Monday, March 07, 2011

Face-Lift 877

Guess the Plot

Peace Maker

1. On the cusp of her 100th birthday, Oya is chosen as the Peace Maker. But what can one woman do against a terrorist with an army of zombies? Shouldn't they have chosen a 17-year-old high school girl for this?

2. Mother and Father are always fighting, yelling mostly, but they also break stuff and slap each other -- until Timmy comes home from law school and negotiates a truce. But how long can it last? And where is that gun Mother buried out back?

3. 1978. Steve Kippler, USAF test pilot, is slated to fly the experimental jet known as the Peace Maker. After his religious awakening, he's not sure if he should fly it, deliberately crash it, to take it to the USSR. Can Abigail "Abe" Saunders stop him before it's too late?

4. This superhero looks like a Roman god -- because he is one! He is Pacifier -- and as soon as he figures out how to work the new phone cam and post his videos everything will be sweet. Unless people believe the dirt his arch nemesis, Strife Galore, the underworld goddess of the trenches, is posting on her site. It's a virtual war!

5. What if it's not a bomb? What if it's seventy-three-year-old Mira Tuck? Everyone, from front line soldiers to teen delinquents, who practices her magical, meditative knitting pattern is overcome by goodwill and love. Who could not love her? Enter Joseph Summers, former defense contractor. Can the Peace Maker's pacemaker keep up?

6. In the nightmare of the future, everyone worships Peace Maker -- or else. When the new boy provokes 16-year-old Kezi'aa to fits of rage, she begins to question the Rule of Peace. But it's all a setup to get her to join the Rebels.

Original Version

Dear Evil Editor,

Three months shy of young Oya's one-hundredth birthday [Young Oya? Compared to what, the universe?] she has been forced to duel a Goddess, slay a demon, and be banished from her homeland for manslaughter. [Oy.]

If the new year couldn't be worse, she's just been granted the biggest honor (and biggest burden) of all, to become the Peace Maker. [If you make it to a hundred, you're sure to get a few honorary degrees and lifetime achievement awards. It's not an honor or a burden, just society's way of saying, Sorry we forgot you existed for the past sixty years, now hurry up and die so we can forget you ever existed.] A gift with endless blessing. [If the blessing never ends, what happened to the previous Peace Maker?] It would do her and her family a great service to accept such a role, and for Oya becoming more saintly and less dangerous is vital. [In what way is she dangerous?]

Yet she can't do it alone, not in this life. [She could have if they'd hired her when she was thirty. When you're 99 it takes all day just to get your teeth in.] Just as Zalmon Ephraim, the incumbent enemy of Peace, needs his sorceress to bring back the dead, she needs a special kind of aid. She needs those who bear the marks of the Divine on their skin.

[So she heads for this place in Tucson.]

Oya also needs her family, whom [who] were chosen by the Divine to aid her in this dire hour of Zalmon's terrorism. Yet there may be more to this 'gift' than the Divine are willing to admit...

THE KEMDI LEGACY: PEACE MAKER is a 100,000-word epic fantasy/family saga of diverse species, myth, and ancient magic. I have always been fascinated with learning about other cultures and was primarily inspired by our growing problems with the Middle East. [You never know from day to day, but it was my impression that our problems with the Middle East were abating.] I feel understanding of other cultures and beliefs can only benefit others. [What does that mean, and what does it have to do with your book?]

I’d also note that this is the first of a four book series, and the second novel [The Kemdi Legacy: War Monger] is nearly complete. Thank you for your time.


What happens in the book? All we know is someone named Oya has been chosen as Peace Maker and she needs people with divine tats to help her do something. Also there's someone named Zalmon whose sorceress raises the dead, who are then, presumably, known as Zalmon's zombies. We want to know what happens.

What is Peace? Who are the Divine? What form does Zalmon's terrorism take? What is expected of the Peace Maker? The whole query is vague.

What's this about diverse species? Are Oya and Zalmon different species? Who, if anyone, is human? In what way is this anything like the Middle East?


Anonymous said...

Sounds like you messed with the time scale so 25-ish earth years = 100 your world years. Not clear how the book benefits from this annoying innovation.

The Middle East connection is probably best saved for later discussions.

Strive for maximum clarity in the query. What we know so far seems fairly standard for the genre but we fear the book is filled with obscure references and odd logic that will cause a lot of readerly stumbling.

Anonymous said...

You've overstuffed this query with extraneous info. The timing of the character's birthday and the fact that it's a new year are irrelevant. The fact that she's 100 is just confusing-- I'm guessing that people in your world live longer, but since it's not mentioned again, why mention it at all?

In fact the whole first sentence is awkward as hell. You aren't forced to be banished; you're just banished.

