Thursday, August 26, 2010

12 Pitch Entry #50: Elizabeth Prats

Title: Tainted
Genre: YA Fantasy

Evvie Nyx is an abomination within her world, both Light and Dark elf.

She knew the rules; never let the village children see her, keep within the forest, and keep her secret or end up like her dead mother.

Everything changes when she ignores her father’s first rule.

Evvie saves a village boy from drowning and reveals herself to the outside world. Then taken under the wing of the village healing woman, she is able to live an almost normal life--until her sixteenth birthday, when a dark mage murders her friend.

After the fight, dark powers surface within Evvie and an unknown female voice fights for control of Evvie’s thoughts. When a confused Evvie learns that the man who raised her is not her father, she sets out to find the truth about her parentage and instead finds the dark mage and the chance to save another child. In her haste to rescue the child, Evvie stumbles upon a deadly secret about her heritage that she never thought possible.

12 comments:

  1. Evvie Nyx is an abomination within her world, both Light and Dark elf.

    She knew the rules; never let the village children see her, keep within the forest, and keep her secret (what secret? that she exists?) or end up like her dead mother.

    Everything changes when she ignores her father’s first rule. (Hmm. I think these first three paras could be combined and tightened for better impact.)

    Evvie saves a village boy from drowning and reveals herself to the outside world. Then taken under the wing of the village healing woman, she is able to live an almost normal life--until her sixteenth birthday, when a dark mage murders her friend. (Wait, so that early stuff happened a long time ago?)

    After the fight(what fight? for her friend?), dark powers surface within Evvie and an unknown female voice fights for control of Evvie’s thoughts. (well here's your hook. I'd get to it sooner.)

    When a confused Evvie learns that the man who raised her is not her father,(I thought the village healer took her under her wing or whatever? do you mean the 'elf' father with the rules?)

    she sets out to find the truth about her parentage and instead finds the dark mage and the chance to save another child. In her haste to rescue the child, Evvie stumbles upon a deadly secret about her heritage that she never thought possible (sounds cliche).

    A lot of good elements in here, but needs tightening to make it more compelling.

    Good luck!

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  2. Alright, I'm a big fantasy lover. And I'm a fool for anything involving dark elves. But I need more information here in some places and less in others.

    Evvie Nyx is an abomination within her world, both Light and Dark elf.

    How? Is she a literal hybrid, born of a Light elf and a Dark elf coupling? If so, how is that possible, considering that in most stories, Dark elves actually delight in eating their Light counterparts, or butchering them mercilessly? And in other renditions, Dark elves are Light elves who have devoted themselves to dark magic. They can't be both. So clarification on this matter is needed immediately, at least for me.

    I also found Evvie's name to be awkward. It seems almost mundane, if spelled oddly. And Nyx feels rather contrived. Perhaps that's a snap judgment, but it's my first response to her name, and in fantasy, such things are important.

    If Evvie knew she had to abide the listed rules or end up dead like her mother, why did the village healing healing woman take her under her wing instead of killing her? An entire village threw superstition out the window because she saved one boy? And how can someone described as an abomination lead an 'almost normal' life, even for a short time?

    I agree with Jess that the unknown female voice is your real hook and should be front and center. All the background information you can leave, well, in the background. Sum most of it up in one sentence if you can (not easy, I know).

    I'd be careful with the 'dark' descriptions too. Dark elf, dark mage, it starts to come across as 'Come to the Dark Side' before you know it. (I write fantasy too, so lots of these problems are things I've also encountered. I had an assassin wearing plate armor once and when asked why I wrote an assassin wearing something as cumbersome as plate armor, the only answer I had was 'In my head, it seemed cool'. The plate armor went.)

    Finally, I'd never say that Evvie thought anything about her past was impossible. Not that plainly anyway. If she's an abomination of conflicting heritage, nothing ought to really surprise her, even if on a very real mental/emotional level her first response is 'Impossible!'

    Despite everything I've picked at, I love the idea behind your story and I promise you that I'd snatch a book like this right off the shelf. Keep at it and good luck!

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  3. This is pretty intriguing so these are mainly nitpicks:

    Evvie Nyx is an abomination within her world, both Light and Dark elf. (SENTENCE STRUCTURE IMPLIES THE WORLD IS BOTH LIGHT AND DARK, WHEN I THINK YOU MEAN SHE IS)

    She knew the rules; never let the village children (ONLY THE CHILDREN? OR ALL HUMANS?) see her, keep within the forest, and keep her secret or end up like her dead mother (WHO IS THE DEATH SENTENCE ENFORCED BY? HUMANS OR ELVES?).

    Everything changes (CLICHE PHRASE) when she ignores her father’s first rule.

    Evvie saves a village boy from drowning and reveals herself to the outside world(ALL OF THEM? OR JUST TO A FEW PEOPLE?). Then taken under the wing of the village healing woman, she is able to live an almost normal life--until her sixteenth birthday, when a dark mage murders her friend (WHICH FRIEND? THE HEALING WOMAN?).

