Thursday, August 13, 2020

Face-Lift 1407

Guess the Plot

The High Lord's Demon

1. Jake Lord loves his rum. Perhaps too much.

2. It was so cute when he found it, all scales and nibbly teeth and a tail that curled around his wrist. Now that it's grown though, Aldred's having a hard time keeping it fed. Maybe it's time to let the inquisition gather up witches and heretics for meal times. Or have a war.

3, The Duke has a cherub. The King has an archangel. The High Lord is supposed to have a guardian angel, but instead has a demon. Wacky Faustian adventures ensue.

4. When High Lord Vreshex had his mother-in-law executed, he thought that would be the last of her. Unfortunately, she's come back as an agent for Hell's most diabolical schemes. Vreshex doesn't care what she does, as long as she's gone. But she has other plans.

5. High Lord Arkaen's lover has an inhuman seer's power that makes him near-omniscient. He has predicted a coming war, but Arkaen doesn't know if he can trust him. After all, the guy could be a demon from hell! Also, a spy in need of debt forgiveness.

6. Father Leofwin tries his best to steer his flock toward heaven, but how can he compete with the high lord's demon, who tempts the peasants with wine and pastries and medieval torture porn? Maybe it's time for a new holy war.

Original Version

Dear Evil Editor,

The High Lord's Demon is a high fantasy novel complete at 110,000 words planned as the standalone opening to a series. The book will appeal to lovers of low-magic fantasy [I'm sure Stephen King didn't tell his publisher that Cujo would appeal to fans of 101 Dalmatians, even though that was obviously true. So perhaps it's better to say it will appeal to fans of Naomi Novik and Jacqueline Carey than to lovers of low magic fantasy.] [Also, I think I'd prefer this paragraph at the end of your plot summary, before or in place of your credits.] while including political and fantastical elements that will also draw readers of Naomi Novik's novel Uprooted. 

Niamsha's debts to the local thieves guild may be unpaid, but it's hardly her fault the damned high lord of her home province destroyed the economy—and Niamsha's only chance at a decent life—with his new laws. In a desperate attempt to save her brother from joining her on the streets, Niamsha [Anagram: I, Shaman, which might be a better title for the book if she is a shaman. In fact, I like that title so much, consider making her a shaman if she isn't one already.] [Of course if you do make her a shaman, you should change her name so it isn't an anagram of the title.] accepts a job as a spy against [spying on] a disgruntled nobleman. But when her advice inspires rebellion, the situation spirals out of her control and puts more than just her brother at risk. [I'm not sure what the "situation" was, but I find it hard to believe it was ever in her control. Niamsha is in debt, living on the streets, and has no chance at a decent life. Yet someone (whoever hired her, I assume) takes her advice in a situation so serious it could inspire a rebellion?]

High Lord Arkaen should be on the path to martyrdom. He sacrificed his childhood innocence fighting a civil war and relinquished a comfortable life with the man he loves to reclaim his place as high lord from corrupt nobles. And one of these days his blind idealism is going to get him killed. But his lover, gifted with an inhuman seer's power that makes him near-omniscient, predicts a new war. One that demands a united front from Arkaen's fractured province. Despite the magic his lover commands, all Arkaen knows about the coming conflict is that, somehow, Niamsha is caught in the middle of it. [How does he know this? Did his inhuman seer tell him?] 

With the province divided, Arkaen and Niamsha must find common ground to protect their families from a deadly coup. But Arkaen's lover has mysterious plans of his own, and even Arkaen can't predict what steps he might take in the name of peace.

I have a bachelor's degree in English with a creative writing emphasis, I work as a freelance developmental editor, and I have been active in multiple creative writing groups, including holding a position as an officer of my local writer's group.

Thank you for your consideration.


The Niamsha paragraph is vague. Who hired her? What's her objective as a spy? What's the situation that's spiraling out of control? Who or what is at risk besides her brother, and in what way?

It's usually best to focus on one main character. If you have two main characters, I would focus on Arkaen. The paragraph about Arkaen has more information and specificity. Plus, Arkaen's the one with the demon.

Now, if you have only one main character, and it's Niamsha, put in some information explaining why she's a major player in this rebellion/war/situation. Does she have followers? Powers?


Unknown said...

Quick question if you have a chance, EE--

Conventional wisdom I've heard says not to write a query solely about a character who isn't the opening POV (dual-POV book). Throw that out, or build the first paragraph more so they both feel detailed and connected to plot?

Also, I now VERY much want to write a book named I, Shaman. I wonder if she CAN be a shaman.....


Evil Editor said...

If your conventional wisdom is valid, you have several options, obviously. I assume Niamsha is introduced before Lord Arkaen, in which case you can simply improve the Niamsha paragraph, possibly by answering a couple of the questions it led me to ask, or put Arkaen's intro chapter before Niamsha's, or tack a prologue starring Arkaen onto the front of the book.

Presumably the agent will read your query before reading any of your book. If the query intrigues her, and she then refuses to represent you for the petty reason that your query introduced the wife before the husband, when the husband appears before the wife in the book (a "problem" she can fix if she wishes before submitting to editors), she obviously will be difficult to work with, and you don't want her.

Anonymous said...

Is Aerkaen the "damned high lord" from para 2? Is he the disgruntled nobleman she's spying on? I understand keeping the name count down, but I'm confused as to whether some of these descriptors may be talking about the same people.

What's the brother's situation now and is the risk something besides him ending up on the streets? I don't see a deadly coup having a directly lethal affect on him. Is there more family that hasn't been mentioned?