Monday, May 16, 2011

Face-Lift 905

Guess the Plot

Kindar's Cure

1. Kindar, a quadriplegic, is miraculously cured by an angel and becomes a pro football player. Handicapped and chronically ill people who are sick to bloody death of "miracle cure" novels show up at the author's house with pitchforks.

2. Kindar has found a cure for vampirism. Now he has a posse of seriously pissed-off vampire fiction writers wanting him dead and the cure lost forever. But Kindar has zombies as allies. After all, they want writers to portray them as romantic souls, too.

3. The cancer in Lloyd Kindar's brain will kill him, according to Dr. Jones, who doesn't even want to try operating. So it's all up to Lloyd. As usual. He goes to the store and gets several mirrors, a power drill and a mini-vacuum cleaner, sets things up in the shed out back and does his own surgery, removing a seemingly insignificant lobe from above his left eye. Hilarity ensues.

4. Kindar is the chosen one who is supposed to save her people, except she has a disease that's slowly killing her. Her one hope is a novice wizard, but she's lucky if she survives his attempt to get her to his lair, much less his cure. It's beginning to look like Kindar's sister is actually the chosen one.

5. Having made a bundle on his patent medicine, a fragrant cure-all and hair restorer, Dr. Kindar pays off the elf who sold him the formula, builds the biggest house west of Chicago, begins his quest for a bride, and falls hopelessly in love with Jane -- an abolitionist who thinks patent medicines are the work of the devil. Can he convince her a few drops of the Kindar Cure never hurt anyone?

6. Castaway James Kindar ekes out a miserable existence on a desert island where he eats mostly shellfish and has nothing to live for except a slow demise from leprosy -- until the day he wades into a tidepool in search of oysters and is shocked by an electric eel. He crawls ashore half dead, but by sundown his leprosy is cured! But can he catch the eel and get it to the leper colony at Melbourne in time to save Elvira?

Original Version

Dear EE:

Princess Kindar Stefanous has the wits to prove she deserves to inherit her mother’s throne, [The heir to the throne is determined in a battle of wits?] but the gods have other ideas. They mark her as flawed by inflicting her with a wasting disease of cough and slow suffocation. With cutting jeers, the empress pushes her aside in favor of her two sisters.

Yet soothsayers have long predicted an empress would produce three daughters, [And after hundreds of years, it finally happened, proving the soothsayers were right on the money.] [I predict that at some point in the future, the queen will have a child, and that child will one day become queen!] foretelling one would rise to become the savior of her people. [From what do they need saving?] For Kindar, that nonsense isn’t in the realm of possibility. After all, the kingdom is healthy—unlike her.

When her elder sister is murdered, the killer hides behind magic and leaves a clue to implicate Kindar. [Her inhaler.] In one night, she loses a sister and moves from worthless to suspect. ["From sicko to suspect" sounds better. Also, I prefer "changes" or "goes" to "moves."] [If they think she's a murderer anyway, she might as well kill the other sister and her mother.]

Arrest and banishment loom over Kindar, but after eighteen years of fighting for life and place, she isn’t about to surrender now. A novice wizard, Maladonis Bin, approaches with his vision of a cure if she can manage the journey through rebel territory and survive his attempts to protect her. Along the way, they discover the kingdom isn’t as healthy as Kindar thought. Serious plots to undermine the throne are in motion, starting with her sister’s murder. [Are we talking about the sister who's already been killed? Because that plot is no longer in motion.] [When there's an actual place called rebel territory, you can assume plots to undermine the throne were in motion before Sis's murder.]

With prophecy calling and the killer at large, Kindar must rally her strength for a fight, not only for life and throne, but respect.

Kindar’s Cure is an [a] 114,000 word epic fantasy. It can stand alone or has series potential. [In fact, I've nearly completed Kindar's Relapse, and have outlined Kindar's Remission.]

Thank you for your consideration.


Just because the prophecy said one of three sisters would be the savior doesn't mean the one is Kindar. How does she know she's the one?

