Monday, September 10, 2012

Pitch Polish #110 (missed entry - added later)


The Mirror Tells No Lies
Adult Fantasy
125,000 Words

Query: 

Over 250 years after Snow White’s death, a new generation of heroes, magicians, and monsters struggle with the consequences of her happily ever after.

Some would say that when Snow White and Prince Charming the First ruled the Kingdom of Evaenor, they brought a Golden Age of peace when they banned the barbaric ways of magic the Poisoner Queen wielded so ruthlessly.  In fact, that is what Ruby Wryder believed until the Inquisitors came to arrest her and she had to flee to the forest.  She finds shelter with a mysterious group of healers calling themselves The Sisterhood who use magic in defiance of the law.  Their leader is the enigmatic Abbess, a powerful magical creature who at once fascinates and terrifies young Ruby.  While Ruby strives to learn more about the secret magic that attempts to survive in the shadows of the Kingdom, she and the Sisterhood are unaware that the King has fallen deathly ill.  Desperate to save his father, Prince Phillip Charming the IV must seek the help of the Sisterhood, though he distrusts magicians as much as they distrust him.
   
First 150:

Prologue:
            Snow White.  Cinderella.  Prince Charming the First.
            They are dead.
            They have been dead for over 250 years.
            You’d never know it with how damned near-obsessed people still are with their lives, as though we’ve already achieved all the greatness we can as a society.  Is our Kingdom so mediocre that we cannot hope to achieve better than a pumpkin carriage and ridiculously small and impractical footwear?
            I think we love that old guard, that Golden Age, because we dream that we can be them one day.  Someday, our bitter cup could be taken away and we too might live happily ever after.  People love a bit of fantasy.
            But there are consequences to a happily ever after too easily won, though they never felt them in the halls of the White Palace.  We carried them on our backs. 
            We magicians.
            We fair-folk.
            We monsters.
            We women.
            Then, just as we were all about to sink from the weight of our burdens, a few brave souls crawled out of the mire and fought for happily ever after.

20 comments:

Jessica Peterson said...

I like your hook, it's got me intrigued. I do find the rest of your query a bit confusing though. There are a lot of characters and there seems to be a lot going on. I think you've got the idea of letting us know what the plot is about but I wonder if you could tighten it up a bit.

Good luck :)

amycavenaugh said...

I like your hook and the premise of your book. I wasn't confused by the query and think it could be a fascinating tale. I'm not a big fan of fantasy but you got my attention.

The first 150 are strong but I think you could probably make it the first chapter. But then I don't care for prologues :) Best of luck to you!

Rhiann Wynn-Nolet said...

Hello there! Alright so I like the premise. A lot. The opening pitch doesn't really help orient me in terms of time frame because Snow White has stereotypically been set in medieval or Renaissance times. Which means 250 years later is still a good deal prior to now. So are we just in an alternative world where things haven't changed much, or has it paralleled the real world?
I would make sure there are not two "whens" in the opening line of the 2nd paragraph.
The abrupt introduction of Ruby and the Inquisitors threw me a little. Assuming Ruby is your MC why not start off the paragraph with her?
While Ruby strives to learn more about the secret magic that attempts to survive in the shadows of the Kingdom - I think this is too longwinded. Maybe more like "While Ruby strives to learn more about the secret magic before time runs out to save it, she and the ....
150
I really love the cynical voice and the witty turns of phrase in your prologue. However, I have heard MANY times that agents/editors do not like prologues. Most if not all of what is in a prologue can be slyly but effectively woven into the opening chapter as dialogue or flashback or in some other way.
Your story sounds like lots of fun and I love fairy tales so I would be very interested to read it.

JenfromtheBlock said...

Cool concept. I'm assuming the prologue is not written from the time the story takes place because it's pretty modern. I like the tone, but it seems to come out of left field, as does the mention of Cinderella. Some advice I got off an agent's blog: Don't include the prologue in queries until you have some interest, and then you can reintroduce it and solicit the opinion of a pro on whether it adds to the story or not. I for one would've loved to see the first 150 of the actual story instead, because the premise caught my interest!

