Monday, September 10, 2012

Pitch Polish #85


TITLE OF MANUSCRIPT: LUMEN
GENRE: ADULT FANTASY
WORD COUNT: 125,000

QUERY:

Two small children, celestial beings reborn in human form, are all that stands between the dark reaper and his conquest of Earth. Hunted from birth and too young for their destiny, fate has placed them with the guardians best suited to protect them:
Copper is a national pariah, rendered barren. Dan Keller is the Noble heir who turned his back on his community, for her. Desperate for a child of their own, Copper and Dan accept a baby from a mysterious stranger, but Arianne is no ordinary little girl. That's a problem in a country like Edo, where the wrong birthright is a capitol offense—and now her hair is glowing.
The mercenary, Rhys Anders, is framed for murder and saddled with a toddler. He wants to foist his unwanted charge, Michael, on anyone else, but that changes when the wolf packs bow obeisance to the boy. Realizing that Michael is the true target of the danger that follows them, Rhys has a decision to make—give up everything he loves to keep Michael safe, or hand him off to a certain death.
With no idea their world is on the brink of a supernatural war, or that the best hope for survival is in their guiding hands, the Kellers and Rhys Anders must dodge daemons, outwit lemmings, and defy national rule all for the love of a child, not their own. It nearly falls apart as each guardian face their deepest fears to keep the children alive, because sometimes the daemon within is the most deadly.
FIRST 150 WORDS:

Rhys Anders should have ducked, but stubborn pride kept him unbent. He braced, however, for what whistled at him would hurt like hell. The oncoming fist charged with the force of a steed at full gallop, slamming his nose with a sickening crunch. His eyes watered. A searing pain spread, then dulled, and he gasped as the ballooning appendage joined his growing collection of damage. Bound and surrounded, he swayed—battling only for balance. 
Where is she!” 
The cry was not so much a question as a primal roar.
The interrogator paced before him, a provoked lion moving with sinuous grace and panting with rage. Torchlight spilled over the stockade, burnishing sweat-soaked skin. A tawny mane crossed his captor’s face with ragged shadows, but did not hide the wrath-filled features. 
Rhys cobbled a silent resolve. The night reeked of steel and bloodlust. Words would not change his fate.

7 comments:

cstuarthardwick said...

First sentence lacks punch or color. It does give me a feel for what the story is about, but feels a bit distant.

On the other hand, I'm not sure who the MC is here, “Copper and Dan” or the children.

“Copper” being an uncommon name and common noun, is inherently problematic.

The final query sentence is long and dense. I would try breaking it up.

cstuarthardwick said...

First sentence lacks punch or color. It does give me a feel for what the story is about, but feels a bit distant.

On the other hand, I'm not sure who the MC is here, “Copper and Dan” or the children.

“Copper” being an uncommon name and common noun, is inherently problematic.

The final query sentence is long and dense. I would try breaking it up.

T.J. said...

Two small children, celestial beings reborn in human form, are all that stands between the dark reaper and his conquest of Earth. Hunted from birth and too young for their destiny, fate has placed them with the guardians best suited to protect them:

My brother in law's agent told me once that the first line is a deal breaker. Perhaps something like," Celestials reborn in human form are all that stands between the dark reaper and his conquest of earth." The second line if fantastic.

Copper is a national pariah, rendered barren. Dan Keller is the Noble heir who turned his back on his community, for her. Desperate for a child of their own, Copper and Dan accept a baby from a mysterious stranger, but Arianne is no ordinary little girl. That's a problem in a country like Edo, where the wrong birthright is a capitol offense—and now her hair is glowing.

In this paragraph I was jolted, I expected to hear more about the two little ones. Too many names, when we haven't invested time with your MS, can be confusing as well. I am SO guilty of this too *sigh* I think you could rewrite this to be a much stronger paragraph.

The mercenary, Rhys Anders, is framed for murder and saddled with a toddler. He wants to foist his unwanted charge, Michael, on anyone else, but that changes when the wolf packs bow obeisance to the boy. Realizing that Michael is the true target of the danger that follows them, Rhys has a decision to make—give up everything he loves to keep Michael safe, or hand him off to a certain death.

