Tuesday, November 06, 2012

Face-Lift 1084

Guess the Plot

Angba the Orc

1. All she wants is to find out who she is as she comes of age in this great big world, but it's so hard to get by when your name is Angba Skullcrusher.

2. Banga was the first orc in the Orc Directory until Angba showed up. So Banga changed his name to Agnab. Then an orc named Abang moved into town, and the fighting hasn't stopped since.

3. Ace reporter Sam Finnian has the election story of a lifetime when he stumbles on Mitt Romney's college Dungeons and Dragons nickname and realizes it's an anagram for ABORT CHANGE. But he underestimates the lengths Romney will go to to keep his secret . . . including murder.

4. Angba the orc, raised in dank caverns, schooled by goblins, destined to be a soldier, dreams of life above-ground, far from the constant clanging of trolls' anvils. A computer glitch results in his acceptance to the University of Southern California where, initially shunned, he becomes the star of the football team. Also, lessons in tolerance and acceptance.

5. Angba is drafted by the Orc War Council for their war on the Elvin. But Angba only wants to care for his pet porcupines. Horgal, the chief war monger, orders Angba put to death. Then the great wizard and wereporcupine Pricphella comes to Angba's aid. Together they try to defeat Horgal and end the war before it annoys the porcupine community.

6. As the only orc in fifth grade at her elementary school, Angba is shunned by her fellow students. But when the animals at a nearby zoo escape and overrun the school, it's Angba who fights off gorillas and lions and rhinos.Will her classmates accept her now? They'd better!

Original Version

Here is my Nano query. I would really love input on this, especially regarding finding a title that doesn't sound like a picture book from Mordor.

Dear Evil Master and He Who Must Be Obeyed

A locked box. Letters in an archaic dialect. A silver medallion. When orc Angba Skullcrusher arrives in the desert outpost Fort Galbraith, that's all she has to answer her long-standing question: Who am I really, and why did this man Tallis sponsor my education? [Not clear whether she's arriving at the desert outpost to begin her education or after completing her education.] [About the letters: assuming they're letters from someone to someone, and not letters of the a,b,c variety, who are they from and to? Is dialect the right word, or should it be language?]

When she learns Tallis is dead and has named her as his only heir, her only hope for answering any of her questions lies in the far off orcish city of Grand Oasis. [You suggested that the locked box, letters and medallion might be the key to answering her questions. Were they a dead end? Does she unlock the box?] [Did she inherit the box/letters/medallion from Tallis? I had the impression she had them before she even learned Tallis was dead. If they aren't her inheritance, what did she inherit from Tallis?] [Also, "orcish" sounds like an adjective you'd apply to Sylvester Stallone, while a city or orcs would be "orcan." Then again, what do I know? The only role-playing games in my day were cowboys and Indians and doctor.] To reach it she'll need to brave treacherous Black Canyon, where thousands of dreams have gone to die. [It's the Hollywood of Orcdom.] With the help of orc ranger Sabel Mars and the scholarly orc Silver, she embarks on the journey that will determine how she sees her world--and her heart.

Set in a steampunk world inextricably entwined with legends of the infamous Black Canyon, Angba The Orc is a fantasy romance novel.

Thank you for your consideration.


Is this the Black Canyon on the Colorado River? I think it should be. There's still time to change it. Your plot should be a human family is whitewater rafting in the Black Canyon when suddenly they notice a raft full of orcs gaining on them. The title will be How Our Summer Vacation Was Ruined By Orcs. I see this as a million-selling middle grade book, and if you don't write it, I will.

Nothing seemed steampunkish about the world. If she's going to Grand Oasis in a motorized blimp, say so.

Possible titles: The Secret Life of Orcs, The Language of Orcs, Eat, Pray, Kill, How Angba Skullcrusher Got Her Groove, Orcsteam, Angba Skullcrusher and the Legend of Black Canyon, Orcs Are People Too, Lord of the Rings II: The Orcs' Tell Their Side, Angba Skullcrusher's Big Adventure, Angba Skullcrusher vs. Godzilla.


Tk said...

A picture book from Mordor made me laugh, but I don't think I'd want to see those pictures.

And that leads to what I don't understand about this: why is the heroine an orc? She sounds like any sympathetic teenage hero following the mcguffins to find out all the power she ever needs is right inside her. I think whatever it is about the story that requires her to be evil, brutal and out for herself should be front and centre in the query. As it is, it sounds like you could replace "orc" with "elf", "faeaerieieie" or "high schooler" without changing the storyline. I'd like to know how being an orc is part of the plot.

Also, the steampunk should be in the query if it is in the novel. Steampunk orcs – definitely very cool.

Anonymous said...

There are climbing routes in the Black Canyon (Colorado) named after JR Tolkien's creations. "Journey through Mirkwood" for one. So maybe orcs do vacation in Colorado!

