Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Face-Lift 288

Guess the Plot

The Leprechaun Connection

1. Popeye Doyle and Cloudy Russo come out of retirement for one more bust after stumbling on a container-load of Lucky Charms.

2. Taran McSwilligan is only an eighth-grade geek, but even he can see the problems extant in using live leprechauns as relay switches for his eire-ish island's electrical system. Can Taran perfect his leprechaun cryo-freeze and stabilize the connections before the whole year's stash of frozen fish melts into a steaming puddle of fertilizer?

3. Hired to track down a billionaire's daughter, a private eye stumbles upon a dimension of elves, gnomes . . . and leprechauns. Not only that, she must assume the throne to prevent all of humanity from slipping into the black hole of nothingness.

4. The manufacturer of Amy's new cell phone used warm fuzzy names for all the parts, so she wasn't surprised to find a button for the "leprechaun connection." But she was surprised to push it and find herself lost in a patch of clover, with huge bees buzzing overhead.

5. Moira's mission is to get crucial documents from Belfast to Stockholm, but getting the documents out of Ireland is proving tricky--and she's being followed by a dark stranger who may be after more than the papers. Can Moira reach the dropoff point to make . . . The Leprechaun Connection?

6. When the DEA recruits his roommate Julian to discover Andy's mushroom source, Julian is shocked to find the source is an actual Leprechaun. Will the DEA believe him? Also, a centaur with bladder control issues and an exhibitionist wood nymph.

Original Version

To the Evilest of All Editors:

Why are leprechauns stealing human children to work in factories purloined from forest gnomes? [I don't know. And odds are you aren't going to tell me.]

P.I. Puck Railian would like an answer as she tracks down a billionaire’s kidnapped daughter.
She almost captures [is about to capture] a leprechaun when elven warrior Kellen, who insists she is the lost heir to the throne of Shadowrealm, waylays her. He agrees to help her find the missing girl if Puck ascends Shadowrealm’s throne in a coup overthrowing the troll-led government. All Puck wants to do is find the kid to collect her reward. The closer she gets to finding the girl, the more she learns about herself. [Dump that sentence; it interrupts the flow of the plot description.] But when she discovers that her father is still alive and held prisoner by the corrupt leader, it only entangles her deeper into the politics of Earth’s alternate dimension, Shadowrealm. If Puck refuses the throne, the consequences are dire as a rift between the two worlds will widen, imploding both worlds, spilling banshees, ogres, humans, and gnomes into the black hole of nothingness. [The black hole of nothingness! I think we've finally found a phrase to replace the nexus of time travel itself.] [It seems to me that if the rightful heir not being on the throne would open the black hole of nothingness, it would already be open. It would have opened when the troll leader took the throne. We'd all be dead.]

Will Puck find the missing child? Will she discover the leprechaun connection? Will she be able to prevent a civil war in Shadowrealm? Will she fall [into the black hole of nothingness?] for the handsome elven warrior? [And last but not least, Why are leprechauns stealing human children to work in factories purloined from forest gnomes?] The answer to these questions, and more, lie between the pages of THE LEPRECHAUN CONNECTION. [Between the pages? What's on the pages?]

I had a difficult time researching this novel, since alternate dimension traveling is out of my financial ability. I did manage a trip to Germany to view the gnome’s Black Forest factories, and I must say the sale of wooden smokers, nutcracker, and ornaments are providing the gnomes a thriving cottage industry. And I’m happy to report the Scottish Doonies are back to their shape-shifting tricks again, according to the locals. [Very cute. Now get rid of it. Your editor/agent may want to meet her latest client. You don't want her worrying that it's going to go:

You: Sorry I'm late. Gnomes and elves stole my luggage at the airport.

Editor: Heh heh. Nice to meet you. Your book--

You: Ah, you're wondering how I know so much about leprechauns and fairies. I grew up in a giant toadstool in Candyland.

Editor: Cute. Now about your contract, I'll need you to sign--

You: Wait, let me get out my lucky pen. It writes with magic potion instead of ink.

Editor: Get out. Get out or I'll have you thrown out.]

The Leprechaun Connection is a 120,000-word fantasy adventure. My protagonist Puck has been compared to a mixture of Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum and hard-boiled noir detectives of the 1940’s. [Sort of a klutzy Sam Spade.] [Was this comparison made by Janet Evanovich and James Ellroy? Or by a friend of yours?] I’ve included a few sample pages for your perusal. The full manuscript is available upon request, though it might be somewhat delayed due to the fairies claiming union rules, For some reason they are insisting upon a break every three hours to toke some pixie dust and clean the ink off their feet.

Thank you for your time.



Those last two paragraphs pretty much guarantee that your manuscript will end up in . . .


