Monday, August 20, 2007

Face-Lift 403

Guess the Plot

Best of Intentions

1. The client wanted the best, so he gave the paving contract to Seth Purefoy. Now Seth is having second thoughts, especially about the paving material, and he's also worried about the job site. If he'd known he'd be paving a road to hell, he'd never have submitted the bid.

2. Haren had the best of intentions when he tried to decoy the hunters away from Adrielle. Now that he's been captured, he's wondering where the paved road they're taking him down leads.

3. Jenine hopes her new bookstore, Best of Intentions, will revolutionize publishing. She'll carry only e-books, PODs, and self-published titles. Can she convince handsome banker Rodney Treen that investing with her will be a great idea, both financially--and romantically?

4. With the best of intentions, Bob stole Mary's lunch, helping her to lose weight. With the best of intentions, Mary stole Bob's BMW, hoping to bolster his humility. With the best of intentions, Bob burned down Mary house, hoping she would find a better place to live. Will Bob and Mary ever escape reality TV hell?

5. Matchmaker Penelope Thurgood never meant to hurt anyone - it wasn't her fault that she set people up with serial killers. But now they're all dead and Penelope is scared to set anyone else up . . . until the police bring her in to help catch a new serial murderer. Will she find him before he finds her?

6. Charged with a triple homicide to which he confessed, and which was seen by eleven witnesses, Johnny faces the jury and plays his trump card: Sure he did it, but hey, he had the . . . Best of Intentions.

Original version

Title: Best of Intentions
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
Word Count: about 50,000

Query Letter:

Adrielle is beautiful, inquisitive, and arguably the most powerful mage in the country of Atnatica. Haren is shy, sensitive, and oblivious to the fact that he has any powers at all. Why he's called upon to protect Adrielle is completely illogical to him, until he realizes that her power may perhaps be too strong for her to wield safely. [At which point his selection becomes perfectly logical?]

Atnatica's protocol states that intentions are everything, and one must never betray a commitment. In this spirit, Haren decides to use himself as Adrielle's decoy when a group of mage hunters enters the country. Taken hostage by her would-be captors, Haren is carried across the countryside and forced to work as a hunter for anyone with superhuman abilities. [This reminds me of Br'er Rabbit and the briar patch:

Haren: Okay, you've got me. I shoulda known I couldn't escape mage hunters, since I have no powers. I suppose now you'll kill me.

Mage hunters' leader: Kill him.

Haren: I deserve it, kill me, torture me, but please, whatever you do, don't make me hunt for people with superhuman abilities.

Mage hunters' leader: Hold it! I have an idea.]

While searching for a means of escape, Haren encounters Sala, a rebellious young woman who is eager to aid his breakout. He also hears whispers of the hunters' leader, Dii, a dark mage whose abilities may even be enough to overcome Adrielle, should he find her. [That's the end? That's too abrupt. Did you cut off the bottom half of the query?]


The mage hunters' leader is a mage? I know they say keep your friends close and your enemies closer, but if you're a mage, and you hire minions who are mage hunters, you're just asking for trouble.

Have you considered changing Atnatica to Antarctica, and making the mage hunters penguin hunters? Just a thought.

What's the main plot? All I see here is: Life was good in Atnatica until the day the mage hunters showed up.


Anonymous said...

The basic idea is interesting, but I am having trouble with 'Atnatica'. It just doesn't come trippingly off the tongue, as it were. What if it were divided or hyphenated? At-Natica, or At Natica. Both are easier to sound out, and since this is aimed at a younger audience, that may be an issue.

jjdebenedictis said...


I'm sorry, but I can't see how the plot evolves. None of the character's stories seem to lead anywhere.

Adrielle is a charismatic mage whose powers may too powerful for her to handle, which could result in...??

Haren, acting as decoy for Adrielle, is captured by mage hunters and forced to aid them, so he...??

Sala wants to help Haren escape because...??

Dii is a dark mage who may be able to overcome Adrielle, at which point he plans to...??

You need to give us an idea of what the main conflict of the story is and how the main character(s) tries to solve it, as well as what obstacles get in his or her way. The characters sound pretty engaging, but there's too little on what the plot of the novel is.

Blogless Troll said...

Yeah, I keep seeing Ant-atica.

Ello - Ellen Oh said...

Author, you may have a great story idea here, but your query is really unclear and muddled. I have no idea what your story and plot line is. What is your conflict? Is it just that he is protecting Adrielle from hunters. Um, why? And Dii (I'm not liking the spelling on this much.) you've got to give us an idea of why he is after Adrielle. All you have here is character descriptions and pronouncements that make no sense to anyone other than yourself. I can see that there is an interesting concept somewhere in here, but you haven't brought it out at all. ANd what does the Antartica's protocol statement have to do with your query? It's very confusing. This reads like a first draft attempt and like EE pointed out, it ends quite abruptly. Try again and repost it. I would love to see this again with all that's missing.

writtenwyrdd said...

