Thursday, August 25, 2016

Face-Lift 1325


Guess the Plot

The Gift of Malachi

1. Turns out the holy book has one last chapter. However, due to spelling mistakes and grammatical errors, the messenger did not feel it worthy of inclusion. Now the fate of the world rests within its faulty text, as long as nothing is misinterpreted.

2. Annie has been set up on so many blind dates she's considering learning braille. The latest installment arrives on her doorstep on Christmas Eve wearing a large red bow. Only a large red bow.

3. To reward the doctor from Karachi who cured his splotchy skin, Malachi hires a Mariachi band to perform while the doctor's grilling on a hibachi. The doctor's wife is not amused . . . until he buys her a Versace bag.

4. In post-Civil War Nevada, thirteen-year-old Malachi helps a grizzled old miner to protect an ancient Mesopotamian object from the immortal necromancer who'll stop at nothing to get it. Normally, a kid wouldn't be much help, but I haven't told you about Malachi's "gift."

5. When Chinese psychic Chin Tong declares that the energy of the universe is being sucked dry, he coins the term "malachi." But newscasters mispronounce the term, and people think he's predicted a bad year for chai tea. A run on tea stores leads to a shortage, until Chai tea becomes the world's most valuable commodity and the world economy implodes.



Original Version

Dear Mr. Evil Editor:

A thirteen-year-old son of a former slave finds himself entangled, first in the dream world, then in the real world, in an impossible battle to the death in the American Old West with an evil necromancer who seemingly cannot die. [Battling to the death with someone who's immortal is like trying to eat oatmeal with an ice pick. Or, to misquote Vizzini, "Never go in against someone who can't die when death is on the line!"] [We don't need a "hook" at the beginning, especially if most of it is going to be repeated in the next sentence.]

Malachi Moses Washington is a thirteen-year-old son of a former slave who had moved with his mother to the mining town of Virginia City, Nevada [Gol dang it, now ah'm gonna have the Bonanza theme running through mah head all day.] soon after the U. S. Civil War. [Not that I would expect anyone to misinterpret that, but "who had moved with his mother to the mining town of Virginia City" could refer to the former slave rather than to Malachi. Perhaps: Malachi Moses Washington, the thirteen-year-old son of a former slave, moves with his mother...] In the turbulent Old West, Malachi and his mother struggle to eke out a living for themselves and escape the residual racism of 19th century America.

Malachi finds himself part of a small group of characters including a war veteran gunslinger, an elderly Scottish professor, and a young Scottish doctor [Apparently you couldn't swing a dead cat in 1875 Nevada without hitting a Scottish guy.] [Aha! According to the Online Nevada Encyclopedia, "Although Scots were one of the larger groups to settle North America, the Irish and Cornish eclipsed them in Nevada." Consider making your doctor Cornish. It's funnier.] [For those who aren't familiar with the Cornish, they're people from Cornwall in England, famous mainly for the delicious game hens they introduced to Nevada in the 1860s.] [Also, those don't sound like the sort of people Malachi would just "find himself" hanging out with. What brought them together?] when an old miner appears with an ancient Mesopotamian object

[Scottish professor: Whit ur ye holdin' in yer hain, auld timer?

Grizzled old miner: This? Oh, just . . . an ancient Mesopotamian object.]

and tales of a man of pure evil determined to do him harm.

Soon after this, Malachi has disturbing dreams of each of the men that include a strange “man in grey.” This man seems to hold knowledge of each of them and maliciously accuses them of past wrongdoings. The man in grey is relentlessly pursuing the old miner, and now this new group, in an effort to retrieve the ancient object, but the old miner insists it is necessary to “hold his devils at bay.” [If you mean the miner's devils, shouldn't that be, since it's in quotes, "to hold my devils at bay"?] The group realizes that Malachi is somehow the key to uniting them and staving off the man in grey’s assault. [Is this all in Malachi's dreams, or did we come back to the real world at some point in the paragraph? If the latter, starting a new paragraph when were back in reality would help.] [Does Malachi do something that causes everyone to realize he's the key?]

