Sunday, September 03, 2006

Face-Lift 176


Guess the Plot


The Nightmare Sun

1. It's the year 5,000,002,006 and the sun has begun its transformation into a red dwarf star, in the process expanding to the point that it will engulf the Earth. Can Ralab, Mineia and Pepe find a way to stop it in time?

2. A world-renowned oncologist develops a paralyzing phobia that plunges him into a sea of delusion and SPF-60 sunblock.

3. When sentient robots and giant blobs create chaos, it can only be assumed that the sun is responsible.

4. On a quest for vengeance, Jack Schweiper goes undercover as a masseur to find his brother's killer - a man with a distinctive tattoo.

5. Locked twenty-three days in an abandoned tanning bed, Assistant D.A. Pamela Hardales has a new wrinkle in her investigation into counterfeit UV sunglasses.

6. When Alexandra Fipp moved to Alaska to meet more men, she forgot all about the Land of the Midnight Sun. Now she must get used to doing it with the lights on.


Original Version

Dear. . .

In the world of THE NIGHTMARE SUN (steampunk fantasy, 90,000 words), not all souls ascend to another plane after death. Those who’ve committed atrocities in life sink underground upon dying, to be reborn as Golgos. But hell’s getting crowded. The old tired world is breaking at the seams from the damned souls roiling at its core, and each night the Golgos roam the surface, hunting the living. [This may be important in the book, but it has little to do with the rest of the query, so I'd start with the second paragraph. Unless Golgos is another word for zombies.]

On a single continent surrounded by a vast ocean containing thousands of islands, corruption and vice rule a society in the throes of industrial revolution and alchemical science. The wealthy live behind the walls of guarded estates, the poor struggle by as best they can; but rich or poor, it’s all chaos. [Are there any characters in this book?] Only one direction offers escape from the crumbling world. The islands, and freedom. It’s that urge that drove Kolias, Io, and their infant son Aletes to the uninhabited island of Naucritus. [If the islands are the only escape from a crumbling world, why would any of them be uninhabited?] But something else drove them into hiding. Some secret trouble in their past. [These last two sentences add nothing, unless you explain them at some point.]

As the story opens, Aletes is 17. A stranger to the world, almost a wild child, [A wild child? Almost?] he’s stranded alone when his parents fail to return from a trip to the mainland. One night he sees a flash of white out at sea, followed by the boom of cannon fire. Offshore, Skyrios, a man of 40, dives from his galleon and pulls the still form of a woman from the wreckage of a burning ship. When she doesn’t respond to his entreaties, he sails off to search the world for the first thing, the primal essence bridging matter and soul, in hopes of restoring her to life. [If I found an unconscious woman in the debris of a burning ship, I would assume that she will need medical assistance long before I can complete a global quest to locate the primal essence (which makes a better-sounding, if equally vague, name for it than "first thing."] [This paragraph doesn't hold together. Is it about Aletes or Skyrios?]

Aletes eventually escapes Naucritus to search for his parents. The hunt propels him into an increasingly bizarre outer world--a world where sentient robots with bombastic egos carry grudges against everything that breathes; [How many times do I have to say it? If your book contains sentient robots with bombastic egos, put that up front so the agent doesn't mistakenly stop reading, thinking the book is dullsville.] where a once-noble soul denied passage to the afterworld is trapped in a monstrous body of animated vegetable matter; [Sentient robots and The Blob? What were you waiting for?] where hell is a real place, as well as a state of mind. Ultimately, in a night of revelation and death, Aletes comes face to face with Skyrios, and discovers that the madman behind his parents’ disappearance is an uncle he never knew. [The big revelation is a letdown. The villain is someone who wasn't even in the book.] [A mystery writer could never get away with this:

Detective: I called you all together because I'm prepared to name the murderer.

Suspects: Get on with it. Which one of us did it?

Detective: It was . . . Norton Greeb!

Suspect 1: Who?

Suspects 2, 3, 4, and 5: Who?

Reader: Who?]

