Thursday, June 07, 2007

Face-Lift 351


Guess the Plot

The Peacetaker

1. "The Warmonger" sounds so, well, unfriendly, so the president has a new, more genial button made up for himself.

2. Ancient legends tell of a man who can seed murderous madness in people's minds by merely walking amongst them. When a peaceful rally in Washington disintegrates into a riot that leaves hundreds dead, federal agent Tim Carter begins to suspect the "Peacetaker" is more than a legend.

3. "Imagine," said Alex, a device that will sound a bell whenever you're in deep concentration on a task. It will pull you away from whatever you're doing and demand you devote your attention to something totally trivial." "Outstanding," replied Tom. "We'll call it the 'peacetaker' because it takes away your peace and quiet!" "No," corrected Alex. "We'll call it the 'telephone.'"

4. Sardacious calls himself the Peacetaker--when he shows up, negotiations collapse. Now a fragile truce between the Torinthian Empire and the Siverean Elves has caught his attention--and he's determined to apply his talents.

5. When peace has spread it's bounty across the land, an evil unlike any other arises: The Peacetaker. War, Death and Pestilence follow him like trusty hounds as he destroys the Realm of Barrok. Can the druids of Hashenhak stop him before it's too late?

6. Years ago Jack Jackson was a Navy Seal sniper. Now he’s been placed on a special task force to bring peace to the Middle East. Using the latest in military technology and a crack team of special forces operatives from around the globe, Jack vows to bring peace – no matter how many bodies he has to step over.


Original Version

The Peacetaker
98,000 words

Ancients believed that once in a Blue Moon a child with peace-taker powers is born. Such child, when grown to maturity, can seed murderous madness in people's minds by merely walking amongst them. [Imagine George Bush walking through Baghdad--or through the Democratic Convention--and you'll see the Peacetaker is no mere myth.] A simple amulet activates the Peacetaker’s powers.

When a federal agent, Tim Carter, undercover as a business executive [comma] sets out to visit Dr. Stella Hunter, he wants to gain insight on possible causes of an outbreak of madness at a peaceful women's rally in Cairo. He means to use a short footage of the riot – and his scarred face – to persuade her to help him without probing his reasons. [What are his reasons?]


[Tim: I want your insight on why a women's rally in Egypt became a riot.
Stella: Why?
Tim: I have here some footage of the riot.
Stella: But why do you want my help?
Tim (removing his mask): I also have scars on my face.

Stella: No more! I'll talk! I'll tell you anything! Just put the mask back on.]


Stella Hunter's a closet mythology expert, much ridiculed for her lifelong passion expressed by means of a controversial book: "Myths and Legends: The Ribbons of Truth." [Stella's title is almost as bad as yours.] Carter has a copy he took [stole] from a dying man’s bedside.

In her book, she traced the Peacetaker legend through almost every ancient civilization. [The Greeks, the Romans, the Ferengi, the Borg . . . ] Each culture sought to document the Peacetaker's arrival in their own way, whether through a cartouche, scroll or stone tablets. [For instance, there was a third stone tablet that Moses couldn't carry down the mountain on his first trip, and that he didn't feel like going back for because it had only one commandment on it. It read: Thou shalt steer clear of false idols, mimes, thy neighbor's sheep, and especially the Peacetaker.] Stella concluded that when it comes to dreams from which legends are spun, people, regardless of time, creed and color, tend to dream alike. [That's the controversial theory that's brought her ridicule in her field? That's nothing.] [So far there's more here about Stella's book than yours.] However an Egyptian colleague who sought her out at a Los Angeles conference insisted that legends were spun from reality, not dreams. He'd spent nearly ten years tracking down the whereabouts of the child he believed is the modern-day Peacetaker, and maintained that he was very close to finding him - very close. Stella thought he was a crackpot. [Look who's talking. Everybody who's anybody thinks she's a crackpot.]

The next day, [The next day after what? Nothing's happened yet.] a peaceful rally at the Mall in Washington disintegrates into a murderous riot that leaves hundreds dead and thousands injured. And suddenly, Stella and Carter are forced to consider the unthinkable: What if the Egyptian crackpot’s quest for the modern-day Peacetaker was fruitful . . . ?


