Sunday, October 23, 2011

EVIL EDITOR CLASSICS


Guess the Plot

Crimson Courtship

1. In this companion book to her best-selling Mauve Marriage and Russet Romance, Designer Lucinda Head explains how you too can have the color coordinated relationship of your dreams.

2. They come from different worlds. Can a star quarterback from the University of Alabama ever win the heart of a Harvard editor?

3. It's Brokeback Mountain on the high seas! Literary favorites Captain Blood and Horatio Hornblower live - and love - once again in this touching thrill ride of action and emotion!

4. Patricia falls in love with the Earl of Hawksworth. But when he discovers that she is a mere gardener, cruel words fly--interrupted by the arrival of an obsessed serial killer.

5. An artists' commune in the Roaring 20's sets the standard for the latest crazes in decor. Last year, it was all about Turquoise Tryst; the year before, Azure Affair. But no one is ready for the furor when Paolo paints his entire lodge, inside and out, Crimson Courtship.

6. Set against the vibrant backdrop of revolution, Randy Pitts attempts to woo Bolshevik beauty Natasha by growing a truly epic mustache.


Original Version

Dear Literary Agent,

I am seeking representation for my novel, Crimson Courtship. It is a historical romance set in Regency London, and is complete at 92,000 words. Also enclosed is a short synopsis and sample chapter.

I have always loved historical romances, especially if there are multiple books connected by common characters. However, I have been frustrated that it always seems to be a group of brothers, or male cousins or friends. [This will be a fascinating topic of conversation at your next Romance Writers of America chapter meeting. In the meantime, let's skip to the part where you tell your prospective agent specifically what it is you've written, so she can skip to the part where she guesses whether it will put any money specifically in her wallet.] In Crimson Courtship and the three books that will follow, the story of each of the women from Hillgate Manor is told.

For a young lady in 1815, being presented to London society is the most exciting time of her life. However, with the sudden death of Patricia’s father, [They need a last name. I recommend Vandermere.] everything changes. She is left penniless and alone, forced to take up residence with an aunt she has never met. There she takes up the post of gardener, and says goodbye to the dream of a season of her own. [Are her three sisters penniless as well? Or are they already married, in which case Patricia could live with one of them instead of with a complete stranger. Just asking.]

Fate is working in her favor, when by chance she meets and falls in love with Gordon Bray, Earl of Hawksworth. There’s just one problem… he doesn’t know that she is merely a gardener, and not the lady she has been pretending to be. [I get that when a lady's father died, all his property went to his son(s). But did that demote her to non-lady?] When Gordon discovers the truth, tempers flare and cruel words fly. Will the two of them reconcile and live happily ever after? Or will an obsessed serial killer have the final say? [KaBoom!!] [Whoa! Where did that come from? You might as well have written, Will they live happily ever after? Or will they step through a wormhole and find themselves in a Turkish prison in the year 2342?] [Will they live happily ever after? Or will a crocodile bite off Bray's legs, forcing Patricia to decide between pushing his wheelchair everywhere for the rest of her life, or leaving him and starting a small landscaping business?] [Is there an obsessed serial killer? If so, you might consider mentioning it a bit earlier than the last sentence. Try the first sentence: My novel, Crimson Courtship, is the story of the worst month of Patricia Vandermere's life: first her father dies, then her rhododendrons die, then she falls in love with Hannibal Lecter.]

Thank you for your time and consideration. I will be happy to provide additional material upon request. [How did you manage to write a query letter for a regency romance without using the word "ton"?]

Sincerely,


Revised Version

Note to author: use only the red-colored phrase that applies correctly to your novel, and ignore the others. Evil Editor wasn't sure which section of the book the obsessed serial killer was in.


Dear Literary Agent,

I am seeking representation for my novel, Crimson Courtship, a historical romance set in Regency London.

For a young lady in 1815, being presented to "the ton" is the most exciting time of her life. But not for Patricia Vandermere. With the sudden death of her father at the hands of a serial killer obsessed with wiping out his entire family, Patricia is left penniless and alone, forced to take up residence with an aunt she has never met, an aunt who proves to be an obsessed serial killer. There she accepts the post of gardener, and says goodbye to the dream of a season of her own.