How old is Kindar? You claim she's had eighteen years of fighting for life and place. Does that mean she's had this slow suffocation disease for eighteen years? When it comes to the passage of time, eighteen minutes is glacial if you're suffocating. It reads like she got the disease after reaching the point of having the wits to prove she deserves the throne.

Is her mother dying? Who's heir to the throne isn't a big deal if the empress is going to live another eighty years. (See Great Britain.)

I can't tell if the rebels are bad guys or good guys. I can't tell if Kindar's sisters are good or bad.


Anonymous said...

Mm. None of the GTPs was the real one! Just as well, anything with an heir to the throne in it is always a giveaway.

Writer, you say Kindar has spent 18 years fighting, but then you show us a lot of things that make her sound pretty passive... particularly the soothsayer bit. Anyone acting out a prophecy appears to lack free will. Then she gets led about by a wizard who's got answers. Where's her gumption? You say she's got it, but you need to show us.

Two things I'd like to see emphasized more-- the humor you suggest in her relationship with the wizard, and her growth from the point of thinking "the kingdom's in dandy shape but oh, poor me" to "oh, the kingdom's got problems".

(Btw, thanks for using my GTP, #1, EE. Miracle Cures are a pet peeve. The real plot sounds like the cure has to be sought, and earned, and might not work, which makes it not a Miracle Cure and hence inoffensive.)


Anonymous said...

The query is too sketchy. We need to know everything: give us more sense of what the main characters are like, what they want, and what sort of adventures they have. Also, who are the opposing forces and what are they trying to achieve? And how?

Plus, I'm not seeing how chronic respiratory troubles enhance an action adventure epic, as shortness of breath and lack of energy would seem to be incompatible with all the necessary sustained exertion. You need to show that encumbering the heroine with this affliction is actually a plus for you.

Aika said...

I haven't tried this for ages. I hope this helps you, author.

You did a good job focusing on Kindar, but I think you could clarify the emotional stakes for her. Obviously mom is mean, but is Kindar in sympathy with the plot to take the empress down or does she want to save mom after all?

You mention several things only once yet it seems like they should be central to the plot/stakes (gods, wit, magic). Could the query do without them? Or should they be integrated?

Also, the prophecy - why does there have to be a prophecy? Is it the thing that motivates her to do more than just get away from mom?

Cursed by the gods with a wasting disease, Princess Kindar Stefanous is scorned by her mother and sisters. But Kindar sasses back. After all, an ancient prophecy says any one of the Empress's three daughters could be the next Messiah. Why not Kindar?

Well, maybe because the empire doesn't seem to need a saviour. It's healthy—unlike her.

When her elder sister is murdered, the clues implicate Kindar. Arrest and banishment loom. That's when novice wizard Maladonis Bin offers Kindar a cure - if she'll travel to his homeland. The journey reveals some surprising facts about the so-called healthy empire, including an organized rebellion and a convoluted divine plot to take down the Empress.

Kindar's not sure if mom is worth saving. Is Kindar herself? With the prophecy calling, the gods meddling, and a murderer to dodge, Kindar must rally her strength for a fight, not only for life and throne, but respect.

Evil Editor said...

Sorry about the GTP problem, which has been remedied. Or rather, cured.

150 said...

If you're gonna name a guy "Maladonis" you might as well tack on "The Betrayer"* because there's no way a wizard with that name doesn't grow up to be evil.

*Not actual advice

Anonymous said...

How is it that gods, wizards, soothsayers, and mortals are all equals in this epic struggle? The gods make Kindar sick, but then a wizard devises a cure (or plausibly claims that he can). The gods evidently have something in mind for this empire, but it seems the outcome will be determined by the success or failure of the mortal rebels. By the way, why are they rebelling? Because it's Monday?

And what are the rules or even values in this world? The empire values wit such as Kindar's, but as soon as she develops a cough she's jeered out?

And why do the gods decide to mark her as flawed? What's their stake in the game? If they want to keep her away from the throne, why didn't they just kill her? Do they have any role after they make her sick? If so, you might mention their continuing control of events. If not, they might not be needed in the story at all.

Ryoryo said...

