Sunday, February 18, 2007

Face-Lift 276

Guess the Plot

The Unknown Champion

1. Fletcher Armstrong sets the World Record for Stupid Bunji Stunts--nine in a week! He's the new champ! But what's with Sally, his all-legs publicity chick? Didn't she tell anyone? What does she mean, her computer crashed? Should he kill her now?

2. Strangers with microphones and TV cameras come to town to ask everyone, "Who is the great masked bowler?" But of course no one knows except Joe Bob Pupovich, and he's not telling.

3. 90 year old Marvin Granville kicked the ball that won the championship for his team in 1935, but who remembers? He does, and he still wears sturdy shoes so if zombie cows invade the Garden O'Rest Home, he's ready.

4. The story of Champion the Wonder Horse: his early years as the abused runt of a second-grade stud farm; his short-lived delinquency with a gang of wild mustangs; his breakthrough when a talent scout spotted him giving pony rides; fame, parties, drugs, fillies . . . Until that fateful day when he was eloquently humiliated on live TV by Mr. Ed, and never worked again.

5. When Alicia moves to a new town, she finds herself in the middle of a war against the Harvels. The townspeople are hopelessly outclassed, and in need of a champion. But who? Also, a dragon.

6. In this update of Cinderella, Prince is the celebrity host of the World Wrestling Championships when a leather-clad whip-wielding woman calling herself Sin-D drives into the arena in a Ferrarri and summarily dispatches the others in under 5 minutes. When Sin-D vanishes as mysteriously as she came, Prince is left with only an 8" stilletto with which to find her.

Original Version

Dear ----:

I came to your website ---- [accidentally] via ---- [my computer] and immediately noticed that you are interested in Fantasy works. I would like to offer my manuscript, The Unknown Champion, to you for review and consideration for representation.

Alicia Elluci, daughter to the worst of man, [What does that mean? Wait, great idea for a prequel to your novel: a descendant of Dr. Frankenstein reanimates his preserved corpse, and assists him in creating a new monster, this one from the body parts of Hitler, Saddam, Dennis Rodman, and Russell Crowe. The monster impregnates Rosie O'Donnell, who gives birth to . . . Alicia Elluci!] [If you don't want this idea, let me know, I'll assign it to another minion. Any character dubbed the daughter to the worst of man needs to have the story of her origin told.] has forsaken her title, robbed the family's estate, and exhausted all of her resources. She seeks refuge in the small town of Korryn and finds sanctuary in the center of a war. It is not the tips of swords or points of arrows that she fears, but rather that she will be met with treachery and betrayal by the few she's managed to now grow close to. [She just got there. There's a war going on. How close can she be to anyone?]

As her involvement in the war grows, her fears are bolstered by the manipulations and spy tactics of those she fights against. Harvels – elusive creatures and the true puppet masters of the invading force – are relentless in their mental assault on the woman. ["Harvels" sounds too comedic. Call them Teleps, Sibyllines, or Psikos.] It is not long before she has trouble discerning what is truth, what is an honest mistake, and what is deliberate deceit. But her tormentors do not simply seek to break her waning sanity, they seek to have her betray her own and bring about the destruction of one small city she has sworn to defend. [Okay, I'm finding this much more boring than the book actually is, and it's because of the word choice and wordiness. She soon finds she's unable to tell truth from lie. Or, It is not long before she has trouble discerning what is truth, what is an honest mistake, and what is deliberate deceit. One small city she has sworn to defend. Or, Korryn. If you want to hold my attention, keep moving to new ideas; don't draw each idea out with big words and sentences. Long sentences are okay if they're mixed in with short ones. Big words are okay if they're the best for the job, but short words take up less space, leaving more room on the page to describe your book.]

However, Alicia's worries do not only lie with such devious foes. Ceapheine – a dragon who once fought for the kingdom in ages past – has become involved in matters, but her motives have nothing to do with either side of the conflict, nor is she still loyal to the crown. These motives threaten not only the war effort, but the very new identity Alicia has laid claim to since fleeing home.

If only the one who Alicia trusts most – who also happens to be the king's greatest asset - weren't completely in love with the female dragon, she might be more optimistic about surviving.

Thank you for your time, and I would be happy to send a copy of the completed manuscript for your review. I look forward to hearing from you.


