Friday, March 26, 2010

Face-Lift 746


Guess the Plot

Rage of a Hero

1. Stanley Diefenderfer desperately wants to bang on his chest and bellow at the sky, but can't. Being a secondary character sucks.

2. Angered at the recent success of the Philadelphia cheesesteak, a meatball hero engineers a nationwide Cheez Whiz shortage to ensure his comeback, and his rival’s downfall.

3. Enraged after he accidentally slaughters the maiden he was supposed to be rescuing--the International Federation of Heroes will not stand for such behavior!--Njord the Noble is forced to take an anger-management class. The plot thickens when he also slaughters his entire class and kidnaps the instructor.

4. In a land where “superheroes” are ordinary government workers and dorks have superpowers (if you call bringing comic book characters to life a superpower), one man rages. Forgotten and alone after becoming a centenarian, Superman vows that Metropolis will not soon forget the day his wrath was unleashed.

5. After saving the kingdom from a terrible dragon, Brogdinard is the most popular hero ever--so popular the king becomes wildly jealous and throws him into the dungeon, along with anyone who dares complain. Now Brog's mad as hell, and someone's gonna pay. As soon as he figures out how to escape from a dungeon.

6. A group of corrupt folk are planning to take over the governments of every country in the world. Xavier was the only one who knew about it, but he lost his memory when he died and the Grim Reaper brought him back to life with half of a hell soul, so now his team of superheroes must help him remember, but if Xavier builds up too much rage, his half-hell soul will take over and who knows what its agenda is?



Original Version

Dear Evil Editor,

After being murdered, Xavier Van Rui made a deal with the Grim Reaper to return to Earth to settle some unfinished business. The Reaper agreed, [Most accommodating. Does the Reaper get anything out of this deal?] but in order to accomplish such a feat, Xavier’s soul had to be combined with a powerful prisoner of hell’s to give him enough strength to return from the dead. It worked, forming a very unstable and chaotic concoction.

Sure enough, Xavier returns to Earth. One problem though: he can’t remember anything except his name. This may not seem like that big of a problem, [Say what? Unless his unfinished business is to wander about aimlessly, stating his name, it seems like a huge problem.] but Xavier was a part of a supernatural team called the [X-men.] Legends, who work to suppress and eliminate another polarized group of corrupt folk who will stop at nothing to take control of all the governments of the world. They are nicknamed by the Legends: “Corporation Erebus.” [Are they supervillains or just regular folk obsessed with governing countries?]

Xavier knew that Corporation Erebus was finally beginning to acquire the means to make the world fall onto its knees. Like any stubborn neurotic, he didn’t tell the Legends, and he went to stop Corporation Erebus himself, getting killed in the attempt. [Why did he join the Legends if he prefers to go solo? I realize Aquaman has his own personal enemies, like sharks, but when the villain is trying to take over the universe, Aquaman asks Superman to pitch in.] His friends suspected he knew something, something very important, and now they need him to remember. They fear time may be running out. [Do they know he died, or do they just think he has amnesia?]

As he struggles to remember, the other soul within Xavier begins emerging. He calls himself “the havoc, the fury, the Rage of a Hero,” [That's a bit unwieldy for a nickname. I know, because I used to call myself "Evil Genius, Overlord, Mister Amazing, Nobility In A Chair." Eventually I just went with the acronym.] and he can only emerge when Xavier feels enough negative emotion. The Rage of a Hero has his own agenda, [If we knew his agenda we'd have a better idea of what's at stake. Maybe he wants to destroy the planet. Maybe he wants to get laid.] and he wants to take control, and with all the stress in Xavier’s life, he may succeed, ruining any chances of stopping Corporation Erebus. [Why bother? Ninety percent of the world's governments would be in better shape if Corporation Erebus took them over.]

Rage of a Hero is complete at 75,000 words, and is ready to be sent upon your request. Thank you for your time.

Sincerely,


Notes

The title made sense when I thought it referred to Xavier. Then it turns out it's the nickname of the soul of some prisoner of hell.