RE the query, there's various mysterious elements, and the query tells us thejourney is vital to Angba, but the only motivation provided is for Angba "to find herself." Doesn't sound that exciting/compelling for the reader.

In my humble opinion.

150 said...

I like that you seem to have rounded, protagonist orcs, but I'm not sure that element is important enough to include in the title.

(My Captcha was Ankespin 14. Now THAT'S a title.)

none said...

If there's a romance, we'd really like to know who with.

AlaskaRavenclaw said...

Hi writer. Did you love Terry Pratchett's Unseen Academicals as much as I did? Sounds from this query like the answer is yes. If you haven't read it, I suggest you do so immediately.

(I thought UA could have been improved by taking out all the scenes of the quibbling Unseeen University wizards, though. The story wasn't really about them. Essentially, it's about a teenage orc whose task is to find himself. His mysterious mentor is still alive, tho'.)e

Whirlochre said...

It's short — but hey, it's a nano query.

Mister Furkles said...


Things missing from your query are:
1.Conflict – where is the conflict? No conflict: no story. It can be external, internal or orc v.s. nature.
2.Romance? Where is the romance?
3.Steampunk? Where is that?

What does Angba want? Who or what is blocking her? What decision does she face? What are the consequences either way?

One thing you do have is fresh. There are not a lot of orc stories out there.

khazar-khum said...

Hi all

Author here.

Angba was orphaned young and raiesed in the Temple. She's trying to learn why a man she never meets pays her way though school, including college. Her education was as an apothecary and rudimentary healer; she expected to finish her training with Tallis, her benefactor.

As you may expect, the people at the Temple aren't interested in exposing her to her culture or her clan. She's a true Other, living in the predominately human culture but not being of it.

Once she reaches the canyon and learns her benefactor is dead, she gets the box with its contents. This is what leads her through the wild and dangerous Black Canyon, With her are two romance prospects--Sabel, the ranger/guide, and Silver, the scholar. Both are Orcs. I seriously considered letting her romance a human, but figured having an Orc FMC would be enough of a challenge for readers without blasting them away completely.

I'm calling it steampunk only because I'm not entirely sure what else you'd call a fantasy with a setting like the old West, with a gold rush and all that entails. There aren't any airships, at least so far, though I suppose that might make a good addition.

Thanks for reading, and commenting. I just have to fix that damned title, I think, or the big romance houses will never touch it.

none said...

The likeliest reasons orcs are "fresh" is that New Line Cinema/Warner Bros have trademarked the term and you need a licence from them to use it. Worth looking into that aspect, anyway.

IMHO said...

I too wondered about the use of "orc", a word/character dreamed up by JRR Tolkien. Even if the trademark status is unclear, would a publisher want to risk a possible trademark fight? I checked the Trademark registry and found many registered "Orc" TMs for various goods and services, including the following (abandoned):

Word Mark: ORC
Goods and Services (ABANDONED: printed matter namely, posters; wall charts; photographs; stationery; art prints; calendars; ... series of fantasy books and magazines, ... costumes, costumes for use in role playing games, footwear and headwear

(ABANDONED): toy action figures and accessories therefor; toy figures; card games; fantasy character toys;

Owner (APPLICANT) Saul Zaentz Company, The DBA Tolkien Enterprises CORPORATION DELAWARE Abandonment Date October 16, 2005

Didn't find one for New Line Cinema/Warner Bros, which doesn't mean it doesn't exist (BuffySquirrel may have better intel than I -- I'm not arguing with the squirrel-meister)

khazar-khum said...

The trademark is for the appearance of orcs from the movies. Gygax et al simply folded rather than fight; AFAIK it's never been tested in court, and if it were, I don't think it's likely to hold up. So for now I'm leaving it as-is. If it should ever get anywhere near publishable, I'll see if there's any kind of conflict.

Anonymous said...

But Mr. Pratchett was able to call his orc protag an orc without any trouble.


none said...

If it's a romance you need more than two possible love interests. You need some, yanno, romance.

It doesn't sound at all like steampunk, which tends to be modern technology but with steam rather than oil and silicon. I would just call it a Fantasy Wild West setting.

IMHO, I think Saul Zaentz was originally going to make the LOTR films but there were funding problems. I'm really surprised if New Line/Warner haven't TMed the term orc.

james said...

I'd name it Black Canyon of an Orcan Heart. Just figured romance needs a romantic title. Sounds fascinating no matter what you name it. Good luck.

Anonymous said...

I love the idea of a steampunk story about orcs, but you've gotta hook people immediately to get them to read a romance about orcs. An unfortunate truth about romance stories is everyone wants to read about Pretty White People. Or Humble People Who Are Supposed To Be Plain and Relatable But Are Still Pretty White People.

Good luck with the title. I, for one, would read this.