Revised Version

After forsaking her title and family, Alicia Elluci seeks refuge in the small town of Korryn and finds herself in the middle of a war. As her involvement in the war grows, it's not swords and arrows Alicia fears; it's betrayal. The puppet masters of the invading force are relentless in their assault on her mind. They seek to manipulate her into distrusting and betraying her allies, bringing about the destruction of Korryn.

Alicia has other worries, as well. Ceapheine – a dragon who fought for the kingdom in ages past, is no longer loyal to the crown. Her motives threaten not only the war effort, but the new identity Alicia has assumed. And now the ally Alicia trusts most - who also happens to be the king's greatest asset - has fallen hopelessly in love . . . with Ceapheine.

The Unknown Champion is a 70, 000-word fantasy novel. I would be happy to send a copy of the completed manuscript for your review.


The revised version isn't ready for submission. It has distilled your information to the point where you can now add some specifics. You don't have to answer all these questions, but addressing a few would help:

Who are the invading force (the puppets)?

Do the Harvels have contact with Alicia, or do they assault her mind from afar?

Who's the character in love with the dragon? I can't even tell if it's a man, a woman, another dragon, or Donkey, from Shrek.

What are the dragon's motives?

Is the small city she has sworn to defend Korryn, which was earlier described as a small town? I tend to think of small town/small city as Mayberry/Raleigh. I wouldn't use both terms to describe the same place.

What is Alicia's new identity? Does she use a different name in Korryn? Does the dragon know?

Is it a fire-breathing dragon? Cool.

What are the "resources" Alicia exhausted? The stuff she stole?

I realize the champion is unknown . . . but who is the champion? Alicia?

I realize you're the author, but don't feel bad if you get two or three wrong; these are tough questions, and several are dreaded essay questions. Don't start until I say "Begin." Ready . . .



Anonymous said...

There's a traitor behind every curtain. You forgot to mention anyone's charming qualities or tell us what unites the "allies" or what the War is about. The "in love with a dragon" twist might work in your story but here it seems too Shrek. What age group are you aiming for? Is this kid stuff, or are you looking for an adult audience?

Anonymous said...

GTP #3 reminds me of the movie Bubba Ho-Tep, which is about an elderly Elvis living in a retirement home. The home gets attacked by an escaped Egyptian mummy (but hey, let's just call it a zombie, shall we?) and it's up to Elvis to save the day.

Bruce Campbell plays Elvis. What a classic.

Anonymous said...

I was hoping for GTP #3, though only if the Garden O'Rest's nurse is a brutal eunuch named Kratchett and the warden is an evil sorceror.

shaded-lily said...

How do you pronounce Ceapheine?

Also, how do you pronounce Alicia Elluci? The way I'm thinking it's pronounced, if you say it fast it sounds like "I leash a Lucy," and that's pretty perverted. If it's pronounced in the Italian manner, it's "I leech a loochie," and that's even worse.

Anonymous said...

I felt very confused after reading this. You describe some conflicts, but vaguely. You mention the man loving the dragon and confused me more...I'm not sure what's going on with that, are we talking bestiality or is the guy also a dragon?

I think you have some good fantasy elements here, and what you need to do is to present them in a way that shows what the conflicts are for the main character. Is she losing her love because he loves a traitor? How does her secret past affect the story? If it doesn't, don't mention it; if it does, explain just a bit.

My experience with describing fantasy works is that it's damn difficult because you have to explain the world and the situation enough to make it make sense. Keep plugging away until you have the essential elements that make the story interesting and the gist of it clear to the uninitiated.

Good luck with this.

GutterBall said...

Anybody mind if I steal GTP#6? I mean, seriously. A WWE fan such as myself can hardly let that one go!

Anonymous said...

To the extent I could figure out what was going on, I didn't like it. "Harvel" sounds like the name of Eddie Murphy's next movie, everybody sounds like scumbags, and I don't know what's going on. There might well be a good story here, and it's just not coming through yet. Keep trying. You'll get it sooner or later.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the input! Hoping to get it sooner rather than later :)

P.S. And yes, I know all the answers to the questions and they're in the book - they just didnt make it into the intial query.

batgirl said...

The idea that the heroine(?) is fighting mind-control and can't tell what's really going on is intriguing. That might be worth playing up. But definitely the query needs tightening and clarifying. The phrase 'tips of swords' just made me wonder whether everyone fights with foils here, and why they can't use the edge of the sword as well. Probably not the sort of distraction you want if someone real were reading this.