Monday, September 10, 2012

Pitch Polish #75


TITLE: BLOOM
GENRE: YA Fantasy
WORD COUNT: 85,000

QUERY:
Seventeen-year-old Finna Claremont can't get through the day without messing up even the simplest of her magical powers. So when she finds out she's guardian of her realm, she knows they're all screwed.
Finna's lived her happily mediocre life in the Enchanter realm, a kingdom magically hidden on a small continent in the Pacific. Now, increasing contact between her world and the outside is inflaming the already tense relationship between the magical race of Enchanters and the humans who live among them.
Sileas Parlan, a powerful Enchanter politician, is pushing what seems like the best solution -- strip Enchanters of their powers bit by bit to make the races more equal. Only Finna, her family, and a precious few others realize that Parlan is only using the guise of equality to take control of the kingdom.
With her unexceptional powers, Finna can't expose him as a fraud. She needs help and her best chance is to accept it from the most powerful boy at school, Liam Monroe. Using his family's position in Parlan's new government, he's poised to take down Parlan from the inside. But trusting Liam isn't easy since their families have hated each other for generations. Then a prophecy predicting Finna's death and Liam's willingness to save her comes to light, changing her mistrust into forbidden love.
Finna can't defeat Parlan -- or live -- without Liam's help, but choosing him is tantamount to siding against her family. And she's just not prepared to live without something she loves.

 FIRST 150 WORDS
“You couldn’t swim it. There’s no way. It’s miles out there.” My cousin Ellie’s voice was incredulous, the only indication of a reaction to her brother Madden’s intended expedition. I looked up from my book to eye them both.
“People swim the English Channel, and it’s over 20 miles,” Mads said. He leaned back on his elbows, staring across the pristine blue water toward the jagged rocks that broke the surface in the distance. “It’s only fifteen to the protection border.”
Ellie lay on her back in the sand, trying to perfect her tan before we left the beach house that afternoon. She tipped up her over-large, white rimmed sunglasses, which had covered her expressions until now, and rolled her head over to scowl at Mads.
“How do you even know stuff like that?”
“First grade geography.”
She slipped the glasses back over her eyes and returned to her tanning position. “You would remember something stupid like that.”

12 comments:

Jessica L. Foster said...

The voice in your query is awesome. It could possibly be a bit stronger in the 150 words though.
I love the first line of the query. Maybe show her messing up her magic, but that's just a tiny suggestion.
And I'm not sure I get the connection between the prophecy and the two of them falling in love.

Donea Lee said...

I really like the concept here - kind of a Romeo and Juliet vibe if they lived in the lost city of Atlantis or something ~ :) Nice!

I wonder if the first paragraph and the last kind of contradict eachother, though. In the first, she finds out that she's the guardian of their realm, which (at least to me) means that she's kind of a big deal. But, in the last paragraph, she says her powers are unexceptional and she'll have to rely on someone else for help. Sorry - maybe I'm reading too much into that?

I also really enjoyed the banter in your first 150 words - and that it establishes the hint of something fantastical! I just kind of wished I saw your MC more from the start. But - I'd definitely read on.

Best of luck with this!

Mara Valderran said...

I agree that you have a really good voice in your query. I think maybe you should explain briefly in the first paragraph why it is that Finna is now the guardian of her realm. Was she chosen? Make it clear that it is most definitely not because of her powers so it won't be so confusing when she needs someone else's help. When you introduce Liam, I'd like to see a bit more about how they get along now that they are working together. It isn't easy for her to trust him but does she even like him? The mention of family animosity makes the forbidden love seem like it comes out of nowhere. Is this forbidden love a sudden thing? Is she drawn to him? Or is it more of a slow build as they work together?
The beginning of the query is more about the political drama and potential world takeover, so I feel like you should stress that a bit more at the end. The hook is great, but ending on the note of the love story has less of a draw for me personally. Maybe tie the two together in a way that puts a bit more emphasis on what is at stake with the political side of things?

Laurie Dennison said...

Hi! I also really enjoyed the voice in the opening. Like Mara, I might say when she is "chosen" to be the guardian, if that is the case. I'm also making the leap that Finna's family hates Liam's family because they work for Sileas Parlan? (or because they are on opposing sides of the gov?) Maybe you could mention Liam's family in Parlan's paragraph. Maybe, "Sileas Parlan and his allies the Monroes, all powerful politicians, are pushing.." Then you could bring out the conflict in Finna and Liam's allegiance. (I don't know if that is the actual story, but it could tie in the family issues earlier.)

Very intrigued! Best of luck to you!

Christy said...

I, too, am liking the whole Romeo and Juliet idea here. The query and the 150 words both have some minor editing issues--commas and a few unnecessary adverbs (happily). Also,in the hook you say "they're all screwed", but there is only one person mentioned up until then. Perhaps change it to "she knows her entire kingdom is screwed."
The sentence about changing her mistrust into forbidden love sounds really dry and emotionless. I want to feel her love for him.
The 150 words was hard to read. I like the dialogue but the pacing is broken up so much in between each set of quotations that I had to keep going back and reading before I could get it. Consider putting the dialogue closer together and explaining through internal dialogue a bit further apart. I hope that makes sense. Also, I don't get a feel for what the book will be like. I know it's only the first 150 words though. :)
Also, I love magic in books and I would like to know what kind of magic she can do.