Honestly, this has zero hook as written. You need to give us something that catches out interest, makes us want to know about your characters adn then tell us what the story is about.

I also would like to see a repost. At the very least, this sounds like you have a fresh idea.

Dave Fragments said...

I adore GTP #4 BUT GTP #1 will amuse me for the next few days.

Once upon a time, I put out a purchase requisition for four (4) stainless steel vessels to handle high pressure hydrogen. I received three bids: a) $4000, b) $15,000, and c) $38,000.
WTF you say, so did I. Bit I had to write four reports in triplicate to lawyers explaining these bids.
I called the $4000 bidder and asked him to PA Code Stamp (like ASTM certify) the vessels and he dropped out. He wanted to build trash and couldn't code the vessels.
I called the $38,000 bidder and he used exotic materials that I didn't want.
I gave the bid to the $25,000 bidder and he delivered the vessels late and out of spec. Our machinists had to redo the sealing surfaces.
So this was the BID to HELL!

Sigh! Once upon a time, a long, long time ago...

Anonymous said...

With respects to writtenwyrdd and the author, this didn't come off as fresh to me--because it sounds so much like the world and terminology of the White Wolf rpgs. Still, I'd be interested to see more, since your query doesn't give us much. Here's what I gathered:

Haren didn't expect to be named as the bodyguard to the best mage in Antarctica, and he didn't think he'd have to protect her from anyone but herself--but a group of hunters has infiltrated the frozen continent, looking to [kill or capture] every magical being they find. He lets himself be captured so that his ward can go free, only to find himself forced into service as a hunter--stalking the very person he was meant to protect.

And then...?

Anonymous said...

I keep reading "Atnatica" as "Antarctica" in a flat, nasal accent: Ant-aa-tica.

I'm afraid this query reads the same way. Flat and nasal and likely not at all the way you intended. Like EE, I found the plot confusing. I'm not seeing motivation or stakes here.

Points to clarify:
Note where EE points out the illogic of Haren's realization in the first paragraph.

forced to work as a hunter for anyone with superhuman abilities. Does this mean he's hunting for those with superhuman abilities or is he being forced to work with those who have superhuman abilities to hunt -- what? The sentence structure is unclear.

Try to limit the number of names you throw out in a query. Sala and Dii don't need to be named. But we do need some motivation if you're going to mention them. Why is Sala so eager to help Haren? Why is Dii, a mage, hunting other mages anyway? Is there some sort of a mage war going on? Does he just not like competition?

Then we need a wrap-up. Now, if I get this right, you need to come up with a different end to the story because it's pretty stock and not unique enough to capture an agent's attention:

With the young maid's help, Heran escapes, determined to find Adrielle before the dark mage does. But he's too late. Adrielle and the dark mage are already locked in mortal combat when he discovers them, and Adrielle, overwhelmed by the force of her own power, falls. Only then does Heran's latent power manifest. But can a half-trained boy defeat the tyrannical dark mage before [whatever Dii's plans are] are realized?

Anonymous said...

Taken hostage by her would-be captors...

If she's taken hostage by them, then they're not would-be captors, they're, you know, captors.

Anonymous said...

Ok, forget it, I skimmed to fast. He's taken hostage by her would be captors.


Bonnie said...

I keep reading "Atnatica" as "Antarctica" in a flat, nasal accent: Ant-aa-tica.

Yeah. Like we say it in Boston :D

Author, I'm with the people who say rewrite. It sounds like you might have a good story here, but it's not coming through.

Explain why Haren's intentions matter. To me, that implies that things go wrong precisely because of his attempts to do the right thing. I don't see how that's going to carry a whole story, though. It sounds like he's going to be forgiven for everything in the end because, after all, his intentions are good. Which is a little too pat for my tastes.

Nancy Beck said...

This sounds more like Haren's story than Adrielle's, so the first thing I think I'd do is start off the query with him rather than her.

I, too, tripped up on Atnatica; in fact, my brain kept thinking, Antatica. (So, my brain's wired differently. ;-)) Anyway, my suggestion is to pick a different name entirely or shorten it (Natica, maybe?).

As others have said, there's no way for me to connect the dots and come up with a coherent plot. Why is Haren a decoy? Why is he chosen to protect Arielle? Just some things to think about.

And I agree with EE that the ending is too abrupt.

Good luck.


Anonymous said...

I have no problem with Atnatica; in fact, I kind of like the sound of it. It reminded me of Attica (which it is, with na inserted).

Wow, 150, that's a really good rewrite, or summary, or whatever it is. I can't tell from the original query if your paragraph describes the same story, but it's sure well done.