Friday, September 10, 2010

Face-Lift 819

Guess the Plot

The Nine Lies of Calliope Druthers

1. Calliope is known for lying, and for screwing up everything she touches, so even though she tried to blow up Flynn's spaceship the last time he saw her, and tried to kill his brother and dog, and there are a few hundred assassins trying to kill her, when she tells him he's the father of her child, he wonders, should he trust her just this once?

2. Cally claimed to be a witch to avoid dating Bob. When he demanded proof, she started lying more to avoid him and the detective he hired and the FBI guys who became interested. Now she's got three days to lie her way out of being burned at the stake.

3. First, her name really is Calliope Druthers. Second, she is a blonde. Third, she's a virgin. Fourth, those are real. Fifth...

4. A magic scroll promising to make your next nine lies come true has to be cool, right? But after making seemingly innocuous statements like “the cafeteria serves shit” or “I never sleep” or even “All the boys at school are in love with me” Calliope is in deep doo-doo.

5. Calliope Druthers is a princess who has a bad habit of telling the most outrageous lies. A put-out fairy warns Calliope that she can tell no more than eight lies before her sixteenth birthday next week. If she fails, all her previous lies will come true--at the same time.

6.Calliope is the daughter of the King of the cats. As such she was to have 9 lives, but due to a typo at the Office of Magic Abilities she has 9 lies instead. Given the job of ambassador to Dogland, can she broker peace in only 9 lies?

Original Version

Dear Evil Editor,

Flynn Monroe never expected Calliope Druthers to walk back into his life. When she does, unsurprisingly in a hail of bullets and shattered glass, the only thing keeping her from a chest full of lead is the wide eyed four year old girl he’s told [she claims] is his daughter. The Guild – the clandestine government society that controls the galaxy – [I have it on good authority (Carl Sagan) that there are 100 billion stars in our galaxy. Other estimates I found while Googling were 200 billion and 400 billion. I don't know (or care) what the method of counting stars in a galaxy is, but when two estimates differ by 300 billion, somebody screwed up. I mean, if you and I are asked to determine the number of stars in the galaxy and I come back a month later with an estimate of 100 billion, I can see you coming up with an extra ten or fifteen. Maybe you counted the ones in Virgo twice. Or I missed a few that were hiding behind a space anomaly. But when your estimate is 300,000,000,000 more than mine, I have to assume you were multiplying when you were supposed to be subtracting. It's analogous to someone asking us the population of Earth, and I say it's almost seven billion, and then you say it's 32. Anyway, my point is, even if we go with the lowest estimate, it's hard to believe a clandestine government society could be in control of 100,000,000,000 star systems. Not even the Borg were able to control the galaxy. Hell, the Borg couldn't even defeat humans, which is analogous to humans being unable to defeat cockroaches.] has put a bounty on Calliope’s head [Why? What did she do to the Guild? By the way, once you've achieved dominion over an entire galaxy, it's time to come up with a more intimidating name than the Guild. It's analogous to when Brad's Drink changed its name to Pepsi.] that no assassin can pass up. Now she wants Flynn to once again clean up her mess. Calliope may hope to patch things up between them as Flynn ferrets them away to safety [I'm familiar with ferreting out things, like rabbits or the truth. Maybe he ferries them away?] while trying to maintain his freight schedule, but Flynn hasn’t forgotten how they parted ways five years ago. The last time he trusted Calliope she tried to blow up his ship, with him, his brother, and his dog still on board. No one messes with his dog.

THE NINE LIES OF CALLIOPE DRUTHERS is a Space Western complete at 88,000-words. This is my first novel.

Thank you for your time and consideration.


I don't get a sense of story when you end the query with something that happened five years before your plot begins. Try rearranging the details:

The last time Flynn Monroe trusted Calliope Druthers, she tried to blow up his ship with him, his brother, and his dog on board. So when she walks back into his life, all that saves her from from a chest full of lead is the wide-eyed four-year-old girl she claims is Flynn's daughter.

