Thursday, February 19, 2015

Entry #48: Andari

120,000 words
YA Fantasy


Magical sword-bearer Andari and her landwalking merman love Jaire of the South must intervene when the dragon king asks King Kyan of the North for a bride prize. A dragon attack on the Southern beaches is imminent. Should King Kyan ally with the dragons, the Southern forest folk and beach-settled children of merfolk will fall.

King Kyan accepts Jaire's offer to be an ambassador to the dragons in place of sending a bride, then tells Andari he'll aid the South if Andari becomes his own queen. Andari initially sees this as a marriage of expediency. King Kyan is smitten and desperate for his country's survival.

They soon learn that dragons attack land, sea, and underworld, upending even the ancestors. The only chance to break the dread alliance will be to take down the dragon king himself . . .
First page:

My last day among the Sangi stank of trouble. Even before the Acursa came for me.

At our beach bonfire celebration, two fresh dragon heads sat on stakes framed by torches just in from the night surf like totems against the darkness. The smaller dragon head, on the stake to the left, I’d killed myself with my sword Denara.

Dragons tried to take Agratica five hundred years ago. That time, the people united and held them off. Five swords of power helped hold the beaches. The dragons turned away to conquer and colonize a less well-defended land. Now dragons returned. Only two swords of power remained at the beach, and I didn't know how we'd survive.

The aromas of dinner and the night sea in the wind felt like a sultry caress. Colorful flames from the bonfires threw flickering lights on the faces of dancing merfolk who had turned tails to legs to come to the party and shadowy gray Sangi who’d come out from the Devlag woods to enjoy the food. At the edge of the nearby forest, tree spirits danced to the music of Sangi drums and mer pipes.

Jaire and I sat at the fringe of the festivities, backs to the cliffs. I shivered and leaned into him, grateful he was dry. He pulled me in for a salty kiss.

"No need to stress now," he said. "Enjoy the celebration. You've earned it."

“We need the other three swords,” I said.


  1. From your pitch I get the idea that there are a lot of thrills to be found in your book. That said, I think your 250 starts too quietly with a party on a beach and backstory. I'd rather you built your world while showing the reader something exciting, like how she hunted the dragon whose head is now on a spike. Good luck! Enjoyed the read.

  2. Hey Pitch Partner,
    It seems like this is going to be such a great rollercoaster of a book. I like that the lovers are already established. Trying to build that relationship in a Fantasy can be a tax on the word count.
    Pitch is well thought out. Only hiccup would be that the names are well thought out, but with so many unique names; it took a second read to keep the straight.
    I took a peak up at Jenny Chou's post, and now that she mentioned it; a good end of the dragon slaying intro to the evenings party would be awesome. Gives the character some girth. Doesn't have to be to much either. Enough to let us know that the dragon's heads were on the stake because of how awesome she was!
    I really like the dragon middle aged feel. Only one real concern: With the book being 120K and the names of people and places being unique, will the reader be able to keep everything straight knowing that this book most likely will be a pretty long/deep read?
    Cheers to you and your story! I hope you do great things!
    A fellow contestant and writing friend

  3. Pitch: It's hard to pack everything into 150 words, but I wonder if you might dole out the info in smaller batches. The first sentence is very thick with information. You might also consider leaving out some details (so hard, I know!) in order to more fully explain others. For example, I wasn't sure what the significance was of the dragon king asking for a bride prize (or what a bride prize was).

    First page: There are some great, vivid descriptions here, such as the dragon heads on stakes and the "salty kiss." Like the pitch, the exposition paragraph packs a lot of info into a tight space. Could you dole that out in a less exposition-y way? Maybe via the characters' conversation? You tell us the day "stank of trouble," but then show us a happy celebration. Was the trouble earlier in the day? Of course this might all be explained on page 2...

  4. I'd like to echo most of what Lesley said. It took me a couple of reads to understand your pitch, but once I got it it seemed really interesting. There was just a lot of info and a lot of interesting yet strange names. I'd recommend fleshing out a few points rather than glancing over many.

    I also love the imagery in the first page, but would have liked to see more characterization over the backstory. Still, you have me hooked, and that's the point! :)

  5. And I'd echo what Domenic said. Start small and get your readers to care for your characters before introducing high fantasy words and back story. I would've loved to see Andari cozying up to her merman/get a description of what Jaire looks like, how the two interact. You hook me right away with: "My last day among the Sangi stank of trouble." and I'm perfectly willing to wait and see what trouble is looming over your mc.
    Your world sounds fascinating, with great promise of adventure and romance!
    Good luck!!
    #44 The Land of Joy and Sorrow

  6. Your story sounds really interesting, and your world is definitely well built, but I think you're trying to put too much of it into the descriptions before we're invested.

    Worldbuilding is rough, but character building is more important. Your pitch reads more like a synopsis, which is an easy trap to fall into, but if you read a good slipcover description you'll see that at most the first fifty pages are revealed and those are the best equivalents to a pitch.

    As for your first 250, you definitely have a strong voice, but more than setting and backstory in YA I want a character to invest in before I get too far into the others. It's hard to care that two people are kissing when I don't know if I want them kissing or hate them kissing, or fear for them to not be kissing soon.

    Hope that helps!

  7. This sounds like an interesting and fast-paced fantasy with some romantic elements. Like others, I'm a bit confused by your pitch and wonder if you can focus in on the central plot and also focus on one POV. The first 250 are from Andari's POV, but the end of the query feels like it's from King Kyan's POV. Of course you can have multiple POVs in your story, but focusing in on one single one for your pitch will help clear it up. Good luck!


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