Friday, November 29, 2013

(24) Fantasy: SPIRIT WEAVER

TITLE: Spirit Weaver
GENRE: Fantasy

After Gaern’s unexpected disappearance, Lora abandons her army post to search for him, becoming an enemy of the king and awakening the desperation of an oppressed people. Captive to a prophecy she doesn’t believe, if Lora refuses to face up to her failure to become a Spirit Weaver, she will have little chance of saving Gaern from his dark path.

Lora thrust her ski poles into the knee-deep snow, raising a mittened hand to shade her face from the glare of the sun. She stared past the wolverine ruff of her parka hood, down the slopes to the evergreen forests rolling out like a legion of the king’s Honor Guard.

Now that she was here, the fear turned her gut into clenching coils—like a snake consuming itself. The snake twisted at the thought of what she might find in the valley below, twisting tighter at what she almost certainly would not find.

She searched for the smoke-haze of Eloedir rising up through the crowns of the distant conifers, though she knew all signs of her village would be hidden beyond the valley’s bend. Her own frozen breath was the only sign of life now, drifting back past the unstrung wooden bow protruding above her right shoulder. Over the other shoulder gleamed the mottled bronze hilt of a curved saber, engraved with the swan of the king.

Lora adjusted her pack, stamping her feet in their bindings to warm her toes. She pushed off down the slope, finally letting her eyes settle on the place below where five years ago her father and brother had been slain. She let the place come to her, refusing to change course because of a memory, though that memory had changed the course of her life. She felt the presence of her kin like ghosts haunting her with one silent question: “After all this time in the army, what mark have you left on the world?”


  1. I don't read a lot of fantasy, but I might read this. You write cleanly and efficiently without losing mood, which is a difficult balance to achieve.

    My only thought that might be helpful is that you remove the fear/snake paragraph in its entirety - we get the sense of fear from the "only sign of life," the presence of weapons, the "frozen breath," and the fact that her father and brother were slain nearby.

    The snake thing feels like a darling.

  2. Huh. I thought I had already commented on this one. No matter.

    By paragraph 3 you tell us that the MC is afraid, but, unfortunately I just don't feel it. I wish some of the descriptions of the setting would reflect this fear so I didn't have to be told this is what she was feeling. I wish the details did double duty, I guess is what I'm saying.

    But otherwise it's tight and clean. Good luck!

  3. I just get this. Give me more. The beautiful and descriptive writing has me patiently waiting for more. Might just be me, but I could get lost in this prose while the story develops.

    I can't explain why, but the story already speaks to me without even having much from the MC. Good job and good luck!

  4. I like your descriptions and lyrical sentences. From this first page, I get a sense that the MC has a dark past that she's going to have to face at some point in the book.

    My one concern is that from your logline, I don't know who Gaern is. Who is Gaern and why does she care for him? I think it would help to have that relationship be clear in the pitch to make the stakes more compelling.

  5. Nice description of the land, I just thought it went on a little long, her stopping and staring and describing. I like the last paragraph best for this reason, she is finally getting on with her journey and on with the story.

  6. I think it's cool that you put your story in a snowy climate and have your MC skiing. It gives the story a different feel.

    I read fantasy a lot and really want to like this. My problem is, I didn't see a lot of action. She stops and thinks, then starts off again. It didn't grip me.

    The things she thought didn't make me feel with her because I don't know what's behind her fear. As she heads off, I get some indication of that because she brings up her father's and brother's deaths. The line about feeling their presence like ghosts seems fittingly creepy until I get to the question. It seems divorced from the fear she said she had and the deaths she revealed. After all that, the question before her is, What mark have you made all the time you've been in the army? To me, it doesn't seem to fit. It's like creating a sense that survival is at stake only to say that what's important is her legacy.

  7. I really enjoyed this. Not a genre that I've read much of (other than dabbling in Jordan and Eddings). The prose pulled me in and I want to read on to see what she will find when she reaches her village.

