Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Face-Lift 463

Guess the Plot

Modern Magic

1. When the coach of the Orlando Magic sees Flubber, he decides to fund secret research at the Univ. of Florida. Fortunately, the players don't notice the $200,000 pocket change missing from each of their paychecks.

2. The Prospero siblings, John and Liz, are descendants of powerful magicians. As they grow into adulthood they become crime fighters--but do they have what it takes to bring down the renegade vigilante sorcerers behind an increasingly horrible crime wave?

3. Merlin awakens from the oak tree wherein he has slumbered lo these many years, to find the world in a despicable state. He must locate Arthur to put things aright. His first step is to locate the modern wizards, to enlist their help, and he is shocked to find that there aren't any.

4. The bigwigs at ABC think Madeleine is the perfect choice to play the witch Drucilla in their new sitcom, "Modern Magic". Little do they know just how right they are. Can Madeleine keep the tabloids from finding out she's really 650 and a witch-queen in disguise?

5. Magic the dragon has discarded his beans and fur fabric in favour of the latest cybernetic upgrades. But when a metal-eating virus attacks Earth, Magic finds himself battling for his life and the lives of cybernetically enhanced toys everywhere.

6. Sure, everyone says modern conveniences are a byproduct of science & industry. But young wizard Collinsway Carruth knows the truth--and must protect it from outsiders at all cost.

Original Version

Dear Ms. Agentname,

To Liz Prospero, magic is both commonplace and unattainable. She’s a modern descendant of a long line of powerful sorcerers, but was born without magical ability. [When you're a powerful sorcerer and your spouse's genes turn out to be dominant, you never live it down.] Although she grew up in the sorcerous subculture, she spends her youth in a mad dash to get away from it. [How can a kid whose family is knee-deep in the sorcerous subculture get away from it? Did she leave home?]

Her older brother, John, has the opposite problem. He’s magically gifted, and is called upon to perform near-miracles. A rise in magical crime drafts him into hunting renegade sorcerers before he’s ready, and he struggles to hide his self-doubt under a facade of snarky cockiness.

[Renegade Sorcerer: You're gonna take me down? Don't make me laugh.

John: Yo mama.]

Modern Magic is a novel in stories, [Someone once sent me a short story in novels; this sounds much more manageable.] following the Prospero siblings from their late teens into established adulthood. [What is meant by "established"?] Each story has a self-contained adventure as well as developing the overall story arc. As John and Liz grow into their respective roles [as established adults] and meet fresh challenges, they realize that the rise in crime is something more sinister than a mere societal shift. [Tell me more. What is the rise in crime?]

Liz realizes that she can’t escape her heritage, and then that she doesn’t want to. She learns to balance her magical heritage with her mundane nature, and eventually appreciates how unusual this combination makes her. [That is unusual. A sorceress who can't do magic should celebrate her uniqueness like a ballerina with no feet. ] John, burdened with ever-greater demands, learns that he can handle more than he thought possible. He never completely conquers his fear of failure, but learns to live with the possibility.

Modern Magic is a humorous novel with serious underlying themes. With wit, suspense, and pathos, [The shill who writes the back-cover copy handles the bragging. The author's above all that.] it explores the ideas of different kinds of normal and different ways to be useful. During a tense game of find-the-villain and the climactic confrontation, John and Liz each play a pivotal role in discovering and defeating the group behind the increasingly horrible crimes.

I thought you might be interested because your web site profile states that you like urban fantasy, humor, and character-driven stories. [My web site profile says I like Italian cooking, Uruguayan history, and canasta. I don't want 'em all in the same book, however.] If I had to pick a single work most like Modern Magic, it would be [the one I ripped off,] Carrie Vaughn’s Kitty series. It would also appeal to fans of the lighter work of Connie Willis and Esther M. Friesner.

May I send the complete manuscript of 90,000 words? A sequel, Mind Magic, is outlined but not yet written.

Very truly yours,


Does it have to be described as a novel in stories? Why not a novel in chapters, with each story a separate chapter? A chapter isn't required to pick up where the previous chapter left off.

I didn't get that it was a humorous book. There are horrible crimes, troubled characters . . . Maybe you should throw in an example of what's so funny.

I also want to know what kind of crimes we're talking about. To create space for this new stuff, drop the last sentence of paragraph 1 and add the second paragraph to paragraph 1. If necessary, much of what's in the last two paragraphs can go.


Bernita said...

I want an example of "horrible crimes!"

none said...

Yay! Return of the vigilante sorcerers!

This sounds like a fun book. I think I'd like to know a bit more about how Liz finds a place for herself, though.

Nancy Beck said...

So this is a book of short stories linked together? Is that what "novel in stories" means?

I didn't notice any humor in the query, either; you should show some of that. And I also agree that you should give us the details on the horrible crimes: Murders, rapes, what?

Anonymous said...

Oh man, it has been WAY too long since we had any ruthless vigilante sorcerers.

Stacia said...

The first two paragraphs grabbed me. Unfortunately you lost me at "a novel in stories". Does it tell the stories of their lives from beginning to now, or is it about the cool magic crime stuff?

Anonymous said...

A novel in stories, so basically your writing a tv drama series...nicely done. I would definitely watch this.

Xiexie said...

A novel in stories. Is that like Basil and Josephine or am I remembering high school honors english curricula wrong?

PJD said...

I echo what December/Stacia said. You had me at the beginning, but then it fell apart as you began to describe how you put it together, what people will think of it, the story arc and the growth of the characters, blah blah blah. If it actually has an arc that it follows from beginning to end, tell us what it is rather than how you crafted it.

You also need to fix some comma issues.

I do get a sense that you can write, though, and if you got rid of the blah blah blah part of the query, I would be intrigued.

Anonymous said...

I critiqued part of this novel when it came up on, and it's essentially a bunch of short stories about these two characters as they grow up. I thought the author was planning on selling them serially to a magazine since they didn't read like chapters in a novel.

Author, if you're now making it into a novel, I'd suggest that you remove the repetitive descriptions in each new story and the occasional summaries of "what happened previously."