Tuesday, April 24, 2007
Guess the Plot
Spirits and Scars
1. Imagine a world where, when you make a promise, it appears as a scar on your skin. If you break the promise, the spirit of the broken promise haunts you forever. Now imagine you've discovered a huge scar snaking from your neck to your navel--and you have no memory of what it is you promised. What will you do?
2. Former Secret Service agent and recovering alcoholic Crash McAvoy attempts to repair his life by working as a bodyguard for crack-smoking pop diva, Rachel Plano. But will Crash fall off the wagon when Rachel’s life is threatened by disgruntled ghosts and Self-Contained Animated Robot Snipers?
3. The new saloon/tattoo parlor is not attracting the sort of clientele that Edgar hoped for. Instead of hard drinking bikers, he's got a table of spiritualists holding a seance and a bunch of dermatologists discussing subdermal lesions. Maybe Spirits & Scars isn't the right name for the bar after all.
4. Wisecracking PI Dirk Beefhead hadn't had a case in months when the woman in red walked into his office. Sure, she was one of Satan's minions, probably sent to destroy mankind. But the rent wasn't gonna pay itself.
5. As an ebola epidemic rages in NYC, Evil Editor, Miss Snark and friends sip gin and swap tales of the nitwit authors they've scarred for life.
6. Fledgling entrepreneur Myles Turbo opens Spirits & Scars, the first of what he hopes will become a chain of specialty stores catering to customers seeking a one-stop solution to both their alcoholic beverage and body-modification needs. But when the more catchily-named "Booze 'n' Tattoos" opens up right across the street, Myles faces a fight for survival.
I am happy to submit SPIRITS & SCARS, a 65,000 word YA fantasy novel, to your attention. SPIRITS is set on the desert-ringed world of Versa, where promises appear like scars on the skin and oath-breakers are haunted by the spirit of their broken promise. [You're thrilled to be the woman who finally landed the George Clooney of Versa, but by the time he's done promising to love you and honor you and cherish you, etc. his entire body is riddled with hideous scars, and you can't stand to look at him. But you can't divorce him, or you'll be breaking your own vows, and be haunted forever. This place is like hell.]
A Vital Promise should be impossible to forget, but Sterlyn cannot remember how he came to possess the enormous scar which snakes its way from his collarbone to his navel. It has been kept a secret since his childhood, but when Sterlyn promises his life to protect Khareh, his best friend and the heir to the Dagon throne, a new scar appears on his body that immediately conflicts with his secret one. [And vice Versa.] Forced to flee to the desert to live with the clan of disgraced oath-breakers, the Chauk, [I'm not sure which name sounds more like the noise I make when I hack up a big phlegm-ball: Khareh or Chauk.] Sterlyn must solve the mystery of his secret scar to redeem his name and return home to the land he loves. [I'm not clear on why he's considered an oath breaker. Even if we assume he must eventually break one promise or the other, no one knows about the secret scar, right?]
Sterlyn is aided by an unlikely ally: the spirit of his promise to Khareh, who appears to him even though Sterlyn is certain his oath to Khareh is still in tact. [intact] With the spirit's help, Sterlyn performs incredible feats of magic and is hailed by the Chauk as a sage of Versian legend. As rumors circulate of the tyrannical behavior of the new Dagon Khan, Sterlyn embraces his new powers and returns to aid his suffering people. It will not be easy. The cruel Khan is his former best friend Khareh, who has a powerful spirit-guardian of his own and is unafraid to wield it for his wicked purpose.
I have enclosed a synopsis and the first five pages following this letter. Thank you for your consideration of SPIRITS & SCARS.
How does solving the mystery of the scar help? He still gets haunted if he breaks the promise, and I assume if he doesn't break it, he breaks the conflicting promise. If there's a way to avoid breaking either promise, he wouldn't have been exiled. Why do they exile oath breakers anyway? Isn't being haunted by a spirit punishment enough?
I don't quite get how this promise stuff works. Say I promise to protect you from Darth Vader. A scar forms on my thigh. Then I screw up and Darth Vader kills you. People may notice I have a scar, but does anyone know I promised to protect you from Darth Vader? How does anyone know what any of the scars represents? Is it the honor system? Or is there some sort of magical system whereby a record of all promises is maintained?
If you make a promise and keep it, does your scar go away? Even if it does, a promise like "I promise to love you until I die," would leave you scarred for life, even if you kept it. Are scars considered attractive or ugly? If I knew the answers to my questions about scars, I'd only have more questions.
Being haunted by the spirit of a broken promise is a good idea. But being scarred simply by making a promise I don't get. Here's a comparison to show my problem:
Woman 1 promises to give Ann her diamond brooch when Ann turns 15. Woman 2 promises to give Jane her diamond brooch when Jane turns 65. If the scars do go away when you keep your promise, woman 2 is going to be scarred 50 years longer than woman 1, even though they both keep their promises. If the scars don't go away, then what's the point of them? Everyone would be completely covered in scars eventually.
If you eliminated the physical scars, which frankly are hard to buy into, you'd still have a decent story. Unfortunately it's called The Count of Monte Cristo.