Friday, October 24, 2008
Guess the Plot
Flames of Hatred
1. When flirty English Daisy meets brash laird Sandy McTenninch at a Balmoral garden party, it's Scots-versus-Sassenach enmity at the first glimpse of his fluttering clan tartan. Will a stray breeze show her the real reason the queen spends her summers in Scottish seclusion, or will hairy reality fan the . . . Flames of Hatred?
2. When a young warrior uncovers treason in his own family he is unjustly exiled to the land of his family's enemies to teach him a lesson. But the only lesson he learns is that the daughter of his father's rival is hot, hot, HOT! Is a hot babe enough to dampen his bitter . . . Flames of Hatred?
3. Benny and Theresa are fellow carnies as well as a couple—she's the tattoo lady and he's the fire-eater. Their romance is admired by all their colleagues, except one, who vows to win Theresa's heart. When he lifts 450 lbs. above his head, Theresa swoons. Soon Benny's fire-eating act is consumed in . . . Flames of Hatred.
4. When topiary artist Gareth McGee loses his girlfriend to a brainless stockbroker, he is crushed, but the pain inspires his most ambitious piece ever, a 27-foot-high holly masterpiece titled, "Flames of Hatred," for which he wins the prestigious Golden Clipper award, handed over by his favorite Hollywood celebrity, Gemma Garbo. Is it love at first sight for her, too? Or was that kiss just a formality?
5. When Todd said he'd swim any ocean, climb any mountain, etc., Sally sent him on a difficult mission across the Lake of Despair, up the Cliffs of Infatuation, around the Plains of Indecision, down the River of Resentment, and through the Grove of Anger. But now? The Flames of Hatred? No way. He'd rather get cozy with an easy-going heavy-set gal, like Jan Barkowsky -- but how can one of award-winning author Stacy McShaw's "Starlit Romances" end like that?
6. There are four mystical flames burning in the White Temple: the Flame of Truth, the Flame of Justice, the Flame of Love and the Flame of Life. When the flames begin to flicker and threaten to go out, Tadry Omanish discovers the existence of the Black Temple and the Flames of Hatred. As chaos engulfs the city around him, Tadry must find and defeat the priests of the Black Temple.
Dear Evil Editor:
Swords of Fire: Flames of Hatred follows the path of Khirsha, a young warrior trying to discover who and what he is under the threat of war, treason and his awakening to the daughters of his father and grandfather's fiercest rivals. His efforts are hampered by reason of changes taking place inside him which are affecting his judgment and actions. The cause for these changes is unknown to him, but they are creating problems in all areas of his life. [The first sentence is awkward and the next two are vague.]
The story opens with Khirsha already in trouble. By reason of a prank which went terribly wrong, Khirsha and his best friend and cousin, Kelso, have uncovered the existence of treason in the family (something unheard of for more than two hundred years). The treason has put family supply caravans under threat from surrounding companies of bandits, which are attacking with increasing frequency. However, the family's political tension means the exposed treason is going to be ignored, at least publicly. Instead, Khirsha and Kelso are punished for their prank. [One family member commits treason while another toilet papers the neighbor's yard, and which one gets punished? This reminds me of how Stalin's parents ignored the twenty million deaths he was responsible for, but banished his brother to Siberia for making prank phone calls.] The punishment is to be reduced to servant level and cast into the villages of factions not friendly to their grandfather, who is Head-of-Family. [If you're being cast into the enemy camp, does it really matter if you've been reduced to servant level? You're probably better off.] [That's like sentencing Hannibal Lecter to life in a dungeon, but first taking away his country club membership.] They are told to use the experience as a learning tool, but the only thing Khirsha learns is that there are more pleasurable things to do with Avalina, the daughter of his father's rival, than fight mock battles with wooden swords, a skill at which Khirsha excels. Fortunately, since protocol dictates that Khirsha [I started out reading that as "Krishna" and I can't stop.] can do no more than Avalina allows, they are spared from complete wantonness, but Avalina allows far more than she should.
Regarding the treason, Khirsha has gathered clues to what is going on, but his distress at what nearly took place with Avalina has clouded his thinking and he neglects to put the pieces together to form a solid picture. Something is happening to him which he can neither explain nor understand. And it is getting worse. Also, his involvement with Avalina has made him ashamed and uncomfortable to be around Sayla, a longtime friend who Khirsha now realizes he is drawn to, and who may have been drawn to him. [What is his longtime friend doing here in the villages of unfriendly factions?] Unfortunately, he and Avalina had been seen and Sayla no longer speaks to him. Khirsha is feeling the stress of his desire for multiple girls and wonders where the line between honor and dishonor really is. When he finds himself in the arms of an older, married woman who once courted his father, he knows he has crossed the line, but he feels caught, like a boat without oars flushing down a raging river toward a precipice of destruction. [A waterfall of woe.] What is making him behave this way? How can he resist a madness which seems to have a life apart from his own will? [I don't care if he knows what's causing his madness; if you know, tell us.]
As Khirsha struggles with his newly awakened sexuality, [How old is this guy? He was called a warrior, but sometimes he seems fourteen, what with discovering girls and pulling pranks.] he continues to be moved like a pawn on a game board as family factions vie for political control and attacks against family caravans increase. That someone is revealing caravan schedules and routes is clear. (Could it even be his own father? What was the mysterious mission he went on?) What is not clear is that Khirsha's involvement with Avalina has given someone cause to take treason to the next level: murder. [Who was murdered?] And hidden to all is that on a much grander scale the Powers which fight for control of the Great Sea have chosen Khirsha's home village as their battle ground, and Khirsha himself appears to be the focus of their attention. [If he's going to save the day, he'll have to work fast. Hurry, Khirsha. Hurry, Khirsha. Hurry, hurry, Khirsha, Khirsha.]
Swords of Fire: Flames of Hatred is roughly 190,000 words.
[Author's note, not part of query: The weapon of choice for this warrior community are swords which seem to issue fire like the business end of an ox whip. The passions of jealously and bitterness which are feeding the treason make up the title's second portion. Swords of Fire is the saga. Flames of Hatred is the first installation.]
This is a synopsis. A query should include a synopsis, but a brief one, no more than eight or ten sentences worth. This is way too much. First of all it's repetitive:
p.1: His efforts are hampered by reason of changes taking place inside him which are affecting his judgment and actions. The cause for these changes is unknown to him...
p.3: Something is happening to him which he can neither explain nor understand.
p.2: The treason has put family supply caravans under threat from surrounding companies of bandits, which are attacking with increasing frequency.
p.4: family factions vie for political control and attacks against family caravans increase.
Secondly, it is too detailed. Do we need to know Khirsha excels at fighting mock battles with wooden swords? That he was once in the arms of a married woman?
Third, save the flowery writing for the book. He feels caught, like a boat without oars flushing down a raging river toward a precipice of destruction. That's too many words to say he's losing control.
All of that isn't going to shorten this enough. Start over and focus on the grander scale: war, treason, politics. Leave out the women. Try to make it sound more important than bandits robbing caravans. Kingdoms are at stake. Life as we know it. The galaxy.
Who's committing treason? Why is it being ignored? Why is Khirsha important to the powers fighting for control of the Great Sea? You're providing a lot of information we don't need, and hiding what's driving the main plot.
Also, your book is going to be 700 pages. It's cheaper to print a 350-page book, and publishers know this. Maybe your book, like your query, can be trimmed.