Xavier being the name of the X-men's leader, maybe you should have a different name for your member of a superhero team.

What was Xavier's supernatural power before he died? Does he still have it?

When you say Xavier can't remember anything but his name, do you mean he doesn't remember the other Legends, how to speak English, how to drive a car, how to use his supernatural ability? If he remembers nothing, how does he hook up with the Legends when he returns to Earth?

12 comments:

Dave F. said...

Eventually I just went with the acronym

I nearly choked to death on that line. Cereal everywhere, tea spilled, bacon burnt, egg over-coddled. Brilliant!

Stephen Prosapio said...

I'm with Dave!

"Evil Genius, Overlord, Mister Amazing, Nobility In A Chair."
Classic!

Between that and the disappointment that the real query wasn't #2 (and it being close to lunchtime), I apologize in advance for my snappy comments:

And interesting idea for sure. My biggest concern is that this book is going to require too much of a stretch on the willful suspension of disbelief:

1. "The Reaper Agrees" - huh? 15,000 years of reaping and I bet he never heard "Hey c'mon Reaper Dude, let me go back. I've got unfinished business!"

2. Did he know he was going back without his memory? If so, then what's the point? Seems a bit contrived.

3. Yeah. The Nickname. Huh? This isn't the place to be sneaky. What is this thing and why the weird titles?

4. Lastly - "Corporation Erebus was finally beginning to acquire the means to make the world fall onto its knees. Like any stubborn neurotic, he didn’t tell the Legends, and he went to stop Corporation Erebus himself getting killed in the attempt." --

Reading that made me say, "Good! Flippin' Idiot!" -- is that really the kind of attitude you want an intelligent reader to have about your SuperHero character before reading your novel? Someone who's part of a vital group to keep the world safe who's a neurotic jerk? Really?

I hate writers who tell other writers how to tell their story, so I won't do that---especially because I haven't read it. I just hope that you've really thought through the implications of your characters actions because there are several alluded to in this brief query that make me suspect this is going to be one of those stories that makes me shout at the text "Why in the world would he/she be doing that?????"

I hope this didn't come across as too harsh. I think it's a great concept and I know hearing how other people read my query helps me define what I mean to say.

Lunchtime. Mmmmmmm cheesesteak or hero sandwich?

Heather M said...

I think EE's questions are right on. I also think you could compress what you have here into much fewer words to make room for the answers to those questions.

"After dying in a foolish attempt to defeat the evil Corporation Erebus on his own, Xavier Van Rui [do keep the last name, I like it!] makes a deal with the Reaper to be sent back to Earth. One condition: his soul is combined with that of a powerful prisoner of hell, rendering it highly unstable--and wiping his memory.

His superhero friends the Legends are growing desperate in their fight to keep Erebus from taking over the world. They suspect Xavier knew something before he died--something vital.

But what? And can he remember before it's too late?

Meanwhile the powerful hell-bound half of his soul is growing stronger every day. It's even given itself a name... Rage."

Y'know. Something like that. For instance, I only said two phrases about what Erebus is, but it's real obvious because evil groups that want to take over the world are standard to superhero tales. If there's anything about Erebus that's *different* from most evil guys in superhero tales, you'll want to put in a phrase that mentions that aspect.

Dave F. said...

I think your query needs to start with Xavier's return from Hell.

"Xavier returns from hell to save the world from Corp Ereberus' new plague or nuclear bomb, or plague of demons."

or maybe:

"Murdered on a mission to save the world from Corp Ereberus' sterility bomb, Xavier has to return from Hell as a half-demon half-man. Can he save the world as he struggles to remember the threat and control the demon inside."

This query is going to rise and fall on Xavier's likeableness and humanity. Think about HellBoy and Spawn and the Silver Surfer in F4 or the Arnold model terminator on movies 2&3, or that sandman character in Spidey man, and Spidey's buddy with the black thing from outer space. Superheroes are the most angst-ridden, guilty and conflicted individuals you read about. Tell us about Xavier's struggles and how his humanity evolves through the story.

One last thought: I hate to pick on names but Ereberus sounds like something cucumbers make me do -- cucumbers make me urp...

