Wednesday, September 05, 2012

Face-Lift 1068

Guess the Plot


1. The woes of Skippy the toy poodle, who must share his humans and his sofa with the laziest, most idiotic, and annoying being on earth -- Antoine, the calico cat. Also, an invasion of mice.
2. Hedgely inherits a farm in Ohio from Uncle Dave. Sounds good, but it turns out to be the former site of an Indian village, now haunted by 483 angry ghosts.

3. The lives, loves, and seething hatreds of the people of Burden, North Dakota are explored in this rather rambling epic.

4. Forty-year-old Sally Heart finds her life enriched when she opens her home and her heart to the dying mother she never knew. Hard-partying Todd Singer learns the value of life and love when his latest one-night stand shows up at his office to say she may or may not have HIV, but she is definitely pregnant. Lisa Digger finally gives in to her son's relentless begging for a puppy, and when he soon loses interest she finds she just might be a dog person after all. Bullshit ... total bullshit.

5. No burden is he to bear. He ain't heavy. He's my broth-- . . . Unnghh. Unnnnngggghhhh, Jesus Christ, he's heavy. Let's leave him here.

6. Ryder learns that the king she has served for sixteen years wasn't the rightful heir. So she sets out to raise an army and take him down. If she fails, all her recruits will be severely punished or killed. Can she live with that . . . Burden?

Original Version

Dear Agent,

Ryder is both the daughter of the king's seneschal and a powerful mage. Waiting for her are any [any?] easy job as King Marek's bodyguard and a comfortable castle life. But when she discovers that Marek stole the throne from his cousin, the rightful heir Caerus, she realizes that she should be fighting Marek, not serving him.

[Caerus: Hey, where's my throne?

Marek: I stole it. Which, as you know, makes me king.

Caerus: Rats.]

Ryder publicly denounces Marek and vows justice. She sets out to find Caerus and raise a secret army to take on Marek's soldiers. [Wouldn't it be easier to raise a secret army if she didn't publicly denounce Marek and vow justice?

Marek: Where's my mage? 

Adviser: She's down in the public square, denouncing you and vowing justice.

Marek: Chain her to the wall in the dungeon.]

[I like guessing at a book's dialogue. How'm I doing?]

But Caerus hasn't been seen in sixteen years and Ryder faces a widespread distrust of all things magical- like her. And with each new recruit, there is one more person who will be severely punished if Ryder fails.

[Ryder: I'm recruiting soldiers to dethrone the king.

Farmer: How many have you got so far?

Ryder: You'd be the first.

Farmer: Come back when you have 40,000. We'll talk.]

Too many good people will die for her cause, no matter the outcome. With so much loss necessary for her to win, she isn't so sure she can truly achieve victory. [How will things change if she achieves victory? How does her father, the king's seneschal feel about this? And why is Blogger telling me I spelled "seneschal" wrong?] As for Ryder herself, what could happen is clear: succeed, or die. Or both. [It seems to me that a powerful mage should be able to avoid death even if her mission fails. What are her powers? Can she become invisible? Turn into a bird? Transport to another kingdom? Or is her magic all illusions? I suppose if David Copperfield were chained in a dungeon that wasn't built by him and his staff, he'd have trouble escaping.]

BURDEN is my debut novel and is a 145,000 word fantasy. Thank you for your time and consideration.



If Ryder is a teenager, declare this YA.

Maybe Marek usurped the throne because Caerus was corrupt and evil. Maybe the kingdom is better off with Marek. If you tell us how bad things are, we'll better understand Ryder's motivation. I'd rather think her cause is to rescue her people from oppression than merely to see that the true heir gets what's his.

It took sixteen years for anyone to discover that Marek isn't the rightful heir? Or is Ryder the only one who didn't know this? Seems like the identity of the rightful heir would have been known to everyone. Why are they all putting up with a usurper?


AlaskaRavenclaw said...

I'm having a little problem with the protagonist's name. Specifically, every time I read it I see a canary-yellow rental truck.

That aside-- what's motivating Ryder? So the king isn't the rightful heir to the throne-- does this matter? History is full of kings who weren't the rightful heir to the throne, and some of them were okay, as kings go. Usurping the throne is one of the top two ways people become king. Why does this matter enough to Ryder that she's willing to ruin her life over it? I mean you're talking to people who survived eight years of a GWB presidency without drinking Drano, here.

Show us why Ryder has a stake in this business. What's big enough here that she's willing to risk everything?

(Btw I would totally read fake plot #2. Someone write it, please.)

Anonymous said...

How much of the book is spent on this phase of things? Does she actually raise an army and take action, or no? If yes, maybe you can give the agent more about that phase of things. If not, what happens instead?

150 said...

Yeah, I'm with EE and Alaska -- why does THIS person have to take on THIS problem right NOW?

rusoluchka said...

Back when I wrote the obituaries for the paper I came across this guy who died with 8 children. First child to 7th child all respectable, ordinary names like Jim, Jennifer, Edward... Get to child 8, and I kid you not, his name is Burden. So I totally thought this was a biography.

I'd like to know what makes this story unique from every other God Save the Kingdom fantasy. I don't know why I should prefer rightful king to usurper king. If usurper king has been ruling for so long without incident, it sounds like he's doing a good job. Ryder didn't have a complaint about him until she found out (btw, is it significant how she finds out? Might be interesting to put that in the query) he was phony. Unless she can't stand phonies in a Holden Caulfield way and is setting up an army just to give the man the finger, then by all means, tell us.