    After the fight, dark powers surface within Evvie and an unknown female voice fights for control of Evvie’s thoughts. (NOW I'M INTERESTED, THE STRENGTH OF YOUR STORY IS HERE) When a confused Evvie learns that the man who raised her is not her father, she sets out to find the truth about her parentage and instead finds the dark mage and the chance to save another child. In her haste to rescue the child, Evvie stumbles upon a deadly secret about her heritage that she never thought possible. (SHE'S SUPPOSEDLY AN ABOMINATION, SO SHE SHOULDN'T THINK ANYTHING ABOUT HER HERITAGE IS IMPOSSIBLE, IMO)

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  4. Evvie Nyx is an abomination within her world, both Light and Dark elf. (I did not understand this the first time I read it. I think I get it now: she's half Light Elf, half Dark? It's confusing.)

    She knew the rules; never let the village children see her, keep within the forest, and keep her secret or end up like her dead mother.

    Everything changes when she ignores her father’s first rule.

    Evvie saves a village boy from drowning and reveals herself to the outside world. Then taken under the wing of the village healing woman, she is able to live an almost normal life--until her sixteenth birthday, when a dark mage murders her friend. (I'm fine until she lives with the village people (ha!) until she's 16. Are they elves? Do they know she's an elf? If so, why did she have to hide from them before? Where is her father or whoever she lived with before?)

    After the fight, dark powers surface within Evvie and an unknown female voice fights for control of Evvie’s thoughts. When a confused Evvie learns that the man who raised her is not her father, she sets out to find the truth about her parentage and instead finds the dark mage and the chance to save another child. In her haste to rescue the child, Evvie stumbles upon a deadly secret about her heritage that she never thought possible. (I need to know more about what Evvie is and how this world works in order to understand this query. Also, reading this last paragraph, I get the feeling that she finds out the dark mage is actually her father. If that's the case, you need to reword this so I don't figure that out in the query.)

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  5. Evvie Nyx is an abomination within her world, both Light and Dark elf.(I stumbled over this sentence too.)

    She knew the rules; never let the village children see her, keep within the forest, and keep her secret or end up like her dead mother.

    Everything changes when she ignores her father’s first rule. (So the rules weren't of her race, but her father's rules? So he would kill her if she broke them like he did her mother? Like the reviewers before me, I think you could combine these three sentences and make it more succinct.)

    Evvie saves a village boy from drowning and reveals herself to the outside world. Then taken under the wing of the village healing woman, she is able to live an almost normal life--until her sixteenth birthday, when a dark mage murders her friend. (Which friend? The boy?)

    After the fight, dark powers surface within Evvie and an unknown female voice fights for control of Evvie’s thoughts. When a confused Evvie learns that the man who raised her is not her father, she sets out to find the truth about her parentage and instead finds the dark mage and the chance to save another child. In her haste to rescue the child, Evvie stumbles upon a deadly secret about her heritage that she never thought possible.

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  6. Wow so many suggestions thank you all very much! I'm sorry it took me awhile to post. First week back at college can be a bit hectic. :/ So far i think my main problem here is perhaps the way my world is set up? Evvie is basically discovered by village people when she saves the little boy, and only a select few know her secret, which I don't actually put in the query. Should I? At night she goes from being a blonde, pale skinned elf into a dark elf with white hair, and lavender skin. It's part of a curse by the gods..which she still hasn't learned the why of it in this book anyway.

    Also, the friend who is murdered is the little boy she saves. And no, the dark mage is not her father. Secondly, she still lives with the man who raised her and believes that he is her father. (she thinks she's half human) I just didn't want to make the query too detailed...did I just end up making it too confusing??

    Also, the human who raised her would not kill her. He keeps her hidden to protect her from light and dark elves. ---Neither would want a child of both the races. Light and Dark elves loath each other as one of you pointed out. I just don't want to give too much background and less plot. Is that what I'm doing...or??

    Also, I'm reworking the part in the story where the female voice enters her thoughts...I'm trying to make the voice a more prominent force. (Lots of advice at Write On Con).

    Thanks again...sorry for so many questions and explanations!

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  7. Evvie Nyx is an abomination within her world, both Light and Dark elf. She knew (her father's) rules; never let the village children see her, (stay) within the forest, and keep her secret or end up like her mother--dead. (put all this into one paragraph.)

    Everything changes when she ignores (the) first rule. Evvie saves a village boy from drowning and reveals herself to the outside world. (Could combine previous two sentences.) (What did the village do? Do they accept her now because she saved the boy? She broke the rules, but she does not die.) Taken under the wing of the village healing woman who (can see past -- accepts her for who she is -- protects her -- teaches her??) (What happened to her father? Where was she living before?), she glimpses what it would be like to live a normal life. (She even makes a friend.) But that is something she will never have, not after a dark mage murders her friend. (What friend? The healing woman? The boy she saved?)

