Wednesday, September 20, 2006
Guess the Plot
The Last Remaining Light
1. Huddled around the last, dim, electric bulb as the power slowly fades away, the townspeople of Kennebunk, Maine realize that maybe renewable energy would have been a good idea back in the 80s.
2. Orphan Caroline Light has to defeat erotic vampires, a school yard bully, and two handsome but disdainful wizards, in order to claim her inheritance.
3. Shipwrecked in the desert, Paula is befriended by an unusually intelligent camel who guides her to a land swarming with zombies.
4. In this intense psychological thriller, Tilly Fluppy is confused. Should she light her last remaining match and smoke her first cigarette? Or should she just forget smoking and save that match for the gasoline-soaked bodies of her schoolmates?
5. Marooned on a deserted island with only the contents of the duty free trolley for sustenance, the group from Nicotine Anonymous eye each other warily. Who will triumph and get his hands on that one last match?
6. Lotty Pearl thought seven hundred candles would make her bedroom look more romantic. When the fire blew out the last transformer, her house cast a romantic light over the whole town.
Dear Evil Editor,
Paula wakes up in the middle of the desert without food or water and her only memory is of the tragic shipwreck that dumped her ashore. [They say desert shipwrecks are the worst kind.] She is immediately befriended by an unusually intelligent camel, [From what I've heard, that's an oxymoron. By which I mean camels are morons.] [Any camel that knows which end the food goes in and which end it comes out is an unusually intelligent camel.] and with his guidance she sets off to find civilization. A blistering journey across the desert places her in a foreign land hostile to both her country and gender; using her plain looks and foreign stature to her advantage, she disguises herself as a teenage male.
Taking up work as a contract mercenary, [You're lost, hungry, sunburned, and penniless. Solution: become a contract mercenary?] [See, minions, even mercenaries have to sign contracts, so get those book contracts in.] Paula discovers that all is not well in the land. The undead [Also known as the alive.] walk freely in certain, ever expanding unholy plots and a vault full of secret, dangerous artifacts turns up missing. [If the book has zombies, can we not call them zombies? Do you know how long the minions have to wait between zombie books? Only to have you call them "the undead?"] [Calling zombies "the undead" is like calling werewolves "the unbald."] Paula's proximity to the crime places her under the local Sheik's suspicion, but when a Djinn offers to sell her a magic amulet that matches a ring and dagger she found, she knows that someone has singled her out. [I don't see the connection between what comes before the "but" and what comes after it.] [Just because you were in the proximity doesn't mean you could have carried off a four-ton vault. And if you did carry it off, you wouldn't be in the proximity anymore.]
But why? Together with a politically estranged caravan guard and two old friends, [Old friends? From her past? What are they doing here?] Paula sets off to follow a series of clues embedded into the amulet, ring and dagger, all the while filling in the gaps in her memory. Her two friends, one a pirate and the other a musketeer, inform her that she is an orphan, for instance, but they offer no explanation as to why she can speak every language she encounters, instantly. [They never explain how everyone can speak English on Star Trek, either.] Or why she is the only one who can truly kill the undead things lurking throughout the land.
Paula's adventure climaxes in an ancient temple, under which lies a giant crystal maze. [I never saw the Lara Croft movies. This isn't the plot to one of those, is it?] At the apex of the maze, she discovers a vital clue to her past, unveiling her as nothing less than the daughter of an ancient goddess of war--the magical artifacts she'd found were drawn to her, to be used in a glorious resurrection. [No goddess would let her daughter be friends with a pirate.]
But when the Djinn appears, wielding the stolen artifacts, he offers Paula an ultimatum. Become a mortal vessel for his dark god, or die…[I'm guessing she finds a third option.] [Is she mortal? She's the daughter of an ancient goddess. How long has she been around?]
This novel, The Last Remaining Light, is complete at 100,000 words. Thank you for your time.
Well, it's all plot, and while a lot of plot isn't always a bad thing, this sounds crazier than it probably is (assuming it exists--it sounds wacky enough to be a gag). I'd cut out the camel and the mercenary job, and redo the plot description concentrating on the artifacts.
I can't tell whether it's fantasy (magic amulet), adventure (pirate), horror (zombies), children's (talking camel), mystery (embedded clues) or inspirational (glorious resurrection). Agents and editors want to know whom you see as your audience. Possibly everyone. But in trying to appeal to everyone, you may clutter the book with junk that doesn't work.