Malachi learns what the old miner means by "his devils" [Was "his devils" a phrase Malachi dreamed the miner used, or did he actually say it?] as numerous recently dead corpses rise from the local graveyard and threatened him and his friends in a chase through the silver mines of 1875 Nevada. [You've waited this long to mention that you have zombies in your book? Those should be worked into the first sentence: A thirteen-year-old son of a former slave finds himself entangled, first in the dream world, with a man whose wardrobe consists of fifty shades of grey, then in the real world, with the walking dead.] [Note that by subtly mentioning a very popular book and TV show, you can subliminally suggest that your book, once published, will be equally popular.]

Miraculously [After] surviving the attack through perilous, and often ingenious, means, Malachi then returns to the surface to find out that the man in grey has physically arrived in Virginia City himself. Malachi was able to fend off his evil plot in the dream world, [but] can he now face him in the real world? [Facing him is the easy part. Can he vanquish him?]

THE GIFT OF MALACHI is a 62,000 word Middle-Grade Fantasy novel. Thank you for your valuable time and advice.

Best regards,


Notes

Does the miner mention what will happen if the man in grey gets hold of the ancient Mesopotamian object? Because that would help us know what's at stake. Does he want it because it will grant him three wishes or because it will complete his collection or because it will make him the supreme ruler of the universe?

Doesn't this object resemble anything enough that you can give it a more specific name than "object"? Like knife or amulet or falcon statuette? Even artifact would be better.

Unless it's not important to the plot, it might be a good idea to spell out what Malachi's gift is.

Is racism a theme of the book? They moved to Nevada to escape racism, but if the Nevada part of the story doesn't involve racism, maybe the query shouldn't mention it. If it does involve racism, you might say how.

Is the man in grey called that because he's not a flashy dresser? Because if I had a dream about a strange man of pure evil, I doubt I would wake up remembering that his clothes were grey. It would be like remembering that when he bit off your nose, Hannibal Lecter was wearing brown socks. Also, note that Hannibal's nickname was the Cannibal, not the man in drab.

Friday, August 19, 2016

Your book edited by Evil Editor?


Brenda Novak has informed me that due to unexpected personal considerations she has withdrawn from the Revlon Challenge. Sorry, if anyone was enthusiastically looking forward to buying my services. 


Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Feedback Request



The author of the book featured in Face-Lift 1324 requests feedback on the revision below:


Dear Agent,

Seventeen year old Rajani prefers practicing her martial arts to practically anything else except traveling in a caravan across the desert. Far-off places and unfamiliar faces are just the kind of adventure she’s looking for, but as a princess she’s rarely allowed outside the royal gates much less the city. [I feel a song coming on.

Martial arts training and faraway places,

Crossing the desert and strange-looking faces,
Travel and judo and and wild happenings:
These are a few of my favorite things.]

When her father is betrayed and murdered, Rajani fears she’ll be next and flees the city. She hides amid a caravan and plots her revenge. But revenge won’t come cheap and though her skills are considerable Rajani is no match for those who want her dead. She needs money and lots of it. [What's the main thing she needs money for?]

She meets Anthony, the leader of an expedition on the track [trail] of a mythological beast rumored to hoard large quantities of gold, and agrees to accompany him on his quest in exchange for a share of the treasure. [She needs to do more than accompany him if she wants a share. Assist? Aid? Support?] [Also, if the treasure is a rumor and the beast is a myth, I'm not sure how big a commitment I'd want to make to this expedition.] [Has she left the caravan? I'm not sure we need the caravan in the query. She can just flee the city and meet Anthony.]

It’s an uneasy partnership as their very different cultures clash. She earns the respect of the team members when her fighting skills save the day. [From what?] Tentative friendships arise [form] when she agrees to teach [teaches] these skills to some of the team members including Anthony. They’re soon operating as a cohesive unit, but Rajani finds herself wishing for a little one-on-one time with Anthony.

As her feelings for Anthony deepen, Rajani wonders if he would share her affection [Is he returning her affection now?] if [he] knew of her plans to – slowly and painfully - kill those responsible for her father’s death. And while she is willing to pay the price of vengeance with her life, must it be at the expense of her heart? [That sounds good, but on closer examination it seems to say she's willing to die as long as it doesn't mean losing Anthony.] 

