Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Face-Lift 1365

Guess the Plot


1. It sure sounds better than 'FIRE!' when you scream it in a theater.

2. All things fire, in mythology, history, and science. From stealing it from the gods to dragons and salamanders to the Great Fire of London to pyrotechnicians to wilderness survival fire-starting. Includes an appendix on fire safety and a box of matches.

3. Due to a computer glitch, the planet Ignis is not as warm as predicted. That doesn't make it uninhabitable, but the colonizers will need to sew a lot of bikinis together to make clothing warm enough to survive the subzero temperatures. Also, yellow snow.

4. A serial killer who burns his victims alive has the city cowering in fear and the police baffled. It's up to the fireball-throwing superhero known as Ignis to fight fire with fire.

5. When the king and queen of Terra are murdered, Eric, the king of Ignis, offers to take their son's fiancée Laila to Ignis, the last place the king and queen were seen alive. There Laila hopes to solve their murder . . . and ease her worried mind.

6. Vesta Ignis has led a fairly normal life until she ends up the only survivor of a raging wildfire that destroys her hometown. Moving in with her distant relatives, dark plots unfurl as she discovers fire answering her beck and call. The world will burn. 

Original Version

Dear Evil Editor,

Laila is one of two [living] people cursed with a connection to all four elements. Those before her have been killed for their dangerous power. She’s protected by her fiance Will, the prince of Terra. His love affords her a luxurious life among royalty connected to one element. [I'm not clear on what you mean by "connection." I consider myself to have a connection of sorts to all four elements, yet my power, while palpable, is not particularly dangerous.]

Her peace is shattered when nature attacks. The King and Queen of Terra leave to investigate who's behind this dangerous switch. [I'm not sure what you mean by "attacks." Storms and earthquakes? I don't think "switch" is a word I'd use to describe an attack. Also, when hurricanes and blizzards occur, we don't immediately assume someone is behind it all.] [Also, kings and queens usually have minions charged with investigating danger.] Months later, their melted corpses are dumped on the castle steps. [That's why they have those minions.]

Laila’s ready to join Will to run [rule?] Terra and find the killer. [I was assuming Terra was the planet Earth. What is it, one kingdom? Even if so, we rarely say a king and queen "run" the kingdom. Although there are exceptions. Queen Elizabeth does run England.] Fear drives Will to become overbearing, creating a divide between them. Caleb, the King of Ignis, steps right in. He offers to take Laila to Ignis, [Now I've got the song "Layla" stuck in my head.] the last place the King and Queen were spotted. She leaves, hoping to hunt down a murderer and save the kingdom she loves. [Save it from what? Is nature still attacking? Is the killer threatening them?]

On this journey they visit Glacies, a harsh land of glass and ice. [Is it pronounced Glass ice, or Glay sees?] A home created by the royal families, for those connected to two elements. [I would delete "A home" and the period after "ice."] Laila is exposed to the suffering of others who are too powerful and outnumbered, leaving her to question the leaders she’s always loved.

When they reach Ignis, Laila’s introduced to Eric, [Whoa. Eric? Laila? Is it a coincidence that "Layla" is sung by Eric Clapton? That's like naming your character Roxanne and having her get arrested by the Police.] the one other person like her. Eric confesses that he’s behind the virus disrupting nature. [Guilty, with an explanation.] It’s part of his plan to steal the throne and free the people of Glacies. Laila wants to do what’s best for her people. [She's been running and hiding much too long.] First, she must decide who truly deserves her loyalty. 

Ignis is a fantasy,130,000 words. Thank you for your time and consideration.


If these people with connections to more than one element are so powerful, why are they so easy to imprison or kill? What can they do that one-connection people can't?

It seems to be the story of Laila and Eric. So maybe we don't need the first two paragraphs, just an opening that says the king and queen have been murdered, and their son is too busy to go after their killer but he's okay with his fiancée doing so. That way Eric can enter the query a lot earlier.


khazarkhum said...

EE, i wouldn't say your power is not dangerous. You can slaughter hopes, destroy dreams, and lay waste to lives with a single word.

As for the query, why are the rulers traveling to investigate? Why doesn't Eric just propose to Laila and her family that they marry and free the people of Glaycies? Why drag Will into this when a simple offer from Eric would do?

Anonymous said...

