Thursday, December 26, 2013

Face-Lift 1177

Guess the Plot

Eloq's Lightning

1. They say anyone who dares enter Eloq's Temple will be struck by lightning. Which explains the low turnout on the sabbath. But one grief-stricken boy decides to end his life by entering the temple, and . . . nothing happens.

2. Kelsey, third-year student at Rugglesbottom Witch School, is fed up. The other girls are snotty, the boys are jerks, and Master Snoftrun just gave her alchemy final a C. When she finds a strange wand in the library, she fools with it until she knows what it does. Fourth year is going to be much, much better.

3. Thor's dorky younger brother Eloq wishes he was as cool as the god of thunder, but all he can manage are a few sparks and a gurgle. Until he finds the incriminating shots of Zeus, that is, who grants him the power to control solar flares. Take that, Thor! But can the god of geeks outrun a gang of fried gods, furious at the blackened remains of their pantheon?

4. There is a reason not to feed beans to Eloqs after midnight. Eloqs are bald, fat, and flatulent, and cowards to boot. Blue fire spews forth from them like stink from a skunk. Only history will show how a small band of humans saved Endor with the help of "Eloq's Lightning".

5. It's 10000 BC and humanity has crawled from the primordial soup. Eloq's band of Neanderthals is doomed unless they can figure out how to stay warm in the frozen wasteland. Hey! What's that sky fire all about?

6. Stocky quarter horse Eloq's Lightning looks nothing like his race-winning parents. The hard-luck colt spends his first three years battling illness and his handlers. Now a three-year-old gelding, will he finally prove to be a real runner--or just another failure on the way to the slaughterhouse?

Original Version

Dear Evil Editor:

Fourteen-year-old Cordenqua becomes an orphan when he accidentally kills his father during battle. [Oops. Sorry, I thought you were an orc.] Consumed with grief and guilt, he declines the tribal ceremony of manhood, earning the condemnation of the villagers. [We give you the honor of going into battle against our enemy to save our village from destruction and to save us from slaughter, and all we ask in return is that you participate in a meaningless ceremony. And you decline? Never show your face here again!]

Shamed, hated, and alone, Cordenqua runs to Eloq’s Temple, aware the God will strike with lightning any who enter. Killer of Father, traitor of faith and tribesman, he leaps through the archway.

Nothing happens. [Out of curiosity, have all others who've entered been struck with lightning, or has no one else ever entered? If the latter, have they tried sending in a goat? Or sentencing a criminal to enter the temple?]

Uncertain why Eloq spared him, he searches the Holy Writ and finds a hidden prophecy buried within its text, foretelling [of] one who will save his people by overthrowing their false religion. [Is this "Holy Writ" their Bible? Because it would be odd to discover a passage, even in one of the more obscure books of the Christian Bible, declaring that Christianity is a lot of hooey.] [Possibly there was one, and back when they were deciding which books to include in the Bible they came upon it and said, "Whoa. This has gotta go. This could put us out of work and we'd have to give up our cushy digs and toil in the sludge business."]

Cordenqua is terrified of losing his own faith, but unable to suppress his curiosity. He unravels [investigates?] the [tribal] traditions and discovers that an unseen enemy with mystic powers [AKA God] created their religion to compel them to war against their neighboring tribe. Cordenqua must either fight his own people and religion and save those who hate him, [Not clear to me what "fighting his own people and religion" entails. When a hated fourteen-year-old kid declares himself the prophet destined to overthrow his haters' religion, his haters might be inclined to provide him a different destiny.] or submit to tradition while those he loves die in meaningless battles. ["Those he loves" meaning those who hate him, right?]

ELOQ’S LIGHTNING, complete at 50,000 words, is a YA novel that blends science fiction and fantasy. Set in a culture similar to tribal Native America, it incorporates a fantasy-like setting with plot twists reminiscent of The Maze Runner and I have queried you specifically because you represented this book.

Below I have included a synopsis. Thank you for your consideration.


Not bad, though one or more of the issues I've brought up may be worthy of consideration in the query.