Desert Gold is a young adult fantasy novel complete at 82,000 words. Thank you for your time and consideration.

Sincerely,


Notes

If Rajani needed money to hire mercenaries to help her get revenge, she now has a cohesive unit of trained fighters, and presumably there's treasure enough behind the royal gates.

The first paragraph doesn't have much besides revealing that Rajani practices martial arts.

 It's an improvement, but maybe you can work with something like this:


When her father is betrayed and murdered, Princess Rajani fears she’ll be next and flees the city to plot her revenge. But revenge won’t come cheap. She'll need money, and lots of it, to hire an army of mercenaries.

She meets Anthony, the leader of a treasure-hunting expedition and agrees to aid him in his quest in exchange for a share of the treasure. It’s an uneasy partnership as their cultures clash, but she earns the respect of the team members when her martial arts skills help drive away some desert marauders. Friendships form when she teaches her skills to Anthony's team. 

As she and Anthony grow closer, Rajani wonders if she would lose his affection if he knew who she was, knew of her plans to – slowly and painfully - kill those responsible for her father’s death. She was willing to risk her life for vengeance, but is she willing to risk her love? 



Thursday, August 11, 2016

Monday, August 08, 2016

Face-Lift 1324



Guess the Plot

Desert Gold

1. Following a recipe with a few typos, a famous chef embarks upon an odyssey that will ensure he wins the international cooking Olympics. Pay no attention to the hungry jhinn. 


2. After crash landing in the middle of the desert, Will isn't sure how thankful he is to be alive. While he may have miraculously survived without a scratch, any other supplies did not. Now he must make his way through this wasteland searching for something more precious than gold: water. 

3. They say water is worth more than diamonds in the desert, but when Mob runs out of water while traveling endless sands under the blistering sun his pee may be . . . desert gold. 

4. To escape a forced marriage, Rajani crosses a desert, ending up in an abandoned city where she--WHOA! Giant insects suddenly burst from the ground, insects so big they could kill humans, but insects that also have a secret hoard of gold Rajani could use to buy her freedom from those who would enslave her, not knowing she's actually a princess.

5. Specially created from six different types of the finest Belgian chocolate clubbed with a tinge of orange, raspberry, and acai, laced with champagne caviar, handcrafted in the style of Faberge Eggs, sprinkled with edible gold leaf and topped with a two karat diamond…oh wait, you said desert gold….

6. One-time champion palomino Tennessee walker Desert Gold is now alone, neglected and forgotten in an overgrown field. Can he convince 13 year old Megan that he's worth rehabbing?



Original Version

Dear Agent,

I am seeking representation for Desert Gold, a young adult fantasy novel complete at 82,000 words.

Seventeen year old Princess Rajani goes on the run to escape a forced marriage to the man she suspects killed her father. [Killing his fiancée's father: not the best way to demonstrate his commitment to the marriage. Unless it was her idea.] Disguised as one of the guards, she hides amid a caravan traveling across the dessert 


Caravan traveling across the dessert


to the capital where she plans to petition city officials for amnesty, request their support in solving her father’s murder, [Aren't there any local authorities to investigate this murder?] and prevent the unwanted nuptials. [I tend to think of a princess as a member of the ruling family in a monarchy. I wouldn't expect them to bring their legal affairs before city officials, especially if it's not the city they live in.]

The caravan finds the city deserted save for a militant squad of men from the north. They claim not to know why the city has been abandoned but further discussion is interrupted as a swarm of giant insects bursts from the ground. ["Giant insects" could mean insects the size of rats or insects the size of Buicks.] 

In the confusion, Rajani is gravely wounded. She awakens, recovered, in the stronghold of the northerners. Convinced she’s an assassin, the northerners offer her a choice: become a slave or accompany an expedition to track the giant insects to their hoard of gold. [What makes them think insects have a hoard of gold?] [Also, the last person I want tagging along on my expedition is an assassin, especially one I've threatened to enslave.] If the expedition succeeds, she’ll have enough gold to buy her freedom as well as the means to avenge her father. [She'd have to be pretty naive to believe these militants are gonna let her buy her freedom with gold acquired on their expedition. They just want her to carry some of the gold back to their stronghold, after which they'll take it and enslave her.]

