Monday, September 18, 2017

Son Of A Pitch #7: THE GIRL IN MAN'S ARMOR

Son Of A Pitch #7

Title: The Girl in Man's Armor
Category and Genre: YA (High) Fantasy
Word Count: 88.000

Query:
Seventeen-year-old Dalila has no friends of her own and is desperate to marry soon. Her older brother Don is called off to fight in a war against foreign invaders. Because Don is a devoted husband and expectant father, Dalila feels like her brother has too much to lose and leave behind, while she sees herself as a girl of little worth. So, she disguises herself as her brother to go to war in his stead.

General and Prince Kazim is excited to meet the skilled warrior Don Bau. Determined not to reveal her inexperience, Dalila starts training immediately. Favored by the gods, the god of war himself - known as Heru - grants her mastery of the bow and arrow, as well as the sword, helping her win Kazim’s trust. But Heru has plans for her in this war.

But when the camp is ambushed by Kashian soldiers, Dalila freezes in fear and even her new fighting skills can’t keep herself and the other soldiers – including Kazim - from being captured. The goddess of magic then comes to her aid, telling Dalila that she has her own combat magic that could save both her and the prince. If she manages to waken and master it.

Meanwhile, the country of Medea remains vulnerable without its prince. If Dalila doesn’t help the prince escape from the enemy camp soon, the invaders could destroy everything she loves. But in order to do so, she will have to learn to believe in herself and see her own worth, so that her magic may awaken.


First 250 Words:

When the night began, I had expected it to be full of old women, not foreign soldiers. After all, the war took place in the borderlands, which was at least a day’s travel from where we lived. And our prince and his elite warriors kept the enemy away from the mainland.

Caressing worn leather in my hands, I inhaled the humid jungle air and listened to the thump of our horse’s hooves. Wooden wagon wheels clattered against the sandy road.

The blazing heat dried my throat and soaked my lower back. The strong rosy fragrance of Nana’s overwhelming perfume made it impossible for me to know if I smelled as bad as I felt.

I gripped the reins, my hands slick with sweat. Shades of green, brown and beige blurred the edges of my vision as we rode past.

I thought the scene would make for a great painting and regretted not taking some papyrus, paint and brushes with me on this journey. Although I doubted Nana would have allowed me to take a break from the ride to paint the scenery.

The passage through the jungle was tight, and we were unable to see too far ahead. I kept looking around as though I was being watched, but it was just the drooping branches touching my shoulder. My horse Monifa was skittish, too, and it made guiding the wagon through the thick underbrush even more difficult.

10 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 like that this story is going to hinge on the character coming to like herself—such an important lesson—but I worry that the query focuses a little too much on the internal conflict. It really is hard to balance the internal conflict with the external conflict, but I feel like this query could use a bit more of the external in a tangible way. She runs away and takes her brother’s place, but is it really just because she doesn’t think she’s worthwhile and her brother is? I ask this because there’s a difference between trying to shield her brother’s family from the pain of his loss and volunteering for death because she isn’t worthwhile. Even so, I’m captivated by this story idea. I’m absolutely in love with a girl going off to war, but I worry about the motivation because I’ve met people who felt they were worth so little (*cough cough* myself *cough cough*) and sometimes taking action is WAY harder and makes me wonder at her other motivations. Like maybe this is the first step in her claiming her life from the void of worthless girl.

    I love that this is going to rely on her rescuing everyong (including herself!) because it’s my FAVORITE TROPE (literally magical girl rescues prince! SWOON). Having said that, I’m so worried about the wording of learning to believe in herself because it’s very overdone (but it’s overdone because it’s important). Now, I worry that I’ve muddled the water because I don’t like when the biggest thing to overcome is the inner conflict, and yet it’s very important. So, based on this, I would absolutely read pages after seeing this query.

    First 250:

    Wow, I love the first 250 and would absolutely read on. I would only nitpick a few things. In the last paragraph, there’s a lot of Was and Were. Try to take these out whenever possible, for instance “The passage through the jungle was tight” could be “Trees leaned in over the road, blocking our view and crowding the caravan. And “I kept looking around as though I was being watched” could be “I searched the trees for the eyes I felt on my skin, but the forest gave up none of her secrets” (or, you know, better and in your own words). Just a consideration, though, it’s really strong as is.

    If you have any questions, or want any clarification about my statements here, feel free to drop me a line.

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    Replies
    1. Thanks for your suggestions! You're right about it being hard to balance internal and external conflict and I'm glad you like the first page :)

      Delete
  2. Hi! Kathy from #TeamRarity just popping by to read the words. My comments are my opinions only. Take what helps and leave what doesn't. This is your show!

