Sunday, June 10, 2018

Face-Lift 1377

Guess the Plot

Beast Weaver

1. Beauty’s friend takes up a new hobby.

2. A comprehensive guide on how to weave in 200 different animal designs as part of whatever craft project is on hand. Plus 10 short stories that inspired some of the patterns.

3. When Ferdinand sets out to win the 'Best Weaver' prize at the local state fair, well, let's just say there's a slight misunderstanding.... 

4. After Evelyinne's parents sell her to an evil fairy, she escapes and goes to the big city to work in the textile industry. She hears rumors of guards hunting for a malicious witch who's turning people into animals, only to realize later the cloth she weaves is responsible. Can she convince the fairy who now hates her to help her learn to control her powers?

5. Who cares what the plot is? There's a beast with the head and wings of an eagle combined with the torso of a man and the arms, legs, and tail of a lion! Yowza!

6. What else do you call a cross between a bear and a tarantula?

7. A genius geneticist manages to breed Przewalski horses recently reintroduced to the Russian landscape with the DNA of mammoth creatures. So what do you get? Huge horses with tusks and elephant feet. Quite a combo plate. 

8. Lisa’s new weaving kit looks like a lame present. But one day she starts to use it, and strange things happening. Fierce creatures roam through her house every night. Seems like she’s the one creating them with the kit. Can she weave one big enough to bite off her French teacher’s head before her mid-years?

Original Version

Dear Agent,

In all the nine kingdoms there is no place quite as safe and boring as the village of Ruthaven, no mythical creatures and no adventures to be had, the perfect place to hide a future king. [I'm not a stickler for sentences actually having to be sentences, but this being the first sentence, and the first impression, I'd go with: In all the nine kingdoms there is no place as safe and boring as the village of Ruthaven. With no mythical creatures and no adventures to be had, it's the perfect place to hide a future king.] Edmund Olivale has done his best to raise Lancel, the future king, alongside his daughter Kira, [Is Lancel Edmund's son? Stepson?] but when an assassin shows up at their front door the village is no longer a safe place. 

Edmund flees with his family to the eastern mountains, searching for an old friend. With the head and wings of an eagle combined with the torso of a man and the arms, legs, and tail of a lion, Edmond’s friend is a beast of his own creation. 
["His" meaning Edmund's friend or Edmund?] [Sounds like a griffin, although a griffin doesn't have a human torso. Then again, what difference does it make what kind of torso it is? If he were smart he'd have given it a torso of something less vulnerable, like a rhinoceros or a dump truck.] Now Kira knows why her father taught her the beast language of Rarack. He’s a beast weaver and with a little practice, she can be one too. 

[English to Rarack Translator

Human : Rarack
Lioness : Rarack
Weapon : Rarack
Villager : Rarack
Covfefe : Rarack

Typical Beast Conversation

Beast 1: Rarack rarack!
Beast 2: Rarack rarack rarack!
Beast 1: Rarack.]

Kira will need her new ability to help her brother earn his rightful place on the throne of Vanderhelm. The creatures she creates become increasingly valuable [vital?] when the children are separated from their father. [What role are the beasts playing? Scouts? Guides? Bodyguards?] With little knowledge of the nine kingdoms, they place their faith in a well-traveled fifteen-year-old boy named Varro to guide them from kingdom to kingdom as they try to build an army.

To win support they must embark on quests like defeating an army of vengeful battle-toads, gathering ingredients to cure a paralyzed king, and recovering a flightless groundhawk that serves as a kingdom’s mascot. Soon the three kids find themselves with an army of followers, but how can they best assassins that seem to pop out of every corner and how can they ever beat the warlock king who can turn himself into the most fearsome beast imaginable, a three-headed dragon? [They have no chance of success. The good news is you won't have to write a sequel.]

Beast Weaver is a middle-grade fantasy novel, clocking in at 60,000 words. [I haven't seen "clocking in at" used for anything other than time. "Coming in at" might be better, although you could say Beast Weaver is a 60,000-word middle-grade fantasy novel.] I chose you as a literary agent [I'm writing to you] because you have represented M.G. fantasy before. Thank you for your time and consideration.


Unless there's a good reason for your future king's name to be so similar to Lancelot, change it.

Why is Edmund's son the future king? Who is the current king? Why and from whom did Lancel have to be hidden, and how come he's now free to travel everywhere recruiting an army instead of finding another hiding place? What enemy is Lancel's army going to fight, and why?

If you've got two beast weavers in your family, wouldn't it be better to create an army of beasts instead of recruiting a bunch of puny unreliable humans? 

Why would soldiers be willing to join an army led by kids, and if they are willing to do so, why weren't they willing a few weeks ago? Just because the kids rescued their mascot and stomped on some toads?

I think you need to rewrite the query in a way that answers some of my questions and doesn't inspire me to ask so many other ones.

It might help to focus the query on one character.

Even when I offer Guess the Plot, they're all written by me and the same two or three other people. Maybe no one comes to this blog anymore?


Anonymous said...

Testing.... Testing....

I've tried leaving comments on some of the previous queries but they didn't show up. I assumed either blogger's been hungry or they weren't worth showing.

On topic:
On the plus side, this does sound like middle grade, so you have that down.
It might help to say how the beasts Kira creates are valuable.

Anonymous said...

Why do you think so? I just saw your blog and it is amazing. I will try my best to be regular.

JSF said...

I agree with too many questions. Who is this well-traveled 15 year old. I thought well-traveled was reserved for adjuct college professors. How could they gather an army with a mascot that sounds a lot like a chicken. The army must also be very bored or want to see some blood letting. I think Varro might be a good character to develop. He seems to be key to the plot. How else are they going to get around, yet he is just some well-traveled 15 year old kid? Broken home?

Boy oh boy. I put in something for guess the plot which means I visited this blog. I think I'll go join the beast weavers and find some adventure.

InkAndPixelClub said...

It sounds to me like Kira is the main character, so I’d start with her. Editors and agents tend to assume that the first person you mention is the main character, rather than the third one mentioned.

There’s a fair amount you don’t need here: like the fact that the beasts speak a different language or the detailed description of Kirra's dad's beast if he just appears once n the query and then vanishes. What we do need is a better understanding of what role the beasts play in this world and the abilities and limitations a beast weaver has.

If Kira being a novice beast weaver is an important detail which has an impact on your story, then flesh out what she can’t do o has to learn to do. If no problems are caused by the fact that Kira is new at beast weaving, just say she's a beast weaver and maybe dump the dad from the query.

The “quests in exchange for military backing” section doesn’t work for me. I can buy one kingdom or faction saying “We have this one major problem that we can’t solve ourselves, so if you do it for us, we'll help you take the throne.” But three or more of them having a quest at the ready I don’t believe. If the quests are more complex than the kids and the beasts completing a single task and getting people to sign up to go to war for them, then that should be in here.

Anonymous said...

I come here! But only to lurk and learn.

Anonymous said...

Some of us still visit, EE, even if we just lurk on the site.
You’re still relevant.\

Unknown said...

Thank you so much for all the help. My new draft looks much better thanks to you.

Unknown said...

Let's hope this shows up.

what you're describing sounds like a game with levels that have to be beaten in order to advance, rather than an actual novel. Battle-toads? Isn't that already a game?

Modern fantasy has devolved from a genre where anything is possible to one where only quests exist. It's become pedestrian and boring, the last things fantasy should be. Hell, I can't even think of ways to make what should be a fantastic world--we can combine animals !--into something that sounds exciting.

Anonymous said...

Lurkers are still around!