Friday, March 18, 2016

Face-Lift 1306

Guess the Plot

The Stately Stately House

1. A long long road
Leads to a tall tall hill
Where a stately stately house
Stands by the cold cold rill.
An old old ghost
Sits at the window window sill
Watching a handsome handsome man
Whom she will kill kill kill. 

2. From a stately stately house where murders happen every day,
A lowly lowly maid heads for a castle far away.
If she can save the naked knight and make him her boyfriend,
Then they'll be happy happy and at last his book will end.

3.  In a green green valley stands a stately stately house. 
Where a tiny tiny cat lives with a massive massive mouse. 
An evil evil mongoose comes one stormy stormy eve. 
He raids their peaceful peaceful home and vows to never leave. 

4. Winnie Wentworth-Wentworth is a blood-sucking lawyer in New York, New York. He inherits the stately Stately house which is on a bluff overlooking placid Lake Placid. On Winnie's first night in the stately Stately house, a vampy vampire slips into his bed and bites him. Winnie Wentworth-Wentworth becomes a blood-sucking, blood-sucking New York, New York lawyer. A thrilling thriller results. 

5. Architect Sebastian Stately's obsession with building the ultimate domicile finally bears fruit, but when he realizes he forgot to put a bathroom on the same floor with the master bedroom he's forced to start over from scratch. It's like Pygmalion, only with the house's main computer gaining intelligence. Also, math.

6. In 1932, Downton Abbey is finally sold by the Crawleys and renamed The Stately Stately House by the new owners, Anna and John Bates.   

Original Version

Dear Most High Evilness

I am seeking representation for my magical realism book, “The Stately Stately House”.

The Stately Stately house is an old English manor used as a backdrop by countless writers of all sorts [mystery authors?] as a place to stage murders and other assorted mayhem. When the sleuths are gone, though, who cleans up the mess left behind? [If you go with "writers of all sorts" rather than mystery or crime authors, you need a more general term than "sleuths."] [For that matter, is it the sleuths or the authors who are gone? Should it be "When the sleuths are gone" or "When the book is finished?" If the sleuths vanish when the book is finished, it seems their mess would vanish as well. Do the book's characters vanish, or do they walk out of the house into the real world, leaving their mess behind?]

Annie is a new maid at the house. Her duties include scrubbing bloodstains from [rugs and] divans, removing bits of bone from fireplace irons, and bundling the occasional forgotten body [bodies] off to storage. She and her cohorts [the rest of the staff?] must work quickly, as murders are done [committed? staged?] daily and they can’t let their reputation as the best murder home [in England] be tarnished. No background [minor?] character wants to draw attention to their work—or lack thereof. 

One day, Annie hears of a young knight abandoned by his writer at Highborne Castle. The poor character is helpless, naked and in chains, in one of the many dungeons. Despite the warnings of the other characters, Annie is determined to rescue him. She must do so quickly, before another writer finds him there and [dresses him.] he is erased. [If this is set in modern times, I'd say "and deletes him."] [So the main characters get erased, but the background characters stay and keep the manor running, and also appear as characters in the next books set here? It's a bit late to be clarifying the magical aspect.]

But the trip isn’t an easy on [one]. She must navigate dangerous moors, ghastly [werewolf-infested] fens where werewolves have been placed; haunted houses full of vampires; and luxurious chateaux where dissipated [?] dukes lurk, waiting for young maids to deflower. Can she prevail and reach her knight before he—or both of them—are erased?

“The Stately Stately House” is 125,000 words.

Thank you


The idea of a house used by authors as a setting for their books and actually containing those books' characters is cool. The coolness is somewhat diluted by the existence of several other places inhabited by fictional characters. Is everyplace in this world inhabited by fictional characters? I assume the authors who create the characters aren't fictional?

I don't think the magical aspect is emphasized soon enough. The reader is likely to think authors bring actors to this house and stage murders to help them visualize scenes in their books. Referring to background characters and to a young knight's writer hint at it, but it's not until you bring up people being erased, well into the query, that we get it. 

You could call it The Stately Stately Manor.

Or Highborne Castle, since the main plot is apparently set in and on the way there, and it, too, is used by writers for their settings. Does anything of importance happen inside the stately Stately House?

You may not want to make major changes in the plot, but have you considered that Annie could hear about a character trapped by a recent author in a secret dungeon beneath the Stately Stately house? And try to rescue him there, thus avoiding the trip through the moors and fens and haunted house and chateaux, and maintaining SSH as the setting and making SSH seem unique. This might get the book down to a nice 80,000 words. Plus, I don't see a mere background character surviving against werewolves and vampires on their turf. At least if she encounters them in the caverns beneath SSH she could call on other background characters to help her. As SSH has been used by countless authors, it's not a stretch to think it might contain a few vampires and werewolves.


Chicory said...

I enjoy your premise but you need to get to your plot (rescuing the knight) closer to the start of your query, preferably in the first paragraph. Best luck on your revision! :)

AlaskaRavenclaw said...

I agree with Chicory. It's a great premise, but the query needs to focus more on the protagonist and what she hopes to accomplish.

And 125k is pretty long. I notice EE said it himself this time.

Evil Editor said...

The house could be the main character and the minor characters who staff the house could be an ensemble cast who keep stumbling upon left-behind characters from past books (well-known real mystery novels that were set in the house). I think you've got something here.

khazar-khum said...

Thanks to you all!

The genesis of this was a GTP where the author had a murder mystery, and in the discussion I suggested that the house was a common site of murders. I let the idea sit for a while before seeing if I could keep the tone and have a live character to work with.

I really like EE's idea of keeping it all in/around the house and its grounds.
I'm not sure about stumbling into Miss Marple, but Holmes might be OK.

Finally, I'm calling it 'magical realism' instead of SF/F because it seemed to fit. If there's other ideas, please let me know!

Evil Editor said...

You could stumble over the bodies of Charles Baskerville and Roger Ackroyd.

Anonymous said...

" If there's other ideas, please let me know! "

I'd probably go for "fantasy with meta-fiction aspects", but that's me