Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Face-Lift 920

Guess the Plot

Daze and Knights

1. Whoa, like, you mean other people see dragons when they eat, uh, brownies, too? Whoa. Whoa. Whoa man. Whoa. Dudes, let's write a book about that dragon, Florgbottom, and a knight and their cool adventures and see can we make some bread! Then we can buy more... uh... stuff.

2. Dr. Ebonicus Right, famed physician to King Arthur’s Court, has stumbled upon an early medical notion: Repeatedly being struck in the head by a lance can cause permanent confusion and memory loss. Can he restore the Knights of the Round Table to their former mental prowess before Jethob the dragon returns for his annual village-fry?

3. When Sir Poppinfresh, the comic relief knight at the Long Beach Renaissance Festival, is killed jousting, homicide detective Zack Martinez knows two things: the breakaway lance wasn't; and he'd better bring a turkey leg home to his wife.

4. When Jessica awakens to find herself on the wrong end of a medieval knight's sword, she thinks it's one of her daydreams. But no, she's stuck in Crazy Medieval Land, where she must try to find a way home while avoiding Lord Pervy's wandering hands.

5. Petty thief Junius Ninian falls through an accidental rift in space-time and lands in a world with knights riding armored horses and wielding laser swords. Can he handle the transition from boozing and thieving to battling dragons and saving damsels or will he simply be dazed all Knight?

6. Athletic prodigy Geoffrey is a favorite to win the jousting event. The morning of the tournament his muscles give out and his vision is blurry and spotted. Has a jealous contender poisoned him? His dreams of glory dashed, Geoffrey is torn between seeking revenge or finding greatness while trapped in a failing body.

Original Version

Dear Evil Editor,

I am seeking representation for my YA novel Daze and Knights.

Sixteen-year-old Jessica Jacobs is a super spy, a famous actress, and a princess.

Okay, not really, but she likes to daydream she’s all of those things and more. So when she wakes up with a medieval knight pointing his sword at her throat, Jessica thinks it’s just another daydream. Until she realizes that, 1- dude is actually causing her neck to bleed, 2- her dress is so hideous she never would have daydreamed herself into it, and 3- Zac Efron is nowhere in sight. [If you're gonna number items on a list, it looks better to
1. Put the numbers on the left side.
2. Follow the numbers with periods rather than hyphens.

However, in this case, I don't think you need the list format:
Until she realizes that the dude is causing her neck to bleed, and that she never would have daydreamed herself into such a hideous dress. I left Zac Efron off the list because she's 16 and he's almost 24 and by the time this gets published she'll still be 16 but he'll be 26. Eww. Go with Justin Bieber if you must have a third item, though I think it's better without.]

After pondering her sanity at length (while being hauled into a town called Hampshire), Jessica is left with only one option: ride out her time in crazy medieval land until she can figure out a way home. Unfortunately, riding it out means working for the Count’s slutty daughter and doing her best to avoid Lord Pervy’s wandering hands. It sucks being the peon instead of the princess.

Enter Lord Alric, AKA: knight-in-freaking-hot-armor. [Another lord? Why isn't he Sir Alric?] It would be easy to let him protect her, but Jessica refuses to be a damsel-in-distress. She convinces him to teach her to swordfight, and amidst her inner pleas for him to take his shirt off, she falls for his selflessness and playful smile. Could time have brought them together? And if so, why are there so many things conspiring to keep them apart? Like Lord Alric’s parents who betroth him to another. Or Lord Pervy who decides that if he can’t have Jessica, then no one will. [I prefer Why are so many people conspiring...]

Then Jessica uncovers a plot to take over Hampshire and kill Lord Alric in the process. Saving the day is so much easier in her daydreams. Is Jessica willing to risk her life to protect her new home and the man she loves before her time runs out? [When does her time run out? When Pervy kills her? When she is thrust back into her own world?] [I don't think you need this paragraph. It ups the stakes, but I was happier when the stakes were getting home/true love.] [If you drop this paragraph, you could tack "Happily ever after was so much easier in her daydreams." onto the previous paragraph if you want to end the plot summary on a lighter note.] [Also, if you drop this paragraph, you can drop "(while being hauled into a town called Hampshire)."]

Daze and Knights is an 87,000-word YA novel about an average girl finding the courage to face the kind of adventures she always imagined. Thank you for your time and consideration.



