Thursday, April 03, 2008
Guess the Plot
1. When she finds "The Phantom," her family spaceship, Lidas sets out on a quest to destroy the pirate clan that killed her family and helped bring her civilization to its knees. But can she avoid the giant creatures with their ship-eating grins?
2. When the Dodgers' new pitcher, Phil "The Phantom" Foster, is found hanging in the dugout, homicide detective Zack Martinez knows two things. One, it's no suicide, and two, he'll have to get home-plate tickets for his wife's nephew.
3. Finally ousted from his beloved musical abode, The Phantom is of The Opera no more! Furious at his eviction, the Phantom bands together with other displaced haunters - phantoms of churches, taverns, outhouses, and cellar closets - to wage war against the human interlopers and reclaim their stolen habitats.
4. When people run from Simon with piddle dripping and anus quivering fear, he realizes that coming back as a phantom will be harder than he planned. Also, a virgin schoolmarm trains a midget circus troop.
5. Haunted by the ghost of his business partner, who he murdered, Owen James is unable to enjoy the fruits of his crime: sole ownership of their chain of mortuaries. Can he maintain his sanity, or will he be his next customer?
6. Living next to a nuclear waste dump does have an upside. When Orchia finds he's become invisible, he realizes he has his chance to get even with everyone who ever wronged him. Not to mention that he can take up residence in the girls' locker room at nearby Swarthmore. Hilarity ensues.
Attn: Great and Mighty Evil Editor; [Good start.]
Hunted by assassins, the heir of an interstellar power finds an heirloom family ship that begins her odyssey to restore her people and destroy the traitor who decimated her family. [Too much information for a one-sentence summary. The heir of an interstellar power sets out to destroy the traitor who decimated her family.] Lidas Atasia, Book 1: The Phantom is a 134,000 word science fiction journey into a lavish galaxy of heroes, monsters, and political intrigue.
Organic starships, giant ship-eating creatures that live between systems and an 800 year old nomadic space-dwelling people who have never set foot on a planet make this a unique and intriguing book. [If you can convince us it's unique and intriguing without actually declaring it so, you'll be on your way to query stardom.] [Also, all that stuff was on Star Trek.] What was once a powerful and thriving civilization has been brought to its knees by the humans, [The human race are your bad guys? Who do you expect to buy your book, Klingons? If Agatha Chistie'd had to depend on sales to murderers, she'd have died a pauper.] who are able to out-compete the Bruskers in both food production and mercantile trade, slowly strangling them through economic conquest. [Humans. First they ruin Earth, now they're the scourge of the universe.] Making the situation worse, one of the fourteen Brusker clans, the Rejadda, has turned against their own kind as pirates. When the leader of the Rejadda betrays the head of the merchant Atasia clan and his sons to their deaths, the last surviving daughter Lidas Atasia makes it her life's quest to destroy the entire Rejadda clan and avenge her murdered family. [Hello. My name is Lidas Atasia. You killed my father. Prepare to die.] [You might want to mention the name of your main character a little earlier than the last sentence of your synopsis. Yes, the name is part of the series title, but we can't tell from that if it's a person or a planet or Italian for The Chronicles of Brusker.]
I have experienced first hand the extremes of human behavior after years abroad, first traveling across America then living in the tribal nation of Papua New Guinea and in terror-torn Israel. I have seen how the twin powers of idealism and tradition shape civilization. I've come face to face with abuses of power and startling tales of human ingenuity impossible to acquire from the safety of the television. [I am . . . The Phantom!] [That's nothing. I have been there every step of the way in my living room as Jack Bauer saved America from deadly terrorist attacks. I have observed quietly from afar the crustiness of the brilliant medical diagnostician, Gregory House. I have cowered in the face of a dozen Gordon Ramsay tirades that were directed at other people, and all in the safety of my wide-screen plasma television.] My brother's immigration to Israel gives me insight into the return of an exiled people [All right, let's not go overboard.] while my sister's experience on a military naval vessel, visiting Antarctica's bizarre science stations, sheds light on and brings to life the harsh realities of survival in space. [I'll buy that argument when I see penguins thriving in space.]
My focus on rich cultural development and extensive character realization stems from a lifetime study of civilization and politics. [Define "lifetime."] Exploring the themes of justice, honor, respect, sacrifice, loyalty, and consequence this book captures a vanishing morality. [Phrases like "extensive character realization" and "captures a vanishing morality" are what I used to write when I was trying to BS my way through an essay test. Don't tell me they have an actual meaning?]
I have included the first 3 chapters and a synopsis for your review and would be glad to send you the full manuscript of Lidas Atasia book one, upon request. You can also read excerpts from all three books in the trilogy on my website, _______________.
Thank you for your attention,
Your Most Humble Minion
[Title: The "Lidas Atasia" part is the series name. The "The Phantom" part is the book title for the first book. Lidas Atasia is the protagonist of the story. The Phantom is her family starship that she pins all her hopes and dreams on. I always thought the title was kind of boring and too obvious. Plus 'the Phantom' sounds dumb. Feel free to crumple it into little bitty bits. Or, if you want, rename it! Call it chicken-head tap-dance for all I care.] [If I had, I might not have had to write two of the fake plots myself.]
There's more here about you than about Lidas Atasia.
You end the query with Lidas vowing to get revenge. That's where your story begins. Surely you haven't written 134,000 words of set-up, with the revenge-seeking coming in the later books? Here's your opening paragraph:
What was once a powerful and thriving civilization has been brought to its knees by humans, who out-compete the Bruskers in both food production and mercantile trade, slowly strangling them through economic conquest. Making the situation worse, one of the fourteen Brusker clans, the Rejadda, has turned against their own kind as pirates. When the leader of the Rejadda betrays the head of the Atasia clan and his sons to their deaths, the last surviving daughter, Lidas Atasia, makes it her life's quest to destroy the Rejadda clan and avenge her murdered family.
Now give us a couple brief paragraphs detailing how she plans to go about this, and why she has no chance of succeeding except that there's a glimmer of hope if only . . .
You need to make us care about your main character. Not about her civilization.
And ditch the Papua Antarctica stuff. If living in Papua New Guinea increased your chances of getting published, half of my minions would be living there, and the other half would be claiming they did.
There were twelve tribes in Israel back when the entire population of Earth was 83. There are hundreds of clans in puny little Scotland. Yet the Bruskers, an interplanetary civilization, has only fourteen clans?
I can't tell whether the Bruskers are supposed to be Israel or the Ferengi.