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A blog about why you don't get published. You can also order Evil Editor's books, Why You Don't Get Published, which collects many of the funniest Q & A's along with hilarious excerpts from the Face-Lifts, and Novel Deviations, which collects the best of the New Beginnings.
1. Evil Editor Classics


Guess the Plot

The Appren- tices

1. In Rothshire Village, young girls are sent to the witches' castle when they reach puberty. Those that are found not to be witches are killed. When Gwendolyn and Heather find out they are indeed witches, they jump for joy. But their BFF Yvonne is not a witch. Can G and H pool their power to overcome the old hags who run the castle and save Yvonne?

2. A normal student comes down with a fever and faints. When she comes to, she has mysteriously become one of Merlin IV's apprentices in Avalon, which has returned to the planet. Hilarity ensues.

3. Amber, first year law clerk. Dave, lone African-American TA in the Math department. Shanni, resident at St. Cecelia's Hospital for women. Chuck, sou chef. One apartment building. The lives and loves of... the Apprentices.

4. A group of ten rowdy steamfitting apprentices are accidentally locked in a workshop on their job site overnight. During the night they discover that one is an anti-union operative and another is a cultist. Who will convert whom? Can Dave get enough sleep to work the early shift next morning?

5. Bold, cold and mean, Kurt and Morgan have guns and know how to use them--or they will when they've finished their training. Then an anthrax attack takes out all the MI5 regulars; Buckingham Palace is bombed; and 253 Members of Parliament are taken hostage. Hilarity ensues as the apprentices set out to save the day.

6. Alvin and Garth are idle trainee plumbers who are about to lose their jobs. When a time machine appears from the distant future they find out that they are needed to save the world from sewage outfall by inventing a new kind of toilet. Follow their hilarious journeys backwards and forwards through time visiting bathrooms of the ancient and modern worlds.



Original Version

Dear Evil Editor:

After man almost destroyed our own planet, what will the returned land of Avalon do with the rumors of wars? Prepare their citizens with the apprenticeship program.

Jancey, an extremely "normal" student didn't know what she would do with her life. [I'm not sure why "normal" is in quotation marks. Sometimes that's done to indicate not normal. However, I'm guessing that she is normal, which leads me to wonder if one can be extremely normal. "Extremely" suggests there are few like her. Michael Phelps swims extremely fast: there are few who are his equal. But if there are few who are as normal as Jancey, this suggests that she isn't normal. The following graph should illustrate my point.


Normalness of Stuff

Note that the biggest section is "normal." That's because for stuff to be considered normal, there has to be plenty of it. But if I were to create a graph showing the normalness of normalness, the biggest section would be the "extremely normal" section, because by definition, being normal to the extreme is what makes something normal. 

Normalness of Normalness

In short, to indicate that things or people are normal, just call them normal.]


Her skills were limited and she was not very talented. [No need to make both of those points.] Her best friend, Sarah, is a fashionable cook. [I'm not sure if that means she cooks fashionable food or dresses fashionably while stirring the soup.] Her enemy, Joseph, is the perfect gentleman. ["Enemy" is a strong word. In what way is he her enemy?] Suddenly, after fainting over a fever, she is caught up with magic, and become's the apprentice of Merlin the IV (the king's head wizard). [You don't need an apostrophe in "becomes," and whattaya mean she "becomes" Merlin's apprentice? She's suddenly his apprentice, with no explanation?] She is going to have to survive the magic program to achieve her dream [What is her dream? You said she didn't know what to do with her life, which suggests she doesn't know what her dream is.] and learn the destiny of her fellow kingdom. [Her fellow kingdom?]

Thank you with all the apperication [Anagram: appreciation.] of the "The Apprentices" [Anagram: apperication.] Manuscript [Whether "appreciation" or "apperication," the sentence doesn't make sense.]


Notes

Okay, fess up, you're Jack, age 14, who sent in one of the writing exercise scenes Sunday, right? Congrats on writing a book. If it gets published everyone else here will hate you, so instead of writing a query, work on improving the book.

A lot of errors, and not enough story. Is Jancey a normal student in Avalon or in the almost destroyed world? Are Joseph and Sarah in the book after Jancey becomes the apprentice? If not, they don't need to be in the query. If so, give them a bigger role in the query.

All we know about the story is that a girl becomes Merlin IV's apprentice. You need about ten sentences, each of which adds information and follows logically from the previous sentence. I assume the main plot is the Merlin section, so concentrate the query on that

We need to know how long the book is (in words) and who would want to read it (children, adults, teens).

If anyone reaches the conclusion that my graphs are in some way flawed, best to keep that to yourself rather than admit that you put much thought into the matter.