Rajani agrees to accompany Anthony, the expedition leader, as his bodyguard. [If I'm hiring a bodyguard because I'm worried about assassins, it's not gonna be someone I'm already convinced is an assassin.] As her feeling [feelings] for him grow, she wonders[colon] if she reveals to him who she truly is, will he still admire her [Why does he admire her?] or ransom her back to her fiancé [If she doesn't trust him not to ransom her, I don't see any upside to telling him who she truly is. Not that he'd believe her anyway.] - that is if the giant insects don’t kill them first?

Thank you for your time and attention.

Sincerely,


Notes

Was Princess Rejani's father the king? If so, who's in charge now that he's dead? If it's Rajani or her mother or one of her siblings, it seems like she should be able to get out of this wedding without crossing a desert. Sure, maybe the marriage is supposed to prevent a war, but now that the king is dead, war is inevitable.

Is there evidence that her fiancé murdered her father? Did he have a motive? 

Wednesday, August 03, 2016

Visiting EE Jr.


Click pic to enlarge.

Tuesday, August 02, 2016

Feedback Request


The author of the book featured in Face-Lift 1237 has submitted the following revision, and requests your feedback.


When ZUHAIR is in Katraden for a hunting trip, news arrives that his father ZORAB, King of Azaria, [The first sentence isn't even over, and you've already hit us with four unfamiliar names. Two of them being people whose names begin with Z. I can think of two characters in all fiction whose names begin with Z (Zorro and Zoidberg) and you have two in one sentence. Maybe you should change their names to Zuson and Zodad so I have some hope of remembering which is which.] is trapped in the castle, due to a rebellion by a cult. [I would just say trapped in the castle by rebels. A cult is a small group of people who share religious beliefs that seem crazy to large groups of people who share religious beliefs that seem crazy.] As the cult surrounds his castle, blocking the gates, Zorab realizes he has far too few troops and cannot exit the castle in case the defensive advantage is lost, nor can he deliver a message to his commanders and soldiers outside the castle to relieve [rescue] him. [Someone managed to deliver a message to Zuhair in Katraden, but they can't get a message to soldiers right outside the castle?] Zuhair takes an army from Katraden, shatters the cult, and saves his father and the Kingdom. [That was easy. What do you mean, he "takes" an army? Is it an Azarian army? Did he take an army on his hunting trip?] He is known [hailed] as a hero ever since.

But Zuhair is the youngest of three brothers, each with a longing for Kingship. FRAJOR, second son of Zorab plots to kill his father and GHORIL, the heir, so he can rule himself. Meanwhile Ghoril struggles with feelings of jealousy against Zuhair. Ghoril longs to be a hero, something his revulsion for the common people, and extravagance, doesn't allow him to become, and he blames Zuhair for it. [Those repugnant commoners disgust me, Zuhair, but I wish they treated me like a hero. I blame you.] 

As Azaria struggles with rebellion, treachery and war between brothers, the King of neighbouring Karta, Tavulun III, prepares for an invasion with a force of two hundred thousand strong. Tavulun is a tyrant who leaves demolished structures, dead bodies and wailing widows in his wake. If the Azarian Kingdom does not unite, it may fade away from existence. [If Azaria has enough troops to fight off an army of two hundred thousand, where were they when the castle was under attack by a measly cult?] [Also, "fading away" suggests a gradual decline. 200,000 soldiers leaving behind demolished structures, dead bodies and wailing widows sounds more like instant annihilation.]  

KINGDOM OF FIRE at 100,000 words is the first in a series. I have already started working on a sequel. [Do I need to read the whole series because nothing is resolved in this book, or will the ending of this book satisfy me?]


Notes

Who is supposed to unite? The cult and the regular army? The three brothers? Does each brother have an army of his own?

I would focus less on the military aspects and more on the family dynamics.

Also, I would change everyone's name. People with bad names seldom accomplish anything worthwhile.

