Monday, August 30, 2010
Guess the Plot
The Seven Swords
1. It starts when Maria finds a tarot card with seven swords on it outside a church with a broken stained glass window. Now she's being followed by some dude with horns. Maybe she shouldn't be working her way down the list of deadly sins trying to commit them all.
2. To fulfill an ancient prophecy and save his kingdom from destruction, Amir must collect the seven swords of the famous Kings of Olde. If only they weren't guarded by dragons, goblins, angry mage kings, and other creatures who, for no apparent reason, refuse to make this easy for him.
3. While searching for the seven swords of power with which to defeat an evil mage, Syvran encounters some onionpeople who tell her that her quest may be misguided. Perhaps it's not the mage who's evil, but the gods. Or the talking dragon that sent her on her quest.
4. As midnight looms over Bud's Haunted Bar & Grill in Cincinnati, Iggy the busboy must go to the basement to get the mop. Once there, he hears hideous sounds in the dark and calls to Loretta Muldoon, the savvy waitress, for only she can wield the Seven Swords needed to subdue the Horrible One who lurks below.
5. Her life threatened by an evil queen, princess White Snow escapes to an armory in the forest where she discovers seven swords: Sharpy, Slicey, Cutty, Hacky, Stabby, Slashy, and Gladius.
6. When Sir Gilgebar presents the Eight Sacred Swords of the Dragon of the Eternal Temple from the Mountain of the Magic Emerald to Princess Morleiea of the Northern Fae, she snaps. "Seven swords, you idiots! Not eight, not six, not daggers, not pistols! Seven -- swords! Either read the random rules of my fantasy world or quit wasting my time." Hilarity continues.
Dear Evil Editor,
Syvrus has only one desire: to become immortal.
Luckily - or perhaps not - she is given that opportunity by a snobby dragon named RubyFlame, but with one condition: first she must live among immortals for several years. During this highly pleasant - in other words, bloody terrifying - time, Syvrus learns that that there is a threat to her lovable - in other words, bloody crazy - immortal friends. [Your desire to use the word "bloody" as often as possible suggests that you've read:
Evil Editor's List of Words
that Make a Query Irresistible
Antichrist, Wolfman, brain-eating,
Corpses, Giant Squid, Autopsy, Sharks,
Bloody, Murder, Bag of human heads,
Gelatinous, Belgian, Trout-like, Severed,
Purplish, Upthrust, Shoulderless
However, I had a different kind of "bloody" in mind, the kind that comes before nouns like "war," "corpse," and "bag of human heads." In any case, I don't see the point of saying highly pleasant means terrifying and lovable means crazy. If she's terrified and they're crazy, where are pleasant and lovable coming from? Are those the dragon's words?
Syvrus: I seek immortality.
RubyFlame: I can give you that, but you'll have to complete a dangerous task to prove you're worthy.
Syvrus: What do I have to do?
RubyFlame: Spend several pleasant years living with lovable people.
Syvrus. Kill me now.]
A powerful mage named Raven wants to destroy all the immortals in the world - and the gods as well. [Has anyone ever defined "immortal" for this Raven guy?]
The only way he can do this, though, is with the help of a legendary weapon created from seven swords - swords that he has thus far been unable to find, even after decades of irritated searching. [It's not the searching that's irritated, it's Raven. The searching is "irritating." Although a better word would be futile or fruitless. Fruitless? Swordless!] [The reason Raven can't find the seven swords is because the legendary weapon was created from the seven swords. That is, the seven were melted down and the legendary weapon created from their molten steel. I know this from reading the first half of the sentence. You may argue that what you meant is that Raven needs to find the seven swords so that he can melt them down and create the legendary weapon from them, but I counter that argument by asking, If the legendary weapon hasn't even been created yet, how can it already be legendary?] This explains why RubyFlame promises Syvrus that if she finds these swords and (of course) destroys Raven first, she will finally be made immortal. [I get it. RubyFlame = Wizard, Syvrus = Dorothy, Raven = witch, swords = broomstick, and immortality = Kansas. I haven't yet figured out who's playing the scarecrow, tin man and lion, but I'm sure we'll find out very soon.] With this irresistible enticement, Syvrus agrees.
But her journey has barely begun. As she searches for the seven swords, Syvrus meets various bawdy, majestic, and onion-like characters, [Onion-like characters? Shrek described ogres as being like onions: "Layers. Onions have layers. Ogres have layers. Onions have layers. You get it? We both have layers." Are your characters ogres? Because we were expecting a scarecrow.] [Also, it's not clear if you mean some are bawdy, some majestic and some, like these on the right, onion-like, or if you mean all the characters are, like that on the left, bawdy and majestic and onion-like.] all with different stories to tell. Many of these stories are not ones that Syvrus is happy to hear, especially since they go against her beliefs about the immortals and the gods. [The belief that they're bloody crazy or the belief that they're lovable?] She learns that while much courage is necessary to tell these stories, even more is necessary to truly listen to them. [This is too vague. What message do the stories convey?] As her journey continues, she discovers that there is more to Raven's desire to destroy the immortals and the gods than simple evil [--in other words, bloody complicated good]. And it is Syvrus who must eventually decide the fate of the world's beings - not all of which can survive. [One thing's for sure: the immortals will survive. Right? Right?] [I hope they don't send the onion-like characters to the guillotine, or everyone will be crying! Ba dum ching.]
The Seven Swords is a completed 135,000 word fantasy novel [--in other words, two bloody 67,000-word fantasy novels--] (directed at young adults) with philosophical undertones. Thank you for your time and consideration,
Either tell us up front that it's YA or tell us Syvran's age. Usually it's not young adults who are worried about their mortality, so we might assume she's older; often snobby dragons and talking onions appear in children's books, so we might assume she's younger.
How is Syvran supposed to know when she's found the seven swords? How are they different from other swords? Did the dragon give her any idea where to look or how to identify them?
How is Syvran supposed to defeat a powerful mage? Does she know how to convert the seven swords into one legendary weapon? It would be hard to defeat anyone while wielding seven swords.
If your philosophical undertones make it into the query, you don't need to tell us they're in the book.
If someone is telling me stories that go against my beliefs, it would take tolerance and patience to listen. I don't see why it would take courage. If the stories the onions tell are about actual things the gods and immortals have done, tell us what these things are so we better understand Syvran's conflict.