Monday, September 10, 2012

Pitch Polish #79


TITLE OF MANUSCRIPT: The Nameless Warrior
GENRE: New Adult Fantasy
WORD COUNT: 120,000 wordsQUERY:
Kindra Odion has been training for the past eight summers to become a warrior and avenge her father’s death. If she succeeds, she’ll be the first woman warrior in the tribe’s history. She makes it through the whipping ceremony to prove her strength, but the chief fails to give her a warrior name, and a warrior with a weak name—or no name at all—is not a true warrior in the eyes of the tribe.
Determined to complete her mark in battle and be named, Kindra is willing to place her home and loved ones in peril. But when her sister Kaye is taken by an enemy tribe because she’s Faye, it appears the chief has betrayed them both.
Whispers of conspiracy and rumors that their father’s death was no accident re-surface. As evidence of the chief’s betrayal comes to light it threatens to start a civil war and place the tribe in the hands of their enemies. Kindra can save her tribe, but it will mean giving up everything she loves for good, including the salvation of her sister.
THE NAMELESS WARRIOR is an Adult Fantasy complete at 120,000 words. Thank you for your time and consideration.

150 WORDS:

Beads of sweat trickled down Kindra Odion’s spine as she sat cross-legged in the stillness of the vision tent. The fire had burned down to coals. The only sound was the crack of the embers and the whispered prayers of the High Priestess as she walked slowly between the inductees, blessing their foreheads with her oil-soaked fingers. Kindra’s twin sister, Kaye, followed behind with a clay pitcher of vision wine.
The long white dress of the High Priestess swished softly as she made her rounds and reached Kindra. The woman dipped her fingers in the bowl of oil, placed them on Kindra’s forehead, and whispered her blessing.
“May Eoin recognize your spirit and welcome it as His own. May He bless you with courage in battle, strength to defeat your enemies, and wisdom to know when the fight is finished.”


15 comments:

Jessica L. Foster said...

There is a lot of conflict clear in your query which is excellent. I'm not sure how she places her home and loved ones in peril. Maybe explain that. Also I'm not sure how that relates to her sister being taken. how does the father's death connect to everything else going on? How does giving up the tribe mean not saving her sister?

The 150 words is great. Shows the setting and introduces the character.
My question is, why is it considered a new adult fantasy? It reads just like a regular adult fantasy book to me. Just something to consider.

Adriana Ryan said...

I love the atmosphere in your query and your 150. However, I don't understand this paragraph: "Determined to complete her mark in battle and be named, Kindra is willing to place her home and loved ones in peril. But when her sister Kaye is taken by an enemy tribe because she’s Faye, it appears the chief has betrayed them both." What do you mean Kaye is Faye? What is Faye? Also, how does Kindra put her family in peril?

Another concern I had was the length. Is 120k acceptable in this genre? I thought anything over 90k was frowned upon, but I could be wrong.

Great work! :) Hope my comments helped a little.

Laura Stephenson said...

I love the premise of your story. Be wary of making the MC too unsympathetic (she's considering a lot of abandoning her family for her motivation to be to avenge her father).

Your first 150 is excellent! The picture you painted of the tent is nice and crisp, without sacrificing the tension needed to pull the reader along.

Great job! Good luck!

(My pitch can be found on my blog.)

Cheryl Hettick said...

I am intrigued by your premise and this is the sort of book I would read. Your writing flows well and you've obviously done a lot as far as worldbuilding goes, but I'm not seeing it in your query. It reads more like a synopsis and you need to flesh out the main plotline of the story. What does she want? What's keeping her from getting it? And what will happen if she doesn't get it?
As far as your first 150 go, I love the descriptives in your text (you do them well). But I am having trouble figuring out where it's taking place and putting it into context. Is she on a reservation? In India somewhere? On another planet? I know it's only a short excerpt, but I want to know where she is right away so that I can understand the context of the dialogue. This is a great start and I'd love to read on.
I'd appreciate it if you could check out my entry (#80). Cheers!

Lara Schiffbauer said...

Your 150 words are full of color and nuance. I can see everything clearly and feel Kindra's tension. If I picked up the book and read the first page, I'd be continuing.

It seems like that color, nuance, and urgency is not as present in the query. Unfortunately this is something I'm struggling with in my own query, so I don't have much advice. One thing I did do that seemed to help was to write the query in my mc's first person point of view, and then switched to the third person. So it was like she wrote the query and it did give it more or a story quality to the query.

Dawn Allen said...