Raiders of the Lost Arc notwithstanding, the only thing on humans that melts is fingernails (don't ask me how I know this). If your characters are not human, you need to mention this up front. If the corpses were actually melted, all that would be left is goo, in which case how does anyone know who they used to be?

Kings and queens typically don't leave the borders of their country, and they're busy ruling. This would possibly work better if the disappeared people were Laila's parents who were important advisors to the ruler(s) or somesuch.

If a king and queen were to travel, they wouldn't be "spotted," they would be traveling with a small army of retainers, minor nobility, and servants whose location would be obvious to all the surrounding cities, towns, villages, and hamlets whose people would be either trying to take advantage of the possibility of additional commerce (if the rulers are the friendly sort) or trying to keep out of the way so they wouldn't be summarily executed (if the rulers are the tyrannical sort).

If Laila is so dangerous, why isn't she under luxurious lock and key, or at least heavy guard (this applies even more so if she's besties with the ruler(s)). Why is she allowed to travel anywhere? Is her ability a secret?

What is the king of a foreign country doing anywhere near Laila?

What is Laila trying to save her kingdom from?

How many suffering people are we talking about in the glass place? And why are they suffering? If it's large enough to be a sustainable country with multiple cities/towns/etc, I think you need to look up the history of place like Korea, Vietnam, and Switzerland. Numbers don't always mean much.

Your world building appears to have major logic issues. Hopefully this is just the query and there's a non-TSTL reason for all of it. Either way, the query needs to be written so these kinds of questions don't come up.

Specifics are better than generalities. We don't necessarily need as much of a play-by-play on the plot as a sense of who's involved, what's at stake for them, and what the problems are with them getting it.

Good luck on a rewrite.

Unknown said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
St0n3henge said...

From this, I would guess the book isn't ready to query.

Is this a NaNoWriMo? You need to wri mo.

Be clear, not vague. I also wondered about terms like "connected to." I assume this gives her a power of some sort?

Everybody's right about what kings and queens don't do. They have bodyguards, entourages, ladies in waiting, footmen. A king and queen can't even travel to the capital city without about 40 people.
Also, security is severely lax if someone can come to the front steps of the palace and dump off dead people. There should be three or four layers of security before that.

I can give you some alternate ideas. Send a character who is intrepid, dynamic, etc. instead. He or she could make the story more interesting, and would certainly make it more logical.
She doesn't need a fiance in the beginning. If the king of Ignis shows up wooing her, that would take care of that character. If you do have a fiance in the beginning, he should probably be the bad guy.

Otherwise, your story is that the king and queen die, then the princess leaves to find out why...Who the hell is running the kingdom? I don't want any of these people to rule. None of them seem to have any sense of what their responsibilities are.

And why does Eric confess to the Princess that he is essentially going to steal her throne? That's like calling up the bank and telling them you intend to rob it.

"Laila is exposed to the suffering of others who are too powerful and outnumbered," I'm not sure what that means. They're suffering because they're outnumbered but they're also too powerful? If they're that powerful why would it matter if they're outnumbered?

Anyway, none of it makes any sense. Start over.

Evil Editor said...

She's the princess (future) of Terra. He confesses he plans to steal the throne of Ignis, not her throne.

Unknown said...

It's not from Nanowrimo, it's actually a project I've been working on for years now and there are logical responses for all the questions people have asked. I just haven't answered them because it sounds too much like justifying. My query may be unclear, but my manuscript isn't.

Anonymous said...

Previous anonymous: If fingernails melt than so would toenails and fat usually melts. I would guess the missing royals were turned into either ice or glass or something else that melts and enough was left of them to be recognized.

EE: We can assume it's the throne of Ignis he's planning on stealing since that's the country she's in at the time, but the query doesn't actually say. And since he's responsible for some virus which is possibly connected to nature attacking which the king & queen of the other kingdom were investigating, I could see it maybe being that throne instead.

Author: When something sounds like justifying it's usually because it IS justifying and you don't want to admit it. Contriving explanations so things are how you want them to be will not make your readers happy. Also, just because your manuscript is clear doesn't mean the story works. How many beta readers that don't have an investment in being nice to you have read it?

This sounds like YA fantasy either romance or with a strong romantic subplot. If so, say so in the query. That genre can get away with some of the problems people have pointed out because the focus is on relationships with fantasy being added flavor, as in target readers aren't as likely to jump all over the world building being broken as long as there's a bit of steam and angst. Admittedly, politics in fantasy novels is usually broken, but that's a separate rant.

