Saturday, August 04, 2012
Evil Editor Classics
Guess the Plot
1. When a pregnant woman goes into premature labor at a truck stop in Delphi, Georgia, she takes it as a sign. But growing up is hard for her young daughter, Prophecy. Do the other kids really like her, or do they just want to copy off her tests?
2. A blind child is born to a woman with a history of mental illness. The infant speaks, but only the mother can hear her.
3. Sibyl the oracle is bummed. She’s pregnant, and the fetus is contradicting her prophecies. Will expulsion of the baby allow her to regain control of her omphalos?
4. The fate of Ishalia rests in the hands of Princess Laleena's unborn child, but a crazed midwife is holding Laleena captive.
5. Prophecy, a plantation slave girl, claims an immaculate conception to protect her secret lover - the slaver's son.
6. Before the Athenians can learn what the future holds, Aeschedia must endure the unusual pain of passing a prophetic scroll through the birth canal.
Dear Evil Editor,
When Princess Laleena of the Ishalian court ran away from her home and the marriage arranged by her ruthlessly ambitious sister, she thought she would be taking control of her life. She never imagined she would be running into the grips of a prophecy that would plant the fate of the island in her womb. [What island? Is Ishalia an island?] The Three, the prophecy giving mistresses of the mountain, explain to the sisters that one of their unborn children will determine whether the island is to plunge into darkness, or ascend to glory. [How do they explain this to Laleena, when she ran away? Is she back already?] [You need a hyphen in "prophecy-giving" if you want that sentence to be a sentence. Although a better fix is to use a word like "sibylline" or "clairvoyant."]
With the weight of the island on her shoulders Laleena separates from Fraser – the sailor she’s fallen in love with. She becomes employed by [Is retained by? Takes a job with?] a sage Embroidery Mistress, and is held captive by a crazed midwife. [Just when Evil Editor was thinking he would never find a mate for the brutal eunuch, a crazed midwife turns up.] [If "Embroidery Mistress" deserves to be capitalized, so, surely, does "Crazed Midwife."] Meanwhile, Fraser is befriended by an innkeeper’s family, and it is alluded that he may be the reincarnation of the legendary First King. [Alluded by whom?] [This paragraph is a list of random events. Stick with the main story line.]
When the royal council presents evidence that High Princess Taryne may be “unfit to rule” she takes matters into her own hands, and plots the death of her father the King, arranging it so her sister, Laleena, is framed for the crime. [Laleena couldn't have done it; she's trapped in the lair of the Crazed Midwife.] [Laleena would be a good name for a cartoon llama.] [In fact, Laleena llama is a great tongue twister--say it five times fast. That's right up there with my favorites, boy goat and ski sash.] [I always have trouble pronouncing llama, because I can never remember which "l" is silent.]
PROPHECY’S BIRTH is a 100,000-word epic fantasy novel, for which we are seeking representation. It is the first book in a series of six Ishalian novels, which will be comprised of two trilogies: [It's a duology of trilogies. Also known as a biology.] the story of Laleena and Taryne, and the story of their prophesied children, Luciana and Donovan. [How did Donovan get in there? It's like naming your characters Ann, Mary, John, and Brihnth'huangue.] [So you're looking for a publisher willing to commit to six novels? Just asking.] We have been writing together for about five years, with the intention of publishing. An SASE has been included for your convenience. Thank you for considering our manuscript.
Dear Evil Editor,
When Princess Laleena of the island nation Ishalia runs away from home and the marriage arranged by her ruthlessly ambitious sister, Taryne, she thinks she's taking control of her life. But she soon finds herself in the grips of a prophecy that could plant the fate of the island in her womb: the Mistresses of the Mountain foretell that one of the sisters' unborn children will determine the island's future glory--or shame.
When the royal council presents evidence that High Princess Taryne may be “unfit to rule,” she takes matters into her own hands. She plots the death of her father the King, framing Laleena for the crime. Is the island . . . DOOMED?!
With the fate of Ishalia on her shoulders, Laleena isn't sure where to turn. If she returns home she risks imprisonment--or worse. If she remains in exile, her beloved homeland will fall into tyranny and ruin. Only a consultation with Nanee, the soothsaying goat, can set her on the right path.
PROPHECY’S BIRTH is a 100,000-word epic fantasy novel, for which we are seeking representation. It is a stand-alone book with series potential.
We have been writing together for about five years, with the intention of publishing. An SASE has been included for your convenience. Thank you for considering our manuscript.
You can take off that sentence that ends "DOOMED," but try to add another sentence in its place. Also, if Nanee doesn't figure into your story, replace her with whatever it is Laleena is planning to do to solve her dilemma.
