Friday, September 7, 2012

GUTGAA Pitch Polish


For those of you participating in GUTGAA, you know what this is. For those of you who aren't, you're looking at the pitch for my novel, along with the first 150 words.

From Halvmane's Shore
Adult Fantasy
80,000
Query:

Perhaps once he changes the course of history, Andren can let go of his self-loathing.

In the recent past, Prince Andren fell victim to a curse that turned him into a monster. Fortunately he'd already won the heart of Eiva, a canny sorceress, and she lifts the spell. Choked by the evil things he did during his transformation, he flees to the mainland. What he finds there are different races and nations all living in poverty and fear, victims of their ruthless dragon emperor.

Andren is outraged, and he makes it his goal to unite the nations--who so far have been bent on quarreling with one another--in war, and take out the most powerful being in the known world. At a time where guns are being invented and dragons are losing their magic, perhaps Andren can end the dragon age and start the age of man.

First 150 Words:

Andren smiled politely for the hundreds of guests, being the good prince he was supposed to. They cheered, but then of course they cheered, they were drunk. That and they didn't know what he'd done, no matter how much they liked to think they did. Blood was on his hands. His smile faltered, but no one noticed. They kept cheering. He took a drink from his silver goblet to give himself an excuse to break eye contact with the crowd.

“Hear, hear,” cried Alrik, who was standing next to Andren. He took a drink as well, and everyone else in the dining hall followed suit. “Yes, we're all very glad he survived. When the Fallen took him a few months ago, I was grieved that I'd lost the last of my family. I thought surely Deus had cursed me, that I would live alone. But with the fall of the Fallen he has returned my brother to me, and I am eternally grateful.”



If you want to know more about my novels, check out the My Novels tab above. If you want another taste of my writing, you can check out a short fiction scene I wrote here, or the Excerpts tab above. To see how I got my query to this point, check out the critique I got for my previous one here.

So what do you think? Let me know, I have a thick skin.

7 comments:

  1. I think most of this is really good. It needs a tiny bit of tweaking, but that's it. First, I didn't realize Andren was a Prince, so I had no idea how he was going to go about uniting these warring nations. So, I'd start with:

    In the recent past, Prince Andren fell victim etc...

    Then, I'd change this part: make it his goal to unite the quarrelsome nations in war to just:

    make it his goal to unite the warring nations and etc...

    Also, "most powerful being in the known world"
    I'd take out the word "known" The sentence feels stronger without it.

    And the last line: Perhaps once he changes the course of history, Andren can let go of his self loathing.

    You have a lot of powerful stuff going on. Curses, dragons, warring nations. Anden letting go of his self-loathing doesn't feel like high enough stakes to end the query on. I'd end it with something more dramatic.

    As far as your first 150, I like it a lot. It paints an immediate clear picture of Anden, which is impressive in such a short span of words. The only thing I'd change about the 150 is this line: That and they didn't know what he'd done...

    I'd leave it at: They didn't know what he'd done...Again, it feel stronger without the "That and" at the beginning.

    Good job on this. I'd love it if you'd stop by my blog and take a look at mine--I need all the help I can get. haha. Good luck with GUTGAA! And nice to meet you, btw.

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    Replies
    1. Thanks for all your insights! I hadn't realized that when I revised my query last I'd forgotten to make it clear Andren was a prince. The one thing I guess I didn't make clear in the query is that the nations aren't currently in war, they're just quarrelsome with one another. He's uniting them all as allies in a war against Potestatem and his loyal followers. I'm not exactly sure how to clarify that...

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  2. I like the sample words. They draw the reader in very quickly and show all the stuff that the query tells in a non confusing, want to know more manner.
    the query could perhaps use a tinge more voice like the novel has. otherwise it was pretty straight forward. Maybe explain why the people are different, but other than that nothing tripped me up.

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  3. In the recent past, Prince Andren fell victim to a curse that turned him into a monster. Fortunately he'd already won the heart of Eiva, a canny sorceress, and she lifts the spell. Choked by the evil things he did during his transformation, he leaves WHERE DID HE LEAVE FROM AND WHY IS HE GOING TO THE MAINLAND? for the mainland. What he finds there are different people all living in poverty and fear, victims of a ruthless dragon emperor.

    Andren is outraged, and he makes it his goal to unite the quarrelsome nations in war and take out the most powerful being in the known world. At a time where guns are being invented and dragons are losing their magic, perhaps the dragon age is at an end and the age of man can begin. YOU'RE MAKING IT SOUND LIKE IT WILL HAPPEN WHETHER ANDREN DOES ANYTHING OR NOT. ALSO, IF IT'S HAPPENING ANYWAY, IT TAKES AWAY FROM THE CONFLICT. MAYBE YOU SHOULD EXPAND ON WHAT'S KEEPING ANDREN FROM SUCCEEDING AND WHAT WILL HAPPEN IF HER FAILS. Perhaps once he changes the course of history, Andren can let go of his self loathing. I CAN SEE WHY THIS IS IMPORTANT, BUT IT DOESN'T FEEL LIKE THE STORY'S MAIN CONFLICT AND STAKES. YOU SHOULD KEEP THE FOCUS OF YOUR QUERY ON THAT INSTEAD.

