Monday, September 10, 2012

Pitch Polish #92

71,000 words 
 Kobi's older sister Enna is a half-human, semi-aquatic shape-changer, but nobody knows it yet. The reason for keeping the secret issimple--the Clans are designed to care for the blod. A being who can change to any shape cannot be trusted.
Others are keeping secrets as well. Their parents would rather that no one know about Enna's birth mother and how she died. Thehumans--Clan and blod alike--want to destroy the non-human ameso. The semi-aquatic ameso would like to survive on their ownterms and Kobi's stuck in the middle, in a war between the unseen, the unrecognized and her own burgeoning power.
Demonborn is a completed adult fantasy novel of approximately 71,000 words. It is set in another world which has its own culture and history.
 First 150 words:
          Sunlight sprayed in curious ripples from the surface of the lake. Trees wavered beyond, two moons almost indistinguishable from the clouds.
They floated in the traditional circle in the deep water shadows, Shadyel in the center where the priestess should have been. Only one priestess had agreed to come with them, and she had died at the beginning of this campaign.
Shadyel turned her head to let her side-set eyes focus on a space in the circle, the place of least prestige immediately in front of her. Her hands moved in the familiar signs, larger than normal because she was angry. Where is she? she asked, and the others' hands fluttered without meaning.
Not able to get away, another of her team reported. Giyac had a position on the human blod Lord's team, hunting the ameso. The identifying pattern of scars along his arms in ameso form were not something that could be easily duplicated.


Unknown said...


The first line of the Query caught my attention right away. It left me wanting to find out more about the character. I really like the premise of your book. The first 150 words had me wanting to read more of it. Good luck!

Michael McDuffee said...

Hmm. I think the query here could use more polish. The first 150 is much smoother, so I know it's not an ability problem.

"The reason for keeping the secret issimple--the Clans are designed to care for the blod."

This two too many vocabulary words from your world to make sense this early in the query. Particularly given the "issimple" typo, I was wondering if "blod" was a mistake. It doesn't flow logically from your first sentence either (at least, not without knowing the book), so it doesn't tease knowledge out to the reader, making her want to dive in further.

You've taken on the tremendously difficult task of nonhuman fantasy (at least I'm assuming Shadyel has side-set eyes because she's a creature of some sort). It's interesting, but I'm not drawn it yet. Given this difficulty, I would prefer to see the conflict set up in the first two sentences of the book (at least that scene's conflict), rather than the setting, because the conflict is far more interesting. It makes a promise to the reader, who then becomes curious as to what kind of creature Shadyel is.

Unknown said...

I agree with a lot of what Michael said, I also found myself wondering if blod was a typo. And I was also slightly confused by all the words "from your world" to quote michael. Your hook is pretty catchy, but I do think your query can be cleared up a bit. Best of luck :)

Britni Patterson said...

Hi there!

A couple of thoughts on your query and the premise. :)

The first descriptor, half-human, semi-aquatic shape-changer is clumsy. I would say something like, "Kobi's older sister Enna is half-ameso, the shape-changers who are distrusted/hunted/persecuted by the humans. (Clan and blod is a confusion that you probably explain much better in your book) Their parents are keeping Enna's blood a secret to keep her safe, but soon the secret's out, and Kobi is going to have to choose sides (between her sister and her people?)"

And one nit-picky note about your 150, The last paragraph is very confusing. We have an unknown person talking, then we're introduced to someone who is there? Isn't there? Then we're talking about scars but I'm not sure if they're from Giyac or the random unknown person.

Seth Z. Herman said...

Agree with Michael - the query could use some polish, whereas the first 150 is solid and smooth. Flesh out a few ideas - for example, what is a blod? - and make it a little more tension-y. For example, explain to us what lengths Kobi and Enna go to keep their secret.

Good luck!

Leslie Karst said...

Query: Great first line. I'd capitalize "blod," as I first read it as a typo for "blood," and was confused as to what it meant. If "ameso" is a race's name it should be capitalized too. Nice last sentence of para. two. I'd delete the last sentence: it's obvious it's another world with its own culture and history.

1st 150 words: This is a terrific beginning, but I agree that maybe you should open with the second para.

Anonymous said...

I made some changes to the query based on the comments above. Ameso will remain LC--it should be capitalized only in the same situations that we would capitalize human.

Here's the new version.

Kobi's adoptive sister Enna is a semi-aquatic shape-changer, but nobody knows it yet. Not even their parents. The reason for keeping the secret is simple--the Clans are designed, created some say, to care for the aristocratic blod. A being who can change to any shape is a threat.

From the east, the native ameso advance from the Demons Bay with its distrusted mutagenic power, following the trail of a renegade priestess and mage who advocated a connection between the ameso and the humans. Worse, she found a way to accomplish it, spreading half-ameso children among the human population. Advancing from the west, the human population, mostly oblivious to the fact that they are not alone in the world. The exceptions are the danger.

Like burning driftwood from the Demons Bay, the combination is explosive.

Demonborn is a completed adult fantasy novel of approximately 71,000 words. It is set in another world, where the Clans wield the power, and the aristocratic blod bend to the will of their servants. It is the first of a linked series, two trilogies following Kobi and her sister Enna.

Four of the six are complete.

Anonymous said...

I like the revised query much better-I think the first one had all the elements, but this one states very clearly what's going on, with the exception of the last sentence in the second paragraph. When paired with the sentence before it, it makes no sense at all. It sounds like the danger is a person, or a race, rather than a situation.

Last paragraph: take out "completed at". It's not necessary. When I read through your first query, the last paragraph I would have trashed entirely, because if you state the genre is fantasy, the agent (or editor) is going to assume to a certain degree that it's not set on any Earth we know. In the second version, I'd change the sentence that starts "It is set in another world" (again, this is fantasy, and that makes it a bit of a redundancy) and maybe just go with "In a world where the Clans weild the power..." and then maybe put something else in about the stakes for Enna and Kobi.

And I've repeated this warning before (on someone else's query), about mentioning it's the start of a series: you're pitching THIS book. Not a series. An agent has a harder time trying to sell a series for a debut author. Consider leaving it out all together, and mention it if you get a request for a partial or a full.

Lauren said...

Thanks for all the help! I've got another version, but I'm not putting it here. :)

Anonymous said...

Each of the books can stand alone--they just happen to be about the same people.