Fate is working in her favor, when by chance she meets and falls in love with Gordon Bray, Earl of Hawksworth. There’s just one problem… He's an obsessed serial killer. Also, he doesn’t know that she is merely a gardener, and not the lady she has been pretending to be. When Gordon discovers the truth, tempers flare and cruel words fly. Will the two of them reconcile and live happily ever after? Or will the obsessed serial killer have the final say?

Crimson Courtship is complete at 92,000 words. It is the first in a series of novels, but unlike most romance series, which seem to focus on groups of men, be they brothers or cousins or obsessed serial killers, this series will tell the stories of the four women of Highgate Manor, and of the obsessed serial killer who stalks them all.

Thank you for your time and consideration. A short synopsis and sample chapter are enclosed; I will be happy to provide additional material upon request.

Sincerely,


Notes

As you are telling the stories of the women of Highgate Manor, you might mention who the other women of Highgate Manor are, in relation to Patricia. Do any women of Highgate Manor actually live in Highgate Manor now that father is dead?

Has Patricia really said goodbye to the dream of a season of her own? If she has, why is she pretending to be a lady?

Evil Editor hopes there's a serial killer, as without one, there doesn't seem to be much to distinguish this from what Evil Editor imagines other regency romances would be like, if he actually read them.

If you Google "regency romance sisters" you'll find that men do not have exclusivity in regency series.


Selected Comments

Anonymous said...HEE. This was very funny, and also very useful commentary. One side note: how on earth does the woman get a job as a gardener in Regency times? Housemaid, governess, lady's maid, dresser, hatmaker...sure. Gardener? I don't think so. Unless it's just in an 'unpaid drudge' capacity?


BuffySquirrel said...What struck me, reading this query, is that being a lady isn't a matter of MONEY, it's a matter of BIRTH. So even though Patricia is penniless, she's still either a lady or she isn't.


Anonymous said...Of course there is really a serial killer, however, he isn't any of the people mentioned, so I just don't know how to work it in. Is there somewhere in there I can mention the bodies of the young girls that are found without throwing everything else off? You have given me some great ideas and direction. Thanks Evil Editor. (Although I don't really think you're evil.)


Dayna_Hart said...A common theme, EE, is that you are not as truly evil as you would have us believe. That being said, I must agree that "Warmfuzzy Editor" lacks all the zing of "Evil Editor", plus it loses out on the whole alliteration thing. I guess, as one of your ragtag group of Evillettes? Evilles? In any case, I suppose you're going to have to resign yourself to being the "Not So Evil Editor" to us...


Termagant 2 said...Let's see, we can't call you semi-Evil, or partly-Evil (is that like Mostly Harmless?). How about Mid-Evil? Maybe you are channeling a scribe from around the time of the Black Death, living at Syon Priory...


Evil Editor said...If they will refrain from broadcasting it incessantly, Evil Editor will tolerate his original followers finding him only mildly evil.


Carolyn said...Evil Editor, this is the funniest thing I have read in so long. I have gone through most of these letters, though I am saving some to read tomorrow. And perhaps you will have more new ones! I feel I have entered a different and strange universe. I don't know why the people are sending you these particular queries, yet they are, and you respond so funnily, and then it happens again.


Tawny Taylor said...Speaking for everyone (I have such an ego, LOL), we keep posting letters because we can look past EE's his snarky comments about our heroines named Abby and Veronica and our sex-crazed-man-beasts (or whatever it was). EE's giving some fabulous critiques and his revised versions are tight and compelling. How often do writers get this kind of feedback?


Dayna_Hart said...Hey, I like Mostly Harmless. That one works in a big way...
As for why send in query letters?
1) the feedback given is brilliant. (not to inflate your head, EE)
2) the feedback is amusing to read
3) Why not?
4) shredders are expensive.Writerious said...I haven't laughed so hard over good writing advice since the Deluxe Transitive Vampire. I may have to pluck up the courage to send something in, if only for a good laugh. And Lord knows I can use a good laugh these days.

2 comments:

AlaskaRavenclaw said...

I only ever read Regency romances by Marion Chesney, because she respects research and strives for historical accuracy, and because she tells instead of showing, which gets the whole ordeal over with much more quickly.

(That's an important feature in a genre which pretty much doesn't allow plot twists.)

Her serieses are all about a group of women, never about a group of men. Just sayin'.

Anonymous said...

Love the part about the crocodile biting off his legs.