    Query:
    Seventeen-year-old Dalila has no friends of her own and is desperate to marry soon. (Why? Is there someone she has her eye on? Is it expected?) Her older brother Don is called off to fight in a war against foreign invaders. Because Don is a devoted husband and expectant father, Dalila feels like her brother has too much to lose and leave behind, (can tighten this first part of this sentence up...Don, as a devoted husband and expectant father, has too much to loose...OR go another way and...Dalila can't stand the thought of him leaving his wife and possibly never meeting his child?) while she sees herself as a girl of little worth. So, she disguises herself as her brother to go to war in his stead. (Because she wants to fight? Or die? No one would miss her? Or does part of her want to prove herself? Worth having friends, worth marrying?)

    General and Prince Kazim is excited to meet the skilled warrior Don Bau. (This is an odd statement...like Kazim's POV popping up out of nowhere. Is his POV in the ms?) (You can start this second para here>)Determined not to reveal her inexperience (To prove she can do it, to train as to not tarnish her brother's name?), Dalila starts training immediately. Favored by the gods (This is intriguing! Why do the gods favor her?), the god of war himself - known as Heru - grants her mastery of the bow and arrow, as well as the sword, helping her win Kazim’s trust (As she impresses him with her skill on their first day of training?). But Heru has plans for her in this war. (you say this and then NEVER SPEAK OF IT AGAIN WHAT ARE HIS PLANS I NEED TO KNOW! Or maybe this doesn't belong in the query? Is this part of the main story? Does this have to do with her final decision?)

    But when the camp is ambushed by Kashian (This is the enemy?) soldiers, Dalila freezes in fear and even her new fighting skills can’t keep herself and the other soldiers – including Kazim - from being captured. (Oh...that fear thing. Training can't prepare you for the actual fight...yeah.) The goddess of magic then comes to her aid (this is cool! Why does she come? WHY DO THE GODS KEEP HELPING HER?), telling Dalila that she has her own combat magic that could save both her and the prince. If she manages to waken and master it. (OH HER OWN MAGIC! SAVE EVERYONE DALILA!!!)

    Meanwhile, the country of Medea (AH! Where they live? Could name the country earlier.) remains vulnerable without its prince. If Dalila doesn’t help the prince escape from the enemy camp soon, the invaders could destroy everything she loves. (Uh oh...all that work keeping her brother out of danger could be for nothing.) But in order to do so, she will have to learn to believe in herself and see her own worth, so that her magic may awaken. (this is a little cliche...BUT I LOVE STORIES ABOUT BELIEVING IN YOURSELF! I so want her to see her worth. BELIEVE DALILA!)

    She goes off to fight as her brother...is she scared of being discovered? Is she discovered? (I keep thinking of Mulan) When she goes, what is she wanting out of the experience? Is she going to save her brother, but die? How much hope for herself, how much belief does she have in herself that she doesn't know about? If she has to believe in herself to tap into those hidden powers...I have to know she has some to begin with. The gods swooping in to help...this is convenient. WHY? What is it about her...does it have something to do with her secret powers? What is the connection? This can't be random helping from gods. I LOVE THAT SHE HAS ALL THIS TRAINING AND THEN FREEZES! She's not a fighter. She has the skills, just not the heart, perfect...she has to find her own way to fight...*cough*HER OWNMAGIC*cough* This sounds like a fun story! Fantasy rocks!

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    Replies
    1. Thanks for your suggestions! This should really help tighten my query :)

      Delete
  3. First 250 Words:

    When the night began, I had expected it to be full of old women, not foreign soldiers. (Cool opener!) After all, the war took place in the borderlands, which was at least a day’s travel from where we lived. And our prince and his elite warriors kept the enemy away from the mainland. (So she isn't scared at all?)

    Caressing worn leather in my hands, I inhaled the humid jungle air and listened to the thump of our horse’s hooves. Wooden wagon wheels clattered against the sandy road. (Good description! Set the scene. Where are they going? How is she feeling about where they are going? A hint as to what is to come?)

    The blazing heat dried my throat and soaked my lower back. The strong rosy fragrance of Nana’s overwhelming perfume made it impossible for me to know if I smelled as bad as I felt. (HAHA! Oh, Nana.)

    I gripped the reins, my hands slick with sweat. Shades of green, brown and beige blurred the edges of my vision as we rode (*past.<not needed)

    (*I thought)<not needed the scene would make for a great painting (Why? The colors? Textures?) and regretted not taking some papyrus, paint and brushes with me on this journey. Although I doubted Nana would have allowed me to take a break from the ride to paint the scenery. (Why? WHERE ARE THEY GOING? IS IT IMPORTANT?)