One consistency piece: You list it at the top as New Adult Fantasy and down in your query call it Adult Fantasy. To avoid confusion, I'd put New Adult at the bottom also.
I know nothing about New Adult as a genre but I was curious as a reader as to her age. I've read books with young adults in them in which hints are given - just out of college and at his first job or something in that vein. Of course, this doesn't work with fantasy and maybe it isn't necessary for New Adult. But as a reader I wanted to know. Eight summers is a long time to train. My son began running at the age of five so training can begin at any stage of life. I'm wondering when and why that eight year process began. (this is good since you've got me curious.) Well done!

Rhiann Wynn-Nolet said...

Thanks for giving me your thoughts on my pitch (Tendril #50)-so here I am to return the favor.
LOVE the first two sentences. In fact I would make them stand alone and then work the part about naming into the second paragraph. Also by "failing" to name her I don't know if that means he refuses or it was an oversight? Did he refuse because she is female? If so that should probably be mentioned.
The Kaye/Faye thing confuses me completely. Did you mean fey, or is there some character named Faye?
I'm also confused by "rumors that her father's death was no accident" - the first lines make it clear he was killed, that's why his death is something to be avenged. So if she's the only one who knew it wasn't accidental that should come in at the beginning of the query.
Kindra can save her tribe, but it will mean giving up everything she loves for good, including the salvation of her sister.
How is she the only one that can save her tribe? Why does it mean she must give up her sister? It's clear the stakes are nice and high which escalates the excitement, but this is a bit vague.
Loved, loved, loved the 150 though I would say omit "and reached Kindra" (sentence is stronger without and we see the Priestess reach her in the following sentence). Also the blessing reminds me a lot of "God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, The courage to change the things I can, And the wisdom to know the difference." I think you can change up your blessing a bit so people don't immediately think of this overused "prayer" which appears on coffee mugs, desk blotters, etc. Your writing is not at all trite so don't let it be compared to something that has become trite through overuse. Going back to my lighthouse now :-)

Jayme said...

Hi, Rebecca,

Ooh! I love a good revenge story. :)

When I heard “warrior,” my mind went straight to Samurai. I think it would help orient readers if you start your query by saying: “Kindra Odion of the [tribe name].” That way, we knew what kind of warrior to expect.

Like Adriana, I’m also a little confused by “But when her sister Kaye is taken by an enemy tribe because she’s Faye…” What is a Faye? If it’s too difficult to explain, I’d just leave it out. “But when her sister is taken by an enemy tribe,” gives me enough to feel invested. I don’t need to know why. If someone takes your sister, you want them back.

Otherwise, nice job! :)

deadlyeverafter said...

In your pitch, I would try to find a way to open with the second sentence. It is much more attention grabbing.

Kristen

Mara Valderran said...

I agree with what Cheryl said in that there isn't a lot of urgency in the query. I like the opening paragraph. It gives the MC purpose and ambition, which is good. And it also creates conflict with the naming. I agree that you should make it clear whether or not he refuses to give her a name or if there is a reason for it. If he refuses, this creates more intrigue since you later go on to say that the chief has betrayed them. Also, who are these enemies? Why do they want her sister? I'd like to see a bit more on how the chief and these enemies are tied together and why Kindra is the only one that can save them all and how she'll have to give up everything to do so.
I've heard other people say that in queries you need to make sure you aren't too vague. You don't want to tell the whole story because you want the agent to WANT to read more, but you have to give them more to go on than you would the average reader. Or so I've been told. :)
I love the first 150. It sets up your voice well. And I prefer 3rd person POV over 1st, so that earns points automatically in my book as a reader. :D
-Mara #77

Ellie Heller said...

If there's any way you can carry your voice from your story into your pitch, you should try. Your voice in the first 150 is so very strong. I love it!

This isn't your voice, but I'm giving it as an example of how to make the sentences carry more of a voice. Write this as if she's thinking it, telling it to us.
Kindra Odion has been training for the past eight summers to become a warrior and avenge her father’s death.
For eight summers Kindra Odion has trained (description here perhaps) to become a warrior. -- or has survived the brutal training necessary to be come a warrior.

If she succeeds, she’ll be the first woman warrior in the tribe’s history.
Soon she will face the whipping ceremony, become the first woman warrior in the tribes history. And finally avenge her father's death.

She makes it through the whipping ceremony to prove her strength, but the chief fails to give her a warrior name, and a warrior with a weak name—or no name at all—is not a true warrior in the eyes of the tribe.
But although she passes the ceremony she find she is not a warrior in the eyes of the tribe. The chief fails to give her a name, and without a name she is not a warrior, her years of work destroyed with his senseless act.