Stephen Prosapio said...

okay I give. I'm gonna throw this out there....is there a way rather than having Xavier get killed being a stubborn loner idiot that he gets killed trying to save one of his Legend buddies who'd tried to do this on his own? Just seems like he'd be a LOT more likable and sympathetic character that way...and it sets up tension when he comes back with the character he died saving.

Heather M said...

The Reaper thing--you could give him a good reason, if you haven't already. Hades let Orpheus' girlfriend go, after all--after giving him a condition Hades knew he couldn't fulfill! It could be that kind of deal--the Reaper's playing a game. "Here, see if you can keep this hell soul in check--oh, and see if you can do the whole thing with no memory, too. See ya soon..."

Then your guy has to overcome the odds with a gloaty Reaper betting against him. That makes him a little more likeable right there.

But Dave's right, anyway. Likeability is key.

Min Yin said...

...if Xavier builds up too much rage, his half-hell soul will take over and who knows what its agenda is?

The movie pitch could be: "SPEED in a soul." Maybe you could even get Keanu Reeves to star.

Anonymous said...

Here is the revised version. Thank you guys for your input.

Dear Evil Editor,

After getting killed, while trying to stop the corrupted Corporation Erebus, Arthur Van Rui strikes a deal with the Grim Reaper to come back from the dead. The Reaper only agrees to do so if Arthur takes the soul of a prisoner of hell with him, but little does Arthur know that this will wipe his memory.

The allies he left behind, The Legends, are losing the battle against Corporation Erebus, and when they find Arthur, they wonder where the hell he has been. They weren’t even aware he died in the first place, and they can’t figure out why he doesn’t have his memory. They need his memory though, or else Corporation Erebus will succeed, and take the world for their own.

And that soul Arthur had to take with him? He is only known as Rage, a powerful lunatic who destroyed cities for pleasure when he roamed the Earth some eight hundred years ago. The Reaper knows this, and he also knows that Arthur won’t possibly be able to restrain this soul forever.

Rage of a Hero is complete at 75,000 words, and is ready to be sent upon your request. Thank you for your time.

Sincerely,

Ben Butler

Dominique said...

I really don't like that you talk about his memory like it's a box or some other portable object.

The paragraph about Rage seems a little weird. Also, you should probably clear up when/where this all takes place, or else the references to someone destroying cities 800 years prior might seem odd.

Sarah Laurenson said...

For me, it's pretty close. The second paragraph is a bit general though and could be beefed up with some specifics.

Here's my suggestion (minus the extra details):

One of The Legends, Arthur Van Rui, strikes a deal with the Grim Reaper to come back from the dead. Arthur believes he can continue trying to stop the corrupted Corporation Erebus. The Reaper has other plans. He makes Arthur take the soul of a prisoner of hell with him, and this wipes Arthur’s memory.

The Legends are losing the battle against Corporation Erebus. They weren’t even aware Arthur died, and they can’t figure out why he doesn’t have his memory. They need it though, or else Corporation Erebus will succeed, and take the world for their own.

And that soul Arthur had to take with him? He is only known as Rage, a powerful lunatic who destroyed cities for pleasure when he roamed the Earth some eight hundred years ago. The Reaper knows this, and he also knows that Arthur won’t possibly be able to restrain this soul forever.

Stephen Prosapio said...

Author, nice job on the revision! I love your opening paragraph and the begining to the second, but that needs some cleaning.

...unaware of his death and his deal with the Reaper, the group is frustrated by Arthur's memory problems...

or something.

I like your last paragraph too. It makes the deal struck with the Reaper make sense (and leaves me wondering in a good way WHY).

I'd have a much higher comfort level of picking this up and flipping through pages to inspect the writing. Nit: "take the world for their own" seems a bit too over the top vague. Allusion to a specific plan there might be good...especially since the other world destroyer is being left so vague.

But I like the two-for-one shot at major consequences.

Anonymous said...

Thank you all for your comments and constructive criticism. It has helped me a great deal. I'll post the next draft when I finish it.