Monday, May 24, 2010

Face-Lift 773

Guess the Plot

Genevieve, Return to Aefre

1. Genevieve was totally psyched to finally be inducted into the ways of the mind speakers. Until she realized that her mother now had an infallible way to tell her to come home for dinner.

2. Orphaned Genevieve was taken in and raised by the nuns of Aefre Convent. She ran away at thirteen, dreaming of lipstick, iPods and boys. Now sixteen and living on the streets of Las Vegas, she has rediscovered God. But is it too late?

3. Nuclear winter and despair have besieged the planet Aefre for 20 years, but Daniel has hope now that the space rocket Genevieve has returned with the crew promising a cure for the planet. The only catch: providing a daily human sacrifice to the alien deity they brought with them.

4. In a post apocalyptic world, Aefre, the center of the remainder of human civilization, has degenerated into lawlessness. Genevieve, the last sheriff to uphold the old law wanders the wastelands, hunting for outlaws. The time has come: Genevieve, Return to Aefir.

5. Starship Captain Rick Weathers intercepts a cryptic intergalactic message. Who is Genevieve, and why would anyone return to Aefre, a godforsaken lifeless planet of constant meteor storms? The mystery deepens as Weathers begins to suspect that he is Genevieve, and that someone has tampered with his memory...among other things.

6. Destin finds a book that could make him the most powerful magikian. The book is named Genevieve (Jenny for short). Destin wants to test his new abilities at the wizard duel tournament in Aefre, but can he protect Genevieve from those who would steal her?

Original Version

Dear Evil Editor,

When Genevieve, an 800 year-old potions book, happens into the hands of a non-magikal man, Destin Darious, [Is Genevieve the book's title or the name Destin uses when he introduces the book to his friends?] the joining sets in motion a group of events that bring Destin to a place of power and thrill. Although the book, thought to be a myth, will place him in the gravest of danger. [That last sentence would be an actual sentence if you removed "although."] [Although, a better idea would be to dump the sentence and change "power and thrill" to "power . . . and grave danger."]

Destin lived a straightforward life, until [he began] experimenting with a home remedy book that brought forth the truth that magik exists. With a whole realm of practitioners and magikal users resting just beyond a thin veil of protection, keeping it hidden from everyone. [No need to say "keeping it hidden from everyone; that's what we assume the veil does.] [Is the distinction between "practitioners" and "magical users" so important that both must be mentioned?] [If that was supposed to be a sentence, it lacked a verb. If it was supposed to be a fragment, it's too long for that. By the time we get to the comma, we assume there's an independent clause coming. You could change the period after the previous sentence to a dash.] [How does this book bring forth the truth that there's a whole realm of hidden practitioners of magik? Does it have an introduction that reads: Congratulations! By purchasing this book, you have joined a whole realm of hidden practitioners of magik?] His book wields unknown power granting abilities of magik; abilities that any practitioner, powerful or frail, could only dream of controlling. [I would condense this paragraph to: Destin is living a straightforward life until he begins experimenting with a home remedy book he found on a dusty shelf in Bookstore of the Occult. The book grants him magikal powers beyond those of even the most powerful practitioners.]

After an attempt on Destin’s life occurs [No need to say "occurs"; it's assumed.] he is escorted by Frank Dune, [Is that an homage to Frank Herbert, author of Dune? Whether it is or not, I'd change it.] a Nerian Inquisitor (magikal cop), to the magikal practicing realm of Aefre, [If you must spell "magic" with a "k", try not to use the word a hundred times.] where he encounters all manners of the unreal. ["All manners of the unreal" tells us nothing. What does he encounter?] His experiences are marred by a growing, unknown threat and random attacks; [Vague. And I doubt the attacks are random.] with one practitioner seeking to steal and possess Genevieve. [No need to say "and possess." That's assumed from "steal."] With a budding romance, new friendships, and an upcoming wizard duel tournament close at hand, Destin must seek to understand his new powers and learn about his surroundings without giving away the one secret that could destroy the balance between the magikal and non-magikal realms.

“Genevieve, Return to Aefre” is an 88,000 word, contemporary fantasy, set between the realms of non-magik/true reality and the unbelievable world of Aefre. [Don't advertise your inability to make a world you've created believable.] [It was my impression the story was set in Aefre and in our world, not between these two places.] This is the first installment of a planned trilogy.

I have had various novel excerpts, and poems rated in the top 10% of their individual creative writing categories on [This is not worth mentioning.] This is my first novel.

Thank you for your time and consideration.


The name Destin and spelling magic with a "k" might appeal to a younger audience--and might annoy the audience you're after.

Your description of Aefre (unknown threats, random attacks) doesn't lead one to expect Destin has time for a budding romance and new friendships.

What is Destin's goal? Does he want to get back to reality? Is he planning to live in Aefre? What would happen if the balance between the magikal and non-magikal realms were destroyed? Why is Destin the only one who knows the secret that could destroy this balance? We need to know what's at stake.


Dave Fragments said...

His experiences are marred by a growing, unknown threat and random attacks;
Reminded me of Michael Palin's character in A FISH CALLED WANDA as he sets about trying to kill an eye witness and ends up killing three Yorkshire terriers, one by one.

Kimmer Petersen said...

Usually names don't bother me, but every time I saw "Destin" I read it as "Desitin" - the diaper rash cream.