Notes

It's not so much a matter of whether the crackpot's quest was fruitful. It's a matter of whether the Peacetaker exists. Even if the crackpot never found him, the Peacetaker can still cause peacelessness, right? Or does the crackpot have the amulet? No, because there was an earlier riot in Cairo.

I think this Peacetaker story was dreamed up by some guy trying to avoid being punished for starting a riot. Back when any crime would get you crucified or burned at the stake, some guy probably said, "I started the riot, but I was helpless, under the control of . . . that man! He's . . . the Peacetaker! Get him!" Once it worked once, everybody was doing it.

Does Carter go to Stella because he suspects the Peacetaker exists? Just because there was a riot in Egypt? Is this guy a federal agent, or a superstitious nutcase?

Instead of Peacetaker, call him Varlogg, Scourge of Serenity.

Okay, the writing's clear enough, and the situation's interesting, but less background and more action would be better, I think. Doesn't your main plot thread start with the Washington riot? Is the Peacetaker motivated to move on and start more trouble? Are they chasing him? Is the crackpot helping? That seems more interesting than the history of Peacetakers.

34 comments:

December/Stacia said...

If Stella's written a book on myths with her name on it, she's not a "closet" mythology expert.


I think the premise here is interesting in a Frank-Black-investigates kind of a way, but the query doesn't focus very well.

Anonymous said...

You don't want to destroy your credibility right off the bat - did you know there are roughly 41 blue moons in a century? Given modern man's average lifespan, there should be over 30 peacetakers out there. You might want to think about something that's really rare.

pjd said...

What you've presented is a list of people who care about an obscure and largely discredited theory, along with their backgrounds. What we need is a single, short sentence clearly saying what the Peacetaker is. (No need to go into detail about who came up with the lame name.) Then tell us that Carter sees patterns in riots that lead him to believe the Peacetaker has fallen into the hands of Evildoers, and he seeks out a mythology expert to help find and secure the Peacetaker. (Leave out the scarred face and stolen book.) Then tell us what happens.

I think it should probably be a red flag that your query ends with a "what if" question. Shouldn't that be your starting point?

By the way, I think your "what if" question is a good one, though I keep flashing on images of Eddie Murphy and The Golden Child. ("I want the knife... ... ... Please.") And your premise clearly has potential for page-turning suspense. If it's actually a story and not just a long-winded treatise on the Peacetaker legend. (The way the query ends, it almost suggests that the main characters spend the entire novel learning about the legend, and in the final scene they look up at each other with horror in their eyes and say, "Oh my God, the Egyptian crackpot has the Peacetaker!" Then they both look into the camera while tense music plays during the fade to black.)

Dave said...

A Blue Moon occurs seven times every nineteen years. Why? because there are 228 calendar months (length varies) in 19 years and 235 lunar months (28 days each).
So this "peacetaker" has 7 chances every 20 years to be born. That's 35 chances a century. That's a lot of depressing people to have walking around the world at one time.
Hmmmm, what triggers the peacetaking abilities of the "bundle of joy from the stork" ... And NO, the author says that societies document the Peacetaker with an amulet or cartouche. So it's not an amulet that triggers the latent ability.

I remember a character from Asimov's Foundation Trilogy named "The Mule." he had the mental ability to cause whole worlds to despair and surrender.

spooge26 said...

Should blue moon be capitalized? I’m thinking no.
Why is peacetaker hyphenated in the first line but never again?

“Ancients believed that once in a Blue Moon a child with peace-taker powers is born. Such child

(‘such child’ sounds off)

when grown to maturity (as opposed to the many who grow to immaturity and light their farts on fire),

(this whole first part is wordy about the child being born and growing up. Can you just say a person comes along with the power to…?)



When a (delete ‘a’) federal agent, Tim Carter, undercover as a business executive sets out to visit

(does he or doesn’t he visit her? He sets out to visit but the riot gets in the way? Or his hair transplant appointment is changed and he can’t?)