Determined to complete her mark in battle and be named, Kindra is willing to place her home and loved ones in peril.
There are other ways to earn a name and Kindra is determined to go into battle, leaving her home and loved ones with nothing but the loose protection of the tribe.

***
Okay that last bit not quite, but hopefully you see what I am trying to do, bring more of a voice here, and less a recitation of events.

A couple of questions - what is Faye, and can you use a general term instead?

But when her sister Kaye is taken by an enemy tribe because she’s Faye, it appears the chief has betrayed them both.
Whispers of conspiracy and rumors that their father’s death was no accident re-surface. As evidence of the chief’s betrayal watch duplicate words
comes to light it threatens to start a civil war and place the tribe in the hands of their enemies

JMO, but civil war seems larger than a tribe would encompass, its too big for what you are describing, I think. And I'm not clear how the internal strife *will* place them in the hands of their enemies, seems like it's more likely that their enemies will swoop in if the tribe is perceived as weak, right? .

Kindra can save her tribe, but it will mean giving up everything she loves for good, including the salvation of her sister. I think you need to build this last part up. Why would she save the tribe, i"m not seeing what good they've done for her, tell me. Is it the enemies and what they'd do? Is it the home? Everything she loves should be expanded - give us a short three item list, and you don't need to say 'for good', it's implied. Also not sure of salvation of her sister - that term is generally used more for religion and saving souls/afterlife, rather than rescuing. If there is an issue where her sister's soul is in danger, then you might want to clarify that.

I hope this helps. Take what works and pitch the rest. :-)

robbiemacniven said...

All pretty flawless overall, only a few comments to add.
The only thing I think you could add to improve the pitch is a tiny bit of worldbuilding/background. I know its very difficult because the point of a pitch is to be concise, and you can’t waffle at all, but just two sentences to build up your setting might put this tribe in its context. For example, when you mention the tribe’s “enemies” maybe just add a “–“ followed by a few words saying exactly who those enemies are. Building up a unique and compelling world is half of what makes fantasy great.
Again the writing sample has only one thing I’d consider changing – “The long white dress of the High Priestess swished softly as she made her rounds and reached Kindra.” Maybe lose the “made her rounds and” bit, make the sentence a little shorter. The reader already knows she’s “making her rounds,” or I did anyway.
Overall very compelling, let me know how you get on! : )

Anonymous said...

I like your set up and the conflict—it sounds like an action fantasy that I would enjoy. However, I think you need a stronger hook. I might skip the first line (about her competition and wanting to avenger her father’s death) and go straight into the details of the competition/the trials and how no woman has ever made it. Then hit with the fact that she isn’t even given a name and what that means/the betrayal because THAT is the interesting thing that will hook. Sadly, the “avenging my father’s death” thing isn’t enough—we’ve seen it too many times.

After that I think it works well, though I have a few questions:
1. What or who is Faye? That part didn’t make any sense to me.
2. Why would she have to give up saving her sister?

I like that you explain the conflict and the stakes. This is good. I just wish I knew the answers to those two questions.

I think the opening 150 words are fine, though again, I wouldn’t say that I’m hooked. The scene is pretty subdued and peaceful. I get a sense of setting + genre, but that’s about it. You might want to consider a different opening that shows us who Kendra is rather than what she’s going through.

I hope that helps! The book sounds fun and gripping! I even like the themes!

-Craig # 76

Rebecca Enzor said...

Updated query:

Kindra Odion has trained the past eight summers to become her tribe’s first woman warrior, and avenge her father’s death. Many in her tribe expect her to fail, but she endures the whipping ceremony to prove her strength. It is her proudest moment, until she fails to receive her warrior name.

Kindra is determined to earn her name in battle regardless of the cost, until an enemy tribe arrives claiming her sister is to marry their chief as part of a peace treaty their father negotiated. Kindra knows he would never sell his daughter to the Obsidians, and is eager to fight. But when the chief allows them to take her sister, Kindra sets aside all thoughts of avenging her father and receiving her name.

The chief’s decision begins to divide the tribe. Half of the warriors assume he’s too cowardly to oppose the much larger Obsidian Nation. The other half believe he’s trying to eliminate the only family who could overthrow his power: the Odions. In her desperation to save her sister, Kindra doesn’t care which side is correct, but as evidence of the chief’s treachery is discovered it threatens to place her entire tribe in the hands of the Obsidians. Kindra’s the only one who can depose the chief and save her tribe, but it will mean giving up the quest to rescue her sister, and the hope of ever becoming a named warrior.

Jayme said...

Oooh! Stick a fork in this one - it's done! I love the extra details you've given. I'm really rooting for Kindra now. :)

Good luck tomorrow!