Monday, August 01, 2016

Synopsis 51


Guess the Plot

Will to Live

1. A man named Will has lost the will to live, but botches his suicide attempt. He moves in with his brother's family even though he and his brother hate each other,  and finds meaning in life by watering sunflowers. Yes, it's litfic.

2. Grandma Gretchen has spent the last ninety years tormenting her offspring and their offspring by adding and removing them from her will. Now that they have the opportunity to pull the plug, are their names in or out?

3. In a world where death only happens to those who want it, Levi Young has the unique job of an assassin. Yet what should he do when his next target is a small girl that already has lost the will to live yet still cannot die?

4. Princess Fywa is beset by many troubles. The National Bank refuses her deposits because the vault is full of her gold already. The Royal Architect informs her the new palace construction is delayed by a shortage of brass and he must substitute silver. And the Borgos, her nation's arch enemies, demand they be permitted to surrender unconditionally. Can Fywa reach deep within herself and find the will to go on?

5. Multi-billionaire octogenarian J. Frothingham Eveready has a gold-digging wife and five wastrel sons, yet writes a new will splitting his fortune among them. His beneficiaries impatiently await his demise, unaware of an obscure codicil he negotiated with the devil that provides him with decades of amusement as he keeps going, and going, and going...

6. After more than ten years of reading query letters, a famous editor decides to bag it all and move to Saskatchewan. It's either that or kill yourself when you've lost the . . . will to live.

Original Version

Hi there EE, two versions of a synopses, unfortunately I'm not up to writing things consicevely yet. Hopefully you can tell me what to cut out of the first synopsis presented so i can fit the whole plot within your 400 word count because I had to cut it off to fit it in the 400.

The title I have right now is "Will to live" and it's a awful pun because it's about a guy called Will who keeps thinking about killing himself and has to find himself reasons not to do it, day to day.

....................................................
Will was always good at getting things ‘right’. Some people thought right was boring, be [but] he didn't mind. He’d scored high in his CPA; the right marks. He made the right money, worked for the right agency, and secured the right property for the right price with the right fiancé on his arm– but when until the most important piece of the equation walks walked away on her own two feet, apologising as though unfit to perform a duty, his touch begins to evade him.

One lowly night Will tries to kill himself, but these days it seems he can’t even carry get that out right, and the attempt fails. He’s just thankful that his whacko mother Gwendolyn is deemed unfit to be his caretaker after the attempt. He can only stomach so many chocolate-cream pies and the woman’s cloying attempts to settle his hair for him with a set of old, false nails. He eats too much crap already.

He knows his self-apathy had everything to do with Elise’s decision to leave him.
……

At a young-minded eighteen, Kaylen Piper fled his childhood home as well as his stepmother Gwendolyn, along with her psychos by-proxy. He’d had stubble on his chin and carried little more than the two hundred dollars that were folded crudely into the seams of his wallet. There was an overwhelming feeling of lightness as he left.

His half-brother William had been the good son, the favourite, the one that could play Mozart and Bach. Perhaps more Most importantly than anything else he Will was the legitimate son of their father’s marriage, and his arrival had put Kaylen into an eternal shadow he could not escape, no matter how hard he tried to do things "right".

Kaylen hasn’t spoken to his snobby little brother since leaving home - discounting the forged and awkward “Hellos” that were necessary at his stepmother’s gaudy Christmas parties back in the days he kept contact- But when the cops call on account of Will’s suicidal condition, the risk of another attempt places a heavy burden on Kaylen’s conscience. Will begrudgingly moves in to learn his brother is married with two young children, two innocents, to step around. Kaylen’s ferocious manager-wife pushes the brothers to resolve their past differences after years of estrangement, but they only seem to grow more hateful with all that was left unsaid. Will’s solace comes in the form of a child untainted by any knowledge of what is happening – Sylvia, his four year old niece. He watches her water the sunflowers in her quiet garden around the side of the house, sees her draw humorously grotesque caricatures of her unhappy parents with bitten-up Crayola’s, and he catches her dancing to the wiggles when she thinks no one is there. Her cautionary attitude towards her sad, quiet uncle gives way to an eagerness for friendship when they water the sunflowers together, and when he begins to teaches her lots about the bugs in her sunflower patch. When he was four, he liked learning about bugs, too.

