Monday, September 18, 2017

Son Of A Pitch #3: THE UNBROKEN

Son Of A Pitch #3

Title: The Unbroken
Category and Genre: Adult Fantasy
Word Count: 108,000

Query:
Catori is a peasant. She grew up picking flowers to sell in the streets of Mennos’ main cities and she’s served ale to many a lord in her home town’s tavern. But this barmaid has a dangerous hobby. To protect herself and her family, Catori’s picked up the art of swordplay. Her skill with her blades has earned the admiration of passing travelers, including some with hidden ties to powerful families.

When war breaks out following an orc invasion, Catori knows she must help. She leaves her infant son under the patronage of a noble family and joins the Mennosi auxiliary, where she begins to rise through the military ranks on the recommendation of a mysterious hero. Soon she stands at the head of a broken and neglected army against the might of a massive orc army. But enemies lurk under the guise of support. Catori will need friends old and new to end a brutal war and keep her son out of a feud that could end his life.


First 250 Words:
Bitter’s body was lying on a table inside his tent, the same table that only a day before had been covered in various papers including her last letter to him, creased and worn as if he’d read it repeatedly. His armor had been removed and was hanging on a post beside him, just waiting for him to get up and pull it on. It looked almost as if he were sleeping but for the noticeable pallor in his skin and the deep, bloody wound in his stomach.

Catori stood just inside the tent, staring. This was the man she loved, the father of her child, the man she was supposed to marry. No—it was his body, but the man had gone. She was half afraid to move closer, as though doing so would cement his death forever, but the lure of him was too strong. It had always been too strong.

With slow, hesitant steps Catori stepped closer. Fresh tears welled in her eyes as she gazed down at her lover. He didn’t look like the Bitter she had known and loved, but it was unmistakably him. His pale skin lacked any color now and his lips were turning grey. Someone had closed his eyes, thankfully. She didn’t think she could handle him staring up at her, unseeing. She reached out and touched his cheek lightly. Yes, he was real. His skin was cool to the touch.

6 comments:

  1. Before I get started, I’d like to preface my feedback with the disclaimer that what you do with your query and first page is totally up to you. Take what’s useful from my suggestions, and ditch the rest as you see fit.
    Query:

    I can see that we’re starting the story when Catori is an adult, so maybe you spend too much time on her as a child, and it should cut to the chase a little sooner. It’s clear that the most important thing about her is not that she grew up picking and selling flowers. Lead with the important stuff: She’s a warrior and a leader. This is personal taste on my part, but I feel like we shouldn’t start the query letter before the book, and if this is a linear tale, then the whole first paragraph of the query happens before the actual novel starts.
    Start with who Catori is, lead with the extraordinary, tell us what it is that she wants (I’m presuming to end the war that took her lover from her), and what’s stopping her from getting it. Flesh it out by telling us what she’ll lose if she doesn’t manage to get the thing that she wants and go from there.
    Because this is such a broad feedback on the query, I’ll reread if you post a new one in the comments section.

    First 250:

    Wow, these are amazing. I can feel this. I might try to eliminate some of the passive verbs. For instance, “Bitter’s body laid on the table” or “rested on the table” or “covered the table.” You can similarly change the bit about his armor to something like “His armor hung from the post beside his body,” maybe adding a detail about how Bitter was considered among these people. Was the armor hung carefully, or haphazardly.

    I would absolutely read on. This made me think of the books by Morgan Howel the Queen of the Orcs series.
    If you have any questions, or want any clarification about my statements here, feel free to drop me a line.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ahh, thank you! I really worried about the start of the book being a little too... depressing? It made *me* cry, but then I'm very attached to Bitter so I wasn't sure.

      I did rewrite the query, too, with your advice in mind. :) Now that you've mentioned it, I realized there *was* a little too much history in there.
      ---

      Catori is a barmaid with a dangerous hobby: she’s deadly with her blades. So, when war breaks out following an orc invasion, she knows she must help. She’s left her infant son in the care of a noble family to do just that and begins to rise through the ranks of the demoralized Mennosi auxiliary on the recommendation of a mysterious hero.

      Revitalized by new leadership, the auxiliary begins to fight back—and win. Catori stands at the head of an army against the might of a massive orc warband. But when the chaos of war subsides, she discovers the noble family she trusted is not as generous as she thought. Catori will need to take her son and run before they’re caught in a feud that could end his life.

      Delete
  2. Hello! It's me, Kathy from #TeamRarity. My comments are my opinions only. Please take what helps and disregard the rest. It's your show.
    I see a query rewrite, so I will read that.

    Catori is a barmaid with a dangerous hobby: she’s deadly with her blades. (Nice!) So, when war breaks out following an orc invasion, she knows she must help. She’s left her infant son in the care of a noble family to do just that and begins to rise through the ranks of the demoralized Mennosi auxiliary on the recommendation of a mysterious hero. (A mysterious hero? WHO IS HELPING HER AND WHY?)

    Revitalized by new leadership (Catori is the leader?), the auxiliary begins to fight back—and win. Catori stands at the head of an army against the might of a massive orc warband. But when the chaos of war subsides, she discovers the noble family she trusted is not as generous as she thought. (Too vague. What does that mean? WHAT DID THEY DO?) Catori will need to take her son and run before they’re caught in a feud that could end his life. (Wait...too vague. I don't understand what's happening! A feud? How is her son in danger? What choice does she face...run or her son dies...WHY? AH!)
    You lose me at the end a bit. I love the barmaid turned great war hero!

