Friday, August 04, 2006

Face-Lift 144

Guess the Plot

Aerth's Door

1. Jumble puzzle makers pass jokes to each other in anagrams. That is, until the new boss Jenny Heart intercepts one of their notes, this one about her smelly feet.

2. A badly-spelled map means trouble for an astronaut trying to find his way home.

3. It was bad enough being on the cusp of teenage-hood and a vampire; now Maria finds out she's Aerth's Door, the gateway between two worlds.

4. The massive front door was the last straw for Homer Aerth when the designers from Curb Appeal altered his mid-century modern ranch house to a Fantasy Tuscan Villa. Would he ever release them from the new wine cellar?

5. Aerth becomes the envy of his Stone Age neighbors when he discovers a way to keep saber-toothed tigers out of his cave; but can he really rest in peace?

6. Aerth's Door is the first book of my heavenly trilogy, Galactic Architecture (to be followed by Omon's Window and Usn's Chimney). It's a tale of a world unhinged.

Original Version

Dear Ms. Agent,

I am currently seeking representation for my young adult fantasy novel "Aerth's Door".

Maria Zangrilli discovers that desperately attempting to flee for your life is difficult when you're only twelve years old. Despite years of constantly moving from place to place the Vampire hunters who killed her parents have finally found her and Maria is trapped at the hospital with a difficult decision to make: does she escape with the two teenage boys who claim to have been sent to protect her or does she stand her ground and stay by the side of the only family she has left? [You forgot possibility 3: change into a bat and fly away, which has been working fine for the past few years.]

When Maria decides to leave with Reiker and Flax the hunt is on in earnest. The hunters are glad that Maria is just a kid, they will go to any length to capture her alive. During her escape Maria discovers that she is more than just a Vampire brat, she is Aerth's Door, and her blood will strip away the gateway between her world and our own. [Questions raised by that one sentence: 1. What are you talking about? 2. What is Aerth? 3. What is Aerth's Door? 4. What is Maria's world? 5. Is she from somewhere other than Earth? 6. Do you just mean the world of vampires? 7. Is the gateway the same as the Door? 8. Does she have to die to strip away the gateway, or do they just need some of her blood? 9. Why her? 10. Why do the Vampire hunters want to strip away this gateway? 11. Isn't this exactly like when Buffy the Vampire Slayer's sister was the "Key" in season 5? 12. Wouldn't she be too busy to discover this during her escape? 13. Why is "Vampire" capitalized?] Together with her new guardians Maria races for sanctuary and has to decide who is really her friend… and who wants her dead. The reader is kept wondering all the way to the final, nail-biting page. [Not me, I've already guessed that Reiker wants her dead and Flax is really her friend. If you'd spelled the names "Ryker" and "Phlax," it would have been a tougher call.] [Nail-biting page? Does anyone read this blog before they submit anymore? Let the agent decide if the pages bite nails.]

"Aerth's Door" is told in a third-person omniscient voice that is sometimes funny, sometimes serious, and always a little bit dark. [Ah, it's Buffy, season 6.] [For non-Buffy fans, think The X-Files, but with a younger female lead who doesn't spend the first three seasons refusing to believe what's patently obvious.] An older, darker YA, "Aerth's Door" is geared toward the readers of "Eragon" novels rather than the younger YA's such as the "Artemis Fowl" series. [Here we go citing a book nothing like ours, just because it sold well. The second Eragon book, by the way, was named the worst book of 2005 by Entertainment Weekly, which isn't Publishers Weekly, but I still don't think I'd read it or cite it knowing that.] [It seems to me older YA's would prefer to read about a heroine older than 12. Or am I wrong?]

At approximately 60,000 words, "Aerth's Door" is spread across fifteen chapters [You know the writer is trying desperately to fill up the page when he resorts to telling you how many chapters are in the book.] and is perfect to while away a lazy summer afternoon. If you have an interest in this project, please respond and I will happily submit the manuscript to you.

Thank you for your time and consideration,


If you remove the sentence that prompts all the questions, the only question will be Why is the title Aerth's Door? If you don't remove it, I'd recommend dropping the last two paragraphs and using the extra space to explain the door/gateway/world stuff.

A Googling of "Aerth" reveals it's a world in more than one role-playing game, and quite well-known to Dungeons and Dragons players. Unless your book is intentionally set in someone else's Aerth, or Aerth is something other than a world in your book, you might consider changing the name. One possibility: Earth.