Also, while my version leaves out the Crazed Midwife, that's only because I have no idea what she does marks her as Crazed. If she's what makes this novel different from other epic fantasies, play that up in the query. If she isn't, either play up what is, or, better yet, rewrite the novel making her the main character.
Kis said...Soothsaying goat? Heyyy! You stole one of my characters!
Actually, trilogies being much the standard of the fantasy genre, I am not put off by the fact that the authors have several planned. And even if the publisher commits to them, this doesn't necessarily mean books two through six will ever see print.
If the first book can stand alone, I'd say this duo's got a chance (if they don't simply copy and paste EE's revision without deleting that goat line). I have heard, however, that the moment some agents and editors read the word prophecy, their eyes glaze over.
Something about the fact that, if it was prohesied a thousand years before that a hobbit and his trusty gardener were destined to save Middle Earth, who would have bothered to slog through 500 000+ words of Tolkien's often heavy prose?
A prophecy about maybe is likely fine. But you want to leave some uncertainty there.
Suzie said...Thank you EE
Love the service! Are you sure that's all?
To clarify - and I suppose that will be done in the re-writes, the embroidery mistress has no other name.
If you wish to hook up our crazed midwife with the eunich go for it: he name is Marmee, her turn ons include gardening and men willing to commit.
Her turn offs include vagrants and poor house keeping.
Christine said...I've read a lot of novels involving princesses, palace intrigue, and most especially Prophecied Births. If you are contributing something new to epic fantasy, it might be good to emphasize that instead of the plot, which seems pretty standard.
On the other hand, I can't think of many stories with sage Embroidery Mistresses in them. Perhaps a few words about embroidery magic or whatever makes this "Mistress" so special would help this story stand out?
Anonymous said...As a minion and a midwife, I take offense to the "crazed midwife". I know HUNDREDS of midwives and we are all quite sane...well, there is that one homebirth midwife who is a little whacked...okay, a lot whacked.
A crazed midwife can be very very scary. Bwaahaaahaaa!
Novelust said...Why do the girls get named Laleena and Taryne, and the boys are Fraser and Donovan? Let's play the fantasy name game with them, since it's been played with the main girls:
Fraser. Drop the extra 'R' - Faser. Rearrange the letters - Seraf. Double the least common letter - Seraff. Add a pointless H, for seasoning - Sehraff.
Donovan. Drop one of the double letters - Doovan. Rearrange - Nvodoa. Double least common letter - Nvodova. Apostrophe to garnish - N'vodova.
Screw it, Lucianna - remove letter - Luciana - rearrange - Calinua - double letter - Cualinua - add fantasy garnish by needlessly changing the 'I' to a 'Y' - Cualynua.
It's a silly trick, but it keeps people from reading your query, getting to the point where it says 'Fraser,' and immediately thinking about the mountie in Due South (and also how I need to watch that show again, because it was really good...). Either go the 'every name is weird!' route, or don't.
Hey EE and Minion, question for you. Sometimes you (we) are pretty brutal but sometimes, like with this query, we put on the kid gloves and don't really make many comments or criticisms. Why do you think that is? Are some less in need of criticism than others? Are some beyond repair?
Just wondering because sometimes a reasonable query/story gets trashed and sometimes a ridiculous plot sails through unscathed...
BuffySquirrel said...Sometimes we're just lost for words...
A Reader said...What kind of serious criticism could I be expected to make?
I'm not a pro--writer or editor--(unless someone wants to give me a job!) so all I can comment on is if it basically sounds fine or not to me. If it does, I personally feel there's no point in saying anything, unless I'm really moved. Whether my uneducated opinion would get a writer any closer to publication is anyone's guess.
I thought the point of submitting here was to get EVIL EDITOR's opinion, not necessarily the peanut gallery's.
Novelust said...To be honest, I think it is a decently-written query. What does put me off is the impression given by the query that this book won't work as a stand-alone story. Don't worry so much about the other characters and the overall series arc - what is the plot of this particular book? Is Laleena trying to flee the whole time, is she successful in her battles with crazed midwifery, do ruthless vigilante sorcerers--sorry, sorry.
I think it might be wise to refocus your query on the plot of this single book, and provide the reader with some sort of resolution. Even if the arc is just beginning, let us know that this book has an ending.
Moon Goddess said...Personally I really liked the sentence that ended in "DOOMED!" -- and really, it is more or less accurate. I'm hoping the fairly limited comments on the actual query mean it's mostly decent?
(And yes, I'm the second author -- Suzie, somewhere above this, is the other)
Posted by Evil Editor at 11:40 AM