Calliope wants Flynn to clean up yet another of her messes, but this one's no ordinary mess: every assassin in the galaxy is on her tail. Seems the notorious Galactic Syndicate has put a bounty on Leia's Calliope's butt, and only Han Flynn has a ship fast enough to save her. Not that he cares about her, but the kid is kinda cute . . .

That's your setup. Now you need one more paragraph in which you tell us how they plan to get out of this mess, and what horrible event/character threatens to prevent the plan from working.

It's generally a good idea if you give us a reason to care about your main character. The impression here is that Calliope gets in trouble and counts on others to bail her out. Is she wrongly accused? Is she a rebel fighting against the tyrannical Guild? Is she a criminal with redeeming qualities? Why should we root for her?


John said...

I was confused by the "hail of bullets and shattered glass." Is it aimed at Calliope by Flynn? At Flynn by Calliope? At one or both of them by a third party? I assume the potential chest full of lead was from Flynn; does that mean Calliope was using his child (and hers?) as a human shield?

Only five plots - EE, did you leave out the real one?

Evil Editor said...

Oops. Fix in progress.

Dave Fragments said...

This sounds to me that it is backstory to the real story. I'm confused by the two characters. The title made me think the novel was about Calliope Druthers but the opening name is Flynn Monroe and the story seems to be about his discovering a daughter he didn't know he had. Plus, I don't know if this is about galactic intrigue or a domestic father, daughter, estranged wife story.

BTW, I'm not fond of the names Flynn Monroe and Calliope Druthers. They sound to me to be comedy names and not serious drama names.

Stephen Prosapio said...

Has potential. Would consider reading the EE version. Good luck!

A. B. Keuser said...

Thanks for shredding as asked. I realize that I have a lot of work to do! I've never liked the title, but I didn’t realize that it would end up causing confusion, and Calliope is the antagonist in the novel while Flynn is the protagonist. First thing to go is that blasted title! And I guess I’ll end up doing a complete reworking of the query. Thanks again.

And Dave F. I'm sorry you don't like my names, but I don’t think that Space Western and "Serious Drama" are synonymous.

Dave Fragments said...

I didn't mean that I absolutely positively didn't like the names. I just wasn't attracted to them. This past week we had two Isabella variations and ever since Twilight and possibly a few years before, female protagonists have been named Isabella variations. I keep meeting little girls named Isabella too and they don't have Italian heritages either. It's been the new Tiffany and Britney for a while.

Flynn reminded me of Noah Wiley's character of The Librarian. Calliope is something I learned to play after organ and piano. And, Calliope Druthers reminds me of James Bond characters like Pussy Galore and Kissy Suzuki. All serviceable names but kinda 50's.

I don't know enough of the story to express dislike. I know just enough to say "not fond"... But I would get over that if I read the entire novel.

A. B. Keuser said...

I’m going for a 40’s serial, or rather, a serial-nouveau type of undercurrent with the whole thing. So the fact that the names evoke that sort of thought from the get go doesn’t really bother me. (I don’t really understand the Isabella tangent there… Calli/Calliope isn’t a variation of the name, so I don’t know what you’re getting at, other than that popular books occasionally spur naming trends.)

I did not see The Librarian – mostly because it looked like and Indiana Jones rip-off and I’ve seen enough of those to last a lifetime. But the inspiration for Flynn’s name came from Errol Flynn and Tron. Hopefully someday you’ll have the opportunity to read it in its entirety and judge the full picture… though it might be hard to find, since the title is definitely going through a redo.

batgirl said...

Maybe reduce 'galaxy' to 'solar system'? While this could be fun, and Space Western is a nice light genre, I'm having the same mental stumble that I had with a previous query that had the characters marching over an entire planet. Planets are big. Galaxies are waaaaaaaaaay bigger.
I get that the lead bullets are a hommage to the Western roots - do they use ray-guns too?

_*rachel*_ said...

I like EE's revision/suggestions. Though if you could keep the "And nobody messes with the dog" line, I'd be glad.

This is on the short side, but it's got energy and good information. Flesh out the plot and I'd say you're good to go.

If you land something with this query, let us know on the blog; I'd like to read it.

You could try changing the title to "Nobody Messes with the Dog."