Friday, May 28, 2010

Face-Lift 776


Guess the Plot

Third Rainbow

1. Abstract painter Jefferson Polak's creation Third Rainbow sells for a cool million, but when it's revealed that his medium was excrement produced on a diet of Skittles, he drinks himself into oblivion before he ever reaches his pot of gold.

2. Madeline hasn't had much luck with the kittens her single father has been buying her. Rainbow I got run over; Rainbow II died of sudden respiratory failure. Will Madeline find out about her father's crush on pretty pet store owner Helen before the same fate befalls the . . . Third Rainbow?

3. Sophomore Amy cares for her alcoholic mother, tries out unsuccessfully for school plays, and secretly crushes on uber-popular Madison. She feels invisible--until an assignment to write a letter to the local paper thrusts her into the gay rights spotlight, and she finds that being heard can be even harder than being ignored.

4. Enshaya is in an uproar. The unicorns' legendary Third Rainbow soccer championship has gotten so out of hand (what with the scandals, gorings and rioting) that the Queen might cancel it altogether! Their solution: kidnap shy, sports-hating Patrick from Earth to referee the game. And they thought things couldn't get any worse?

5. The first time a wolf pup whined, a rainbow was created between the north star and Earth. The first time a kitten meowed, a rainbow formed between Earth and the big dipper. Now another rainbow has formed after the first cry of a penguin chick. No one knows where it leads . . . or what will come to Earth.

6. Three rainbows appear in the corner of a man's vision, rainbows that only he can see. They slowly stretch across the sky. Years pass. The man takes a wife, they have a child, and still the rainbows slowly stretch further across the sky. The man can't help but wonder, What will happen next?


Original Version

Dear Evil Ed,

I am sending you this query letter because I hear you are evil, much like my best friend Ed, so I figure this must be fate, which just happens to be what my novel is about. So here's my query:

The Narrator’s first memories are of hell, of being transformed into a demon, made into a slave, living life from one beating to the next. This all changes when Raven appears in his life. She awakens in the Narrator [I see we're capitalizing "Narrator." Is that because his real name is never revealed and he's referred to in the book as "the Narrator"? Wait, is the Narrator a superhero or villain, like The Punisher or The Joker or The Wayfarer? My first memories are of hell, of being transformed into a demon, made into a slave, living life from one beating to the next. Now I battle the forces of evil to protect mankind from the fate I endured. I am . . . the Narrator!] a desire for something more, however vague that sense of something may be, and together they devise their plan to escape hell.

The Narrator is forced to escape on his own when Raven’s preserved head ends up strategically placed on the floor of his cave. [Maybe it's just me, but when I find a severed head on my floor, I never consider whether its placement is strategic.] Now he has one demon chasing him across hell and another planning to crucify him.

In another world, Beta is plagued by nightmares – nightmares of demons chasing each other through hell. He has written a program to stop his dreams, but the program isn’t working any more. [Guess he should have done more Beta testing. Ba dum ching.] [Sometimes you people make this job too easy.] He tries seeing a doctor. The doctor helps, until the demons start appearing in his waking life. When Beta’s friends end up dead he has to go into hiding.

Three rainbows appear in the corner of Beta’s vision, rainbows that only he can see. They slowly stretch across the sky. Years pass as Beta spends his life in hiding. He has a wife, a newborn child, a home. But still the rainbows stretch across the sky. Soon they will have completed their journey. [This part of the book where rainbows take years to stretch across the sky doesn't sound as exciting as the part with demons. Is there some way we can speed up the rainbows so they spread across the sky instantaneously?] What will happen then, Beta can’t help but wonder. [Possibly nothing will happen then. Didja ever think of that?]

THIRD RAINBOW is a completed, 97,000 word science fiction novel about man-made demons and time travel. [Time travel? If it's about time travel, maybe time travel should be mentioned in the plot.]

Thank you for your time and consideration,


Notes

Why isn't it called Three Rainbows? Is there something special about the third rainbow?

What happened to the Narrator? I was looking forward to his battles with the demons of hell. Although I think he needs a better name. Son O' God is already taken, but how about The Redeemer? Or Deliveryman?

Is Beta the Narrator and the part about being in hell was one of his nightmares? Opening with a dream sequence is bad enough, but opening with six chapters battling out of hell and then declaring it a dream is a nightmare. Especially when reality turns out to be six chapters of rainbows slowly stretching across the sky over the course of a decade.

In other words, don't expect us to figure out what's going on. Spell out how your two worlds are connected. And if the only cliffhanger you've got is What will happen when the rainbows finally stretch all the way across the sky, I recommend just telling us what will happen.