...........................

I have a short earlier version of the Synopsis that includes the whole plot here, but it's less thought out. Please compare them:

Will just tried to kill himself, but he couldn’t even get that right. He is thankful that his mother is deemed ‘unfit’ to be his caretaker after the attempt. He can only stomach so many chocolate-cream pies and the woman’s cloying attempts to settle his hair for him with a set of old, false nails. He already eats too much chocolate, anyway.

Kaylen has not spoken to Will, his little brother, in years. But when the cops call the risk of another attempt places a heavy burden on his conscience. Will moves in to find that Kaylen is now married with two young children. His ferocious manager-wife calls Will a drunk and pours all his wine down the sink. She pushes the brothers to resolve their past after years of estrangement, but they only seem to grow more hateful with all that was left unsaid. His Will's solace comes from watching his four year old niece Sylvia water her sunflowers in a quiet garden, or seeing her dance to the wiggles when she thinks no one is there. But Sylvia’s shyness gives way to an eagerness for friendship when he begins to teaches her lots about the bugs in her sunflower patch. When he was four, he liked learning about bugs, too.

Will’s boss finds him so invaluable to his business that he can’t allow him more than a few weeks off. Actually, Will’s boss just doesn’t want Will to get any worse, and knows that a part of Will dies whenever he isn’t being useful to the needs of other people. Will’s boss has a cousin visiting from London. She is fond of wine, spontaneous holidays, one-night stands, and other hastily-made half-baked decisions. She is also fond of her cousin’s chubby accountant and his sarcastic, self-depreciating [deprecating] humour. She is nothing like his sweet ex-fiancé, and Will only ever wanted to get married, have children, and buy a house miles away from everyone else’s house. Still lost after the slow decay of his failed engagement - and with a four year old’s friendship his main comfort - he prepares himself for an entirely different kind of romance with the hedonic [hedonistic] Ada that is sure to end in complete disaster.


Notes

The second version is better, because if you're not going to tell us what happens in your book, you may as well not tell us in as few words as possible. The second version also brings in Ada, who is presumably a key character in answering the questions: What happens? Why are we reading about this? What decision must Will make that will affect the future? What are the pros and cons of each option? What events most profoundly influence the characters' lives?

The first version can be reduced to: After a failed suicide attempt, Will Piper moves in with his brother Kaylen's family and forms a bond with his four-year-old niece Sylvia.

The second version at least has a hint that something will happen with Ada, but neither has enough of the plot. A synopsis should summarize the key plot points. Start over.



Friday, July 29, 2016

Face-Lift 1323


Guess the Plot

Susurrus

1. In a land that draws magic from childbirth, a sorceress uses her own pregnancies to become powerful enough to destroy entire nations. But she wants even more power, the kind of power she can get only if she gives birth to quintuplets.

2. Stuttering Sirius is the name the school kids call him. This poor janitor has kept the halls clean for years. One day, an evil portal appears and unleashes all manner of evil and filth. Can Sirius overcome his stuttering to properly speak the incantation to close the portal?

3. Siri is seriously silly. She's a fan of Dr. Suess and speaks in a sing-song manner. In fact, singing is her passion, but the glee kids as well as the rockers at her posh private school mock her sunny, childish, lyrics. When Siri finds a magic portal in the music room she's transported to Susurrus, a saccharine-sweet land straight out of a Disney musical. Siri's now the star of an all-singing, all-dancing life. But the inhabitants of Susurrus have an evil goal -- reduce Siri to a one-dimensional caricature and steal her emotions. Will Siri succumb to the siren song of Susurrus?

4. The Pharaoh Susurrus lived his life quietly and unobtrusively and intended to spend his death the same way. But when a nosy archaeologist opens his crypt and starts taking selfies with Susurrus's mummified remains, well, what's a decent mummy to do other than go on a murderous rampage?

5. The Susurrus is the geeky dinosaur down the block that all the other kids avoid. He doesn't care since he's heard whispers from space. Madness? Aliens? Or the end of life on the planet?

