Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Entry 1 ashleydmaker

Title: Under the Trees

Genre: YA Historical Fantasy Romance

Contact: ashleydmaker@yahoo.com

Short pitch: Desperate to escape an abusive arranged marriage, Princess Araya flees her father’s kingdom only to find herself at the mercy of Prince Thoredmund, the neighboring kingdom’s crown prince. After deciding to help Araya by hiding her in a forest near the castle, Thor has to cover their tracks with secrecy and lies. It isn’t long before the two royals start falling for each other, but their tentative new love is put on the line when Araya’s father and her betrothed show up, accusing Thor of kidnapping and demanding the return of their princess.

Second line of first paragraph of 1st chapter: Despite my burning muscles and the sweat rolling into my eyes, I could not let my horse slow down as we cleared fallen logs and ducked under branches.

First 250 words of second chapter: The hunting party intended to leave in the afternoon. After stopping and hearing requests and complaints in the villages along the way, we planned to set up camp under the yellow trees of the Golden Woods. Ten of my best men, all part of my signet guard, were to accompany me, in case we ran into trouble. Father feared we might.

“It has been too long since Darrell has pulled one of his stunts,” he said. “Expect trouble and be prepared. No harm can come from that.”

“My men are always prepared,” I replied. “They’re trained to anticipate such things as you say.”

I turned away to finish tying off my bag of supplies.

“Thor--” Father grasped my upper arm. “If you come across them, don’t underestimate them. Be careful. I fear Darrell is up to something. I don’t want to give him reason to cross the line.”

His words sobered me, but they were not unexpected. The feud between King Cyric, my father, and King Darrell of Rowlst was well known and had only worsened since the engagement between my sister and Darrell’s son had fallen apart. They fought over resources: the Golden Woods. The great woods were the most significant source of lumber for either kingdom, and the best game always came out of it. Darrell’s men frequently crossed the boundary from his side to ours, meaning we had to constantly patrol, making sure no one pushed the line.

Still, I gave him my promise before we set off.


  1. Hello Ashleydmaker! Congrats on making into the contest!

    Pitch comments:

    So my first reaction on reading the pitch was 'where's the fantasy?' Since you have it listed as part of the genre, I think you need to have at least a hint of what makes this fantasy (magic, dragons, curses etc) because otherwise it just sounds like it needs to be plain YA romance or historical.

    Overall, this pitch tells me a lot about the story, but it doesn't tell me why this story is way cooler, more intriguing, and better than any other YA fantasy historical romance. It just sort of lists things that happen, almost like a mini synopsis. Pitches are HARD (I'm sure mine is not perfect, and folks will tell me how it can be better) and I've found that it's better to try and boil the flesh off the story until you get to the bones.

    What makes the betrothed 'abusive'? What makes the Prince different from other princes? What makes the Princess different from other princesses? Look for what makes your story YOURS and put that into the pitch, because what makes your story unique is what makes it special and the pitch is all about hooking us with how awesome and special your particular story is.

    Second Line Comments:

    I really like your second line. Obviously we're in action here and I want to know what we're running from, where we're running to and who the 'I' am is in the story (I'm assuming the Princess)

    250 of the Second Chapter Comments:

    I'm thinking that this story flips POVs from Princess to Prince by chapter, if so I think this is well done.

    In the first paragraph, I'd change it from 'intended' and 'we planned' to 'The hunting party left' and 'we did'. Less 'this is what's supposed to happen' and more 'this is how it went'. I'm not very good at articulating sometimes, but the way it's written now seems very passive and tentative. Also, I'd cut the 'Father thought we might.' because it makes the Prince sound like a child, when you've already established that he's riding out with his own men.

    Golden Wood(s) sounds clunky to me. In my experience in the fantasy genre, you can describe the forest simply as the 'wood' and people will still know it's a forest.

    In the last paragraph I'd change the sentence 'They fought over resources: the Golden Woods' to something like 'They fought over the resources of the Golden Wood, for it was the largest source of wood to be had, and provided numerous game animals for hunting' You can add the facts together and it will roll better. As is, it interrupts the flow.

    Overall, you're off to a good start on things and it's an interesting story. I'd read on off the second sentence of the first paragraph for sure. Good luck and happy writing! :)

  2. Ditto for making it into the contest.

    When I read your pitch I was expecting more fantasy. To me your pitch did not meld with your sentence or your 250. I think it is difficult to change pov throughout your work, I've struggled with this problem as well. I agree with Artemis about the woods. The woods must be crucial for you to bring it up. I am somewhat confused as to how many kings there are in your story. You mention Princess Araya's father, Prince Thoredmund, and King Darrell, so I'm confused about who is who.

    I also agree with Artemis that if you roll facts together it does read better. One more thing, I find that if you can read through a sentence and can take out words and he sentence still reads the same way and gives the same meaning, it is better to use less. (tight writing) I have this problem too.

    Otherwise I think it is interesting and would read more before deciding if I were going to finish it or put it down. Good Job!

  3. Congrats from me, as well!
    Let me start with: your story really excites me. It sounds very active and full of adventure when reading the actual passages. However, I don't get that same urgent feeling when reading the pitch. My suggestions/questions regarding the pitch:
    Is there more at stake in the story than Princess Araya being found? If so, I would make sure that's part of the pitch.
    How is Princess Araya at the mercy of Prince Thor. That was not clear to me. How did she find herself with Prince Thor? Did he kidnap her? Is there more conflict you can show us here?

    2nd Line: Very active! That's where I immediately saw that your story has more action than your pitch. Liked it!

    250 words: I think you should write more in the active than passive tense. Rather than intending and planning to do things, show us doing them. Also, I am confused who Darrell is in terms of the pitch. Of course, I am only reading 250 words, so that may become clearer if I read more.

    I would love to read this story. I would just look at tightening things up a bit and make your pitch explode with the adventure I see if your writing.

    Good luck!