    The passage through the jungle was tight, and we were unable to see too far ahead. (Oh! I pictured the jungle off to the side, a bit far off.) I kept looking around as though I was being watched, but it was just the drooping branches touching my shoulder. (This sentence could be stronger, too many was's. Drooping branches touched my shoulders, making me shudder and jump as if scared they would attack...something) My horse Monifa was skittish (was skittish is too passive...give us actions, what is the horse doing?), too, and it made guiding the wagon through the thick underbrush even more difficult.
    I would love a bit more emotion about where they were going...Should we be nervous or scared or excited? You have a creepy set up with the jungle, WHICH I LOVE! So I want to a hint as to what is to come. Are you setting us up for bad news? A bit more internal, so we can begin to know the mc. She likes to paint...what else? How does she feel?
    Thanks for sharing your words!

    ReplyDelete
  4. Crit from Cari:

    Title: The Girl in Man's Armor
    Category and Genre: YA (High) Fantasy
    Word Count: 88.000

    Query:
    Seventeen-year-old Dalila has no friends of her own and is desperate to marry soon(why? Who is Dalila? Why does she want these things? Also, this statement doesn’t make sense when you go on to talk about her fighting in her brother’s place). Her older brother Don is called off to fight in a war against foreign invaders. Because Don is a devoted husband and expectant father, Dalila feels like her brother has too much to lose and leave behind, while she sees herself as a girl of little worth. So, she disguises herself as her brother to go to war in his stead. (Side note: I actually wrote a short story Mulan retelling. Love it!)

    General (of what army?) and Prince (of what nation?) Kazim is excited to meet the skilled warrior Don Bau. Determined not to reveal her inexperience, Dalila starts training immediately. Favored by the gods, the god of war himself - known as Heru - grants her mastery of the bow and arrow, as well as the sword, helping her win Kazim’s trust. But Heru has plans for her in this war. (Reads awkward. What about something like: Favored by the gods [because why?], the god of war grants Dalila mastery over the bow and sword. Her newfound power helps her win Kazim’s trust. [combine below with this paragraph]. But when the camp is ambushed, Dalila freezes, overcome by the horrors of real war [or whatever reason she froze].

    [new paragraph] When Dalila and Kazim’s army are captured, the goddess of magic takes pity on Dalila, and comes to her aid. Guiding her to discover the magic within, Dalila must accept and master her own power if she’s to save her prince before the invaders destroy everything and everyone she loves. [I think you can end the query here, and you don’t need all this extra. These are the stakes. Dalila must discover her own magic to save herself and those she cares about.]

    But when the camp is ambushed by Kashian soldiers, Dalila freezes in fear and even her new fighting skills can’t keep herself and the other soldiers – including Kazim - from being captured. The goddess of magic then comes to her aid, telling Dalila that she has her own combat magic that could save both her and the prince. If she manages to waken and master it.

    Meanwhile, the country of Medea remains vulnerable without its prince. If Dalila doesn’t help the prince escape from the enemy camp soon, the invaders could destroy everything she loves. But in order to do so, she will have to learn to believe in herself and see her own worth, so that her magic may awaken.


    ReplyDelete
  5. Crit from Cari:

    First 250 Words:

    When the night began, I had expected it to be full of old women, not foreign soldiers. After all, the war took place in the borderlands, which was at least a day’s travel from where we lived. And our prince and his elite warriors kept the enemy away from the mainland.

    Caressing worn leather in my hands, I inhaled the humid jungle air and listened to the thump of our horse’s hooves. Wooden wagon wheels clattered against the sandy road.

    The blazing heat dried my throat and soaked my lower back. The strong rosy fragrance of Nana’s overwhelming perfume (is she wearing the perfume, or is it lingering from a hug? Because she’s riding a horse, right? So make this clear) made it impossible for me to know if I smelled as bad as I felt. (love this)

    I gripped the reins, my hands slick with sweat. Shades of green, brown and beige blurred the edges of my vision as we rode past.

    I thought the scene would make for a great painting and regretted not taking some papyrus, paint and brushes with me on this journey. Although I doubted Nana would have allowed me to take a break from the ride to paint the scenery.

    The passage through the jungle was tight, and we were unable to see too far ahead (wait. Either the jungle is thick, or it has blurred edges when you ride past. You can’t have both). I kept looking around as though I was being watched, but it was just the drooping branches touching my shoulder. My horse Monifa was skittish, too, and it made guiding the wagon through the thick underbrush even more difficult.(So at this point, I’m not exactly clear on what’s happening. AT first I thought she was riding to war. But now I guess she’s fleeing with her family???? I’d clean this up a bit. Make it more obvious.

    Best of luck!)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks! They'rw actually riding to the city on a wagon for a game night. Guess I have to make thT clear earlier on :)

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