when people Google Welcome Back, Kotter characters, your book comes up and you sell millions.

Gee, thanks, EE. Now I've got that song STUCK in my head.

Anonymous said...

To be fair, my earlier complaint about the lack of plot and interest could be leveled at virtually all romance novels, most "literary" novels, and a lot of other fiction. All that stuff got published.

Furthermore, some boring writing is worth reading. Not by me, though; I don't have enough years left to read anything I don't love. Betcha most agents feel the same way.

Here's critic Nancy Pearl's formula: "If you're 50 or younger, give every book 50 pages before you commit to it, or give it up. If you're over 50, take your age and subtract it from 100--the result is the number of pages you should read before deciding. Time is too short to read something you don't like." ~ Nancy Pearl, _Book Lust_

Anonymous said...

finnat, I know it's hard to see a lot of hard work go by the wayside, but consider it practice for the big times. Everyone has to practice, whether it's for music, sports, or novel writing.

I was heavy into D&D in my younger days, and I must say this didn't interest me in the least. (EE DOES know his readers, though, doesn't he -- C'mon, I know the other 9 of us who have game played AND read are out here!)

If/when you do replot, consider letting us know why the suicidal kid was suicidal in the first place and what turned her life around. Spend some time with this aspect, instead of using it as a throwaway. Maybe the role playing has an effect on J that helps to turn her life around. Game playing can certainly use some positive press. And maybe Kottre, since Kottre is such a good player, can help J regain that positive image of herself -- and do it unwittingly since she won't know it's J she's helping while playing the game.

Anonymous said...

Hey, thanks for all the positive remarks. I got some great ideas from the last anonymous poster.

Vesper is on the backburner now, so to speak, but someday soon I'll bring it back up and I'll remember what I learned here. Thank you very much!

Anonymous said...

Damn you get great queries.


Gone said...

While I played D&D a tiny bit and have played some mmorpg's, this book actually reminded me more of my sons' interest in Yugiho card deulist game. I personally had to grit my teeth while reading, but my kids would probably enjoy it is age appropriate for them.

writtenwyrdd said...

Author, there is no plot in this query. I also hope you aren't going to expound on the adventures had while playing role playing games. It won't sell. Learn to draw and write graphic novels and you might have something, though.