You should probably cut out all the commentary ("not in this life", etc.) And, of course, all your thoughts on multiculturalism and the Middle East.

You're having a hard time with your sentences here, and it makes me wonder if the manuscript is the same. Is it?

Phoenix Sullivan said...

Some of the best spec fiction illuminates current-day issues through parallels drawn between what's happening in the real world and what's happening on the pages. There's a precarious balance there between being so didactic that readers won't read because the story is nothing more than agenda and being so obtuse that even a careful reader misses the tenuous connection. As outlined by this query, this story seems to fall in the latter camp.

It's perfectly acceptable, I would think, to hint at the cultural similarities in the body of the query and then close with something like: "Inspired by the ongoing culture clashes in the Middle East today, PEACE MAKER, a 100,000-word epic fantasy, examines the role of terrorism in a land founded on a religion dedicated to peace through jihad -- or crusade." Just remember that conclusions like this are based on the empirical evidence that we've seen come before, which we haven't seen in this query.

I was also confused by the statements that Oya "was forced" to do violent things, then was chosen to be something that apparently requires her to be a lot less violent. How does goddess-demon-humanish killing train her to be the Ghandi of her people?

Shouldn't they have chosen a 17-year-old high school girl for this? and [Oy]:
Splutteriffic, EE.

vkw said...

"diverse species, myth, and ancient magic."

Start here:

which species?
What myth?
Ancient magic opposed to the more recent kind-like what other kind is there? Or maybe the author meant magic in general or another type of magic. Either get specific or drop the "ancient".

Now answer:

Whis is the MC? When she is asked "What is special about you?" what does she answer and why.

What does she want?

What is standing in her way?

Who is helping her?

How does she succeed or how does she plan on succeeding?

From EE:
"Sorry we forgot you existed for the past sixty years, now hurry up and die so we can forget you ever existed." Geez and I thought I was having a bad day . . .


Anonymous said...

Is it time for an alternative to the "as if things weren't bad enough, they're about to get worse" construction? I see it constantly. "As if being 16 wasn't enough." "And now, her troubles are about to go into hyperdrive." "But those problems are nothing compared to what the Red Gods have in store." I get that you've got to turn the screw, amp up the volume, raise the stakes, etc., but can some enterprising query-writer find a less hackneyed formulation?

Sarah said...

I'm concerned that your first sentence and second sentence directly contradict each other: first Oya is banished, then she's chosen for her planet's greatest honor? It's the kind of thing that I'm sure makes sense in context, but when you've only got 250 words, you've got to pick and choose what events you're going to cover.

If I'm reading this right, your plot is as follows:

On the planet of the long lived ___, 100 year old adolescent Oya was having a normal childhood - until she's arrested for manslaughter. She's given a choice: banishment or accepting the position of Peace Maker, which comes with tremendous power and a short life expectancy.

Her wacky but loving family are determined to help, but they can't protect Oya from Zalmon Ephraim, a ___ who is raising the dead and sending them against the ___ in a campaign of terror. To stop him, Oya must get aid from the mysterious ___ who bear the marks of the Divine on their skin. Sadly, no one's seen any of them in a few millenia.

Despite the odds against her, Oya believes she shall overcome with the help of the Divine. But there's more to her new gifts than the Divine are letting on...

Obviously I'm guessing a lot, but this is one template for how you might make it flow better.

-sarah hawthorne

St0n3henge said...

You'd do better, author, to make it sound less like your interest lies in creating world peace and more like you're interested in crafting a fictional world that the reader can really get involved in.
I agree with arhooley, time to deep 6 the old, "Just when it seemed like things couldn't get any worse..."

Wilkins MacQueen said...

Start with answering the wh questions. The query is not clear and hard to follow. You've given us disjointed info fragments, cliches and too many characters leaping around. The story is no where in my sights.

Throughout the query there is an assumption that the reader knows what you are talking about. Logic problems need to be solved.

I'd leave off the parallel. It is isn't important to the story.

Hope that helps.

Anonymous said...

I really have no idea what to comment on here. I've no idea what this novel is about other than the author trying to be cute with 100 years old being "young". Seriously, that's it? That's your hook?

You need to do better. Be more clear with your sentences. If you've not run this query past a writing group, I'm wondering if you've run any of your novel past one.

That's scary.

Anonymous said...

arhooley said...

Is it time for an alternative to the "as if things weren't bad enough, they're about to get worse" construction?

Hear, hear. I've been thinking this since Miss Snark days.

St0n3henge said...

-arhooley said...

Is it time for an alternative to the "as if things weren't bad enough, they're about to get worse" construction?

Hear, hear. I've been thinking this since Miss Snark days.-

If you guys need a third to pass this resolution, I'm available.