Thursday, July 05, 2007

Face-Lift 371

Guess the Plot

Fortune's Fool

1. Every day the crystal ball showed Maggie the winning lottery numbers; every day, she played those numbers and lost. After six months of this, she started to wonder whether the forces of fate were jerking her around.

2. Sir Walter Raleigh steals the priceless Shroud of Turin from the Vatican, planning to subject it to black magic and thus become invincible. But a powerful alien being is also determined to get the Shroud. Raleigh is beginning to think he was a fool to get out of bed today.

3. Madame Kaya is convinced that she can not only tell the future, but also help with weight loss, thinning hair and prostate problems. But it's not until a pudgy, balding editor from New York stops by to get his palm read that the true extent of her powers becomes known.

4. Editors at one of the world's largest business magazines attempt to improve morale in the office by hiring a jester. But the move backfires, fueling employee complaints of management thinking of themselves as royalty.

5. When Carl Saperstein, owner of top 3-year-old Fortune's Fool, is shot dead outside his store in LA's Garment District, homicide detective Zack Martinez knows two things: finding the perp is a long shot, and he'd better bring his new wife some of that silk dupioni.

6. Nip’O’Jack used to be a good leprechaun – in 500 years, no one found his pot o’ gold. But now, he’s had five people find it in a month and the Leprechaun Bank is about to foreclose on his shoe-making business.

Original Version

Dear [Agent]:

A Tudor earl and hero joins an illicit faction of the Church of England to steal the Turin Shroud from the Vatican before Sir Walter Raleigh and his rival group can subject it to black magic and thus become an invincible danger to Queen Elizabeth’s throne [Some day I gotta put together a list of the most unbelievable Guess the Plots that turned out to be the real plot.] in my 111,000-word fantasy novel Fortune’s Fool.

When Earl Hertford and Raleigh mix up the magic cloth with a number of decoys, both men escape the pursuing Catholic Church possessing a Shroud each believes authentic. [When you go into the Vatican gift shop and see an entire rack of Shrouds of Turin, you can be pretty sure the real one isn't among them.] Unfortunately, they are not the only dupes, for their activities have drawn the attention of a being from outside our world who may be either an angel seeking to reclaim the Shroud from human abuse or something far worse.* [An angel ought to know which Shroud of Turin is from Turin, and which was made in China.] [What's with the asterisk?]

[Leading Chinese Exports, 2007

5. Poisonous pet food
4. Pollution
3. Sudanese military equipment
2. Fake Shrouds of Turin
1. Illegal DVD knockoffs]

The being begins murdering off both factions, who should stand between it and the throne instead of constantly infighting. [Imagine the being's embarrassment when he kills a couple dozen people only to end up with the Shroud of Hong Kong.] Hertford digs through secrecy put up by his allies as well as his enemies until he finds that the power behind the Shroud also drives the being and he can use one to destroy the other-- a truth neither the Catholic Church nor his own countrymen will accept. [Come to think of it, I don't accept it either.] Abandoned by his allies, Hertford must destroy not only this being but also a sinister third party responsible for the rumors of Raleigh's intentions and determined to destroy him and everything he holds dear. [Ah, so it was only a rumor that Sir Walter Raleigh was going to subject the Shroud of Turin to black magic and become invincible. Amazing how many people will believe a rumor, no matter how ridiculous it sounds.]

The plot is similar in vein to [books]. [I would rather know that it's similar in theme or in plot or in tone or even in length than in "vein."] [Why am I not surprised that your attempt to think of books this is similar to has thus far been in vain?] [I am approaching you [Agent Name], because of [reason specific to agent].

Thank you for your consideration and time. An SASE is enclosed for your reply. May I send you the manuscript, which runs to 111,000 words?


[* Korlach, Lord of the Dark Realm]


If the stolen Shrouds are decoys, why is the Catholic Church pursuing Hertford and Raleigh? Also, not clear how the Church knows about the other-worldly being. The being is after Hertford and Raleigh's Shroud(s), right? Are they communicating with the Church as they flee?

If Hertford needs the Shroud to kill the being, it would be unfortunate if he had one of the decoys. Do Raleigh and Hertford each have a Shroud? Is Hertford's the real thing?