PLaF said...

It would be easier and more immediate to just state that Ryder is a powerful mage and bodyguard to the king.
If Marek is not the rightful heir, it’s probably not a secret. If he framed Caerus, then that might be a secret worth uncovering.
“vows justice” sounds hollow to me. As a mage and royal bodyguard, is it up to her to decide what justice is?
“Ryder faces a widespread distrust of all things magical” – what does that mean? If the people distrust magical beings like her, how does she recruit them into her secret army?
“with so much loss necessary for her to win” – what does that mean? Human sacrifice is necessary for her to be magical enough to beat the usurper?
And what's wrong with Marek, anyway?

vkw said...

I am watching monarchy (UK) on netflix - it is a long series by the way but better than realty tv. Though - to be honest - it does look and sound like realty tv at times.

So far I am absolutely shocked to find out about all the throne stealing that occurred at least before the 17 Century (haven't gotten that far yet). It seems every other king or so acquired the throne suspiciously or just down right illegally. (I know the English minions are going to hang me but there was a lot throne stealling going on and then "let's find a legal reason why cousin, five times removed has more right to the throne than the king's uncle" justifications.

But it looks like everyone was okay with that as long as they were okay with the king's policies. It's like a presidency without the voting and with good old treason and murder. (they starved a king to death in a tower so they wouldn't leave a mark to show they murdered him. that has a certain morbid appeal to it and should be in a fantasy book!)

Anyway - Author, Why does Ryder care that the king acquired his throne suspiciously. I'm kind of thinking if he hasn't envaded Scotland, (or wherever), drawn and quarter Mel Gibson (still like the actor) or starved the real king to death in a tower. . . then they ought to just go with the flow. Civil wars are expensive and messy and gives your foreign enemies a chance to take advantage. And, as the king's of England find out over and over again - dead men don't pay taxes and it takes a long time to raise up men who do.


AlaskaRavenclaw said...

Eggzackly. Lookit the Glorious Revolution, eg. And then the offspring of the Usurper is the Rightful Heir.

And many a rightful heir gets impatient and decides to usurp. Happens even nowadays. (Though not in the UK.)

This is basically why I stopped reading high fantasy. To believe in the inherent goodness of a ruler based on his DNA is just too much suspension of disbelief for me.

Writer, you gotta give us something more.

vkw said...

One more thing - I've always said that revenge seems to be a poor excuse for doing anything - yet, I've seen a lot novels whose protag's motivation was to seek revenge.

Well so far in the UK Monarchy (up until th 17th Century), no one seeks revenge on anyone. The nobles get together unsurp the rightful king, put in their own, the king's rightful heir gets the throne back through war, and then the very next thing he does after the cornation is officially forgive everyone for what they did to the rightful heir and for waging war against him.

The only exception is when you are a "rebel" which means you're not a noble and you decide to fight the king. Then you get drawn and quartered.

Anyway - obvious I am facinated by this, since we don't have anything to compare it to in the US.

the British are just soooo civil.

sarahhawthorne said...

The biggest problem for me is that your protag comes off as kind of... let's go with lacking in impulse control and foresight.

If I find out the current king, my boss, is a usurper to the throne, what I do NOT do is denounce him publicly BEFORE I have an army. Or allies. Or a plan. Especially if I'm already a powerful, trusted mage who's perfectly positioned to kill the usurper myself and slip the real king onto the throne. You know, instead of sending the entire kingdom into chaos and civil war that will kill hundreds.

Try again, and good luck.

AlaskaRavenclaw said...

So I'm guessing this documentary glazes over the Murdered Princes in the Tower? And the fine old tradition of hanging, drawing, and quartering?

(It's amazing how many history books mention "drawing and quartering" without bothering to explain what it actually was. If you don't know, don't look it up while you're eating.)

Jo-Ann S said...

CS Lewis got around the problem of "rightful heir" by declaring "Tis by Aslan's will that the sons of Adam rule here".

Think of Prince Caspian, who, although descended from the invaders, ended up with Aslan's stamp of approval. I also wonder who ruled Narnia in the thousand years after The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe since the four Pevensies left no heirs. But I digress.

As much as I loved the Narnia chronicles, I always wished a talking animal would be left in charge.

But the Aslan thing worked for other readers, maybe Ryder could have an epiphany of sorts. Or you could use that prop favoured by fantasy writers everywhere... The Prophesy.

Stephen Prosapio said...

So am I the only one who has a major problem with this?

"But Caerus hasn't been seen in sixteen years..."

One really bad political move (well several bad moves actually) would be to publicly denounce a king and then try and raise a secret army for a guy who's not been seen in 16 years. Talk about making recruiting tough:

Ryder: I'm recruiting soldiers to dethrone the king and instate the rightful heir Caerus!

Farmer: Caerus?

Ryder: Yeah, don'tcha remember? Tall, dark and a really sharp dresser.

Farmer: Vaugely...but where the heck is Caerus?

Ryder: He's bound to turn up sooner or later...

Farmer: I think I'll pass.

150 said...

I kind of hope the author turns up. This seems like a good time to reiterate that we only have the query to go on, so we're extrapolating the entire story from those few sentences--just like an agent or editor will.