This sounds like it might be a good story. And, giving your heroine consumption (?) is certainly different from the usual epic fantasy. And perhaps that is part of the reason you are including it in the query. I did have a few *huh?* moments when reading it:

1) The empress has 3 daughters. Since you refer to an elder sister, I would actually take that to mean that Kindar is not the oldest**. Of course, once her elder sister is murdered, she might become a candidate if it weren't for the fact that she has been framed. In effect, I see her birth-order and being under suspicion of murder as greater obstacles to her inheriting than her lung disease.

2) The kingdom is healthy, but rebel territory exists -- that doesn't seem terribly healthy to me. Is this simply something Kindar did not know about?

3) After Kindar is banished, I don't have any idea what happens with the plot (at least not in any specific detail). It seems that she just leaves with Maladonis. Is she going somewhere in particular? I know that Kindar is hoping to be cured, but what is she going to do after that?

Just my two cents.

(btw, I read Maladonis and thought "does that mean he has bad looks"?)

** I do realize that your use of "elder sister" would also be correct if Kindar is the oldest and the sister that is killed is the second oldest, thus being the elder of Kindar's two sisters, and not the elder of Kindar and her sister; but most people (imo) would not read it that way -- if this is your intention, I would suggest simply mentioning that the current heir is killed.

Dave Fragments said...

I wonder if your story might be more exiting if you open on the the night of the first sister's death where Kandar discovers her "wasting disease" is a curse and the reason is that she's the "chosen one."

I"m wondering if the query should begin there also. As this is written, there is not enough action.

Ink and Pixel Club said...

Make it clear that the next in line for the throne is chosen by the current ruler. Something like "Princess Kindar has the intelligence to rle the kingdom, but her mother sees only the illness racking her body and won't consider her for the throne."

Have the gods really cursed Kindar with her illness to mark her as an unfit ruler, or is that just what Kindar's family believes? Do the gods have an active role in this story?

Kindar's goals aren't clear. Does she want to be queen? Why or why not? The first sentence seems to imply that she does, but the later reveal that Kindar thinks the prophecy is nonsense and the kingdom is doing fine makes it feel like Kindar thinks anyone could run the kingdom easily. The murder of Kindar's sister looks like a setup for Kindar striving to clear her name, but instead, it leads to her journeying across the kingdom in search of a cure for her illness?

The prophecy doesn't seem to add anything to the story except for the idea that the kingdom might someday be in trouble while Kindar thinks all is well and good, which we could probably get without having to resort to prophecy.

Be more specific about the evidence that implicates Kindar in her sister's murder. Specific is more interesting.

Why can only this novice wizard cure Kindar? Why does she needs to journey with or to (I'm not sure which) him in order to get the cure? And what makes his attempts to protect her a problem?

I have no idea whether I should be supporting the monarchy or the rebels. Is Kindar merely uncovering an evil plot to overthrow her family's rule oor does her excursion into the kingdom reveal that the rebels have legitimate gripes?

Right now, it feels like the only effect of Kindar's illness is that it prevents her from being a candidate to rule the kingdom. Give some attention to how it make her journey more difficult. And explain what assets she has that might help her to succeed. You mention her wits, but she doesn't do anything to suggest that she's particularly clever in the course of the query.

Dave Fragments said...

Not "exiting" but "exciting" ... twice I've spelled that wrong.
IT'S THE RAIN! Stop raining out there.

Xenith said...

So what makes this different to every other "MC must battle obstacles to take their rightful/prophesied place on the throne" fantasy novel out there?

Anonymous said...

Just wondering if the wizard's real name was Maladonis Bin Laden.

none said...

Mom is mean? Mom is an empress; she has a whole empire full of people to think about, not just one daughter's feelings. That kind of power and responsibility doesn't make for 'oh yes Kindar you SHALL go to the ball' type responses. Saddle the empire with a sick, possibly dying, ruler when the enemy are at the gate? Sheesh.

That said, Aika's revised query presents a much more exciting story.

Wilkins MacQueen said...

Aika's re-write was great. Hard to top the suggestions that went before.
Wouldn't hurt to try a couple out and address ARH's questions.