Dr. Stella Hunter, he wants to gain insight on possible causes of an outbreak of madness at a peaceful women's

(maybe Fabio showed up. That’s all it takes at some of these rallies.)

rally in Cairo. He means to use (does he or doesn’t he use it? He means to… but then he had second thoughts when he saw Fabio… he felt a twinge in his shorts?)

a short footage of the riot – and his scarred face – to persuade her to help him without probing his reasons (he doesn’t want to be probed by her? Is he saving himself for Fabio?)

So from the rest of the query, it sounds like a child is doing all the fun… I mean dirty work as the peacetaker. Granted children in general tend to take away any peace at all for the parents, neighbors, babysitters, etc. but I find it hard to believe a child is doing this.


EE – great comments! You’re the best, babe!

Evil Editor said...

And NO, the author says that societies document the Peacetaker with an amulet...

No, he doesn't.

Evil Editor said...

(maybe Fabio showed up. That’s all it takes at some of these rallies.)

Good one.

I find it hard to believe a child is doing this.

The Peacetaking powers arrive after the child reaches maturity, right?

Dave said...

Sorry about that. The author says "Each culture sought to document the Peacetaker's arrival in their own way, whether through a cartouche, scroll or stone tablets" So there is no amulet involved.

My point was that the powers didn't require a piece of brik-brak to activate and that with 35 or 40 blue moon babies wandering around each century, we'd all be severely depressed.

As for the difference in number of Blue Moons - It's the difference between using the quick and fuzzy math of a 19 year cycle and a 100 year cycle while not wanting to account for leap year days. The point is that there are a significant number of Blue Moons in a given time period.

More confusing is that this year, a blue moon occurs in the USA in July and in Australia in August. I ain't about to do 100 years of that type of mathematic exercise. That's "work" and I retired a few years ago.

I think that the GTP was a good start for this query.

Ancient legends tell of a man who can instill madness in people's minds by merely walking among them. When peaceful rallies in Washington DC and Egypt disintegrate into riots leaving hundreds dead, federal agent Tim Carter and Mythologist Stella Hunter fear the legend has come to life.

Now the writer has to add parts of the novel describing their efforts to find the "peacetaker" and defeat him.

Robin S. said...

"Thou shalt steer clear of false idols, mimes, thy neighbor's sheep, and especially the Peacetaker." I'm still laughing.

If only Moses had brought this down from on high long ago - I bet the sheep suicide rate would've dropped dramatically.

Author,

If I understand your storyline correctly, it sounds interesting, and, once the glitches are fixed on the query, best of luck on your search for publication.

blogless_troll said...

I knew a closet mythology expert once. You couldn't talk to her though, because everything you said reminded her of some ancient story. Like, if I said, "Hey, how's it goin'?" She'd launch into a tale about Bobo the trickster god, who took great pride in always leaving you one hanger short. Or his nemesis, Starchtaker, who ensured that no matter how many times you ironed them, your khakis would always be wrinkled. They were in some weird ethereal love triangle with Gushy, the god of Sentimental Crap Stored Way Up High In A Shoebox. I wish I remembered more, but I usually fell asleep about halfway through.

phoenix said...

Actually, Dave, in the western hemisphere, we just had a blue moon on May 31. People on the other side of the world will get theirs on June 30. Now twice in a blue moon would be a rarer occurence, but that still happens once every 19 years, so every generation would have their Peacetaker, with some generations having two -- which would perhaps spawn the expression "once in a Peacetaker."

I was okay with the name "Peacetaker." What would the rest of you call the legend? (Not loving the Scourges of Serenity, EE. Sorry.) "Slayer" isn't exactly inspirational, either, but Buffy carried the title proudly.

I'm with december/stacia (see what happens when you use a pen name -- talk about an identity crisis there, d/s!). The premise sounds interesting. But the query doesn't make it sound like the story follows through on the interesting premise. Hopefully that's the fault of the query and not the book. Others have pointed out the query is all exploration of the legend. We want to see the legend in action. In fact, we just want action!

Anonymous said...

In Washington Irving's early drafts he was calling Rip Van Winkle "The Naptaker".

Anonymous said...

"STELLA!!!!!!!!!!!!!"

Anonymous said...

Stella Hunter, an expert on closet mythology, has documented countless sightings of the Yeti among the hangers and coathooks of the Pacific Northwest.