    First 250 Words:
    Bitter’s body was lying on a table inside his tent, the same table that only a day before had been covered in various papers including her last letter to him, creased and worn as if he’d read it repeatedly. His armor had been removed and was hanging on a post beside him, just waiting for him to get up and pull it on. It looked almost as if he were sleeping but for the noticeable pallor in his skin and the deep, bloody wound in his stomach. (Whoa. Sadness. Watch passive voice...all the was and were can soften the blow of the words, and you want to make the words punch us in the feels.)

    Catori stood just inside the tent, staring. This was the man she loved, the father of her child, the man she was supposed to marry. No—it was his body, but the man had gone. She was half afraid to move closer, as though doing so would cement his death forever, but the lure of him was too strong. It had always been too strong. (More passive...give us powerful words to go with the emotions. Build emotion...what will she do without him?)

    With slow, hesitant (I'd use slow or hesitant...they mean the same thing) steps Catori stepped closer. Fresh tears welled in her eyes as she gazed down at her lover. He didn’t look like the Bitter she had known and loved, but it was unmistakably him. (Make it stronger? Not the Bitter she had known and loved, yet unmistakably him.) His pale skin lacked any color now (I'd cut the "now" and pale skin means it lacks color) and his lips were turning grey (turned grey). Someone had closed his eyes, thankfully. She didn’t think she could handle him staring up at her, unseeing. She reached out and touched his cheek lightly. Yes, he was real. His skin was cool to the touch.

    By changing a few of the words, I think you can up the impact of the words. A good emotional start. MC is alone...has to find a new life...LET THE JOURNEY BEGIN!
    Thanks for sharing your words!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ahh, thank you so much! I'm getting a little overwhelmed with the summary, it seems people want more info, but I'm not sure how to do that without just turning the summary into a synopsis.

      I'll definitely work on that second paragraph, it's been driving me crazy trying to get it right lol.

      Delete
  3. Crit from Cari:

    Title: The Unbroken
    Category and Genre: Adult Fantasy
    Word Count: 108,000

    Query:
    (I’d put an age here so we know right away what category this is) Catori is a peasant. She grew up picking flowers to sell in the streets of Mennos’ main cities and she’s served ale to many a lord in her home town’s tavern.(This seems wordy to me. Maybe cut the part about the flowers as it doesn’t really tell me anything, or shorten this somehow.) But this barmaid has a dangerous hobby. To protect herself and her family, Catori’s picked up the art of swordplay. Her skill with her blades has earned the admiration of passing travelers, including some with hidden ties to powerful families.

    When war breaks out following an orc invasion, Catori knows she must help. She leaves her infant son under the patronage of a noble family and joins the Mennosi auxiliary, where she begins to rise through the military ranks on the recommendation of a mysterious hero. (I really like how you’ve set the scene, and given the main plot point. This is easy to follow.) Soon she stands at the head of a broken and neglected army against the might of a massive orc army (echo. Use different word). (What about: But when Catori discovers her true enemies lurk under the guise of allies, she’ll need help from friends old and new to end the brutal war, and protect her son from a feud that could end his life.)But enemies lurk under the guise of support. Catori will need friends old and new to end a brutal war and keep her son out of a feud that could end his life.


    First 250 Words:
    Bitter’s body was lying on a table inside his tent, the same table that only a day before had been covered in various papers including her last letter to him, creased and worn as if he’d read it repeatedly. (This is a really long opening sentence. I’d break this up for impact. Also, it would ground the reader, and make us connect with the character, if we experience her emotional and physical turmoil at seeing her baby-daddy dead on a table.) His armor had been removed and was hanging on a post beside him, just waiting for him to get up and pull it on. It looked almost as if he were sleeping but for the noticeable pallor in his skin and the deep, bloody wound in his stomach.

    Catori stood just inside the tent, staring. This was the man she loved, the father of her child, the man she was supposed to marry. No—it was his body, but the man had gone. She was half afraid to move closer, as though doing so would cement his death forever, but the lure of him was too strong. It had always been too strong.

    With slow, hesitant steps Catori stepped closer. Fresh tears welled in her eyes as she gazed down at her lover. He didn’t look like the Bitter she had known and loved, but it was unmistakably him. His pale skin lacked any color now and his lips were turning grey. Someone had closed his eyes, thankfully. She didn’t think she could handle him staring up at her, unseeing. She reached out and touched his cheek lightly. Yes, he was real. His skin was cool to the touch.

    (This is an interesting start. I’m not sure how I feel about it. Maybe with more emotional impact, I wouldn’t mind. But I’m also left wondering if you’re starting in the right place. Also, the very next paragraph after this needs to have some kind of action, or moving forward, for this to work. Otherwise, this opening death scene drags on a bit long for me.

    You’ve got a great premise, and a good start. Best of luck!)

    ReplyDelete
  4. I feel like the query starts in the wrong place. If the war is the main focus of the book, start there. Focus only on the opening chapters for the query.

    This left me with lots of questions, but mainly I'm wondering how someone whose working 16-hour days to survive in a city also has time for sword-fighting, finding a lover, and having a kid.

    ReplyDelete

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