Friday, February 12, 2021

Face-Lift 1414

Guess the Plot

The Pilot of Aros

1. Ronaldo Cauchon pilots commercial freighters through the treacherous waters surrounding Aros Harbor using only a raft and pole. But even that pales in comparison to the exhausting task of piloting Captain Fanny Astley’s heart through the straits of her blueblood family’s objections to Ronaldo's cable knit turtlenecks.

2. Every ship needs a pilot just like every pilot needs a ship, but why did Versa, with the lowest scores at the academy, get assigned Aros, the psycho ship that's killed its last fifteen pilots for being incompetent? Alien invasion? Versa needs to survive her own ship first.

3. Pilot Asha Glix has a thriving business, and that's all she ever wanted. So it's little annoying when criminals and politicians send powerful warships to attack her passenger ship. But she'll survive through grit, determination, and inexplicable luck..

4. The memoir of Burton Ross, who served as the only active pilot on the tiny island of Aros. He and his self-built “Windcharm” Newport II served the local community from 1908 until his untimely death in 1988. A collection of anecdotes from his former passengers. Includes photographs.

5. Crail is 20 years old and he knows every current, shoal, and sandbar of Aros, the river that leads to to the dreaded Isle of Fire, where traitors and rebels against the emperor are taken. He's grown up working as a hand on the ferry that transports the wretches, and now he's inheriting the job of pilot. Will he find it within himself to continue -- especially now that he's fallen in love with one of his passengers?

6. If you want to be immortalized, you have to be the best at what you do. Which, for Sven, means removing any pilots better than him in "accidents." When he's caught, rather than go to prison, he becomes the literal heart and brains of an experimental fighter ship. Without the body parts for lust, can he find true love with his captain?

Original Version

Dear [Insert name of Query-Inundated Agent Here], 

I am currently seeking representation for my space opera, THE PILOT OF AROS. Given [whatever made me submit to them], I thought it might be a good fit for your list. 

Captain Asha Glix is the most famous interstellar passenger pilot in the Tork Arm of the galaxy. [Impressive. But I'd rather read about the most famous interstellar passenger pilot in the entire galaxy.] Her unorthodox style and swift ship, the Superstition, are known in posh elite and rowdy underground circles alike. Clients and benefactors whisper of her “preternatural luck” without ever guessing its source - and as far as Asha is concerned, they can keep guessing. [Until they eventually guess right, and then she'll have to kill them.] Her reputation has built a booming business and secured the livelihoods of her crew. That’s all Asha ever wanted. 

When a mysterious stranger stumbles upon the old secret that Asha has buried deeper than any other, he offers her what seems to be the opportunity of a lifetime - even though taking it would force her to resume an identity she left behind long ago. [Way too vague. What's mysterious about the stranger, what's Asha's old secret, what's the opportunity, what was her identity?Compare your paragraph with the following, which may or may not be correct:

When a stranger wearing a foggy fishbowl over his head and a black cloak tells Asha he knows she's the actress who popularized Human/Tork soft-core porn, and he can get her a screen test for Star Wars, Episode 29: The Empire Strikes Back Yet Again, she's thrilled--until she realizes being on the big screen means she'll be recognized as the disgraced empress of Aros.]

Unfortunately, the Captain isn’t left to contemplate the stranger’s offer in peace. Powerful unmarked ships have begun attacking the Superstition and menacing her best customer; 
drawing Asha against her will into the snarled interface between organized crime, politics, and dispassionate practicality. And when one of their friends commits the most perilous of treacheries, [Inciting an insurrection.] Asha and her crew are forced to face the fact that surviving may not always mean surviving intact. [This sounds less vague, but outside of the fact that powerful ships are attacking the Superstition, there's little specificity.]

THE PILOT OF AROS is complete at 90,000 words, and is the first novel in a planned trilogy. I have included the first [#] pages and a synopsis below. The remainder of the manuscript is available, in part or full, upon request. 

The author is an opera singer, chemistry geek, and recovering grad student shocked to find herself in her mid-20's. She adores complex female villains, concept cars, and chatting about politics and power dynamics. [First of all, aren't you the author? Second, this would be highly effective in your Tinder profile, but it'll sway a limited number of agents to request your manuscript.

Thank you for your time and consideration!


