Tuesday, July 24, 2007
Guess the Plot
1. When identical twin billionaire heiresses Madison and Dakota give their guardians the slip and set out on a bicycling adventure from London to Rome with Johnny Charming Dari, they have no idea the trouble that awaits them.
2. Dari has made a chilling discovery: Prince Cassius, heir to the throne, is tired of waiting for the king to die, and plans to kill him. But first the prince will have to get around the king's ace in the hole . . . he's immortal.
3. There once was a fairy named Dari who spent all her time making merry. She fell on her head and was pronounced dead. Were her naysayers cheery? Yes, very.
4. Dari Mondano lives on a remote wildlife sanctuary with her parents & two older brothers. One day she is struck by a strange red lighting bolt...and now she can speak with the animals. Can she use her new gift to convince people to live in harmony with nature?
5. This adventure anthology focuses on feats of bravery which end suddenly and without warni
6. Emissaries from another planet have heard tales of the magic elixir that heals bones and helps build strong teeth. They arrive in Wisconsin, eager to find the temple of the demigods who produce this potion.
Dear Mr. Evil,
I seek representation for Dari, a fantasy novel complete at 120,000 words.
Dari Imogena has lived among the Southern Sangi race since she and her father took refuge among them when Dari was eight years old. [We need to know her current age for this to have any informational value.] She has studied with their teachers and acquired a slightly sentient sword. One night, a desparate messenger arrives, seeking her. His plea to Dari: return to Florindell and intervene in her sister Cecily's treason trial. Family duty calling, Dari travels to Florindell to ask the King to accept her in Cecily's place as his reserve fiancee . . .
King Kyan has ruled for over two hundred years. His immortality is tied to his bachelorhood. Kyan must marry an Imogena for the kingdom to prosper. The King found a fortuitious side effect: until he marries, he will not age or die. He uses this immortality to build his kingdom. Dari's ancestress took issue with his pride and invoked her own magical decree: for each generation of Imogena the King passes up, the land will be hit with a curse. Thus far, the punishments have been insufficent to sway him; [but the curses have been getting worse each generation:
1. Moldy cashew crop
4. Unfunny jesters
5. Elevator music
7. Toilet paper shortage
8. Big Brother, the musical]
and things haven't worked out with any of the Imogena women. When Dari shows up and by a swordfight wins a land dispute for him, he takes notice. [Sword fight is two words. Or did you mean swordfish? Actually, winning a land dispute with a swordfish would be far more entertaining than a sword fight.] It is Dari's older sister Anaisa, however, to whom he is promised if he chooses to wed this generation . . . [Anaisa? That lazy cow? No wonder he's still single if there's but one woman he's allowed to marry per generation. And this guy's the king? Can't he change the rules?]
Prince Cassius, favored of the King, has watched the King's snubbing of the Imogena with growing contempt. The heir to the throne, he himself will be immortal until the King weds. [I'd be bad-mouthing Anaisa to the king every chance I got if I were the prince.] Cassius, however, has tired of the curse. He is committed to moving things forward. And if the King looks like he might not choose to marry the Prince's friend Anaisa, the Prince will finally act . . . [That's three straight paragraphs that end with an ellipsis . . . ]
In a land of stories and secrets, Dari makes a chilling discovery: Prince Cassius killed once, isn't afraid to do it again, and has his eye on the throne. By the time she learns of his plot, it's already in motion. What's a girl to do? [What's the problem? The king's immortal. Or is he immortal only until he dies?]
I was managing editor at my university's Faculty Editing Service [Then you probably noticed, as you were reading, that "desperate," "fortuitous" and "insufficient" were spelled wrong. If you purchased a book and were finding four typos per page, you'd be so annoyed you'd toss it aside and pick up another one; some editors are almost as intolerant as you are.] and Editor-in-Chief of a multidisciplinary research journal. I've published in [newspaper], [lit mag 1] and [lit mag 2].
Thank you for your consideration,
If the king must marry an Imogena for the kingdom to prosper, one would think the Imogena family is the most important family of all. So why did Dari and her father have to take refuge with the Sangi race?
It's not clear whether the king or the prince is the villain. The king uses his immortality to build the kingdom, but subjects it to curses. The prince wants to end the curses and is committed to moving forward, but killed someone once. Under which one is the kingdom better off? Dari seems to favor the king, but it's under the king that her sister is charged with treason.
