Friday, May 18, 2018

Face-Lift 1375

Guess the Plot

Hamilton Boggs

1. Average man, average life, average thoughts. It's literary. 

2. Orphaned boy enrolls at a school for wizards, befriends a boy and girl there, and saves the world from monsters and evil wizards. It's like nothing you've ever read before.

3. Hamilton Boggs was an unfortunate name for a fae, so he preferred to go by Ilton. As the local mischief maker for the swine population, he is hoping to move up in the world to equines. And maybe grow an inch or two. 

4. Curious knockoff of the broadway hit. 

5. Everyone knew Hamilton Boggs was the most ruthless lawyer in Dubuque, but no one at the Merry Bear Leather Club expected him to go quite that far for a divorce case.

6. After winning the state spelling bee, Hamilton Boggs heads for D.C. for the Nationals. But someone doesn't want Hamilton to win, and will do anything to prevent it. Including murder.

Original Version

I am seeking representation for Hamilton Boggs, a 91,000 word YA fantasy novel that will appeal to fans of writers as diverse as Diana Wynne Jones, Philip Pullman, and Diane Duane.

Hamilton Boggs thinks he is an average 13-year-old boy, [13 is a good age for a middle-grade book, the kind with wizards and monsters. YA readers seem to prefer characters their own age.] but when he comes home to find his apartment destroyed and his grandmother mortally wounded, he learns he is a young wizard with a price on his head. [Hmm. My apartment's destroyed, my grandmother's dead . . . it can't be a robbery gone horribly wrong; it can only mean I'm a young wizard with a price on my head.] After barely escaping capture by the chimera Ruzgar, the right-hand monster of the mysterious Yellow King, Hamilton travels to Savannah, GA, one of the last neutral cities in the war-torn wizarding world. There, he is given refuge and hidden at Westley House, a southern manor converted into a school for magic for the refugee children flooding into the city. [What's the point of traveling to a neutral city if he has to be given refuge and hidden? It doesn't sound so neutral if bad guys are there hunting people down.] [Are all the refugee children wizards? Or does this school teach wizardry to non-wizards? Either way, if kids are flooding into the city, one manor house isn't gonna hold them all.] 

At Westley House, Hamilton befriends Daisy Blue, the only daughter of the manor-turned-school’s scions, and Ozzie DeLillo, Savannah’s young magical genius. As he navigates the strange new world of southern magic, Hamilton soon discovers that Savannah is crawling with spies and mercenaries, all of whom seem to be looking for a secretive monster and the terrible weapon it is said to possess. [He's being hidden in this manor house, but he discovers what's going on throughout the city?] When Hamilton runs across this very monster in the misty pine forests around Westley House, he is drawn deeper into the conflict, discovering along the way who he really is and what role he has to play in the war tearing the magical world apart. [It's a rare 13-year-old who runs into a monster with a terrible weapon while alone in a misty forest, and uses the event as an opportunity for self-examination.]

Thank you for your time and consideration.


On the one hand, it's refreshing that you haven't referenced Harry Potter. On the other hand, you've got a school for magic in a wizarding world, and an orphaned MC, so maybe you should confess.

Who is fighting against whom in this war tearing the magical world apart? And why?

Ruzgar and the Yellow King get mentioned once and then dropped, leading me to wonder how important they are.  The same with Daisy and Ozzie (AKA Hermione and Ron). And Grandma.

It's well-written, but it doesn't get very far into the plot. Possibly you could condense this into something like:

When orphaned 13-year-old Hamilton Boggs arrives in Savannah, Georgia, one of the last neutral cities in the war-torn wizarding world, he finds refuge at Westley House, a southern manor converted into a school for magic. Savannah is crawling with spies and mercenaries, all of them looking for a secretive monster and the terrible weapon it is said to possess. When Hamilton runs across this very monster in the misty pine forests around Westley House, he is drawn deep into the war tearing the magical world apart.

That gives you room to expound on the war and Hamilton's role therein and what will happen if he fails to accomplish whatever he needs to accomplish.


St0n3henge said...

On the one hand, kids like Harry Potter. The books sell.

On the other hand, if it's an obvious knockoff, the adults you are trying to entice will just assume low quality, like those Video Brinquedo videos that rip off popular Dreamworks pictures. Ever heard of Ratatoing? Or Little Panda Fighter?

Second, a monster and the weapon...You need to expand here. I feel there is more here than a single monster with a single weapon. The war must be over something very important. Otherwise, it isn't really a war, it's a monster hunt.

If there is anything creative or YOU about this book, put it in the query revision. Otherwise rewrite until there is.

Anonymous said...

what to say, what to say.....

When I saw the Yellow King, my first thought was "ooh Lovecraftian" (reference The King in Yellow), but I see no evidence of Lovecraftian and so am disappointed.

Refugees are interesting and different, but, again, the plot looks like that's a peripheral background detail, and so I'm disappointed again.

If you're going to mention the monster, you should probably mention what kind of monster it is and why everyone's looking for it. Ditto the who he is and role he has to play. If they aren't covered in this book, they don't belong in the query for this book.

We don't really know from this query what Hammy wants, what's at stake for him, or what obstacles he faces. All of which we need to know. Better details should save you from being an HP clone if you're not. Good luck.

Anonymous said...

"Diverse" in the publishing world today means a non-straight-white point of view, so I'd ditch the word diverse on those comps, and also would note that since all those authors write or wrote children's fantasy, it's not really a diverse set of comps anyway.