Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Face-Lift 755

Guess the Plot

The Burning Times

1. Prince Simmon had a comfortable life until his 13th birthday when King Varin's manservant took him to the feral district to become a man. Since that night, Simmon has suffered sporadic inflammation and irritation. Can the kingdom's alchemists find a cure, or must Simmon forever endure . . . The Burning Times?

2. Eli’s sinister laugh could hardly be heard over the crackling flames that licked the piles of LA Times newspapers. It was a promise of what was to come if reporter Veronica Alexander didn’t give Eli's new nightclub a rave review. A thriller too hot to ignore!

3. Pinch needs to do something drastic to 'save' his failing family business. He fires most of his employees, then takes out a big fire insurance policy on the building. Hilarity ensues when the pyromaniac he hires turns out to be the reincarnation of his grandfather.

4. Chester Arbuckle likes it hot: jalapenos, piquins, Scotch Bonnets, the stronger the better. When a plant geneticist sends him some genetically altered habaneros that clock in at 18 million Scovils, Chet's over the moon. But what goes in must come out; can Chet survive . . . The Burning Times?

5. Mort Rimby, ace reporter, agrees to run a newspaper for Satan. But all Hell breaks loose when Mort discovers that Satan's wife Marge is the real power behind the pitchfork -- and Marge has the hots for Mort.

6. It's Romeo and Juliet but with bigger stakes, and in outer space. Two young lovers burn to be together (which isn't easy in space where there's no oxygen) but their parents are enemies. At stake: humanity itself.

Original Version

Dear Mr. EvilEditor

The following is a query for my 102,368 word novel entitled: The Burning Times.

It's our world, with one difference: it doesn't exist.

In a time when humanity has taken to space to survive, two factions form creating a new governmental system that is about to bring humanity to a final halt. Jerik, a man with an outlawed mystic ability called Dream Dancing, holds the fate of Lord Cyrus in his hands as he murders Lord Paxton. [Not clear whether it's Jerik or Cyrus who murders Lord Paxton.] [Also, there's no connection between those two sentences. I was expecting you to explain why humanity was about to end.] This causes a chain of events that will force man to find out the truth about the planet below. [Is the planet below the same one humanity left when they took to space to survive? If so, why don't they already know the truth about it?] [More importantly, why don't you tell us the truth about it instead of just vaguely stating that there is a truth?]

While the leaders of the East and West Faction [Factions] scheme, [Do east and west exist in space?] their children, Stavon [Montague] and Sheria [Capulet] fall in love. They hope to marry and put the tensions of the past behind them. Jerik has other plans for his pawns. [This makes it sound like Stavon and Sheria are his pawns; are they? In what way?] By causing the death of her mother with his powers, the Dream Dancer is able to get Sheria’s father, Lord Paxton, put to death for the murder. [Lord Paxton was already murdered, in the previous paragraph. Once again Evil Editor discovers a major flaw in the plot, saving another writer from abject humiliation.] Sheria is then banished to the ground below, this is thought to be a fate worse than death. [Or so Sheria claims. "Drown me! Roast me! Hang me! Do whatever you please," said Brer Rabbit. "Only please, Brer Fox, please don't banish me to the ground below.] [Your last sentence was two sentences.] While Stavon secretly enacts a plan to save his lovers [lover's] life, he finds out more about his father, Lord Cyrus, than he ever thought possible. [If you're going to bring this up at all, tell us the most important thing he finds out, not just that he finds out stuff.]

A combination of slavery, political intrigue and murder are woven together in this romantic story about a couple who just want to be together. After all, as Lord Paxton stated in his journals, Science is a tool, use [used] by the faithful in order to fulfill a goal for the people… [I see now why Lord Paxton was murdered twice. He was such a boring guy that even when he was dead no one could tell the difference.] [I don't know what that journal statement has to do with anything, or even what it means. Dump it.]

I have never been published and this is the first query I have sent out. Thank you for your time.


It's our world, with one difference: it doesn't exist. I assumed that when I finished I would have some idea what that means. I don't.

Where does this take place? On a spaceship? On the moon?

There's all this early talk about the end of humanity, but no indication of what's going to cause it.

It's boring because it's vague and unclear. Start over. Focus on the kids. Don't talk about factions and government; no one cares about that crap. I don't much care about the Lords, either. The lovers and Jerik are your story. Does Jerik want to end humanity? Does getting Sheria sent to the planet below further that cause? What's Stavon's plan to save Sheria, and will it also save humanity? Be specific.


150 said...

I have three thoughts right away. 1: I find it hard to believe that after we achieve space flight, we revert to feudalism. 2: By giving the length to the word, it sounds like you consider every one of them precious and every edit will be like pulling teeth. Round to the nearest thousand. 3: Is the truth about the planet below them that it is Earth All Along?

Kayeleen Hamblin said...

I don't know who the story is about. Is it the star-crossed lovers? Is it the Dream Dancer? How do all the people you named play into things?

Also, the beginning where it says "In a time" made me think of every movie trailer ever made. And maybe that's the problem here. If you have a movie trailer, you can jump around and tease people. In a query, you need one concise thread with problems/consequences.

Good luck with a rewrite.

Anonymous said...

And I'd change the title, because at least 50% of the people walking by it in a bookstore will think it's a book about the witchcraft trials of the Middle Ages.

Matt said...

I assumed it would be about a newspaper in hell.

Joe G said...

The title made me giggle. Sorry.

I understood the plot from the query but the plot sounds a little cliche. You haven't managed to convey what it is that makes your story so special. Also, I'm not really sure who the hero is, or what the tone of the book is. I'm assuming you're writing Wall-E as if it were Dune.

I'd take EE's suggestion to focus on the lovers, and what happens to them on the abandoned Earth. That's your story. We care less about the vast political forces surrounding Paul Atreides' rise to lord of all things in the universe than about the journey of how he got there (by taming giant sand worms!) I can't even recall that book's villain.

150, having had the vastness of space finally opened up to them for exploration, humans invariably either revert to feudalism or become floating babies taken care of by computers. It's our tragic flaw as a species.

batgirl said...

Yeah, the most hopeful thing about the steampunk subgenre is that we only sink back to figurehead monarchy with a representational parliament. It's reverting to bustles and corsets that worries me.

batgirl said...

Oh yes, and the lead sentence makes no sense on two grounds:
1) it could cover any and all fictional worlds, since by definition a fictional world doesn't exist.
2) the world described isn't like ours particularly.

Beware of sentences that sound portentous and have no content.

E.D. Walker said...

For a brief moment I thought the protagonist's name was "Jerk."

Joann H. Buchanan said...

I promise there are a lot of twists and turns in it. I will write a better query letter, this is the first one I've written and as you can see I have no idea what to look for. The tips have been helpful and I thank you...The title remains...sorry

Matthew that was too funny what a great idea for a short story... just imagine the

Batgirl...thanks for the tip I never looked at it that was looking for a hook and didn't quite real it
Kayeleen Yes, evil editor is right ...go back to the drawing board...he he he

If you have any other tips let me know I can always improve...smiles...

Joe G said...

It's your title... :P

Evil Editor said...

Although if the book sells, you will have no say in the title it ultimately has, so you may as well start weaning yourself off of it now.

_*rachel*_ said...

Scrap it and start from scratch.

Why is that first line in bold? This is a novel; you don't need a logline.

Actually, R&J is coming up a lot lately. I just recorded my version of the balcony scene in Arabic for homework.

Joann H. Buchanan said...

Dear EE...I didn't know that about the title...ultimately I dont care if they change it...I just want to be a good writer who gets again for the advice...I hope that you like the rewrite better...thanks for all the help and comments...