Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Face-Lift 434

Guess the Plot

Bad Things Haunt Good Men

1. Good men visit haunted house. Mean ghosts say, "Boo!" Bad, bad ghosts. Good men scared. Good men burn down haunted house. Burn, house, burn. Good men happy.

2. Fire burn. Disease kill child. Crop fail. Finger cut off. Earthquake bury house. River flood. Time pass. Good Men still cry. Start group therapy. Become friends.

3. Exes. Odors. Paternity payments. Think you've found a good man? Better find out what's haunting him, too.

4. Drinking self into stupor. Becoming orphan. Being hostage. Being slave. Killing your mother. Slaughter, ruin, murder. Yes, Graham would do anything for love.

5. Documentary maker & film student Hank Fry thought sure that his hard-hitting expose of corruption at dairy goat shows would garner at least an honorable mention. But no. Holocaust films swept the awards again. He's had it--and someone's gonna pay.

6. Bosses that think overtime is compulsory, wives that nag, grass that grows, football teams that lose, beer cans that don't open properly . . . it's hard being a man nowadays. But Tab Prentice is about to break the mold, and honey, his new boobs are hot, hot, hot!

Original Version

I'm seeking representation for my epic fantasy novel, Bad Things Haunt Good Men. The main character, Graham Sullivan, is a rugged Captain in the Queen's Army. Orphaned at eleven, raised by his Royal grandparents, cold, hardened shell of a man, the Captain slowly softens throughout the novel as he is subjected to the affection and the idolizing of a young boy, as well as the love of two women.

Graham is taken hostage by his enemies after a vicious battle, during which he slaughtered several of their men, including the young boy's father. However, as he had saved the boy's life during the heat of the battle, Sarasuto felt endebted to him [Who's Sarasuto?] and speaks for him, taking the Captain as his own slave. [Because I am indebted to you, I shall subject you to a life of slavery. Hey, don't thank me, it's the least I can do.] Such a time passes as when he becomes fond of the boy and his captors. Graham is freed after saving several men's lives during another battle of the war, including the boy yet again. Once free, he seeks out a fellow officer's pregnant widow, to tell her the news of her dead husband, and offer his services. [Seeking out widows to offer your services: why didn't I think of that?]

On his way back to the rebel encampment, he finds a young blonde-haired beauty, and is soon enthralled by her soft and caring nature. Hardened by the circumstances of his life, he now finds himself, astonishingly, with the emotions of any other human. Graham falls in love with her, and sends for her to join him at camp.

It is not long, however, before he returns to the Nincha rebels, fighting for them, leading them, and eventually ensuring their victory by killing the Queen himself, who is actually his mother. [He was orphaned at eleven. Is the queen a zombie?] Thus doing so, he becomes King of Glendja by birth and by the right of slaying the ruler. [If I became the ruler, my first act would be to abolish the law that says he who slays the ruler becomes the ruler.] To his detriment, however, the Queen had taken with her his fiance, the young Natalia. Upon his mother's death, her memory wiping spell on him had disentegrated. He recalls the details of his father's death: a murder at his own mother's hands.Ridden with guilt and shocked by the memories which returned to him, he fled his homeland towards the south, where he drank himself into a stupor until his grandparents summoned him back to Boulvaria. [Suddenly we've switched to past tense. Let's get back to present tense immediately.]

On his way there, he encounters a young Boulvarian noble-girl who has fled from her home to escape a forced marriage. Knowing that his grandparents will indeedmarry him off to ensure an heir, he decides to take the girl under his wing, telling her that he cannot promise her love, but merely companionship and a good life.Due to her own rising interest in this mysterious man, as well as her own unfortunate circumstance, Alysha Waters [If you're going to name her, best to name her when you first mention her.] accepts his proposal. [You flee your country to avoid an arranged marriage, and then agree to marry a guy you've known for two hours, even though he can't promise you love?] They return to Glendja to rule.

During the following year, Alysha fights for her marriage. She has fallen in love with Graham, and yet after their marriage, rather than becoming closer to her, he only draws further away. Graham is haunted by Natalia's memory as well as her spirit, and cannot seem to shake his guilt at letting her die, as well as his father. He turns to drink once again, leaving his country in the hands of his inexperienced Queen, who is more distraught with her marriage than helping their nation to survive.