Tamara said...

Strong voice. Compelling story and plot. I know the prologue question is heavily debated. As for me, I don't mind them. I like the writing of yours, but by the end of the 150, it felt a little like a lecture-it could be that I wanted to get right to your story and meet your characters. Love the set-up & would love to read more.

Marian Librarian said...

Thank you for your comments about the prologue. I actually debated it myself, because I thought it was a re-hashing of the query and while it "might" still have a place in the MS it probably wouldn't work for the contest. My First chapter actually begins this way:

If I were the sentimental sort, I would say that it all began once upon a time when a girl named Ruby was pushed out of her house with a basket and an order to go check on her grandmother. The sun was setting and she’d only just reached her home after spending the day watching some of her brothers and sisters in the meadow. It had been a banner day for them, really. Only four scraped knees, three cuts, and one torn sleeve between the five of them, and Ruby was rather proud of herself for managing it, though worn out. Her siblings weren’t a bad lot but they had discovered, unfortunately, that they outnumbered their poor mother seven to one and were drunk with the power of the mob. Ruby, the eldest of them, was not equipped at a mere sixteen years old to help her mother stop the complete take over of their too small house and so they lived under constant siege. Luckily they were a clumsy and ill-disciplined lot, as mobs and children tend to be, and often dealt most damage to themselves or each other.

Michael Offutt, Tebow Cult Initiate said...

I like it, but a question pops up. Why relate it at all to Snow White? She's pretty far removed from the storyline being dead and all. Just change a few names and you've got a great stand alone fantasy.

Katie J.H Teller said...

I really like the premise of this book. I love a good fairytale revival! But the query itself doesn't have a good flow to it. There are some spelling and grammar errors, but the thing that jarred me the most was that you were talking about Ruby then out of nowhere, right near the end, you talk about the Prince. I'd introduce him near the beginning.

Tamara said...

I'm actually a huge fan of fairy tales and I loved this. I agree with the above post that you should introduce the Prince closer to the beginning though--as I'm assuming he's maybe the love interest.

Also, the whole query is about Ruby and then, right at the very end, it's about the Prince. If there is anyway to put him in there earlier and introduce him from Ruby's POV, I think that would work much better.

Other than that, I don't have anything to say. I'm actually getting ready to gush a little. The first 150 actually gave me chills. I LOVED how it started. The impractical footwear line was great.

Then I went up in the comments and saw the beginning about Ruby and I loved that too. You have a really awesome voice. In fact, now that I'm thinking about it, if I had any suggestion on the query it would be that.

I can't talk, because I utterly failed at getting an ounce of voice into my query. Just outlining the damn plot practically killed me. haha. But, you have a really great tone, the first 150 manage to both make me laugh and then leave me on this kind of poignant note that gave me chills.

That's a hell of an accomplishment in such a short amount of space. If there is anyway you could add some of that voice to your query, I think it would really come alive.

I wish you the best of luck with this!!!

Nicole Zoltack said...

I was hooked by the first line of your query. How cool!

But then I was a little confused. Why did the Inquisitors want to arrest her? And I would keep the query in Ruby's POV. You switch to Prince Charming the IV (love his name!)

Christine Sarmel said...

Your premise reminds me of the musical Into the Woods - what happens after "happily ever after"...

A couple of thoughts -
1. In the query I really want to know who the main character is, what she wants and what's keeping her from getting it. Ruby comes in late and there are a lot of other characters mentioned that distract from her importance.

2. FWIW I like your first 150 much better than the prologue. But that's largely a matter of taste.

Marian Librarian said...

@Katie JH Teller

Could you be specific about where the spelling and grammar problems you see are? We look at the same 100 words over and over again it gets hard to see with fresh eyes

Heidi Schulz said...

