Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Face-Lift 796

Guess the Plot

The Mapmaker of Merivale

1. Jealous over his cousin Giochino's success with the 'Barber of Seville', Lorenzo Rossini tries to create a competing opera. Threatened with murder after a disastrous opening night, he wonders why he listened to that drunk cat singing outside his window.

2. He gets up around seven, has a piece of toast and then gets into the office by nine, where he drafts in the morning and inks after lunch. Oh, and there's a one-eyed unicorn pirate, but that's not really as interesting.

3. Glenda is a human girl living in the final days of planet Earth as the continents crumble one by one into the black seas. Be-mot is planet Merivale's finest mapmaker, born with the ability to draw landforms which become reality. A wish on a shooting star opens the portal between their worlds. Only Glenda can rescue Be-mot from slavery. Only Be-Mot can rescue the Earth from oblivion.

4. Being a teenager is rough enough, but being a teenager when the Spanish Inquisition is hunting you down is the pits. Mathias boards a ship to make his escape, and lands on the continent Merivale, where he becomes a mapmaker. Can Mathias justify the people's faith in him by completing an accurate map?

5. Every sixth-grader at Merivale Elementary has to make a map to scale, and Scott thinks, why not map the school? But his tape measure reveals an unexplained space between two classrooms. Curiosity leads him to a coven of math teachers and a plot too horrible to imagine.

6. Antonio makes the most beautiful maps in existence. Problem is, he never leaves Merivale, so his maps are highly inaccurate. People who do leave Merivale with one of Antonio's maps seldom return. Can the mayor convince him to become a fantasy artist before the population dwindles to one?

Original Version

Dear Agent-I’ve-researched-extensively,

During the early 16th century in Spain, when maps still showed sea monsters swimming in the seven seas and suggested ships would fall off the edge of a flat world, Mathias Pellanore is eighteen and wants three things: to learn how to swim [(necessary if he falls off his boat)], a sense of direction [(necessary to navigate his boat)] and [...] his own boat (necessary for impressing senoritas). [The Spanish still thought ships could fall off the edge of the world in the 16th century, even though Columbus didn't in the 15th century?]

When the Spanish Inquisition persecutes his magical family, [The Pellanores were the Blackstones of the 16th century.] Mathias unknowingly sets off a chain of events that kick-starts his own adventure—only it looks nothing like he’s ever dreamed. For one thing, he’s running for his life and as for the other—his family didn’t make it out of Spain alive and it was entirely his fault. Now he hears the rescue ship he’s on is taking him to Merivale, [Anagram: Evil Realm.] a continent he’s never heard of or seen on a map.

To make matters more confusing, Mathias learns he does have family in Merivale. Only, he can’t meet them since they’ve been dead for 103 years. [Are they vampires? Or are they zombies? It's crucial that we know which.] Mathias’ bright idea is to offer his services as a mapmaker (despite never knowing what direction North is) to learn more about Merivale and his hidden ancestry, all while coping with the guilt and grief over the loss of his family. [Wouldn't it be easier to be a librarian or a historian? Is he mapping the whole continent?]

As the people of Merivale await his return, Mathias wonders if he’ll be worthy enough to finish the quest he signed up for. [Doesn't matter if he finishes. Magellan attacked a tribe in the Philippines because their chief refused to pay him tribute, and got killed. What an idiot. And yet we still remember him as the first to make it around the world, while forgetting about the few members of his crew who actually did make it.] [It suddenly occurs to me that Neil Armstrong may not have been the first man to set foot on the moon. Maybe he died on the way up and they threw his corpse out the airlock but he still gets all the credit. Of course if he was murdered by Buzz Aldrin, who actually did the first moon walk, I'm okay with it, but if he just died of fright or something . . . ] [Interestingly, more people watched Buzz Aldrin on Dancing with the Stars than watched his moon walk.]

THE MAPMAKER OF MERIVALE is a 76,000 Young Adult Fantasy. Please let me know if you would be interested in reading part or all of the manuscript.

I graduated from the University of Central Florida with degrees in Creative Writing and History. [Specializing in the history of lost continents.] Since then, I’ve worked as a baby/house/dog sitter, [Your book isn't quite right for my list, but if you're available, I might be able to use you next time I go on vacation.] a high school soccer coach and as an editorial assistant at a regional Florida magazine where I’ve published articles.

Thank you for your consideration.



Your backstory about running from the Inquisition sounds more exciting than your main plot line, which is making a map. He wonders if he'll be worthy enough to finish his quest is your boffo grabber? His quest is to make a map. You need to convince us mapping Merivale is dangerous and thrilling.

You might consider dropping the first paragraph and the credits, leaving you with plenty of room to tell us about Mathias's adventure. I assume lots of exciting stuff happens as he makes his map. I assume he doesn't just travel around measuring rivers and asking villagers about his ancestors. If that's the whole plot, I suggest you have him sail off the edge of the world.


Anonymous said...

Mathias's "quest"? I don't see that he has a quest; he has some rather ordinary goals. One is a career goal, the other is a modest personal goal (to find out more about his family). A little old-fashioned persistence is more important than "worthiness." And he didn't "sign up for" this quest either; he's taken to a place in accordance with the will of others.

Once again in these fantasy stories, I wonder what the heck magic is for? Why didn't the Pellanores use vanishing cream when the soldiers came for them? Why can't Mathias make a map and see into the past with a couple of chants?

Joanna Hoyt said...

I like it. Adventure, guilt, a hidden continent...sounds pretty good I like the protagonist's name too. I also found the quest bit confusing; is the quest to figure out why Merivale doesn't show up on maps, to map it, to cope with his guilt...? And the list of things Matthias wants could use some work in the parallel construction department.