6. Lassys the water nymph in the stream behind Wendy's bedroom hates people. At night she whispers to Wendy, instructing her to take people off into the woods and leave them in the deep sinkholes created by the stream. Wendy thinks she's going crazy. The city wants to dam the stream and fill those sinkholes in. Does Lassys have to do all the dirty work herself? Or will the satyr Susurrus lend a hand?

7. "Kill, kill, kill," whispers the wind near Joy's office. "Kill, kill, kill," whispers the wind outside her bedroom. And if Rafe leaves the toilet seat up one more time, she's going to do like the wind says.



Original Version

Dear Agent,

I am seeking agency representation. Due to your interest in [theme or genre], I hope that you'll be interested in my adult literary fantasy, Susurrus. It is a standalone novel complete at 83,000 words, and could be described as combining the lyrical voice of Patricia McKillip with the unrelenting intensity of Stephen Donaldson. [In short, my writing combines what's best about Patricia and Stephen, while eliminating what, quite frankly, they suck at.] [It's probably best, if opening with something other than the plot, to keep it brief, something like:  My standalone novel Susurrus is an adult literary fantasy complete at 83,000 words. Anything important I left out may be placed in the next-to-last paragraph with your credits, after which you may delete the last paragraph. And the next-to-last paragraph.] 

In its hot, harsh voice, the wind whispers soft, cool lies. In a desert of mirage and misdirection, [Did you hire Patricia McKillip to write your plot summary in her lyrical voice?] a sorceress searches for lost magic, and finds only sand. Once, she had dark power; once, she led a brutal empire; once, she was the Blood Queen. [Then Stephen Donaldson took the reins, and it all went kablooey.] [Don't mind me; I jest. The truth is, I'm embarrassed to admit I've never even heard of McKillip or Donaldson.] And yet — no evil sorceress is born evil.

Orphaned young, teenaged Iskra wants to learn magic and she wants a home. In a desert land that draws magic from childbirth, she tries to use her own pregnancy to heal her foster father’s illness. Untrained, she fails, and both the child and her foster father die. She’s left with a unique talent for magic, but with each new power she learns comes personal disaster. [This sounds like the plot of Superman, issue #1, wherein Superman kills his foster father, Mr. Kent, by throwing a baseball right through him while they're playing catch, and then burns Smallville to the ground with his new heat vision.] [I won't mention what happened when he woke from his first erotic dream, except to say that Mrs. Kent was not happy with the roof repair bill.] When a new tragedy leaves her half-drowned on foreign shores, [Too late, she discovered that having Aquaman's ability to talk to fish didn't necessarily mean she could also breathe underwater.] she finds a human lover soul-bound animal companion that at last make her happy. [A human lover soul-bound animal companion? Is that one thing or two?]

The next time magic brings tragedy, it’s not her fault; the thralls of a tyrannous wizard kill her family. Iskra embraces the destructive potential of her power to take a bloody revenge, destroying the wizard's entire nation. Now the feared Blood Queen of an empty land, she searches out more and more magic and territory, becoming colder and more isolated in the process. [Does she have to give birth to get more magic?] When she arrives to conquer her late foster-father’s small, weak country, its leaders trap her in an endless mirage. To escape, she will have to face her own illusions.

I've had short fiction published at [venues], and in anthologies such [anthology]. A full publication history is available at [website].

I look forward to hearing from you.

Sincerely,



Notes

I'm not sure I want Iskra to escape the mirage if she's now a feared Blood Queen capable of destroying entire nations and gleefully conquering small weak countries. Are we supposed to cheer her on?

Wait, is the book called Suserrus instead of Sorceress because the people all mumble?

In the first plot paragraph Iskra is trapped in a mirage. Then we find out what led to this situation. At the end of the query, she has yet to progress beyond being trapped in the mirage. Maybe if you start with the backstory you'll have room at the end to add something about Iskra's plan to escape the mirage and what will happen if she succeeds and what will happen if she fails. So that we care which one happens.

