Tuesday, October 27, 2020

Face-Lift 1409

Guess the Plot

Dreams of Ethereal Ash

1. Chimney sweep Bucky LaRue keeps dozing off on the job. Hilarity ensues. Also, a disreputable roofing contractor.

2. Ist, son of Ars, dreams of the lost third heaven where mountains of fire consumed the land and sea and sky. He finds the place and bottles some of the sparkly ash to sell to the gullible. Unfortunately, a group of rather determined men and women tell him his dreams are the key to stopping the destruction of all worlds, heavens, and hells. Is it too late to pretend he made it all up?

3. Returning to her home kingdom after a journey to the eastern islands, Eleanor finds the land covered in ash. The long-dormant volcano, Mount Hephaestus, obviously erupted in her absence. Equally obviously, Eleanor's prayers to the god Vulcan have finally been answered, and she won't have to go back to her high school ever again.

4. When TV Skincare guru Dr Ashley Seborrea wakes to find her material form stolen by demons, she longs for her regular life. How to advise the nation on the perfect popping of their pustules when she's invisible, intangible — and emitting random wails for comedic effect? A chance meeting with Butch the Insubstantial Beagle on the outer rim of the Astral Plane solidifies Ash's emerging master plan. The pair rematerialise into one another's lives, drawing the demons out of hiding. But when the great cosmic battle is over, will Butch give up his new-found passion for treating underarm acne — or will he cast Ash into the nightmare world of superstore dog feed and knobbly rubber bones till the end of time?

5. Sixteen-year-old Bennett longs to become an Imperial Knight, so he can hunt the degenerate pirates bringing terror and death upon the enemies of the empire. But first he has to summon his animal familiar, aka his ethereal, which will be difficult because he's the only person who doesn't have one (well, dead people don't have one because when you die your ethereal crumbles to ash, but that's another story), and he can't get an ethereal because he would need magic to get one and he's also the only person who doesn't have magic. If he had an ethereal it could help him get magic, but . . .  In the end, Bennett abandons his childhood dream and becomes a pirate himself and screw the empire.

6. Big trees, little tree, red trees, blue trees. Samson has been dreaming of trees for as long as he can remember. Does the new ash tree in his dreams have anything to do with the murder spree happening in his hometown? 

7. In this collection of post-apocalyptic, Mad-Max-style fairy tale mashups, Cinderella joins Hell's Angels to overthrow the monarchy, Sleeping Beauty and Snow White battle it out in a top secret cryo-lab, and the Pied Piper meets his match in Hansel and Gretel. With cameo appearances by other favorites.

Original Version

Dear Evil Editor,

To hunt degenerate pirates afflicting [raiding? plundering?] the islands under imperial protection and to bring death upon the enemies of the empire. [Not clear so far whether it's the islands, or the pirates afflicting the islands, that are under imperial protection. Perhaps "To hunt pirates raiding the empire's islands . . . " would address this minor point. Also, as the enemies of an empire are more likely to be countries with armies than individuals, you could go with destroy or repel rather than bring death upon. A colon after the first sentence might be better than a period.] These are the responsibilities of Imperial Knights. For sixteen-year-old Bennett, becoming a knight would fulfill his dream. 

In a society where magic is as unique as one’s own fingerprint and animal familiars called Ethereals are a part of daily life, standing out can be difficult, becoming a knight, near impossible. Especially for Bennett. Unlike everyone else, whose lives revolve around magic and their Ethereal, Bennett has neither. [A person who's unlike everyone else would "stand out."] To obtain magic, he needs to first summon his Ethereal. He can’t. What he can do is fight anyone who ridicules his malady.

On his fourth and final chance [attempt?] to summon, an attack on his home island of Sutton shatters his world. Were it an ordinary pirate raid, life would go on, but Sutton’s protectors were never prepared for a rebel invasion. The empire fails to protect its citizens, and Bennett loses everything. His misguided faith in the knights leads to his sister’s abduction, and for the first time he sees the empire as an uncaring, self-fulfilling [Self-indulgent? Self-serving?] regime.

With nowhere to go and his remaining family kidnapped by rebels, [Remaining family besides his sister?] Bennett tosses aside his childhood dream, taking on a life of piracy. Together with new friends, Bennett will devise a plan to rescue his sister [family?] while spitting in the faces of both the empire and rebellion before all-out war tears her [them?] from his grasp. [If his sister is his only remaining family member, just say sister.]

DREAMS OF ETHEREAL ASH is a 92,000-word YA fantasy appealing to readers of The Storm Crow and Dark Shores.

Thank you for your consideration.


You need an Ethereal to get magic so summoning an Ethereal apparently doesn't require magic. What does it require, and why can't Bennett do it? Because he has a malady? Is there an Ethereal somewhere waiting to be summoned by Bennett, and thinking, Come on, you moron, just say my name three times?

Now that Bennett's seen the light, why doesn't he want to join the rebels? It would give him easier access to his sister than being a pirate. True, a sixteen-year old kid would be welcomed by degenerate pirates, but not for the right reasons. Plus, his sister isn't gonna want to be a pirate, so it's either join the rebels or move to another empire.

Was Bennett on the island when the rebels attacked? What are the rebels doing with all the people they kidnapped? 

If everyone except Bennett has magic, he should know he's disqualified from becoming a knight. He'd be like Peter Parker before he became Spiderman, fighting against Doctor Strange.

Whether you need to mention Ethereals in the query depends on whether they are useful after they give you magic. You summon one, it gives you magic, and then? Abandons you? Hangs with you like a wise-cracking sidekick? 

I don't think we need everything in the first paragraph. If you started something like:

For sixteen-year-old Bennett, becoming a knight would fulfill his every dream. But in a society where magic is as common as cockroaches, becoming a knight is impossible for someone without it. Someone like Bennett. 

An attack on his home island of Sutton shatters Bennett's world. Were it an ordinary pirate raid, life would go on, but the Imperial Knights were never prepared for a rebel invasion . . . 

you might have room to provide some answers to my questions. Or to tell us what kind of magic we're talking about. Apparently the knights can't stop the rebels by creating a force field or making them all disappear or turning them into frogs. What do people use magic for?