Stephen Prosapio said...

Some issues with this one. Author, I suggest you clean up what EE suggests and consider reposting at Phoenix's blog for a second checkup.

Unrepentant Escapist said...

Lol, I wish it had been about the gender-swapped captain.

Rebecca Christiansen said...

The book is called Genevieve? This is utterly ridiculous to me. The only way I could see this working is if the book talks and this novel is for children.

Steve Wright said...

If anyone wondered where I was, I've been out digging a new, deeper, circle of Hell especially for people who spell "magic" with a "k" and "vampire" with a "y"...

Anyway. Enough of my prejudices. I also thought the book might be sentient or something; could be worth clearing that point up.

The outline you've got here is short on specifics, and it seems bit like a recitation of (unspecified) events, with not much to indicate how those events flow together. I'd suggest, too, toning the purple prose down to a light mauve - all these unknown threats and unbelievable worlds might look good on the back of the book's jacket, but are a little out of place in a letter to an agent. I'd replace them with some specifics about the plot if I were you.

(Word verification: inglyche. I think I may have to dig out an annexe for that circle of Hell.... )

_*rachel*_ said...

You need to be more specific, like this:

When Destin Darious was going through his grandfather's attic, he came across a real treasure: Genevieve, a garrulous, happy-go-lucky book of magic spells. With her, Destin can do magik as never before. But to every wonderful happenstance, there is a downside. One day, while cheerily turning dandelions to lollipops with a wave of his hand, he's arrested by the Magik Police, who read him the Wizard's Code, stuff him in a smelly carriage, and haul him off to Aefre, the land of all things supernatural.

Destin, once Genevieve bails him out, finds he's never loved another place more than Aefre and another "woman" more than Genevieve. Then somebody slips a lizard's tongue into his jar of newt lips, and his "wedding ring" makes the sky hail cow chips. Now everybody hates him, and even his faithful Genevieve won't speak to him. He promises her he'll prove himself by winning the upcoming Wizard Tournament--but he won't win unless he finds out who's trying to kill him and steal Genevieve.
So, be more specific.

It also wouldn't hurt to watch out for things like naming alliteration, funny spellings, and sentence structure.

So true, Steve, though I'd claim an exception for "faery" because of "fae."

Dave Fragments said...

I did come back like a bad penny...
Like Steve, I did like the idea that the book was able to talk to what's his name Destin (how about making it "Destry" and Genevieve rides again).

Genevieve is the name of my favorite heroine in the Umbrellas of Cherbourg. But enough of picking on names.

A fight between wizards is hardly something unique. A young wizard learning how to use magic is not new either. Think of the movie Dragonslayer. The talking book is different and Destin's interaction with the book is different. That's where your query should point.

Dear Agent, I've got a crackerjack story of a fledgling wizard who discovers a new source of magical power -- a once all-powerful white witch cursed and transformed into book form. Together, they must defeat (the bad guy) and prevent magic from spreading willy-nilly and helter-skelter into the world.

I don't know enough about your plot to use the right words but that gets my thoughts across. And the words need to snap and sparkle. Mine don't.

One more thing, my initial comment basically said that unless this is a screamingly funny farce, you don't want people thinking of A Fish Called Wanda. In other words, Priscilla, Queen of the Desert cannot invoke thoughts of The Crying Game. Gone With The wind does not remind us of Hitchhikers Guide.

Landra said...

Author here.
Thank you for all of the constructive criticism, and I appreciate the ritual sacrifice. Now to fix this query and those "k's" in the special circle of hell.

Joe G said...

Nobody expects... the Nerian Inquisitor!!!!

Writer, there's some really wacky phrasing in this query which leads me to think that the book would drive me up the wall. You should read more, and more diversely. Then come back and try this writing thing again. Like query, I 'spects like novel.

M. G. E. said...

Shades of Harry Potter, unfortunately. I hope you know a potion's book features prominently in the 6th HP book, and that potions was Harry's best subject >_> Yes I read them <_<;;;

Is there a secret magiKal shopping district in your story known as Rectagon Alley? I hope not :P

Why "magik?" Implying true magic usually means using the variation with a 'C' in it, "magick."

The name: Destin. Destiny. Limits you to YA genres--I agree with EE.

Book named "Genevieve?" Please tell me the romance he's involved in later isn't with the book >_>

My last quibble: You say the book grants fantastic powers even a master would love to have. That's not how books work.

There's a reason most wizard depictions show them as old and gray with three foot long beards, it's supposed to take a long time to learn! And it should be hard work learning it as well.

Bernita said...

A small thing, but "magic" is usually spelled with a "k" among pagans and assorted wiccans etc. to differentiate the practise from stage magic.
It is, perhaps--though I haven't checked--an older,and therefore considered a more "authentic" spelling.

Landra said...

Unfortunately my query misrepresented my book. I knew that this was the case from the moment the query was torn to shreds.
Bernita- you are correct and that is why I went with the despised "k". EE was right though, I used the word magic too much in the query.
Honestly, I have read Harry Potter. The love interest is not the book and the book does not talk. I have spent over a year editing and refining the book itself. The query is the part that I did not edit prior to sending. The feedback you all have provided has helped me find a new direction for the query letter.

Andy said...

"[Don't advertise your inability to make a world you've created believable.]"

That had me in stitches.