Another fan of the hook - looks like you've got a winner there. I would suggest your very next line be about Ruby. I want know: Who is the MC? What is the conflict? What are the stakes? as soon as possible.
I also have a prologue in my book, but when submission guidelines ask for just one chapter or the first 5 pages, I skip it and send over starting with chapter 1, because that is truly where the story starts. The prologue is set dressing.
I usually include a note in the query that I have a short prologue, not included.
I love the premise of your story and would love to read more.
I only have one suggestion:
Take out the line "They are dead." the next line is better; both are redundant.

Laura Stephenson said...

I love your query, but your first 150 starts off with an off-putting, snide, angry lecture. A derisive tone is all well and good, but the voice here is so venomous I want to run away in fear. I recommend dialing it down.

Also, 250 hears and they're only on the fourth Prince Charming? I suppose they didn't have a lot of sons in that line, otherwise they'd have had children at about 60 each generation.

Again, though, great story premise. Good luck!

My pitch is on my blog if you're interested.

Rebecca Enzor said...

I love the idea of Snow White and Prince Charming's Happily Ever After not being so happy for everyone else. The concept is great, but I don't really get the stakes for Ruby. If the King dies, what happens to her? Why does she need to help Phillip save the King?

As for the 150 words, it sounds more like an essay than a novel, so I'm guessing it's a prologue from the MC's point of view. I don't think it's necessary, but I LOVED this part: "You’d never know it with how damned near-obsessed people still are with their lives, as though we’ve already achieved all the greatness we can as a society. Is our Kingdom so mediocre that we cannot hope to achieve better than a pumpkin carriage and ridiculously small and impractical footwear?"

If you have a minute, I've got a fantasy Pitch up too: #79 :)

JenfromtheBlock said...

Ooh! I'm glad I came back to see the "real" 150. Love that you portray Ruby as a co-leader to her frazzled mom. It's a great time for this type of tale. To me it seems unique enough to set itself apart from the trend prevalent in movies and on TV. I noticed your first paragraph sounds like someone else is narrating (If I were a sentimentalist...). Is this the same person from the prologue? It's almost as if someone is viewing things through a magic mirror. That would be so cool, but very difficult! I like the query as is. With the Feminine Mystique tone you've got going, it's probably okay to keep the Prince in the final paragraph. (Who cares about him? Just kidding!) Good luck with it!

theemptypen said...

I like your opening hook. It draws me in. I really want to know what those consequences are. I also am interested by your last sentence. Right now, even with all your description of Ruby, it feels like the prince asking for help from the sisterhood is the main struggle in the book because I don’t really know what is at stake for Ruby.

Other questions I had:
Why was Ruby almost arrested?
If Ruby once believed the Poisoner Queen/magic to be evil, what makes her change her mind?

It sounds like an exciting story -- good luck!

Wendy Lawrence said...

I love the idea of the story; the pitch is great. I would be concerned, as some others are, about a prologue in general, and then about including it (although if it's not strong enough to include it probably shouldn't be there). The prologue itself is well-written; I like the tone. I'm not sure you need to mention Cinderella and Prince Charming unless they are also part of the story, though, especially right in the first sentence--I would instead get right to the characters in this story.

Priya Kanaparti said...

Love the concept! Especially the first three sentences of the novel.

As for the query, I would try to cut the 1st sentence in Paragraph two into more chewable size.

Also, i would separate the second paragraph into two. Possibly cut it at "She finds shelter with a mysterious group of healers..."

But over all, I like the whole magic intertwining with fairy tale concept!

Cynthia said...

I enjoy fairy-tale spin offs, and the beginning of your story drew me in. I was wondering if perhaps what you have here could be, say the second page? For the first page, I actually like what you had mentioned in your earlier comment about starting off with Ruby being pushed out of her house to check on her grandmother...it's a nod to Little Red Riding Hood but you can also take this in many different directions. Thanks for sharing and good luck!