    After the fight, (what fight? Fight when friend was killed?) dark powers surface within Evvie and an unknown female voice fights for control of (her) thoughts. (Disjointed thoughts between previous sentence and next sentence. Need some kind of connector.) She learns the man who raised her is not her father (from who? How? The black mage? Rumor?) (Scared and confused she sets out to discover her true heritage.) Instead she finds the dark mage and the chance to save another child. In her haste to rescue the child, Evvie stumbles upon a deadly secret about her heritage that she never thought possible. (I agree with Larissa, I'm guessing the dark mage is her father. If so, you need to be more subtle. I want to know how her being both a Light and Dark elf matters? How does that cause challenges? Is this something she has to overcome? I also want to know more about the voice in her head and the dark powers. I think you could tighten this to get these details in here and give us a better feel for who Evvie is and what her world is like. Even so, I am intrigued!)

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  8. Okaaaaay... so liking where this story is headed now that I better understand it! Summing up fantasy can be very difficult.

    Honestly, I might just start the pitch with something about Evvie's double day/night existence because that explains a lot of conflict fairly simply and is uber interesting. You could also indicate, possibly in the same sentence, that it's a curse, not a matter of being born of a father from one race and a mother from the other. I do think it's important that you somehow tell us that Evvie thinks she's half human and is living with a human man she thinks is her father. Knowing that, I know see where finding out that she ISN'T half human would be shocking.

    It seems as though Evvie faces more danger from true Light and Dark elves than she does from humans, so unless the villagers try to slaughter her or something, I'd down play avoiding anyone specifically, and play up avoiding EVERYONE in general. That seems to make more sense, considering her curse.

    I don't think it's important to know that the murdered friend is also the boy she saved. But I want to know why the village healing woman suddenly takes Evvie under her wing when her father has been raising and caring for her. Unless that's vital, I don't think we need to know it happens. Not in the pitch.

    I really want to know more now! Very exciting! Best of luck and hope to see you around! :D

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  9. Thanks guys!!

    A. Grey, yeah, the village people are obviously freaked out by dark elves (being pretty malicious) so at night she'll try to keep hidden...actually I think I need an example scene in my novel about what happens when they do see her at night. I mentioned it in passing but never actually showed a scene. Ah you're right--avoiding everyone is what she does I just put village children b/c she had a habit of watching them play. Village healing woman is a friend of the man who raised her and mother of the boy who well falls for her later.

    I'll figure out whether or not to include it...later I have a love triangle but no idea where it'd fit into the query! *sigh lol queries can be so fun, no? haha. Well thank you very much for your helpful suggestions!! :D

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  10. You've got some really interesting, intriguing plot elements here, but I started to get lost as I read along. Here's my breakdown:

    Evvie Nyx is an abomination within her world, both Light and Dark elf. [I'd cut the part after the comma. It's more intriguing without it.]

    She knew the rules; [colon instead of semi-colon] never let the village children see her, keep within the forest, and keep her secret or end up like her dead mother.

    Everything changes when she ignores her father’s first rule. [If your novel is written in present tense then I'm okay with the query being in present tense, though you need to keep it consistent. Otherwise, write it in past.]

    Evvie saves a village boy from drowning and reveals herself to the outside world. [I'd combine this sentence with the one above, keeping it all in this paragraph, something like : "But everything changes when Evvie breaks the first rule – saving a human boy from drowning and revealing herself to the outside world."] Then taken under the wing of the village healing woman, she is able to live an almost normal life--until her sixteenth birthday, when a dark mage murders her friend. [And you just totally lost me. Is she banished by her father? Can she not go home? And who is her friend that is killed? If he/she isn't important enough to be named, at least give us a hint, i.e. "her best friend" or "her only friend" to let us know how important this person is to Evvie. I think the ideas are right but you need to structure this sentence better so that it doesn't feel so completely out of left field.]

    After the fight [There's a fight? What fight?], dark powers surface within Evvie and an unknown female voice fights for control of Evvie’s thoughts. When a confused Evvie learns that the man who raised her is not her father, she sets out to find the truth about her parentage and instead finds the dark mage and the chance to save another child. In her haste to rescue the child, Evvie stumbles upon a deadly secret about her heritage that she never thought possible.

    [Ok. The first two and a half paragraphs made sense and grabbed me, but after that you begin introducing some non sequiter plot elements and I got kind of lost. I think Evvie's quest gets buried under these new elements, and I couldn't figure out what she was trying to do, who she was trying to save, and why any of it mattered to her. If you can get those elements cleaner, more streamlined, and tightened up the end, you might really have something here!!!!]

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  11. I agree with what everyone has said- very interesting! It is very hard with any sort of fantasy because there is some setting up in the query or everyone is saying "huh?" As in, what is a light and dark elf, and why is it important she is both? I struggle with this! LOL. I was hooked until the part where her friend, which in the earlier posts you say is "the child she saved" is murdered, and she is trying to figure out who it is. I would also become attached if he had a name. It's almost as if there is too much...? Evvie is doing a lot here, saving a boy, dealing with voices, figuring out who her father is, and fighting, and trying to live a normal life, and discovering a secret, which is great for a novel, but a ton in a query. My question would be...? What are the main points and what are the hooks that set you apart from other novels? What is Evvie's ultimate goal without telling us the end : ) Good luck, Elizabeth!!!

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  12. Thanks guys! I know there is a lot I need to sort through. I'm trying to take the most crucial plot points :/ Lol still working on that--hopefully my next draft will be better after taking into account all your advice! Thanks!

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