The king found a fortuitous side-effect: immortality until he marries. If all kings have been immortal till they married, you wouldn't say Kyan discovered this side-effect; he would have known about it from the beginning. But if he's the first, I don't see how he could figure out that not being married was what was making him immortal. If I were in his place, I'd assume it was large quantities of ice cream.
Posted by Evil Editor at 6:33 AM
Labels: Epic Fantasy
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You have to write the query with Dari as the central plot or the Evil Prince trying to get the throne as the central plot. There are a few novels out there with complex plots involving multiple characters in several plot lines. You need to focus the query on the single plot line that encompasses the story.
For instance, Neil Gaimen's "Stardust" is coming out as a movie. It is a fantasy novella (a love story) about Tristan who wants to marry the most attractive girl in the village. He vows to bring back the fallen star they see and present it to her. It turns out that the fallen star is Yvaine and Tristan is not the only person seeking her. The evil witch wants to eat her heart and the five princes want her so they can claim the throne before they kill each other.
(A simple love story get complicated very fast. The quest to find a falling star becomes a meditation on the nature of love. It's a comedy like The Princess Pride.)
When King Kyan marries, he becomes mortal, serves out his reign and dies. Until then his heir, Cassius, remains an immortal prince [this isn't clear in your writeup]. When Dari Imogena's sister is chosen as Kyan's bride, Dari discovers Prince Cassius' plot to kill the king and usurp the throne. To save her country, Dari must foil the plot.
Now that seems to be your plot in a nutshell. But that's not an exciting description of your plot. You have to make a short description like that exciting enough to sell your book. Is Dari going to marry the king? Will Cassius remain immortal even though he has killed. And what happens if the King sires another heir and demotes Cassius?
You haven't quite told us the complete story in that how is the heir picked? Obviously Cassius is not the son of Kyan because Kyan's not married. So Cassius must have another father and some entity must have declared him "Heir" and "Prince"... I guess that's tied up in the "generation" thing, but be careful, that might be too much info for a one page query.
One more question, if Cassius can kill Kyan, does that mean that Kyan cannot die a natural death but can be murdered? If so, That's not immortality, per se.
If the Prince is the heir, of course he has his eye on the throne. It will be his eventual responsibility. Why is this seen as evidence of a nefarious attitude on his part?
This is too long to be a query, I can't see it fitting (with 1 inch margins and 12pt font, all the addresses and your signature) on one page. It contains a lot of back story that can be cut, and too many characters to be clear. For example, you mention Dari's father in the first sentence, then never again. That probably means he can be cut. ("Dari Imogena was only eight when she was forced to seek refuge among(st?) the Southern Sangi.") You mention both her sisters by name, but it's probably not necessary. As in Dave's rough sum-up above, you can just mention "sister".
Your penultimate paragraph, to me, sounded like a decent place to start your letter. "In a land of stories and secrets, Dari makes a chilling discovery: Prince Cassius killed once, isn't afraid to do it again, and has his eye on the throne." Perhaps try that as a first sentence, for now, and then work on one short paragraph following it up, describing what the girl has got to do.
I recall Miss Snark saying you should, in a query, mention the main character and a protagonist, and try your darndest to mention no one else.
Hope this helps. I remember reading a few of your chapters on IWW. Good luck!!
C'mon, EE, you couldn't do anything with "slightly sentient sword"?
We expect better!
(sqrl has now dashed all hopes of being published, except perhaps in Outer Mongolia)
That elaborate system of rules makes it sound like you are pitching a board game.
The word fortuitous is also used incorrectly, though I doubt anyone working in publishing these days would know or care.
What happened to the sister being tried for treason?
*coughs and splutters at curse #6*
Dan--I'll correct your typo for those who may be confused: "main character and *ant*agonist" :-)
Too many names.
*coughs and splutters at curse #6*
And I'm apoplectic at the obvious suggestion by #4.
A lot of these elements sound great, but the description makes me wonder if you have a plot developed that carries all the way through the book. Sounds like you have two half plots, by the description.
Loved those curses, EE.
aaaah, yes, mmm. antagonist. :oP honestly I know the difference. no really. serious.
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