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Success Story

Kristi Bradley reports:

 I submitted my query for MYSTA probably five years ago or more. I'd since lost track of Evil Editor, but now that I've been accepted for publication, I looked you up again to extend my thanks. MYSTA, my paranormal romance will be released soon by Dark Oak Press. The manuscript underwent several transformations since my query critique by Evil Editor, but I'd like to thank you and your minions for your candid, yet disheartening critiques, which taught me to toughen up and try again. 


Face-lift 1019:

http://evileditor.blogspot.com/2012/04/guess-plot-mysta-1.html

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Vacation



EE will be on vacation until the 28th. I'll have time to post comments and tweet, but not to post query critiques. Presumably when I return there'll be a huge batch of queries and openings waiting for me.


Thursday, July 14, 2016

Feedback Request


The author of the query most recently featured here would like your opinion of this version:


Mr. Evil Editor

Leah Chase is a single mother of an eleven year old girl and has only one close friend. [Do we need to know how many friends she has?] After working as a police detective for a year, she finds she hates her job and still hasn’t found a place in the unit. She’s assigned a low profile case: Matthew James, who had no relatives and no friends. [It's not necessary to provide each character's exact number of friends.] A man who was released on a technicality after being charged with manslaughter. [What is her assignment with regard to Matthew James? Find him? Follow him? Probably neither, as, according to the previous version, he's dead. It's more important to tell us he's been murdered than that he has no friends.]

Harry Finch’s son was killed by a drunk driver who was set free because of a minor legal error. Harry [, who has four friends,] wanted justice for his son, so the man responsible, Matthew James, had to die. In that man’s death, he finds solace, but he also finds the excitement and joy of knowing that a wrong was righted. He imagines a future where those who persecuted were punished, where victims received the justice they so desired. There were so many more innocents whose malefactor still walked free. How could Harry stop now? [I don't like "persecuted" (transgressed/killed/broke the law?) Matthew didn't persecute Harry's son. I also don't like "malefactor." (assailants?) Stay out of the thesaurus.]

Leah interviews Harry during the investigation. The following week Harry asks her to dinner. Though Harry is still technically a suspect, Leah accepts. As weeks go by, the friendship they have grows to something more.

More are killed. Leah sees a pattern forming that encompasses the recent murders as well as the case assigned to her. She believes these similarities tie all the murders together. Then the killer changes tactics. Leah’s best friend is almost killed by the murderer, barely saved by Leah. No longer is he targeting criminals, instead he's killing random people at random locations. [I'm not sure I'd call Leah's best friend a random person. Didn't he know she was Leah's friend when he attacked her? And if all his murders take place where there are no witnesses around to identify him, that isn't random either.] He’s more dangerous, more frightening, and still leaving no clues as to who he might be. [If he's targeting different people and leaving no clues, how do they know it's the same killer/] 

The stories of Leah and Harry intertwine, weaving together and apart. [Things don't weave apart, and intertwine is the same as weave together. You're wasting words. By the end of the query you've shown that their stories intertwine, so why tell us?] Leah struggles to catch a ruthless serial killer; Harry meticulously plans and executes murders. And Leah and Harry fall in love.

When one family fights back, Harry leaves evidence behind — evidence that leads Leah to Harry, the man she loves.

JUSTICE BETRAYED is complete at 81,000 words.

Thank you for your consideration. A partial or full manuscript is available on request.

Sincerely,


Notes

You should be able to summarize your plot in ten sentences. You have about twenty-five. Perhaps the following could be used as a template for a more concise version.

Harry Finch’s son was killed by a drunk driver who was freed on a legal technicality. Harry believes in an eye for an eye, and kills the man responsible, Matthew James. Righting that one wrong proves an addictive thrill for Harry. How many more killers are walking free?

A chief suspect in the Matthew James murder, Harry is interviewed by detective Leah Chase. He manages to satisfy her that he's not the killer, and later asks her out to dinner. It's against department policy, but she accepts, and an unexpected romance takes root.

As a series of vigilante killings hits the city, Leah sees similarities between those crimes and the one she's still investigating. Apparently she's not just after the killer of Matthew James; she's after a serial killer. And then evidence turns up at the latest crime scene, evidence that seems to point at Harry Finch, the man Leah loves.