As an opera singer, surely it's occurred to you that you should convert this space opera into an actual opera. The title even sounds like an opera. The Barber of Seville, The Marriage of Figaro, The Pilot of Aros. All you need is a bunch of songs, one of which has to have a catchy melody, and a set that looks like the bridge of the starship Enterprise.

There must be a reason that a passenger ship would be attacked by several powerful ships. If your cargo is passengers and your mission is transportation, you normally aren't equipped to defend against warships. If a Delta Airlines plane were attacked by several F-15 fighter jets, it wouldn't have a chance, even if the pilot had preternatural luck. Of course things are different in space.

I'm not sure why we bring up the stranger's opportunity if Asha doesn't even have time to contemplate it. Is it connected to the attacking ships? To organized crime, politics and... dispassionate practicality? If it's all interrelated, show it. Otherwise focus on what's most important.  

What is Aros?


Mandakinz said...

I like the details you provide in the first plot paragraph. I wonder what her 'unorthodox' style is and how she manages to appeal to both the rich and poor alike. Superstition is a cool name for a ship too.

I am curious (in a good way) about the 'preternatural luck' -- luck with what? In the first plot paragraph, it's established there's a secret to her luck that no one can guess. Then in the second plot paragraph, the mysterious stranger stumbles upon "the old secret that's buried deeper than any other". Is that the same one that made her so successful in business? Is there a second secret? If there's only one secret and its her true identity, then I'm wondering out what former identity would make her so successful as a inter stellar passenger pilot.

Like EE said, I was also wondering about the secret, the opportunity, and the identity. I was intrigued!

I like the part about the Superstition coming under attack and curious what you mean about 'surviving may not always mean surviving intact'. Will the crew survive but the Superstition gets destroyed?

I didn't care for the sentence about organized crime and politics, but that's probably just a personal dislike on my part for those type of plotlines. In my opinion, political intrigue is usually exposed through dialogue, it's boring, and difficult to follow. Very possible your book would spell it out in a way even a dunderhead like me could follow, or it's set far enough in the background that I can enjoy the character stories. Or it's juicy and complex and plenty of people will like it and it's just not meant for me.

Your book sounds like you have an interesting character with an intriguing background, a cool ship, and space battles. With Asha's reputation among the elite and the rowdy, sounds like you have a lot of opportunity for a great cast of characters.

As for your bio, I am curious for your examples of complex female villains.

My comments probably aren't too helpful in working on your query, but I wanted to let you know what I thought of your overall plot.

Anonymous said...

Yeah... what's with all the intrigue and danger around a passenger ship? Are "passenger ships" like elite limo services that only criminals and elite politicians (but I repeat myself) can afford? If her business is booming, why does she have "benefactors"?

I get that there's a lot of shadiness, but please give us a clear picture of the conflict and whatever is driving the plot.

Anonymous said...

Overall, this is consistently missing the specifics that it needs:

If a mysterious stranger is going to impact the plot, it's worth mentioning who (venal politician? cyborg weredingo? sexpot bountyhunter? spy from a different galactic arm?) and how (if the only impact is the offer, the stranger isn't important enough to mention).
If a secret is worth mentioning, it's worth mentioning what that secret is.
If the opportunity of a lifetime is worth mentioning, it's worth being specific about
If an old identity is worth mentioning, it's worth mentioning what that old identity was/is.
If the most perilous of treacheries is worth mentioning, it's worth saying what exactly that is

These are the kind of specifics that tell the agent what the MC's motivations are, what's at stake, what resources they have, etc.

Other quibbles:
The first paragraph feels like it takes too long to get to the point, that the MC is the captain of a successful, preternaturally lucky passenger ship (business).

"unmarked ships [...] menacing her best customer" makes me start wondering about whether her customer is a ship or the unmarked ones are small enough to be on the streets of a planet/station. Being specific about "best customer" would also probably help.

"*their* friends" - bringing in the crew is both a bit late in the query and takes the focus off your MC

there needs to be enough plot development that the cause and effect is obvious and doesn't look like a bunch random things happening at once

Good Luck

Astoria said...

Thank you all for the comments and feedback! I'm revising now and will likely resubmit when finished. Will stick around to provide plot guesses for others...

CavalierdeNuit said...

I would recommend watching "Tripping the Rift"(animated series 2004-2007) for inspiration because this sounds similar and you could write a novel version. Make it absolutely ridiculous, a novel of crude humor and salty characters, complete with the soft-porn angle.