Creating a religion that requires a tribe to war with another tribe is a good strategy if you're in a third tribe. But I don't see why you need to have mystic powers to do this. If you have mystic powers you can either convince the tribes you're a god and order them to war, or use your powers to wipe them out yourself. Creating a whole religion seems like a lot of trouble if you want people to wipe each other out rather than worship you.

You might want to make Corky older than 14. He'll be more useful in battle when he's bigger and stronger and smart enough to tell the difference between his enemy and his own father. Plus YA readers prefer to read about kids older than themselves.

Also, consider changing his name to Corky.


Unknown said...

Hi Author!
So, I'll start with this: Change your protag's age. A strange fact of Kid lit is this--there are no 14 y/o's. Kids are 13--and MG--or they are 15 or > and YA. 14 is just a no man's land...which I have learned in writing YA novels...

The next thing--50,000 words is short for YA. It's actually perfect for MG, so you may wish to make the MC slightly younger and sell it as a MG novel.

If the manuscript has no sexuality beyond a chaste kiss, you're probably A-okay for Middle Grade. Tons of MG "boy" books with killing, murder and battling without purpose. Also, "the One" trope is well-suited to the MG format.

I'd be very wary over this: "Nothing happens." The time your query has to make an impression is small--you don't want a quick read-through to catch that short statement and conclude the novel is light on action. You can rephrase to give some emotional insight to the character.

How is it that one 14 y/o kid looks at the ancient scriptures and determines the religion is a farce, but no adults have managed to do this in all the time these peoples have been at war? Seems implausible and a plot hole--particularly as this devout one is excommunicated from the would likely not have the access or education necessary to come to this epiphany.

Prophesy that negates a whole religion is not normally written in the actual religion's this gave me a bit of a turn,

Good luck!

The Fifes said...

Thanks for the feedback, everyone. Excellent suggestions. It will be easy enough to alter his age to 16. I think I'll beef up the word count and aim for YA since there mention of sexuality (though nothing explicit).

As for the religion that prophesies its own destruction, that's part of the mystery behind the book--why would a religion prophesy its own downfall? I suppose I could change the last paragraph to more explicitly mention that. Something like:

"As Corky investigates his religion, mysterious questions accumulate--why would a religion prophesy its own downfall? If it's fabricated, who did it and why? To what end? As he comes closer to finding the answers, Cordenqua he must either fight his own people and religion and save those who hate him, or submit to tradition while those he loves die in meaningless battles."

Also....I think I'll mention earlier why the prophecy wasn't discovered--the text was only available to the village holyman. Corky "borrowed" it and discovered that two pages had been sewn together. When he separated the pages, he found the prophecy.

Thanks again for the help!

whoever said...

Okay, EE, for some reason when I read the nickname you created, "Corky", I spit out my wine laughing. That is funny. Just. Funny. lol

SB said...

I don't think the refusing to do the trial part is really necessary. If a kid is so clueless that he accidentally kills his own father in battle, I can't see that anyone else is going to want to go into battle with him. Maybe he gets shunned just because of that incident. Or maybe they just ban him from taking the trial, if becoming an official man means being one of their warriors.

J.M. said...

Author, you've answered a few questions about the fake religion, but I'm still bothered by the ones EE asked regarding the third party who created it. Are they still out there lurking? The Holy Man seems to be in on something.

It also seems to me that simply killing one's own father in battle, even accidentally, would be enough to get Corky shunned by his tribe. I'm surprised they offered him the manhood ceremony after he cost them a warrior.

Kelsey said...

I would also amp up some of Corky's personality here. He seems like a pretty bland "Chosen One" right now. You do mention his curiosity--maybe that's a driving force that gets him in trouble throughout the whole novel? If it is, then give us a taste of that.

Or sub in whatever else makes him a unique person. Not what makes the plot unique, not what makes the worldbuilding unique--what makes HIM, as a person, different and endearing and memorable. Right now he seems entirely interchangeable with a hundred other characters we've seen in these archives.

Cheers and best of luck!