Wouldn't it be nice if you changed the continent's name to Merivalle so that it would really be an anagram of Evil Realm?

Stephen Prosapio said...

Whoever wrote GTP #5, cool concept! Hope you write it.

At least a query that doesn't make my brain hurt. I was getting worried I had a tumor (it's not a tue-mah). A bit confusing with the "World is flat in the 16th century" comments... as a history major you've got to know Spain had settlements in the Americas in 1502 and by 1513 Cortes had explored much of Mexico. And the "flat world" concept was dying long before Columbus.

That aside, I agree with EE, the hook here was beeing a teen during the Spanish Inquisition. The other stuff needs to be reworked to sound more interesting. Sounds like you've got a good story here. Don't be afraid to hook with details.

DELETE "to make matters more confusing" the last thing an agent wants to hear (other than they'll never be able to sell your work) is that they're about to read something that will confuse them. Confused characters generally lead to confused novels (see Dan Brown).

Good luck with this!

Anonymous said...

I'm going to nitpick here: Pellanore isn't a Spanish name. I'm not sure Mathias is either. Is there a reason for this? He's not really Spanish?

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the input Mr. Evil. I'm sure I'll have a heck of a time revising!

@ Arhooley: Yikes, that is my mistake. "Magical" denotes spells and enchantments when Mathias can't actually do any of that. He isn't a wizard or a fairy or an elf. He is human with other abilities. Guess I need to specify that in the query. Thanks for your thoughts. :)

@ Joanna: And I did an even poorer job of describing what Mathias has to do when he gets to Merivale. I need to revise.

Merivale is the name of a street where I live. I couldn't think of a better name for the continent.

vkw said...

When the Spanish Inquisition persecutes his magical family, Mathias unknowingly sets off a chain of events that kick-starts his own adventure—only it looks nothing like he’s ever dreamed. For one thing, he’s running for his life and as for the other—his family didn’t make it out of Spain alive and it was entirely his fault. Now he hears the rescue ship he’s on is taking him to Merivale,a continent he’s never heard of or seen on a map.

Could be written - When the inquisition persecutes Mathias' magical family, they are forced to flee. Unfortunately, Mathias (does what) and gets his family killed. Ridden with guilt, Mathias boards a rescue ship believing he is being rescued by XXXXX who are taking him to the New World near New York. But instead teh ship takes him to Evil Realm, a place he has never heard of before. He further learns his great-great grandfather was the king but died a horrible, unimageable death. (hanging, assassination, magic mushrooms, whatever)

Intrigue by this lost continent's history, landscape, culture and the fate of his ancestors, he becomes the Evil Realms' mapmaker. Where he runs into dinosaurs, man eating plants and vampires.

Already, struggling with guilt over the death of his family now the hero has to face the fact that he's not a mapmaker nor a dinsoaur slayer.

Hmmm, well the way its written, it doesn't spark much of my interest. Mostly because this seems to be a boring story.

Mathias at 18 has boring ambitions, especially for a magic user. Usually people develop boring ambitions after discovering they aren't going to be the next Brad Pitt, Prince William aint' going to marry them and their lowly SAT score ain't getting them anywhere but into the community college up the street.
He accidentally gets his family killed and has to flee. I'm assuming as a stowaway, but you didn't say so he could have bought a ticket. it would be nice to learn about these rescuers, however, if they are important.
He discovers he HAD family in Evil Realm. He decides to take on a boring project, he is not trained or has the ability to do in order to take on the boring quest of finding out about dead relatives.
Then he worries he's not qualified.

EE is right the most exciting part of this plot is how he gets his family killed and manages to escape. Therefore learning what we all eventually learn, after 18 it's all downhill as far as drama and excitement is concerned.

150 said...

*peruses a map until she finds the continent of BE SPECIFIC*


persecutes-->arrests? hangs?

magical-->psychic? Druid?

a chain of events-->including what?
his own adventure-->which is what?

didn’t make it out of Spain alive-->were murdered? imprisoned? by who?

it was entirely his fault-->what did he do?

the rescue ship-->whose?

family in Merivale-->aunts? cousins? grandparents?

dead for 103 years-->zombies? vampires? skeletons?

quest he signed up for-->his map? his explorations? something else?

Stephen Prosapio said...

That's what I'm talkin' about! 150 is in da house, yo!!!

_*rachel*_ said...

The first half sounds like historical fiction, and the second like fantasy. My guess is that the second part takes up the majority of the book, so I'd focus on that.

Which may mean skipping the first paragraph, which was kind of cute. Oh, well. The point being: he's a bad mapmaker on the run from the Inquisition (which killed his family) and he sails into a continent that doesn't exist. Then tell us about his new relatives and quest.

I like VKW's first-paragraph revision. But I don't agree on everything after the Inquisition sounding boring.

Mixed up as this query is, it's got a nice voice and a unique story. If it were the flap copy, I'd start reading.

Anonymous said...

Thank you, everyone. I really do appreciate the help.

Mathias Pellanore is Spanish because he was born in Spain, but his name isn't, nor are his ancestors. His family ended up in Spain by sheer luck and poor planning.

As for his relatives being dead 103 years—yikes. I meant that they had died 103 years prior to his arrival. Not that they were still living as vampires, zombies or what have you.

I'll be working on a revision pronto.

Thanks again!

Anonymous said...

As for his relatives being dead 103 years—yikes. I meant that they had died 103 years prior to his arrival.

Now, I admit I may be having a bad brain confusional day, but isn't that the same thing? Like they are dead for 103 years no matter where he arrived, right? Straighten me out here. Please - thank you, Bibi