Selected Comments

Dave F. said...The "normal" distribution is hysterical and deserves an award from something like the Annals of Improbable Mathematics. It's as much fun as the Periodic Table of Rejected Elements. This will be my nominee for Best Facelift of the year. However, the ghost of Carl Friedrich Gauss might rise up tonight and throttle you in your sleep. BBWWaaaahaaaaaaa


writtenwyrdd said...Okay, he-who-is-maybe-the-14-year-old-Jack, this query does have a lot of very distracting errors and misusage of words. These mark you as either a non-native speaker of English or as someone the agent might not want to read due to lack of writing skills.

Other than that, there's not a lot of story here, and what there is is confusing.

What I think is happening is you are falling into the trap of not wanting to give away too much. However, in this particular instance, you do want to share the story so you can convince someone to read it and sell it. So consider giving us more about what the problem with having magic is, what your protagonist's dream for her life is, and explain how she resolves this conflict and the problem of the story.


Whirlochre said...I'm with everyone so far. There's not much to go on here, apart from a consistency of errors and a vague notion of what might be happening plotwise, and since you omit to include details of story length and intended audience, I have to conclude you haven't done your homework on queries.
Conclusion — ver 2.0 has to be better.

As for the bell curve, I once discovered a dish on the menu of a very fine curry house whose overall heat was described as 'extra medium'.


Tracey S. Rosenberg said...I have the horrible feeling that if this query letter were fleshed out enough to show the plot, it would also show that Jancey's middle names are Mary Sue. 'Normal average person is suddenly dropped into King Arthur's court/the faery lands/Middle-Earth/Hogwarts/a Washington town where there are h0tt vampires etc.' plots so frequently are.


December/Stacia said...Yeah, I have to agree with everyone else re the query. It sounds to me like this is your story:

Fourteen-year-old Jancey collapses with Dengue fever during chemistry class one day, and it changes her whole life.

Jancey wakes up in King Arthur's court, apprenticed to Merlin--one of only ten (or whatever) apprentices participating in an intense--and deadly--training program.
To get home Jancey must learn magic--real magic--like she's never seen before. To learn that magic she must survive not just the dangerous tasks ahead and the rigors and confusions of fifth-century life, but the wrath of her fellow apprentices.

Which stinks, but you get the idea.


Anonymous said...Boiled down to its essential elements, it's a lot like Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court...but for grade schoolers.


wendy said...This is not the 14 yr. old Jack!

Whoa! Missed this one. I've been very busy, so I haven't been joining in much lately.

Unless I figure out a new form of torture (he's immune to my current arsenal)we probably will not see words from Jack-age-14 again. In fact he considered the exercise itself to be torture. Too bad, though, I think he shows promise.

And yes, he really is 14,turned it on July 22.


Dave F. said...

Wendy,
Tell Jack to take if from a true brain, it's better to write at 14 and suffer than to have a boss demand you take "remedial" writing to learn to write up your scientific research.


JB Keyser said...Nay, I'm JB Keyser, age seventeen, female. Who, by the way, thought that Jack's writing blew mine to becoming bad stock.
Sorry, first time writing a summer for my book so I'm glad you dissected it for me. I need people who think more than I do to look at my summaries.

It's a Young Adult Novel and it's going to be the first of two books. How long it is will be when my friend stops chopping down on my grammar mistakes. So until then, It's about 10,963 words.

Definition of normal; would probably be extremely normal. Jancey is pretty much a talentless bum that gets talent injected into her without realizing it. And since it's from her perspective everyone else would think she's got magic which is the best talent in the world, but she can't see herself as talented.

Jancey in the first book is about sixteen and ends about eighteen.

Sarah and Joseph are before but I don't jump into them until really much after. I was thinking of skipping most of school so I gave you the last day toi start with so the reader can go on to the more interesting part.

Even if you guys all hate me I'll still be on the website. Thanks EE.

writtenwyrdd said...Hey, JB, it's not about hating you. The minions want to assist you to improve the query. At a little over 10K this is not a novel, it's a novellette. But do keep on learning the craft of writing and of writing synopses or query letters (which are entirely different things.) Best wishes on the journey.


sylvia said...It certainly is NOT about hating you! It's about a weak query - which unfortunately is what you have written. The paragraph you put in the comments here already says ten times more than your query did (which is where it is important). Personally, I'd love to see you rewrite this, taking the comments on board and including more details about the plot line.

Forget the cast of characters and focus on the story (I had the same issue). Ask your friend to check the grammar (query is as important as the novel!) and then post it here.

I would love to see it.

2 Comments on Evil Editor Classics, last added: 10/7/2012
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