But Alysha rises to the challenge, forcing him to face his demons and take on his responsibilities as husband as well as king. They help the three warring parts of their country together in trade, and help rebuild the ruins his mother's reign had left behind. Of course he was in love with his wife-that was the reason he had drawn even further into himself in the first place. Graham felt guilty for loving another while his dead fiance's spirit still visited him. Eventually he accepts what cannot be changed, and while Graham and Alysha don't live "happily ever after" as the cliche says, they certainly make a go of it!

Please let me know if you would like to see more of Bad Things Haunt Good Men.

Thank you,


Way too long for a query letter. You need to get the plot down to about ten sentences. We don't need to know everything. That Graham offered his services to a widow, that he drank himself into a stupor, etc.: minor events can go. Basically we need to know Graham, an orphan raised by his royal grandparents, joins the army and gets captured by rebel forces, whose leader enslaves him as a favor. Seeing the rebel cause as a just one, Graham fights alongside them, earning his freedom. In a later battle he slays the queen, thus becoming king. Alas, the queen killed Graham's fiancée, and he wallows in guilt, even after falling in love with another woman, until eventually he realizes he must be responsible. Then he and his queen rule benevolently and live almost happily ever after. That leaves room to add whatever you wish about Graham going from shell of a man to human to drunkard to beneficent ruler.

Many awkward sentences, some weak word choice, and a few misspellings lead me to believe the book would need excessive editing. That stuff needs to be cleaned up.

The title doesn't give an impression of what kind of book this is. I'm not sure it makes sense anyway. Who are the good men? What are the bad things? Graham is haunted by his guilt is the closest I can come. The query mentions that he's haunted by Natalia's memory and spirit, though I'm not sure those are bad things.


Anonymous said...

I'm with EE that this needs a lot of editing. Watch long phrases that mean nothing - "Such a time passes as when he becomes ...". Examine your word choices. Detriment is a low-emotion word. Would you call your mother murdering your fiance a detriment? Be more exact - e.g., you can't drink yourself into a stupor for an extended period of time because as soon as you're in a stupor you stop drinking.

It's also not clear that the Queen murdered the fiance. You only say she "had taken with her his fiance". Until I read EE's comments, I thought she'd taken her to some physical place, like a vacation home.

Stacy said...

Well, technically, you can drink yourself into a stupor for an extended period of time if you have a high enough tolerance - say, that of an Irish barman.

It's all about building tolerance, man.

Robin S. said...

I knew a barman once, of Irish extraction and proud of it, who kept himself in an extended stupor for a very extended period of time.
It happens.

Anyway... I like your title author.

Anonymous said...

10 sentences? Easy number to remember, not quite so easy to engineer.
Best wishes

none said...

When he invited the blonde beauty to join him at camp, I didn't think he intended to marry her. No, that sentence created a completely different impression....

Anonymous said...

What anonymous 12:07 said.

I kept tripping over the unlikely names. The hero is Graham Sullivan--modern sounding, reminds me of that fair housing ad, "Hello, my name is Graham Wellington"--but then come Sarsuto, Nincha, Glendja, Natalia (is her first name Jen?), and someplace called Boulvaria, everything ending in vowels. Maybe you could drop Graham's first name, and lop the 'n' off his last name. Then he'd be Sulliva, which would fit in better with the others.

Nancy Beck said...

Sorry, author, but by the time my eyes hit the 3rd or 4th paragraph, they glazed over.

"Offered his services..." Graham was a gigolo? ;-)

I was completely confused by this query, and I agree with EE that this is way too long. Start with one sentence that sums up your story (I know, easy said than done), then gradually add to that. At least you might be able to get rid of the minor stuff and concentrate on the major stuff.

Good luck with it!


Anonymous said...

I'd also like to see a little more worldbuilding in the query. For example, what's the role of magic in your land? It's mentioned once, in a fairly major way (the memory-wiping spell), and then never again. I suspect it's more organically handled in the novel itself.

Just something else to think about during the re-writes.