Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Face-Lift 587

Guess the Plot

At Play on the Isle of Song

1. Lenore has a figurine carved in the likeness of a musician her father once heard. She thinks if she finds the musician and brings him back, her dying father will finally love her. Her search takes her to the Isle of Song, where she resolves to bring the musician back, even if she has to kill him first.

2. Song's Tropical Island Getaway has been called educational, relaxing, and culturally enlightening... but never fun. Will Song be able to pull off the "Woodstock of the 21st Century" and turn her resort's reputation around? Or will Jack, handsome owner of the Carnation Garden Resort on the other side of the island, foil her plans? Also, a bum with a concertina.

3. Unicorns frolic with purple ponies on the Isle of Song, where all the flowers are happy all the time, and all the faeries are princesses. Also, a dragon.

4. A theatrical production of “Oklahoma” at a Nudist Colony’s Island resort goes awry when too many of the actors want to play horseys. Also a Sea Creature turns their weekend frolic into a fight to survive.

5. Kassie longs to be a singer, but unfortunately she's mute. One night a strange bird leads her to a boat which takes her to an island where she finds her voice and sings. When she leaves, will her voice be left behind?

6. The Isle of Song is the biggest music-themed amusement park on the planet. After hours, though, it becomes a Mecca for the spirits of deceased musicians. Anna Holenk has snuck into the park hoping to catch a glimpse of Elvis only to find herself in the middle of a ghostly war between Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, Elvis, and new arrival Frank Sinatra. To survive, she'll have to either join forces with one of the leaders, or be forever relegated to a netherworld populated by soulless groupies.

Original Version

Dear Evil Editor:

Lenore's adoptive father is dying. Since she was five, he has protected her, treated her kindly, but never once shown her that he loves her as he loves his biological children. When he was Lenore's age, [Which is...?] he overheard a mysterious musician playing a song of heartache on the edge of a forest. The song has haunted him ever since. Lenore believes that if she finds this musician and brings him back to play for her father, she will win her father's love before he dies. She leaves home with a figurine carved in the musician's likeness and a resolve not to return until she has found him.

[Lenore: Excuse me, I'm looking for a musician my father overheard twelve years ago.

Stranger: What's he look like?

Lenore: Twelve years ago he looked a little like this figurine: ]

In the north, Lenore finds a distant branch of her remaining family and the school where the musician was trained, a place called the Isle of Song. She learns that the man she seeks committed adultery with the wife of another man at the music school. Lenore suspects that this man knows where the musician is and what happened to him, but he is just as intent on silencing her. In the face of prejudice against her nationality [Which is...?] and the nature of her quest, Lenore must use cunning and lies, and endanger a member of her newfound family and put her own life at risk to discover what happened to the musician. The fact that no sane man can tell her where he is, [What does that mean? Did an insane man tell her where he is?] the fact that he may be dead won't stop Lenore from bringing him back.

[Lenore: Dad, I brought you something to help you get through your last days.

Father: What is it? And make it quick, I want to see my biological children.

Lenore: It's a rotting corpse. Bring it in boys.]

My short stories have appeared in Realms of Fantasy [Yes, but have any of them appeared in magazines of reality?] and Fantasy: The Best of the Year 2007 (Wildside, 2007).

AT PLAY ON THE ISLE OF SONG is a 60,000-word Young Adult fantasy novel. The complete manuscript is available for your review.

Thank-you for considering my query.


I don't see why lives are in danger. I can guess that maybe the musician was killed by the guy whose wife he slept with, but if there's a conspiracy to protect this guy, why not say so? The more we know, the more likely that we'll feel the danger.

I don't see the point of bringing the guy back if he's dead.

This didn't feel like young adult until you said so. Partly because we don't get Lenore's age, so she could be thirty, and partly because the adultery semed more like an adult topic.

Also, there's no indication of why this is fantasy. Is there magic? Are there musical gnomes? Give us a hint at the fantastical aspect.

The title is kinda blah.


writtenwyrdd said...

The way the letter is written, I thought the discovery of the adultery and her 'long lost' family were precursors to learning she's the daughter of the musician, and her father is likely the guy who killed him. THAT I'd have liked to read; the story you show us in this letter sounds pretty dull. Now, since I'm sure you write better than that, you might want to show us in the query why your story isn't dull. What's the plot, the danger, and, as EE asks, the reason bringing a dead guy back home to dad is a good idea? (Is the dead guy a zombie? I'd love to read that, too! And if you have a zombie, that would be exciting stuff you ought to share.)

Bevie said...

I'm with Writtenwyrdd on thinking Lenore is the offspring of the adultery. I'm also guessing that the man who appears to know so much may actually be her father.

Actually, I was thinking this was for a younger audience (mid teens) - even with the adultery, providing it was not stressed too much.

You caught my interest, but you have left a lot of questions. Is the figurine important (and if the musician is her father, why is it in the house) except to act as a photograph of sorts? How sick is her step-father? If he's that near death, would Lenore really go traipsing around with a resolve not to return no matter how long her quest takes?

Her nationality is important, but you don't tell us what it is. Neither do you give any real reason why lies are required and why/how she must place a member of her newfound family in danger. By the way, are these family members from her mother (where is she?), her step-father, or her real father?

The fact that no sane man can tell her where he is

That was like a slap in the face to me. I'm not sure what I'm supposed to make of it, other than it must be important.

the fact that he may be dead won't stop Lenore from bringing him back

I'm not sure what to make of that. I guess it demonstrates resolve, but it doesn't make sense. In my mind, if the guy is dead then her quest instantly fails.

I have no problem with any of the questions. I just want to know the answers are there. In a query letter, I think you should provide them.

You have piqued my interest enough that I would like to read the story.

The title is kinda blah. If I may continue to be so bold may I suggest dropping "At Play on".

E.E. - I love the photo insert.

Anna Claire said...

I love writtenwyrdd's idea of Lenore being the daughter of the musician and her "father" the guy who killed him--very exciting :)

We just need more plot details about the nature of the quest, and maybe fewer vague sentences about how Lenore must put her life at risk to discover what happened, etc etc. I would figure that if she's on a quest, she'll be in danger and have to use her cunning, wits, etc.

none said...

Her willingness to endanger family members just to find this musician gives us some inkling of WHY Dad doesn't love her.

Just sayin'.

Anonymous said...

Hi Evil Editor (and minions),

Thanks for the feedback. The photo insert was hilarious. This was my first attempt at writing a query letter, and I hadn't shown it to anyone before so it's really helpful to know how it comes off (or doesn't).

Thanks again,


Stacia said...

I agree this could be a very interesting story, but the query needs some work. Why should we care about Lenore? And honestly, you don't need to tell us everything that happens on the isle. Just that she's off to find the musician so Daddy will love her.

Anonymous said...

I think December puts it well. Anything you put in the query your reader will assume is important.

Stacy said...

Hey, how did you find that statue of me playing double bass? I thought no one knew about that.