You have a protagonist for adults, but I'm not sure how many adults will want to read about leprechauns, gnomes, fairies, etc. The title and setting sound more like they'll appeal to kids. Maybe you should make up the Shadowrealm characters, or at least use fewer known fantastical creatures.

Is there a reason for naming the character Puck? No one has that name. And I believe it's been used in at least one work involving fairyland creatures already.


E.S. Tesla said...

I think the story seems pretty cool, even for grown ups (I like the fact that it's leprachauns, there's way underustilized).

The cutesy bits of the letter made me want to punch the monitor.

I really, really hate the start with a question format, and I really, really hate cutesy stuff, so you've got me all keyzer sose here author...

Anonymous said...

Remember the speech about -- John Kennedy was a good friend of mine, and you, Sir, are no John Kennedy.

Same thing goes for this use of "Puck", which is so ripped off and jarringly wrong for the character I couldn't really focus on the rest of the goblins etc. Go get your own name and try again.

Blogless Troll said...

Look, I know writing a 120,000 word book is hard, but can't we come up a few original names. Shadowrealm is so overused you might as well call it Forebodingland, or the Dreadful Expanse. How about the Belligerent Union of Totally Treacherous States?

Anonymous said...

This is screamingly funny. I laughed so hard I had tears in my eyes. Is it a comedy? If not, you've missed the humor boat and are sailing down the yellow river of uncontrolled centaur water through the nexus of time and into the black hole of nothingness port-a-potty. It's just so wrong in so many ways that it has got to be a satire.

BTW - ditch "Puck" for three reasons:
a - Puck rhymes with ****
b - Shakespeare's Puck is a horny boy in green tights, skimpy green tights
c - MTV's reality show had a character named Puck and he was the most vile and obnoxious spoiled brat ever videotaped. Blond too, and a bike messenger (the scourge of the scourgy)

I see the Princess Bride version of Darby O'Gill and the Little People meet South Park and have babies.

veri word: hgquzvwklj

Anonymous said...

Dump the name Puck - it'll either make people think of the mischievous fary in Shakespeare's play - or the guy who had trouble controlling his bodily funuctions on MTV's Real World.

Not liking the word "purlioned" - makes me think of Poe.

Other than that - you're idea is pretty original.

Rei said...

Between the pages? What's on the pages?

An eighth-century treatice on the use of monkshood to treat diptheria, of course. What else?

Author: Ouch. If you haven't already (which I suspect is the case), I really think you should spend some time over on Miss Snark's blog. A long time. I'd also recommend Limyaael's blog too, while you're at it.

The "person of our world, sucked into another dimension, must assume the throne, save their world and ours" plot is so overused that even with a great query, you'd have a hard time selling it. At least stress something that sets yours apart (there has to be *something*!). Something that turns a cliche on its head.

For example, on Elektra's Crapometer, one person posted a story with the same sort of plot. However, the stereotypical "wise old mentor", Gandalf-style figure not only taught the main character (a man from our world), but was also making moves on him. That right there turns a cliche into "something new".

Another example: the anime "El-Hazard". In anime, this "sucked into another dimension, must save it" trope is, if anything, even more overused. The twist there was that the MC didn't end up becoming the king/ruler of a country in the world he entered. Quite to the contrary, he bore a strong resemblance to the country's *princess* who was kidnapped, and was strongarmed into posing as her to help assauge the tribal leaders who were worried that without her, the country wouldn't be able to repel an upcoming invasion.

You need something original. If you have something original, put it front and center. If you don't... well, I don't know what to suggest that wouldn't hurt to do.

Anonymous said...

Quick! Where's my insulin?

Sorry--this leaves me cold.

Anonymous said...

Ah, the minions. Helpful or just evil?

For the query as a whole, once the cutsey bits are dropped as EE recommends, the story remains pretty cute sounding. That's not a problem as I enjoy cute, fun novels. But I wasn't sure what a hard-boiled detective is doing in one. She seems completely out of place. Perhaps that is the very idea, though, and a lot of comedy comes from Sam Spade Versus the Leprochauns. If so, that's pretty cool, and it could be something you feature in the query, which would alleviate some of the other minions' comments.

To be more detailed, I was incredibly lost on gender issues at the beginning. I will post your sentences and add my thought processes in brackets in the middle to show my confusion.

"P.I. Puck Railian [ah, Puck from Midsummer Night's Dream, a mischievous male fairy) would like an answer as she [oh, Puck is a woman here. alright, that's a switch but I can handle it] tracks down a billionaire’s kidnapped daughter.
She almost captures a leprechaun when elven warrior Kellen [ah, male warrior probably], who insists she [oh, the elven warrior is female. that's even better]is the lost heir to the throne of Shadowrealm, waylays her[a beautiful female elven warrior can waylay me any time she wants. heh, heh.] . He [he? Puck is a man?. but it clearly says Puck is a woman?]agrees to help her find the missing girl [ohhhh!!! that earlier "she" was Puck, not the elven warrior. I've got it now] if Puck ascends Shadowrealm’s throne in a coup overthrowing the troll-led government."