    ***

    Andren smiled politely for the people, being the good prince he was supposed to. They cheered, but then THEY WOULD, BEING DRUNK. That and they didn't know what he'd done, no matter how much they liked to think they did. Blood was on his hands. His smile faltered, BUT THEY kept cheering. He took a drink from his silver goblet to give himself an excuse to break eye contact with the crowd. HMM... MAYBE YOU SHOULD PUT THE READER IN THE DINING HALL FROM THE START. IT WOULD BE PRETTY EASY. ANDREN SMILED POLITELY FOR THE PEOPLE DINING WITH HIM... SOMETHING LIKE THAT.

    “Hear, hear,” cried Alrik, who was standing next to Andren. He took a drink as well, and everyone else in the dining hall followed suit. “Yes, we're all very glad he survived. When the Fallen took him a few months ago, I was grieved that I'd lost the last of my family. Now that I've waxed long as you waited patiently for what you truly desired, here's desSert!” He and Andren sat. He leaned over and said: “You look pained, brother.”

    I like the sound of your story. Just pointed out a few more places where you could work on your query and opening words. :-)

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  4. I love stories about Princes and Princesses! I think your query needs only minor tweaking and your first 150 were pretty solid. The suggestions already given sound pretty much like something I would say. My only other advice would be

    Self loathing should have a dash.

    Try and write in a more active voice.

    My query and first 150 are up on my blog if you want to take a peak!
    Thanks,
    Talynn

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  5. Here to offer a few suggestions

    In the recent past, Prince Andren fell victim to a curse that turned him into a monster. Fortunately he'd already won the heart of Eiva, a canny sorceress, and she lifts the spell. (Immediately I'm a little confused about the timeline of the book. Does it start the moment that curse is lifted and all the things he did during his transformation are revealed to us later in flashback since this part of the query is about the past and the rest is present. It's perfectly fine if this is true, but at the moment if feels like a whole story happens without me getting to see it in the novel, so it might serve the book better to start at the moment the book begins- The moment the sorceress Eiva cures Prince Andren from the curse that turned him into a monster, Andren is choked by the evil things he did during his transformation- or something to that effect.)
    Choked by the evil things he did during his transformation, he flees to the mainland. What he finds there are different people (very unspecific "different" here- Another Kingdom? Several races? Thousands? Two or three people he sees on the street?- hard to tell) all living in poverty and fear, victims of a ruthless dragon emperor.

    Andren is outraged, and he makes it his goal to unite the nations(which nations, his and the dragon emperors or the many peoples suffering? If they are all under the dragon emperor's rule, aren't they already been united as subjects and now need to be united against him?)--who so far have been bent on quarreling with one another--in war, to take out the most powerful being in the known world. (I wish I knew a little more about why the dragon emperor is powerful, he's king of many or he's magical) At a time where guns are being invented and dragons are losing their magic(Passive voice here, consider revising to make active), perhaps Andren can end the dragon age and start the age of man. (It was only about here that I was certain that the dragon Emperor is, indeed, a dragon and that it isn't just his title. It seems that the dragon conflict is actually the main conflict of your story, yet they aren't truly mentioned until these last 3 sentences.) Perhaps once he changes the course of history, Andren can let go of his self-loathing.

    I'm intrigued by the premise, but I think some tightening of the query will make the true conflict really shine. Also, I think that this query is really missing a hook. (from AgentQuery.com) A hook is a concise, one-sentence tagline for your book. It’s meant to hook your reader’s interest, and wind them in. Honestly, your final sentence could be a hook on its own if it is just tweeked and placed at the beginning.
    --
    First 150

    Now we see clearly that the first paragraph of your query is definitely backstory, as this scene shows Andren's conflicted soul immediately. What I would revise is the lack of specificity. You say "They" many times in the first paragraph without telling us who "they" are. We see later that "they" are in the dining hall, but are these nobles? Knights? Honored subjects? Are there 10s, 100s, 1000s? It is very difficult to orient ourselves in these first 150 because of that lack of information. I understand moving to the action to get past a possible infodump, but if you allow us to "see" even a little more it will ease us into the story better.

    Also: They cheered, but then of course they cheered, they were drunk.- Consider making this two sentences or a semicolon.

    He and Andren sat. He leaned over and said, “You look pained, brother.” (Consider using Alrik's name in the second sentence as it is unclear who the "he" is, or combine the two, as these two rather short, mundane sentence feel like stage directions.

    Thank you for Sharing, good luck!

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  6. Thank you again for all your insights, everyone! I can't wait for the Agent Pitch Contest!

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