Good luck! (#74)

Mara Rae said...

I really enjoyed the first 150 as well. I thought the dialog was great and voicey. In the query, I would watch those "ly" words (happily, magically, etc) and I'm not sure you need that last paragraph. I'd end the paragraph before with "When a prophecy predicting Finna's death and Liam's willingness to save her comes to light, mistrust turns into something far more dangerous: forbidden love" or something along those lines. Hope that helps!
Mara (#67)

Ranee` said...

Hello! Revealing myself as the author. ;) Thank you everyone for your thoughts. It makes it easy to know where to go back and fix things. I have a couple clarification questions. Christy mentioned some comma issues. Can you tell me where those are? I know I've read over and over and over it, so that's probably why I'm missing them, but when you're an editor and you hear you're missing comma's it sort of sends you into freak out mode! :D
Also, wondered if you guys could give your thoughts on the adverbs in the query. Taking out "happily" would make it seem as though she's not okay with her mediocrity, and she is. That's important to the story. I feel the same about "magically" -- I've gotten crit comments before (when "magically wasn't used) along the lines of "how can you hide a small continent!" So I sort of feel like they're a necessary evil when trying to describe things concisely. Am I biased?

Lara Schiffbauer said...

Hi! The premise is really interesting! I was doing good in the query letter until the line about the prophecy. It almost sounded like the prophecy creates the relationship between them to me. Maybe changing the sentence to something like "When a prophecy predicting Finna's death reveals Liam's desire to protect her, Finna's mistrust changes to a love her family can't approve." Then the next sentence makes better sense to me. That last sentence is totally confusing me. Which thing (her family or Liam?) is she not willing to live without. For me, I just need some clarification.

I love your first 150 words. They are well written and give life to your characters. I was a little confused as to where they are starting out (real world or magical world) but maybe that's revealed a little later!

I think if magically describes how the other world is hidden, it's a different case than using an adverb like instantly or quietly, so I'd think you'd need to keep it. Just my two cents on that one!

Then, the last two sentences further confused me because

Jadzia Brandli said...

I don't have ay specific suggestions for your query, just that I think you should tighten and shorten it a bit. Cut anything that's not needed. Your voice comes through in the first paragraph, and I love that a lot. The first 150 got me. I like the tone and I'd read more. Good luck!

Michelle 4 Laughs said...

I would say with your query, I'm not seeing what her personal stake is. Why does she want to stop Sileas Parlan? What did he do to her?

Comma after 'she needs help, etc.'
That's the only one I saw that you might have missed.

Heather M Bryant said...

I really like this query and the whole idea behind it. I think you could make it tighter mostly by shortening some sentences.


Seventeen-year-old Finna Claremont can't get through the day without messing up even the simplest of her magical powers. So when she finds out she's guardian of her realm, she knows they're all screwed. [THIS IS GREAT AND HAS STRONG VOICE]
Finna's lived her happily mediocre life in the Enchanter realm, a kingdom magically hidden on a small continent in the Pacific[COULD CUT FROM THE COMMA]. Now,[CUT 'NOW'] increasing contact between her world and the outside is inflaming the already tense relationship between the magical race of Enchanters and the humans who live among them. [LONG SENTENCE]
Sileas Parlan, a powerful Enchanter politician, is pushing what seems like the best solution -- strip Enchanters of their powers bit by bit to make the races more equal. Only Finna, her family, and a precious few others[COMMA] realize that Parlan is only using the guise of equality to take control of the kingdom.
With her unexceptional powers, Finna can't expose him as a fraud. She needs help and her best chance is to accept it from the most powerful boy at school, Liam Monroe. Using his family's position in Parlan's new government, he's poised to take down Parlan from the inside. But trusting Liam isn't easy['ISN'T EASY' DOESN'T FIT HIS SENTENCE] since their families have hated each other for generations. Then a prophecy predicting Finna's death and Liam's willingness to save her comes to light, changing her mistrust into forbidden love. [THIS SENTENCE COULD POSSIB;Y BE REPHRASED TO MAKE SMOOTHER]
Finna can't defeat Parlan -- or live -- without Liam's help, but choosing him is tantamount to siding against her family. [LOVE THESE STAKES]And she's just not prepared to live without something she loves.[I JUST DON'T GET THIS LAST SENTENCE. DOES SHE MEAN LIAM OR HER FAMILY? IF SHE MEANS LIAM IT TAKES SOME OF HER LIKE-ABILITY AWAY. MAYBE CUT]

Anonymous said...

This seems well done. The only advice I might give is to make the query a bit shorter—get to the conflict as soon as you can. Definitely leave in the choice she has to make at the end, but I think you can get through the exposition more quickly. We need to know the setting, the main characters, the stakes, and the choice she has to make (including the forbidden love/trust issues). All of that is there, I just think you’d be better off making the query a bit shorter so that it has more “punch.”

I like the first 150 words, as well. The causal comment about “the protection border” is a nice + subtle “heads up” that we’re in a modern fantasy. Well done.

Best of luck!

Craig # 76