This is actually a pretty strong paragraph, just needs a little tightening around the edges :)

With no idea their world is on the brink of a supernatural war, or that the best hope for survival is in their guiding hands, the Kellers and Rhys Anders must dodge daemons, outwit lemmings, and defy national rule all for the love of a child, not their own. It nearly falls apart as each guardian face their deepest fears to keep the children alive, because sometimes the daemon within is the most deadly.

The first sentence is a bit long, and threw me out of your world for a second. I love how you summed it up while keeping me wondering about the daemons within! Well done!

I love the hook of your first 150. Honestly, you can just see a guy being stubborn and taking the hit instead!

Your voice is fantastic. I also love your idea. And that it is aimed at adults - because it involves the saving of children I instantly felt empathy...wanted to know how they did it.

Lara Schiffbauer said...

I love the first line of your 150 words, and I wonder at the lemmings. That definitely is interesting

I wonder if you could start the second paragraph with the second line. Or you could just say "Outcasts Copper and Dan Keller are desperate for a child of their own. They accept a baby from a mysterious...etc..." That might keep the amount of info. down and focused on the main plot of the story.

I love paragraph three!

Angela Brown said...

You query appears to start with the second paragraph as the first feels a bit more like backstory..

You first 150, however, immediately drew me in. No suggestions there.

Rhiann Wynn-Nolet said...

Ah ha! You ARE here!
I like the ominous feeling of the first line but I would change it a tiny bit.
Two small children, celestial beings reborn in human form, STAND between the dark reaper and his conquest of Earth. Having hunted Arianne and Michael since their birth, destiny is now catching up to them. Or something like that...
The next paragraph seems to offer too many details that might not need to be there. Maybe simplify along the lines of - Copper, a national pariah, and Dan the nobleman who loves her, had no idea that Arianne was not an ordinary baby when they gladly adopted her.
This next part confuses me - I don't really understand the concept of "the wrong birthright" and I think it's kind of abrupt to just say "and now her hair is glowing" with no explanation of how, or what that might signify.
The next paragraph is also a bit detail heavy - I know as an author it's SO HARD to know what to cut out because the whole story is filling your head. But maybe something like-
Mercenary Rhys Anders resents Michael, his unwanted charge, until he realizes that the boy is the true target of the danger shadowing their every move. To keep Michael safe from certain death, Rhys will have to give up everything he loves (and here you will need to spell out at least some of what that is).
Alright final part-
Unaware that their world is on the brink of a supernatural war (this might be a bit vague - what supernatural forces are warring?)
Rhys and the Kellers dodge daemons and defy national rule to protect the children they love. Endangering Arianne and Michael far more than any outside threat are their guardians' inner daemons. To defeat them, Rhys and the Kellers must face their own darkest fears.
I don't know, I am not good with queries - but maybe some of those ideas will spark your far better ones.
150-
I like this - Rhys Anders should have ducked, but stubborn pride kept him unbent.
I would omit this-He braced, however, for what whistled at him would hurt like hell.
Keep this - The oncoming fist charged with the force of a steed at full gallop, slamming (into) his nose with a sickening crunch. His eyes watered.
This next bit works except I would omit "A" and start with"Searing" A searing pain spread, then dulled, and he gasped as the ballooning appendage (I had to think for a moment what appendage you meant, I don't usually think of noses as appendages) joined his growing collection of damage. Bound and surrounded, he swayed—battling only for balance.
“Where is she!”
The cry was not so much a question as a primal roar.
I like the next bit
The interrogator paced before him, a provoked lion moving with sinuous grace and panting with rage. Torchlight spilled over the stockade, burnishing sweat-soaked skin. Maybe - A tawny mane cast ragged shadows on his captor's face, but did not hide...
Rhys cobbled a silent resolve. The night reeked of steel and bloodlust. Words would not change his fate.
Very exciting start to the story, love the reek of steel and bloodlust!
I still can't get over the beauty of your Black Bee story, I went and read it again today. If you can manage to instill your magnificent writing into your query no sane agent will pass.

Elaine Smith said...

Your query became very strong in the second paragraph - could I add that I really liked what TJ did with your first paragraph

Your first 150 drew me in. Did you mean that the interrogator really was part lion? Sorry if that was just me being literal, it was the image that got stuck in my head.