Excellent tone/voice. Sounds like a winner.

I personally would go with "an average girl facing the kind of adventure she always imagined." I tend to think of "finding the courage" as a selling point for YA when we're talking about, say, fighting peer pressure. When applied to medieval adventure, it seems a bit heavy.

You might consider capitalizing Crazy Medieval Land. I realize there's no such place in the book, but it's a little funnier that way in the query.


AlaskaRavenclaw said...

I like this query. It has voice.

A quibble: knight-in-freaking-hot-armor made me think of that medieval battle where the French knights got bogged down in the mud and baked to death in their armor. Armor's only hot in the literal sense.

Eric said...

The guy's name is Lord Pervy? Snicker, snicker, snicker.

I hope the slutty daughter is named Chastity and the Count is named Myconquests.

Kayeleen Hamblin said...

I read this query in a different place and find this version much better. Good job!

Anonymous said...

I love this. This is SO not my genre and I totally enjoyed the ride through the query. Submit--you are going to get requests.

Anonymous said...

This story sounds fun, and now I'm worried about what's going to happen next. Is she going to get home? But if she does go home, will she be with her true love anymore? I have to find out. :) Good job.

Dave Fragments said...

This is so delightfully warped that it's almost guaranteed to perturb a parent and that is GOLD when it comes to teenagers. It has a cute, fun and slightly dangerous tone to it.

Stephen Prosapio said...

Agreed. Nice work! Of course my issue with these types of time traveling plots (and greatest fear should I be shot back to Crazy Medieval Land myself) is the language. I think it's one thing in movies to ignore it, but books--even YA should have some explanation as to how she understands middle English.

A few minor tweaks and this should be getting you some reads! Keep in touch!

BTW - isn't this the 2nd time travel related novel this week? Is "Time Travel" the new "Vampires"? I hope so!!!

batgirl said...

I'm going to be the dissenting voice here because I am a humourless pedantic old crone and not the market you are aiming at.

I like the voice, and I'm sure this would go over well with kids. But has Jessica been zapped back to some real medieval time, or to The Past as Theme Park? It sounds like Disneyland Gothicworld. For instance, Hampshire is a shire, not a town, and it's a real place, still. Knights are titled Sir, not Lord. Has Jessica been magically given fluency in Middle English as well as the appropriate 'ugly' dress?
Tell me this is meant to be Fantasyland rather than Historyland and all is forgiven - but I still wouldn't touch this book with a breakaway lance.

AlaskaRavenclaw said...

Batgirl, I just assumed it was Fantasyland.

It's not a book I'd read either, but it's nice to see a well-written query with a good voice.

Anonymous said...

I liked "Lord Pervy."

And may I indulge in some non-query wandering? I wish this sort of fiction wasn't consigned so much to YA these days. "On a Clear Day You Can See Forever" was a box office bomb, but I liked it -- I thought the adult themes worked well in the fantasy plot.

vkw said...

Loved the voice.

If the princess is not named Lady Chastity, you have to change her name to Lady Chastity.

this is fun. It's not my top of book but I bet its a winner with the middle crowd.

I think the language thing is a no-problem kind of thing.

It's a bit of hair splitting, IMO. If you accept the entire time traveling bit, is it that hard to suspend your realistic language pet peeve?

Emily said...

Who knows, maybe when she went back in time she also was given the magical ability to understand the language of that time. Plus I think a modern American 16 year old like Jessica is not likely to know what a shire is. I think its left open so we don't know exactly whether it's a fantasy or really a historical time period. After all, Jessica seems to think she might be daydreaming right?

Should she really leave out the whole main plot (murder of alric, some kind of battle) and focus on the subplot with pervy?

what if you added that plot point as one of the people conspiring to keep them apart

"why are so many people conspiring to keep them apart? Like Lord Alric’s parents who betroth him to another. Or Lord Pervy who decides that if he can’t have Jessica, then no one will. Even worse, Jessica uncovers a plot to take over Hampshire and kill Lord Alric in the process. Happily ever after was so much easier in her daydreams."

Would something like that work?

Also, I don't know much about this, but couldn't a guy be a "Lord" with a title, but still look like a Knight to Jessica? What would she call him then?

Evil Editor said...

