Monday, September 10, 2012

Pitch Polish #90


DRAGON
Fantasy
72,000 Words

Query:

The dragons are dying, slain by a clan of scaled dragons and leaving the kingdom of Kalon vulnerable on all sides. Maayin is the only female left to avert this fate and the council's last hope, though she is half scaled herself and living under the assumption that she is human.

Heedless of the dragon council’s intentions towards her, she is nevertheless desperate to prove she’s not one of them and return home. Her struggle against accepting the truth brings her closer to trusting her young tutor, Jaimin, who has his own reservations about keeping her imprisoned in all but name.

When Maayin at last catches wind of the council’s scheme, she flees and falls right into the grasp of the scaled dragons. It is there that she discovers other females, held until they are too old to stop extinction. With no way out, she must rely on Jaimin’s help if she is to survive long enough to be free again.
  
First 150 Words:

Maay hummed as she worked the old loom, the dull clack of wood a lullaby to her ears. Sunlight blazed into the solarium, its normally stifling heat cooled every so often by a gust coming through the open windows.  She cocked her head to the sound of footsteps echoing from down the hall. Men. It had to be, for their boots hit the stone with such a racket and the occasional, punctuating clink of metal.
Frowning at the woven threads before her, she idly looped another through the strands. It sounded like guards. What would they be doing here? Not many men came into this quarter of the castle, mostly servants with their soft shoes and irritating habits of blending into the background.
She glanced over her shoulder, perusing the room. Her gaze settled on the plants that separated the solarium from the other rooms and screened the bulk of the sunlight from those entering.

7 comments:

Michael McDuffee said...

My first thought on reading this was that the first sentence was a typo. After reading the whole thing, it's clear that this was not the case, but the statement: "The dragons are dying, slain by a clan of scaled dragons," doesn't make sense to someone who doesn't know the world of your book. Dragons and Scaled Dragons sound the same to ignorant readers (like me), and I was confused about how not all dragons have scales, and maybe Maayin is one and maybe she isn't... are there humans in this book, or does "dragon" mean something different? You describe Maayin as a "female," which makes me think she's a roaring-animal style dragon, but then they have a council, which makes them sound human...


I know each word is a precious resource in a query letter, but somehow the agent/reader needs to have some idea of:

1. Is the main character humanoid?

2. What is the difference between a dragon and a scaled dragon?



The premise does sound interesting, but I was tripping over the dragon/human issue too much to really be hooked by the query.

Aldrea Alien said...

Thank you, Michael, for stopping by and letting me know what you had difficulty understanding.

Let me answer those two points about-face:
2. The simplest answer I can give on the difference: the scaled dragons have scales as opposed to the fur, feathers or a leathery hide of the other kinds.
1. The MC -looks- human (and has been raised amongst them). She is, however, all dragon. Part scaled, part 'tropic' (feathery kind). As is the council.

Hope that clears up some of the confusion. This is why I entered the pitch polish. ^_^

Laura Stephenson said...

I agree with Michael's assesment of the first sentence, that it's confusing. I think most of your query is. How is Kalon vulnerable if the dragons are dead? By "living under the assumption" do you mean she thinks she's a human, or she's disguised as one to others?

I don't understand what the council wants from her or what she wants. I'm not sure what the main conflict is, or what Maayin has to choose to do about it.

The only sentence I think I fully understand is "It is there that she discovers other females, held until they are too old to stop extinction," which is still worded awkwardly. I would word it more like "There she discovers other females, kept captive until they are too old to reproduce and save their bloodline."

The first 150 is better. It did make me wonder why the loom is in the solarium, but other than that it was just fine.

Good luck! I didn't get my entry in on time, so it's found here: deskoflaurastephenson.blogspot.com

Jessica Peterson said...

I agree with the others, I was extremely confused by dragons and scaled dragons, and I have to admit even though you explained it in your comment, I'm still confused :( I kind of get what your story is about, but I think you really need to clear things up, maybe try a different choice of words or more explanation?? also, I feel like I missed out on what the 'council's scheme' is and I should know. and why is it jaimin that's going to help her. You've got an interesting concept, It just needs a bit more explanation. Best of luck :)

BPatterson said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
BPatterson said...

Hi Aldrea!

Some thoughts on your query. I agree with Michael.

Normally the best idea is to remove words from the query, but I think you could add a few and help clarify things.

"The gentle feathered dragons who have defended Kalon for years are dying, victims of a vicious campaign by the scaled dragons. The council of Kalon is panicking. Maayin is the council's last hope, but they don't think they can trust a half-scaled (half-human?), even if she doesn't know what she is. Her tutor is the only person she can trust, but he has his own agenda."


Something like that? I don't know your full plot, but you've got good information, and your book sounds great! Your first 150 might improve from the removal of the half-sentences tagged on with commas. Like instead of the "Not many men" sentence, just go straight to "Only servants with their soft shoes and irritating habits ... had regular business in the Student's quarter / Solarium / Wherever they are." because you've already talked about their boots and the noise.

Just thoughts. Feel free to disregard. :D

I'm #94.

Aldrea Alien said...

Note sure if we're allowed to this, but here's a revised (slightly bigger) version:

The mighty dragons who have defended Kalon for centuries are dying, victims of merciless attacks by a foreign dragon clan. The dragon council is panicking, desperate to find a replacement for the females they have lost. Maayin is their last hope, never mind she has lived under the assumption that she is human for eighteen.

Taken from her home, told she is a dragon, Maayin is unwilling to trust anyone but Jaimin, her young tutor. He has his own reservations about keeping her imprisoned in all but name and promises to return her to her home if she can prove she is human and of no use to the council's schemes of using her to keep the species viable.

Her struggle to accept the truth of being a dragon brings her dangerously closer to Jaimin. She doesn't know that her tutor is keeping her from an elder dragon who is more than willing to destroy Maayin's spirit in favour of obeying the council's plans. Nor is she aware that her growing feelings for Jaimin go against the ancient law forbidding them from being together.

When Maayin at last learns of the council's plan, she flees and falls right into the grasp of the murderous dragon clan. There she discovers other females, kept captive until they are too old to reproduce and save their species. That same fate will become hers is she does not escape. But freedom will mean returning to face the council's plan and the dragon they've chosen for her. Unless she can convince Jaimin, and the council, that he can be her mate.