You tell us Laila is dangerous, but none of your characters are recognizably treating her as if she is. It's easy to assume either you're lying or your characters are stupid. I read a lot of fantasy and guessed 'connection' meant she's got some kind of element-based magic. I would still suggest you give examples of what exactly she and others can do with their magic so we have a better idea of the threats involved.

In your query you need:
main character: Laila -> all we know about her is she's led a sheltered life, her fiance loves her (does she love him?), she loves her kingdom and her leaders, and she has a connection to all four elements which theoretically makes her powerful but nobody seems to find her threatening.

character wants: to decide who is deserving of her loyalty ... which means what?

at stake: I have no idea. What impact will deciding who's deserving have? That decision's made so now she can sleep at night with a clear conscience?

obstacles: is she wishy-washy that she can't make decisions? Does she want more information? Possible problems with mind control or something?

plans: what does Laila plan on doing other than investigating the deaths which result was covered in the query (hint: don't give away the ending). If she plans on something else you might want to say.

Unknown said...

I didn't mean that I'd be justifying my story. There are reasonable explanations, and some of the questions are just from unclear writing. I meant, it would make me feel like I'm justifying the mistakes made in my query, when I hope to edit my query so there are no questions. My beta readers have told me plenty of things that were wrong with the project. Things that I fixed. They were even honest enough to say that I suck at writing queries, which is why I submitted. I do appreciate feedback on my query. I'm just saying that a 250 word query that I admittedly need help on, isn't representative of a 130,000 word manuscript that I'm confident with. I submitted it for a reason, and I think it's wrong to suggest my novel isn't ready based on a query I'm still trying to get right. But I'll just use some of the awesome suggestions I got from submitting, and let the agents decide for themselves.

Iamanoldvampirechild said...

I read a fantasy novel a couple of years ago ( It's not normally what I read ) where the Queen had a surprisingly short list of staff due to crumbling kingdom. I imagine this is the same kind of situation here , so I don't agree with some of the other comments about it having to be a conventional kingdom. I'm sure you have explained that in the book - what the reality is. As a reader this didn't bother me.

Here are the things that did stick out to me as needing clarification:

I thought this was a bit vague:

Laila 'is exposed to the suffering of others who are too powerful and outnumbered, leaving her to question the leaders she’s always loved.' I want to know what kind of suffering, if it's possible to replace the generic 'suffering' with the specific situation.
Then I read later about the people of Glacies needing to be freed, but Eric causing the virus ( I think virus needs to be mentioned earlier as I didn't realize there was a virus.

I know it's so hard to write these queries when you have a very complicated plot etc, and only 250 words. I'm in same position. I am interested to know what the 'connection to nature is' I wish there was enough words to explain it.

With this bit:

It’s part of his plan to steal the throne and free the people of Glacies. Laila wants to do what’s best for her people. [She's been running and hiding much too long.] First, she must decide who truly deserves her loyalty.

I don't read high fantasy so this might sound silly but does Glacies have it's own kingdom, or is Layla's kingdom the one he wants to take over?

When you say Layla wants to do what's best for her Kingdom , I expect you to explain how. I assume by fighting off Eric or whatever, but the 'she's been running and hiding much too long' just confused me, as I thought she had done what is best for her kingdom by going to save it by searching for the cause of the weather change. I don't understand why her loyalty is torn. Is she in love with Eric? Sounds deep and tangled and no doubt a great read for the same reasons it's hard to write a query for

Evil Editor said...

The line "She's been running and hiding much too long" isn't part of the query. (Note that it's in brackets and colored blue.) I put it in there for a laugh, but only those familiar with the song "Layla" would recognize it. "Layla" is #27 on Rolling Stone's list of the 500 greatest songs ever, so I assumed it wasn't an obscure reference, but perhaps I'm showing my age. A live performance of the song:

St0n3henge said...

I got it. But I'm middle aged.
It's a pain that so many songs have women's names in them, because that's what pops into your head whenever you see the person. And many of the songs aren't great.
Know anyone named Brandy?

Iamanoldvampirechild said...

Oh lol. I need new glasses ( I actually do ) I didn't see that. Re; 'running and hiding much too long'

Iamanoldvampirechild said...

Oh now I sound silly. What I did was I copied and pasted this query into a file so I could read ( as my eyes can't read it on the blog ) and it lost the colour formatting. I'm sure I'd know the song if I heard it lol