Friday, February 27, 2015

Entry #24: The Hunt for the Heavenly Horse

The Hunt for the Heavenly Horse
69,700 words
YA/Historical fiction
A nomadic boy named Tagan refuses to give up his horse after she’s taken by the Chinese army. He sets out to rescue her in an epic journey across the Silk Road. Tagan allows himself to be taken hostage by the army so he can find his horse, but the army is divided in half and his horse is sent on a separate route back to China. Tagan endures sandstorms, brutal uprisings and near starvation along the two year trek. He also survive the brutal mistreatment by the soldiers who treat him like a barbarian. Tagan’s skill with horses and his knowledge of the desert wins the grudging respect of the soldiers he saves. As the army reunites, Tagan wonders if he will see his beloved horse again.
104 B.C.E
Central Asia
            Tagan had imagined himself and his horse winning the game of Kok boru many times, but he never knew how hard it would be to steady himself on the bare back of a galloping horse while desperately trying to hold onto a goat carcass by one leg. He and Kutcha had practiced on the open grassland with Kutcha galloping in wide ovals and cutting quick turns while Tagan carried a sack weighted with sand. He had never considered how heavy the goat would be even though it had been gutted before the game began. The goat had also been skinned, making the carcass slick and hard to grasp. Tagan had never dreamed that his horse, Kutcha, would be spooked by the goat’s other three legs that jangled against her side. Tagan had hoped to hoist the goat onto his lap the way the older experienced riders did, but instead he gripped a slippery leg above the hoof as the rest of the carcass thumped against his horse. Kutcha mistook the prodding against her ribs as Tagan spurring her to run faster. Kutcha would have galloped harder anyway to keep ahead of the pack of riders on horseback coming up behind her. Even though Kutcha needed to stay ahead of the avalanche of mounted horses closing in around her Tagan was tipping to one side and was about to slide off of Kutcha’s back.
            Give up the goat and stay on your horse, Tagan told himself.


  1. Ah, a historical set in Asia. I'd love to pick this up form a shelf and read it some day.

  2. Pitch: I like the premise and novels about other culture seem to be rising in popularity. The "wait" in the last sentence makes your MC passive. If a different word more active word like "fights" or "struggles" fits your plot, I would suggest you change that.

    250: This is some good action here. Perhaps you could reword some sentences slightly to make it more active. (i.e. "He had never considered how heavy the goat would be even though it had been gutted before the game began." could be modified to: How could the goat be so heavy when it was gutted before the game began?) You give a good glimpse of Tagan's relationship with the horse and why he would struggle to get him back.

  3. Great premise! I agree with Melissa about making your language more active in the pitch as well. Like you say: After Tagan is taken hostage by the army, he begins planning the rescue his horse. I would say: Tagen is taken hostage by the army, and begins planning... I've also read it's iffy to have rhetorical questions in your pitch. The agent wants to know what happens you don't want to be vague and have them guess. Just my two cents! Good work!

  4. Pitch: Pitch sounds like a beautiful sweeping epic. I'd like to know the protagonist's age, why his horse is so important to him that he risks his life to save her, and what sets this novel apart from other Asian horse stories. Providing comp titles might help. Typo in first paragraph (5th sentence: survive-->survives).

    +1: It's difficult for me to get past the passive voice construct and so I'm losing connection to the action and character. IMO, rewriting with active verbs will make a world of difference. Otherwise, memorable action, interesting character, and distinct setting. Just needs some polish - and when it's polished, I want to read it because it seems like a gorgeous story.
    (#14 OSN)

  5. Hi there! I love your premise! I'm wondering in the first 250 why you're using past perfect? Is this a flashback? If not, I would try to change the tense to past simple and, as others mentioned, more active writing. it will help the reader feel more present and connected to the story. However, there are some amazing books that have the tone you're writing, see with others think. In any case, I think you have a winner here when it all gets sorted out! Good luck!


  6. Really great premise! And I love how you start with the competition, showing Tagan's world, his relationship with his horse and his character all at once. I would certainly keep reading.
    Good luck!!
    #10 The Land of Joy and Sorrow


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