Anonymous said...

The second book in the series is called "The Leaf Raker", in which Stella pursues a day laborer who has scarred her film-toting lover for life by exposing his blue moon.

Anonymous said...

Third book in the series is "The Peachtaker", the story of Stella Hunter's fruitful day in the orchards.

Anonymous said...

Darn, author, now I have to change the title of my WIP. It was about a man determined to triple his cholesterol level by eating lavish desserts. And I thought "The CheeseCaker" was the perfect title...

Anonymous said...

HBO is developing on a "Sopranos" spinoff called "The Knees Breaker".

The main characters are Cheesy Adams and Bronk Itis.

GutterBall said...

...peaceful women's rally...

Mr. Evil, I'm ashamed of you. How could you miss this??

Interesting set-up, author, but I want to know what happened. Everything you gae us was either background or set-up. I mean, are they just trying to prove that the Peacetaker exists, or are they supposed to stop him.

And a Blue Moon ain't so rare. Don't they happen every couple of years? Shouldn't that mean that there are dozens of Peacetakers walking around active at any given time?

Evil Editor said...

...peaceful women's rally...

Mr. Evil, I'm ashamed of you. How could you miss this??

If you're claiming no women's rally could be peaceful, you're in trouble with half the minions. If you're talking about the grammar, you're in trouble with everyone.

blogless_troll said...

anonymous 2:07 thru 2:37,

I see you've mastered the first trick of funny, which is volume. Now you need to practice the second trick, which is delete the unfunny.

Anonymous said...

I saw the first chapter of this on Crapometer. It opens with the boring businessman in Stella Hunter's office. He shouts "Hey Stella babes! Let me bend over and show you my blue moon!"

I thought it was over the top.

GutterBall said...

If you're claiming no women's rally could be peaceful, you're in trouble with half the minions. If you're talking about the grammar, you're in trouble with everyone.

The former. And I'm not too worried -- I am a woman, so if I'm in trouble with the rest of us, it only proves my point.

Anonymous said...

Hey blogless, you might want to brush up on the art of wit.

Robin S. said...

Wow, EE. "If you're claiming no women's rally could be peaceful, you're in trouble with half the minions."

I'd never have thought (or guessed)that you were so PC.

Being one of those in the minion half you're talking about, I'm all for raucous rallies - they're less boring that way. Maybe it's just the heat down here in the South.

spooge26 said...

Hey, EE, are you getting SOFT when it comes to the ladies???

i am a woman and i was surprised as well that you didn't have a PMS comment on that line.

what's up?

Evil Editor said...

Hey 90% of my minions are women. If they desert me and only the men come here, I'll be doing all this work for only 10,000 people a day. Unacceptable.

150 said...

Hey, I actually like the idea of many possible Peacekeepers walking around waiting to be activated by an amulet. (OK...less crazy about the amulet idea.) Then you only have to find one of them to sow destruction. And what if you found two?

writtenwyrdd said...

I know: Add another super power! Rip off Mystery Men and have the PMS Avenger take on the Peacetaker atthe not-so-peaceful women's rally!

Author, I think the query didn't give me enough to form an opinion about the story. This is mostly background.

Additionally, my two cents worth about that name. I really hate "the Peacetaker" as the name of this legendary person. Even Varlogg is better than that. For one thing, I keep reading it as "Peace talker." For another, Peacetaker just doesn't sound dangerous, ominous, or like a villian should sound. It sounds peaceful and soft. Maybe you could translate it into another language?

takoda said...

Oh God this is all so funny!

Okay, to the tune of Pat Benatar's "Heartbreaker"

Chorus:
He's a Peacetaker
Cheesecaker
Knees Breaker
Don't ya' mess around with me.

Robin S. from the South--I'm with you on the raucous rallies!

Thanks to everyone about the Blue Moon information. I never knew they were real.

December/Stacia said...

Hey, EE is all about the laydees.

Robin S. said...

Hey takoda,
Good one on the Heartbreaker takeoff!

EE, you old devil, we'll love you just about no matter what - thought you knew that already.

150 said...

Oh takoda, I died.

GutterBall said...

*best Monty Python voice*

Blessed are the cheesemakers?