IRON MAN: Let’s get one thing straight: I’ve helped people before. With my vast knowledge and intellect and overall perfection, I am a quite popular mentor. Brad Pitt, for example, looked physically like a train wreck before I started working with him. Stephen King did not know how to write more than a sentence without me. And poor James Cameron knew nothing about filming until I came along and saved the day.
But Loki? Well, let’s just say Loki is the stupidest, most idiotic and useless mentee I have ever encountered. Seriously. After three rounds of revisions on his query, it has progressively gone from terrible to somehow even worse. For example, the query is not even a query anymore. It’s just a passive-aggressive opening sentence without so much of a “Dear [Agent Name]” (the sentence being, “Not representing this book will be the greatest mistake of your soon-to-be short life.”) and then an overly-long bio about all of Loki’s past successes as well as a marketing strategy of how he is going to force all of the “pathetic humans” to read his book, making it a guaranteed bestseller. Then, he breaks the submission guidelines of every agent in history and attaches his full manuscript.
Insert major facepalm here.
See, I consider myself to be quite perfect, and I’m sure you do too. (I mean, seriously. Have you seen me? I’m practically the definition of perfection. Actually, I bet I am.) But when it comes to helping Loki’s writing, my flawless hair and I are just about ready to give up. At least I have his equally stupid brother Thor to help translate my stellar advice to their shared language of “idiot” so Loki can understand. Plus, his hammer comes in handy.
THOR: Stark exaggerates a bit, but yes, my adopted brother does need help. Lots of help. Luckily I have the experience (more than Stark, ahem).
This morning our gang went to visit Loki. I brought several "publishing help" books from the library -- who knew humans could build a single facility that would contain so much valuable information? -- in order to supplement my knowledge. After Stark gave up, I sat down with Loki and read through his query letter with a red pen handy. There was only about 5% workable material in there, so I set the letter aside and decided to help Loki start from scratch.
The first advice I give him is that he needs a hook -- something to capture an agent's attention and make him/her finish reading the query.
Loki grabs the pen and whips out an opening:
Dear [Insert Agent Name]:
If you do not read this letter, I will murder you.
I shake my head and rip the paper into shreds. "Not that," I say. "You can't use a threat."
He nearly flips the table over in his rage. "How else can I convince them to finish reading?" he yells in my face.
Just then, Captain America comes over, shining red, white, and blue. Loki rolls his eyes.
CAPTAIN AMERICA: "What are you guys doing?" I asks. Apparently, Asgardians like to fight over shredded paper. The brothers looks at me, Thor with his hammer in hand.
"Loki does not understand that humans do not take threats lightly." Thor bellows.
I raise one eyebrow. I was pretty sure they didn't take threats lightly on Asgard either, but I wasn't ready for more of Thor's bellowing.
"Are we still attempting that query?" I ask.
"What do you think, idiot?" Loki asks coldly.
I narrow my eyes, barely containing my rage, and grab the paper off the table. A clean sheet. So the shredded paper was a query once. Or a threat.
"Why don't I write it for you?" I ask, sitting down. The brothers drop into the chairs beside me.
Dear Agent, I start. "Depending on who you're sending the query to, you need to replace "Agent" with the agent's actual name."
"Such as Dear Sara the Agent?" Thor asks.
I look at the stack of books Thor got from the library in disgust. What did he learn?
"No, Thor," I say like he's dumb. Which he... is. "You say, Dear Ms. Agent. If agent was her last time, or surname I should say."
"Ahh, I like that."
"Shut up, Thor, and then what?" Loki asks, turning to me. I will never get used to his stare.
"Then drop a hook. But some agents prefer to be introduced to you first and then you're work. Either way, you need a hook." I say.
"Do I look like I stepped out of Peter Pan? Am I Captain Hook?" Loki seethes.
"Who is Peter the Pan?" Thor asks, twirling his hammer. Sheets of paper scatter in the room.
I groan. I'm not sure who is more annoying. "Why don't you think about what I said? Figure out your hook and get a list of agents you want to query, making sure to note down which ones prefer a hook or an introduction in the beginning. Then we can talk about Peter Pan."
I get up and leave. Anymore time with the two fools and I'll go crazy.
LOKI: I grimace. Honestly, I thought the threat of ending their puny little lives was hooking enough. What more could I need?
I turn to Thor and Iron Man, now that Captain Grandpa stormed out of the room, his long johns all in knots. "What exactly makes a good hook?" I ask.
Thor furrows his eyebrows. Which means he's thinking. Which, given his brain capacity, shouldn't take more than a few moments. "I'd name the character, maybe. Or introduce the conflict or concept."
"But spice it up," Iron Man says. "It needs to be as heart stopping as me when I take off my shirt."
My brother and I roll our eyes at the same time.
"Murder is heart stopping," I mutter.
So a hook. Hooks make me think of sharp things. Like knives. Weapons. Murder. MURDER!
No. Something non-threatening. At least, not for the agent reading my query. Perhaps... perhaps I could move the threat to later in the query letter. Below the 'Thank you for your time.' I could add: 'If you do not respond with a desire to read more, this will be the end of your time.'
I snatch the crumbled paper and pen and scribble, Sixteen-year-old Isaac Clark had been diagraming his plans for world domination since his classmates were chewing Play-Dough.
I shove my non-murderous 'hook' in Thor's face. "Read, brother."
Thor reads it. Iron Man peers over his shoulder.
"This..." Thor looks up. "This is not bad, brother."
Iron Man squints. "I'm impressed, Loki. Clearly, the time you've spent with me has done you good." He points to my line. "You've got your character. Good. And of conflict and concept, you picked concept. Though... I am disturbed by this character of yours."
"What is Play-Dough?" Thor says. "Is it... of good taste?"
I ignore my ignorant brother. "But evil mastermind character. Is he hooking?"
Iron Man shrugs. "I'd keep reading."
Step one in my quest for publication and subsequent world domination. Complete.