Anonymous said...

It shouldn't be tough to come up with something better than earth mispelled, your are a writer, are you not? And I, apparently, am turning into Yoda.

E. M. #667 said...

A new low.

December Quinn said...

Despite years of constantly moving from place to place the Vampire hunters who killed her parents have finally found her and Maria is trapped at the hospital with a difficult decision to make: does she escape with the two teenage boys who claim to have been sent to protect her or does she stand her ground and stay by the side of the only family she has left?

Did Roald Dahl write that sentence?

Some commas and periods would work well in there. Without them, for example, it's not clear who's been constantly moving from place to place: the vampire hunters, or Maria?

Kill Edward not to fear is good. A lesson for us all (especially those of us who are big enough history nerds to get that one).

Anonymous said...

I'd like to thank you for your comments. Since I patterned this query letter after one that successfully landed an agent I've recently made friends with... well, I assumed streamlining the query was the way to go. Apparently not. *wry smile*

Ironically enough, I'm a HUGE D&D fan (I play it every Friday night) and I've never heard of Aerth in the D&D universe. In my book, Aerth (as it is known to the Breeds: Vampires, Shifters, Bruja, and Kin) is Earth. The other four worlds are Antioch, Avalon, Atlantis, and Arcadia. Maria is the Door to the Nexus. It isn't just her blood but her very soul itself that opens gate into the Nexus. The Key has been stolen and should Maria ever touch the Key not only will she die but her soul itself will be obliterated.

It just seemed like such a huge LUMP to put on one page.

As for choosing to compare "Aerth's Door" to "Eragon" (which I actually liked) there was a method to the madness. "Eragon" is a darker fantasy novel and as such is directed toward the more adult of the teenage demographic. I didn't choose it because it was popular but rather because it is a striking contrast to the light-hearted feel of the "Artemis Fowl" books.

Either way, thank you for trying to help me out. I REALLY appreciate it.

KD (i.e. the author)

Anonymous said...

I have watched that Buffy episode more times than I can count, and I was pleasantly surprised to see that EE is a fan (maybe) too! Yes, this story is a little too much like that episode, except that Dawn wasn't a vampire. and Reiker and Flax probably don't share a body. Unless the author failed to mention that too, in which case this story needs to find a new plot.

Alianore said...

Kill Edward not to fear is good. A lesson for us all (especially those of us who are big enough history nerds to get that one)

Kill Edward, not to fear is good. Yup, I'm a history nerd too, December! :)

The query reminded me a lot of the Buffy 'Key' storyline too, which isn't at all a bad thing.

Anonymous said...

Reiker and Flax are the two teenage half-breeds who become her guardians. They do not share a body. Neither of them want her dead (though the narrative does point to each of them in turn as possible enemies.)

While I do love Buffy it is only my clumsy query that draws a parallel in the two story lines. This novel is very different than anything Joss W. has produced. I'm not a plagerist, after all.

My, I really appear to have made a mess of things.


Rei said...

This query seriously needs help on the punctuation front. This will immediately be a red flag that if they request it, they'll receive 60,000 words with bad punctuation. That doesn't sound good, does it?

1. Comma splices: run-ons that you erroneously attempt to fix by adding in a comma. Incorrect: "The hunters are glad that Maria is just a kid, they will go to any length to capture her alive."

2. Joining clauses: Given DC=Dependent Clause, IC=Independent clause, CC=Coordinating Conjunction (and, or, but, etc), and IM=Independent Marker word (however, also, nevertheless, etc), if you're joining together clauses, the forms you can use are:


Incorrect: Much of your query. Your most common violation seems to be DC IC, such as "When Maria decides to leave with Reiker and Flax the hunt is on in earnest."

3. Long, complicated sentences: break them apart. Incorrect: the second sentence of paragraph 1.

desert minion said...

The Eragon readers I know tend to be pre-teen and early teen boys, actually; I suspect the readership for this book is both a little older and more female than male.

But let the editor decide who the audience is, yeah, rather than telling her.

Meg said...

Having read about all the YA SciFi and Fantasy there is, I would have placed Artemis Fowl and Eragon in the same age group. Eragon's not really all that dark, and Artemis Fowl may be funny, but it's no walk in the park. I wouldn't use comparisons like that, as then your editor/agent might think that your novel might go a certain way, when you had no intention of making it go that way. Also, a 12 year old protagonist seems a tad young, but maybe she grows up some as the book progresses?