    I like the snakes metaphor, but the second mention was a bit clunky.

    Great job!

  8. Nice atmosphere and descriptions. I do agree that I wasn't quite feeling her fear yet—instead of the snakes, I would prefer a hint of what's upsetting her so. Also, I was a little thrown by the descriptions of what she was carrying on her shoulders—it knocked me out of her POV. But overall good, confident writing and I would read further. Good luck!

  9. This has some nice moments, but the big problem I have is that I'm just not feeling the fear. The second paragraph is really the only place that lets us know that Lora is afraid, and although the snake metaphor is interesting, when it comes down to it this is all telling, not showing. You have to make your readers feel the fear, rather than just telling them the character is afraid.

    Without the second paragraph, there's nothing that really shows Lora's fear, or suggests that there's an immediate threat of any kind. Phrases such as 'letting the place come to her' and 'feeling the presence of her kin' are nicely done, but they all feel very calm to me, not frightening.

    And I agree that the description of her weapons isn't quite right. We're experiencing this through Lora's eyes, and since she's wearing a parka with a ruff around the hood she can't be seeing her own weapons. You could certainly have her feeling the weight of them, and use that avenue to mention that she's carrying an unstrung wooden bow and a bronze saber, but the detail of the saber hilt bearing the king's swan emblem will have to come in later, when she's actually looking at the weapon herself.

    And one little thing about the logline, which someone else also mentioned--I think you do need to say who Gaern is, in just a couple of words--i.e. 'her lover' or 'her cousin' or whatever his relationship is to her.

    Although I confess that the story doesn't sound all that original to me--so many of the elements are seen very often in fantasy--I do think the writing here shows a lot of potential.

    Good luck!

  10. I thought your logline was a bit of a mess, and it was offputting not to know how to pronounce only the second word in it, sorry. I just couldn't follow it. You've tried to cram too much info in there, about what is clearly a quite complex story, and it ends up not really making sense. I totally know how hard loglines are though, so hopefully with the couple or so paras you can have in a query you'll have room to explain things more clearly.

    The first page, however, I liked quite a lot. Skiing down a mountain seems like a nicely unusual start in epic fantasy, and you really put me in her shoes - how nervous she is, alone and far from home out there in the cold.

    The final para lost me a bit, unfortunately. I didn't mind that you brought in her backstory by going past the place her family was killed, but the way it's done is too clunky and unsubtle for me. If you rewrote that last part so it's alittle less obvious, then I'd read on.

    Good luck!

  11. Although I was intrigued by various elements of the logline (the story of a solider who abandons her post has a lot of potential), I didn't get a clear sense of how they might fit together.

    The same with the entry itself. There's some lovely writing in here, great imagery and evocative language. But nothing really grabs me yet. The sense of forboding suggested by her discomfort was the one element that really drew me in, but then we don't get any real sense of why she feels this way or what it means.

    I'd suggest picking out some unique detail related to this character and starting with that. What makes her stand out against all the other fantasy characfters out there? Why should we want to follow her story?

    Best of luck with it!

  12. With the logline, I think we need more of an understanding for who Gaern is, what his relationship with Lora is, and what the stakes are if he does follow his dark path (which is a nice imagery but reads vague.)

    The writing is clean and I enjoy the way you bring the setting to life from the start. However, I felt like your character's motivation was overshadowed with the descriptions and backstory. Rather, I wanted more of a sense for what is driving this character from the start.

    I think if you slow down a bit to bring out the significance of her being there--giving more of a sense of who Lora is--that the reader will be able to experience these observations (and their importance/emotional impact) with her--as opposed to being 'told'.

    Good luck!

  13. I think the imagery and detail and wonderful, and this entry has just the right amount of fantasy "world" interwoven in the description. She is a woman who is both traumatized and capable of fighting.

    My suggestion is to trim a little of the backstory from the first 250 words. I like all the references to the king, but I am not sure I need to learn so many character names so quickly.

    Nancy Bilyeau