Guess the Plot
Time and Tide
1. A Tsunami threatens to destroy a Pacific island - and more importantly, its last surviving Yellow Bellied Toad. Can dedicated naturalist Stephanie Peters keep the toad safe from harm in a bunker - or will both of them drown before starvation forces her to commit genocide?
2. A young man has visions of the future. Apparently caused by the tides. Anyway, hoping to profit from his gift, he sets up shop as an oracle. When, in a vision, he sees his fiancee murdered, he rushes home to prevent it. But will he find that seeing the future and changing it are two different things?
3. Shakespeare said that time and tide wait for no man, but nuclear physicist Phyllicia Higgs-Boson has spent her career trying to prove The Bard wrong. With "Atlas," the giant, pulse-pounding, heart-throbbing contraption strapped onto her back, can she stop time and reverse the tide?
4. Though the sign on the wall says "Washing Cycle 25 Minutes" it's really more like 40 minutes. It gives Miranda time to reflect on her upbringing in The Bronx, her abusive marriage, the suicide of her only son in El Salvador and the fact that those little packets of detergent cost more, pound for pound, than caviar.
5. When Professor Mendeldorf uses his time machine to go forward 50 years, he fails to account for global warming. What was Richmond, Virginia when he began, is now the Atlantic Ocean. And the time machine doesn't float. And the tide is in.
6. When Romeo Carp books a cruise, he's hoping to escape the rat race. But after three weeks without a port of call, he begins to suspect that time is passing a little too slowly. Is there any way off of a ship to nowhere?
Today, in honor of Face-Lift 500, I'm instituting a new feature. I call it Evil Eyes. How it works is this: as the query progresses, instead of inserting blue comments which invariably interrupt the flow, I'll periodically show the degree to which my eyes have glazed over. Here are some of the more common symbols, and the thought processes that usually accompany them:
Just once I'd like to pick up a halfway decent query. Maybe this'll be the one. I don't even care if the book sucks. Just a halfway decent query would be refreshing.
Uh oh, he's losing me already. Should I hang in there in case it becomes comprehensible? Nah. What are the odds of that?
I should have been an agent. One whose website says he doesn't accept new clients.
Christie Brinkley. I could make her happy.
Zombies? Did you say zombies?!!!
Dear Evil Agent,
The Touched carry the blood of gods. With that blood comes power--at the price of their humanity. The Circle of Grimhild, an order of the Touched, once tried to conquer a continent, leading to the rise of the Inquisitors. When the Inquisitors discover a Touched bloodline in Nagryth, the Church drives the Elysian Empire to invade it in an attempt to quash the last bloodlines. But not even the Inquisitors suspect that some of the Touched have reformed the Circle.
Rudra, a burgeoning oracle, finds the pull of the tides gives him prescient visions. Despite his powers, he fails to protect Nagryth from the Empire. To save his people from slavery, he agrees to join the very army that conquered them. At least until a vision reveals an Inquisitor killing his betrothed. Though he deserts the army and rushes home, everything plays out as he foresaw it. His brother, Bala, saves him from suicidal revenge, but Rudra instead falls into fatalistic depression.
Rather than endanger his people by remaining among them, he flees into the heart of the Elysian Empire. Saving the life of a young noblewoman draws him into the service of her brother Agloval and gives renewed purpose to his life. But Gaheris, a rival noble manipulated by the Circle, attempts to seize power from Agloval. Rudra foresees the murder of Gaheris’s mother and fears her death with spark a war.
But his attempt to save her thrusts her into the arms of her killer and creates a self-fulfilling prophecy. As every dark future he has seen comes to fruition, he descends back into fatalism. Rudra loses his brother and his best friends, leading him to launch a berserk campaign against Gaheris and the Circle. But when he discovers the mother he thought dead among the Circle, he realizes the Touched bloodline survives in him. The power it offers might grant him his only chance to destroy the Circle, but the price could be his soul.
I am seeking representation for my fantasy novel Time and Tide, complete at 122,000 words, the first book in a series. I have a forthcoming short story in this setting accepted by The Harrow. I would like to send you a complete copy of the manuscript. Thank you for your time. I look forward to hearing from you.
Rudra agrees to join the empire's army to save his people from slavery? What kind of army makes a deal like that? We were planning to enslave your entire country now that we've conquered you, but if you alone join our army we'll call off the whole thing? Wouldn't they just say, "We're enslaving your entire country, including you. Welcome to the army, Private Rudra."?
The first four sentences introduce The Touched, The Circle of Grimhild, the Inquisitors, Nagryth, the Church, and the Elysian Empire. I can't tell which of them, if any, are the good guys. We know the Circle tried to conquer a continent, but not if they succeeded, and not if we wanted them to succeed or fail. We know this gave rise to the Inquisitors, but we don't know if they rose from the continent, the Circle, the rest of the Touched, or none of them. The good news is, we don't care about anything in the first paragraph, so instead of fixing it you can scrap it.
When you're having prescient visions, how do you determine that they're caused by the tides? Wouldn't you think that if the tides caused visions, everyone would be having them?
You're hoping we'll care about Rudra, so start with him. Though he foresaw his country's defeat in battle, the oracle Rudra was unable to prevent it. To save his people from slavery he agrees to use his powers to aid the enemy--until he sees, in a vision, his betrothed being murdered (by the enemy?). He rushes home, but is too late.
Wracked with guilt and depression, Rudra's life no longer has purpose. Then he meets Agloval, a nobleman who is being threatened by an evil organization known as the Circle. Can Rudra help defeat the Circle? Or will the Circle be unbroken?
You can add to that, but stick with Rudra, and don't list everything he does. What's his goal, what's standing in his way, and how does he plan to overcome his biggest obstacle?