While there's no evidence anyone else was as confused as me, it would be good to rewrite so that there's less potential for agent confusion.

Holy mother of.. verification word: vprpwsns. Is it humanly possible to say that without adding vowels?

Anonymous said...

I was hoping for GTP #5 and nearly fell over laughing at #6.

As for the rest, that sort of thing isn't my bag, baby. -V95

Anonymous said...

EE and minions:
Thanks for your take on my quirky story. Actually, this is the most fun I've had writing a query--ever. Trust me, I'm still flinching from my previous flaying by the minions--maybe some of you remember the 'cold-cocked' fiasco. I'm still shivering from the semi-healed wounds. And yes, I have subbed to the crapometer and Lit agent X, but one can always learn something new.
My question is to EE: If pages were included would you have read them?
Happy Writing,

Evil Editor said...

If pages were included would you have read them?

Assuming this were the genre I worked in, if the cutesy stuff weren't there, I would have started reading the pages. As it is now, I'd have rolled my eyes.

Those wondering about the author's reference to her earlier query, it was # 130, July 22nd.

Anonymous said...

I liked the part where Puck got his fiddly bits nipped. Now he's a budding Rose.

Anonymous said...

Good to know, EE.
Thanks for your honesty.
Damn, you have a great memory, or you put 'cold-cocked' into your search engine and voila, fresh humiliation for moi!
Oh, well, my skin can stand a bit more toughening up.

Tempest Knight said...

You mean this story isn't about Puck from the "MTV: Real Word: San Francisco"?! *lol*

PJD said...

Besides EE's comments, my only real problem was with the name Shadowrealm.

I've always wondered about the "alternate dimension" being named something like Shadowrealm. I mean, when Columbus arrived, native Americans didn't call their land Shadowspain, did they?

If we had an alternate dimension on Earth, what makes you so sure THIS is not the "shadow" of the other? I think you should name it Place, and the magical creatures could refer to the "real" world as Otherplace, or perhaps Otterplace since this is where the otters live.

Anonymous said...

Thanks, Anon 4:07! I wrote GTP #5 -- first ever to make it onto EE's list!

As for the actual story, I was kinda intrigued, though I would definitely go with the suggested name changes and dump the cutesy bits, as everyone else has suggested.

word ver: jhxmypok -- sounds painful!

Stacia said...

Yeah, I think if you kill all the cutesy "pixy dust union"-type stuff, you could have a fun read. Why shouldn't we laugh at fantasy? Do a hook for the Discworld books and it could sound awfully twee, too.

But you should emphasize that. Focus on the conflict, and how irritated Puck gets by all the fairy dust everywhere. Or whatever. Just explain the dichotomy, let us know you see it, too.

And lol on the meeting with the agent! One of the best bits ever.

Maggie Stiefvater said...

I'm with those who say that the cutesy stuff may go. The story itself already sounds cutesy and you want to come off sounding like the sane one, not one of the leprechauns.

If I were an editor, I'd want to see a reference to what age group you thought you'd be snagging. If this is a picture book, it makes me willing to read more pages. If it's an adult book where Puck and Kellen have a sordid shagging scene, I might think twice. (though it would give new meaning to your title)

writtenwyrdd said...

That last paragraph of stupid cuteness needs to go. Other than that, the letter seems pretty decent. I'm just not sure that the story you describe is interesting enough.

Here's why:
1. PI named Puck seeking girl kidnapped by agents of Shadowrealm. Reads like dark urban fantasy.
2. Leprechaun connection. Reads like kid's story for mid-level, 8-12 year olds.
3. Elfen warrior Puck the PI has the hots for. Reads like paranormal romance.
4. Puck is the lost heir of the Faerie throne. Black hole of nothingness. Trolls as bad guys having taken over. Reads like a fairy tale, or the "I'm really a fairy princess" stories little girls fantasize about. E.G. another mid-level element.

This story sounds, as presented, schizophrenic. Not sure where it is going. Maybe it is the names that are off putting, but Shadowrealm is pretty much like several other terms for other worlds I can think of; and leprechauns make me think of overly sweet kids' cereal.

Keep at it, though, this sounds like with some focusing you could have a workable and saleable story.

writtenwyrdd said...

As a second thought, which you can blame paca for as he gave me the idea, have Puck be a guy with the elf hitting on him. He can't just ditch the guy as he needs him; but the humor in the situation of fending off a lecherous elf would be cool. For an adult novel, anyhow...