9 comments:

Stephen Prosapio said...

I'd like to travel in time to a point where I understand this query. Apologies to the author because that's harsh, but trying to make sense of this query bordered on cruel and unusual punishment.

Stop telling us things that happen and tell us what this story is ABOUT.

_*rachel*_ said...

It's very rare that I say this, so let me put it as tactfully as possible: it sounds like you wrote this while you were high.

Start over from scratch, and try focusing on Beta's storyline. He has weird dreams; he tries to program them away (explain, please). The dreams start becoming real (why?), real enough to kill his friend. He goes into hiding (why?) and does something (what?) to end the madness.

Dave F. said...

I took this offline and removed all of EE remarks so I could see your bare naked words. Since this is named after rainbows, I will assume it has a happy ending (good wins over evil, love triumphs, yada, yada, yada...) and that is because the rainbow is considered a good omen. If there is no happy ending then you are working against one of the oldest conventions in the written history of mankind.

I think this is the story of a meeting -- the hellspawn narrator in escaping hell meets Beta in his happy life and the rainbows presage this event. I also think this event is the emotional heart of your story. There are stories out there that consist of unrelated events or marginally-related characters that suddenly converge and create deep emotional impacts. It is the convergence and its consequences that sell the story. That's the subject of your query.

Jeb said...

And here I was thinking nothing could be more improbable - and thus more likely to be correct - than GTP#4.

I enjoyed the introductory paragraph - good voice. Not effective in a real query, but funny. How to say this tactfully...? If this is a send-up of a fantasy query letter, it's very close to really good.

Dare I assume, in the actual novel, that Beta's life is interspersed with The Narrator's rather than coming along after the fact? It's really hard to get readers excited about a guy watching rainbows grow in his eyes for years on end after they've been spoiled by demon-chases and severed heads. Like expecting sixth-graders to settle down and do math after you've been showing them Kung-Fu movies all morning.

I am - strangely, I admit - more interested in Beta than in the Narrator. But then, I am long past 6th grade.

M. G. E. said...

If the author was going for some sense of grandiose post-modern ambiguity, he certainly achieved it >_> but, will anyone want to read it? Maybe Thomas Pynchon just makes it -look- easy :P

no-bull-steve said...

Not that this is news to anyone, but Dave F is a better man than I.

I hope the bizarre nature of this query causes all minions to forget about EE's 1-day auction item tonight/tomorrow. D'oh! I just reminded you.

Joanna Hoyt said...

I find the parts about Beta quite interesting. And I can see the slowly growing rainbows being fascinating/promising/omionous. The first part sounds a bit lurid for my taste, and I do think a clearer sense of how the Beta and Narrator strands come together, and how the whole thing ends, would be helpful.

jmkmcmullen said...

(None of my comments have been getting posted. This is my third time trying so if this comes across as spam I apologize. But I'm gonna try again.)

Thanks to EE and all his loyal minions for all your comments and suggestions.

I don't know if this is any better, but here is my second attempt.

>>
The Narrator’s first memories are of hell, of being transformed into a demon, made into a slave, living life from one beating to the next. This all changes when Raven appears in his life. She awakens in the Narrator a desire for something more, however vague that sense of something may be, and together they devise their plan to escape hell.

The Narrator is forced to escape on his own when he finds Raven’s preserved head on the floor of his cave. Now he has one demon chasing him across hell and another planning to crucify him.

In another world, Beta is plagued by nightmares – nightmares of demons chasing each other through hell. He has written a program to stop his dreams, but the program isn’t working any more. He tries seeing a doctor. The doctor helps, until the demons appear in his waking life and his closest friends begin to die off one by one. He can’t understand why anyone would be hunting him or his friends.

Beta goes into hiding to escape those hunting him, but the demons find him once again and his fragile attempt at a normal life is shattered. His wife is murdered; his child is kidnapped; his home is burned to the ground. He decides to hunt those that have stolen his life. This decision leads him to hell, where he is transformed into a demon.

He is Beta no longer. Now he is the Hunter. And crucifying the one that calls himself the Narrator isn’t as much an end to his torment as it is a new beginning.

THIRD RAINBOW is a completed, 97,000 word science fiction novel about man-made demons and time travel.

Evil Editor said...

Your revised version wasn't posted because revised versions are handled by Phoenix. I forwarded your revision to her, and emailed you to that effect.

She should have some input for you soon.
http://phoenixsullivan.blogspot.com/