THE NIGHTMARE SUN is a story about family secrets, out-of-control emotions in an out-of-control world, and the power of faith and perseverance against great odds, told in a style that combines colorful adventure and arsenic noir. [Arsenic who? I put that phrase in quotes and Googled it, getting a total of 15 hits, all of them in French, and involving chemistry.] My work has appeared in various magazines, including Lullaby Hearse, and is forthcoming in Hardluck Stories. Enclosed is an SASE and the first 5 pages as a writing sample. I’d be pleased to send on further material at your request. Thanks very much for your time and consideration.

Sincerely,


Revised Version

Dear. . .

On a continent surrounded by a vast ocean, corruption and vice rule a society in the throes of chaos. Only one direction offers escape from the crumbling world. The islands. This is what, seventeen years ago, drove Kolias, Io, and their infant son Aletes to the uninhabited island of Naucritus.

As the story opens, Kolias and Io have failed to return from a trip to the mainland, and Aletes leaves Naucritus to search for them. His hunt propels him into a bizarre world, where sentient robots with bombastic egos carry grudges against everything that breathes; where a once-noble soul denied passage to the afterworld is trapped in a monstrous body of animated vegetable matter; where hell is a real place, as well as a state of mind. Ultimately, in a night of revelation and death, Aletes discovers that the madman behind his parents’ disappearance is an uncle he never knew.

THE NIGHTMARE SUN (steampunk fantasy, 90,000 words), is an adventure story about family secrets and the power of faith and perseverance. My work has appeared in various magazines, including Lullaby Hearse, and is forthcoming in Hardluck Stories. Enclosed is an SASE and the first 5 pages as a writing sample. I’d be pleased to send on further material at your request. Thanks very much for your time and consideration.

Sincerely,


Notes

I think it's better to concentrate on Aletes. I didn't get his connection to Skyrios. And all that description of the world doesn't belong in a short synopsis. If it's an adventure, get to the adventure.

11 comments:

Dave said...

RE: Plot #1...
If you read the first chapter Charles Stross' Iron Sunrise, he has a long-winded, non-scientific description of just what happens when a star goes Nova (red giant).
It's core is essentially iron, hence the name.

Random Minion... of DOOM said...

I think the plot sounds really neat, although I'd agree with EE (in EVERYTHING of course) that it's hard to tell how the S-guy is connected to the rest of the plot, and why I should care.

Oh, and EE, the dialogue made me spit bits of candy... at my roommate. Thanks.

(She still likes me, apparently, which is lucky).

writtenwyrdd said...

I know I've been reading too much of Miss Snark's Crapometer stuff when I say, Where's the Plot?

Sorry, author, this letter, even nicely revised by EE, doesn't give me a strong sense of plot. And calling the afterlife hell is so overdone I yawn when I read it. Just my opinion, though.

xiqay said...

Guessed the correct plot. Preferred fake plot # 6.

Even EE's humor didn't get me through this query. Sorry.

Anonymous said...

Uh, what's steampunk fantasy?

Anonymous said...

Thank you, EE. I'll go back to the drawing board.

Thanks, too, minions.

--the writer

Anonymous said...

It's the year 5,000,002,006 and Al Gore is still trying to convince people global warming is real. -JTC

Anonymous said...

Uh, what's steampunk fantasy?
Quick and dirty answer: steampunk is SF that relies on the technology of roughly the Victorian era. (Like all quick and dirty answers, this is incomplete.)

kis said...

I always thought of Steampunk as Wild Wild West meets Sky Captain & the World of Tomorrow. I know the era is a little off, but the idea is the same.

JTC, you make me laugh my ass right off. Oh, wait, it's still there. Damn!

braun said...

Sweet, I totally got two guess the plots in one query on this one!

No, no, don't thank me, it was nothing.

JTC: you should have thought of that one earlier! That's hilarious.

HawkOwl said...

Darn. I really wanted to read the one about the undercover massage therapist.

I didn't get through the whole query, but it sounded like a cool setting with a dull plot. Hopefully that's a problem with the query, not with the novel.