Actually, it sounds like something people would enjoy, but I'm not sure it wouldn't sound better without the "being." Sir Walter Raleigh stealing the Shroud of Turin from the Vatican and using black magic is fantastical enough without a Klingon showing up.


Dave Fragments said...

Well, being neither pudgy nor balding, I didn't visit NYC to get my palm read, today. :)

I think that in the query letter you have to own up to what the "being" is.

"Defender of the faith Hertford, must not only prevent Raleigh from stealing the Shroud for demonic purposes, he also has to defend the world from invasion by wannabee pagan god X or fallen angel Y."

It's a wild plot, ought to be a fun read.

Now you didn't explain the title. I'm not sure you have to explain it but "Fortune's Fool" is a quote from Romeo and Juliet. Romeo has just killed Tybalt for slaying Mercution and realizes that he is banished. This occurs just after his marraige to Juliet. Big drama. I can't see the parallels.

Now if you mean fortune as in "La Forza del Destino" where the inevitability of fate descends tragically on the principals. I still don't see a love interest. It's a five hour opera and FATE wins in the end BTW.

If you mean "Fortune" as in the opening of the Carmina Burana - "O fortuna" ... I might understand. "Oh fortune, variable as the moon, inconstant companion." That makes more sense. Sorta like Lady Luck.

Bonnie said...

I think my head hurts. No. No. Please no.

But it will probably be a bestseller...

GutterBall said...

I think the being should be a zombie shark. I'd buy that in a New York minute.

This actually has just enough of a bizarro premise that I had to read the whole query, just to be sure I hadn't read it wrong. Unfortunately, the query didn't clear that up for me. I can't tell how many fake shrouds are running around or what, exactly, the shroud is supposed to be able to do.

But that's okay. My query was pretty confusing and unhelpful plot-wise, too. We'll get better. People around here are really helpful that way.

Anonymous said...

Hey Dave, I am quite sure you are wrong on these three points about fortune:

1) quote from Romeo and Juliet.

2)"La Forza del Destino" where the inevitability of fate descends tragically on the principals.

3)"Fortune" as in the opening of the Carmina Burana - "O fortuna" ...

Have you never eaten Chinese food? You know that yummy treat at the end. It's called A FORTUNE COOKIE!

HELLO. I hope you get it now.

Just kidding!! I love reading your posts. I always learn something new. (Usually can't retain it, but I try!)



Anonymous said...

Note to self: Always include an asterisk in query. Asterisked footnote optional.

Anonymous said...

Hmm, I'm imagining a movie of this... With Phil Silvers and Jerry Lewis...

writtenwyrdd said...

This sounds like it should be a comedy a la The History of the Word Part I, but I don't think it is.

bizarro doesn't cover this plot, but I'd probably read it.

Not sure why it has to be the shroud of Turin, which doesn't have as many miracles as those bodies of saints who have several bodies apiece. Loaves and fishes? Pshaw! Saints knuckle bones! Now there's a miracle...

Anonymous said...

"Fortune's Fool" gets 42,000 hits on google, including numerous books & at least 1 movie. Hard to find yours in all that, eh? I'd try to think of a more unique phrase for my title.

Bernita said...

"The being begins murdering off both factions, who should stand between it and the throne instead of constantly infighting"
Sorry but if the story's prose is as fuzzy as the query's...

Peter Damien said...

The first paragraph is really fun to read in a Valley girl sort of voice, actually.

After that, I have zero idea what I just read. The book might be perfectly clear (and, I suspect, long) but the query letter is compacted and garbled. Like you're trying to get too much in, maybe.

I hope your book isn't supposed to be in the same vein as Dan Brown, because I'm this far > < away from opening that vein for good. (Please, Dan Brown, please stop)

Anonymous said...

Sorry, I couldn't understand it.

What does this mean?
"The being begins murdering off both factions, who should stand between it and the throne instead of constantly infighting."

and this? "the rumors of Raleigh's intentions"

Raleigh and Earl Hertford are dupes, but why is the being from beyond our world a dupe?

Also, that loooong first sentence-paragraph ought to be divided.

batgirl said...

The line about how they should be standing between the throne and the being, instead of infighting - it reads like an editorial comment on how annoying and misguided your characters are. You might want to cut it, or at least move it to _after_ you reveal that Raleigh isn't really trying to destroy Elizabeth.