What you call the main plot has exactly one sentence devoted to it in the query. To me the main plot is Jessica trying to get along in a new world. Fish out of water. If the plot against Al is the main plot, why is Jessica even in the novel? She's no more capable of saving Alric than anyone else in Hampshire. Based on the query, this is her story, not Alric's.

No one suggested focusing on Pervy any more than the query already does.

Chelsea Pitcher said...

I thought the Zac Efron thing was hilarious.

The word "slutty" is a major turn off for me.

I, too, tripped up at the armor (rather than the night) being hot.

I would personally change "Man she loves" to "guy/boy/knight". Sixteen-year-old me would've cringed at the use of "man".

Those are my thoughts/nits. On the whole, this thing is pretty awesome.

none said...

I'd change the title. Make it Knights and Daze. That way, the unexpected word comes after the expected one, and gets the laugh.

This must be Crazy Medieval Land, as a count's slutty daughter would find herself in a nunnery, and Sir Alric would sooner marry his hunting dog than a peasant.

That said, it's a good query. I'd cut down 'likes to daydream all these things and more' to just 'likes to daydream'. The extra words are explaining something that doesn't need to be explained.

Adele said...

I liked it. No problem with "Lord Pervy" and "a town called Hampshire" because I assumed this was her voice again - the same voice that describes the country as "crazy medieval land." Presumably Pervy is just what she calls him, his real name is something else, and when she actually gets to Hampshire she realizes her mistake.

Sounds like fun.

Dave Fragments said...

We now know that Buffy is a Cole Porter Fan.

Anonymous said...

I'd change the title. Make it Knights and Daze. That way, the unexpected word comes after the expected one, and gets the laugh.

But the real term is "days and nights" or "nights and days," so both "knights" and "daze" are unexpected.

Anyway, "Daze and Knights," "Knights and Daze" -- either way, the eye gobbles it all up at once.

AlaskaRavenclaw said...

Yeah, I didn't care for the word "slutty" either, both as word choice and as attitude. But over at QueryShark, people are always defending vociferously their right to use much more alarming language in queries.

("If the agent doesn't like the word ____ then she's not the right agent for me!")

So I just figure these kids today, what can you do.

none said...

No, in Fantasy 'knights' is not unexpected.

And Dave, as ever, you are wrong.

Melanie Stanford said...

Hey it's me- the one who submitted the query. Everyone might be done with it now but just one thing- what's a better word for slutty? I've wracked my brain to the point of a headache and still can't come up with something that conveys the same idea. Anyone? Anyone?

Thanks for the comments.

Evil Editor said...

I'd go with "obnoxious" or a synonym. It covers you no matter what is bothersome about her, and it's funnier to be stuck working for someone who's obnoxious. Heck, I'd be happy to work for a slutty woman.

batgirl said...

It's definitely a well-written query, with lots of voice, and since younger readers won't be familiar with Connecticut Yankee and its hundred remakes or with the romance time-travel subgenre, it's likely to come across as an entertaining twist.
Well done, author! It's just the concept that makes me twitch.

none said...

A better word for slutty? Eh. The questions we get asked.

Rapacious. There ya go.

Chelsea Pitcher said...

Hey Melanie! I guess my issue with "slutty" (here, or whenever someone uses it) is how that's actually affecting Jessica in any way. I personally would love a word that explains how the count's daughter is making her life more difficult. "Obnoxious" might work, or "entitled" or "spoiled," if those apply. With "slutty" it seems judgmental, and I'm just not sure how it affects her.

As always, just my personal thoughts. The query really does have fantastic voice :)

Chelsea Pitcher said...

Alaska, I know what you mean about people defending their right to say whatever, whenever. Really, I think so much of the editing process is about compromise. I personally don't have a problem with swear words, but I don't want to turn people off by using them too much, so I compromise.

We all have words that make us cringe. "Slutty" is a big one for me, and "gay" used derogatorily -- all the sexist, or racist, or homophobic stuff. Sure, there are times when a character can use a derogatory word because the author is making a point, but I want to know that the author gets it -- that the word isn't just being used and perpetuated because teens talk that way. I think books really do have the power to shape language, so why not reflect the world as it could be?

Sylvia said...

While we are looking at individual words, I'm going to be horrifically pedantic and point out that she doesn't have one option as that would give her a choice. She has no options.