Anonymous said...

Loved the Guess the Plot with the Jumble writers!

December Quinn said...

Ha! I thought you were the Edward II expert, Alianore, when I saw your name!

I was right! I win all the time! And other sentences that end with exclamation points!

Anonymous said...

"Maria is the Door to the Nexus. It isn't just her blood but her very soul itself that opens gate into the Nexus."

Yes, but is it the nexus of time travel itself?

Anonymous said...

You know, "Vampire Brat" would be a great title for this.

Anonymous said...

"Vampire Brat" would be a great title - for the book described/insinuated at/poked fun at by this poster. Not for the real book.

signed: someone who's actually read it.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the punctuation lesson on joining clauses. I'm not this author. I'm usually pretty good at grammar, but it's been a long time since I was in school. So I've forgotten a lot. Now to go practice with your handy-dandy guide.

Ashni said...

...the Breeds: Vampires, Shifters, Bruja, and Kin

Oh, dear. Unintentional similarity to D&D is not your problem. White Wolf is much more prone to finding excuses for lawsuits.

(I presume this similarity is also unintentional. But you may want to add a species, or drop one, or both.)

Anonymous said...

I happen to know the author in question. Upon reading this page for the first time, I was angry and defensive for my friend. However, in an effort to be fair, I went looking through the How This Site Works page to get a better idea of the purpose of the post. I found it quite interesting. Evil Editor makes no bones about the fact that he is here to entertain, not enlighten. He also states that most constructive criticism will come from comments rather than the post itself - and several of the comments above are constructive. So I supppose any remaining beef I have is with those that are not. For example, let's consider e.m. #667 (stands for Evil Minion, I suppose?). No, Evil Editor does not require that posts be worthwhile or constructive, but he does state: "When submitting a comment, try to be helpful or witty or both. And don't forget to include praise for Evil Editor." I suppose, in a vague way, e.m.'s comment could be considered as praising of Evil Editor, but it is neither helpful nor witty. Instead, it seems the only purpose of the comment was to be disparaging and hurtful. So, thank you to those who actually contributed worthwhile comments.

Anonymous said...

The White Wolf similiarities HAVE been pointed out to me before, which is why I named the species how I did. I *refuse* to be cowed into not publishing my story because a bunch of guys think they suddenly have the rights to supernatural creatures. Vampire mythos have been around *forever*. So have fairies, were-animals, and witches. Bruja is just "witch" in Spanish. I didn't even SPELL it the same.

Why should I be frightened into not publishing my story just because they think they're gods?


PS - This is a five book series. Maria starts at age twelve and is nineteen by the end. Miss Snark and others have emphasized NOT pointing out that it is a series during your query letter. So, yes, the books get dramatically older and darker as the series progresses.

Author said...

Dear Evil Editor,

Fourteen-year-old Maria and her kind are expected to live secretly amongst humans on Earth. The only outward indication of the
difference between them is the ancestral tattoos her kind is given
shortly after birth. When the tattoos begin to mark her people for more than their history, Maria has no choice but to hide from those who have killed her family and would crush her next.

She barely escapes with the help of two boys that are sworn to help
and protect her. However, they are only teenagers themselves, and as
their experiences pull them apart and back together again, they
realize that they must grow up, and learn to trust one another.
Together they build a new family as they battle the evil that will not rest until they are all destroyed.

GUARDING MARIA is complete at 60,000 words. I am currently polishing the subsequent young adult fantasy novel and can submit chapters to you at your convenience.

Thank you for your time and consideration,

spongey437 said...

Well, the new title seems to fit the synopsis given now. Though I would like to see something in there about what "her kind" actually is (Vampire still I assume).

kis said...

Yeah, it's gone too far the other way now. (Damned and damned, do or don't.) I'm curious how much space on a page this new version takes up. If there's a lot of empty space, you can fill in some interesting and relevant details. The one page rule is more than an arbitrary measure. It's the best length for a query--long enough to convey the gist, not too long to overwhelm or bore. Even leaving plenty of space for addresses, salutation and signature, I have the feeling there's room for more.

And I kind of liked the other title. It conveys the fantasy element much more effectively than Guarding Maria. As for corny names, well, this is YA.