Friday, November 29, 2013

(6) Epic/High Fantasy: DEMIGOD

TITLE: Demigod
GENRE: Epic/High Fantasy

Cora, a young midwife, flees her village to protect the newborn son of an ancient god from a cultist who intends to sacrifice the child in a ritual to summon his demon lord into the material realm. To reach safety, Cora must cross the Feral Wood, a landscape rife with vengeful forest spirits, nightmarish man-eating predators, and gods intent on destroying her.

The bees trembled with nervous energy as Cora placed a hand upon one of the sections of hollow log that hung from the eaves of her cottage. She hummed a soothing tune of beseeching, and the daughters of the hive responded with a welcoming buzz of wings. She touched her blade against the edge of the clay dish that covered one end of the wooden cylinder. As she did so, a wisp of green flowed through the center of the knife, a blessing from Elassa the Benevolent. With a small amount of pressure, Cora cracked the wax seal that held the dish in place. Humming in time with the vibration of a thousand pairs of tiny wings, she reached into the hive and gently worked a comb loose.

The children of Elassa’s Bend gathered around, raising scraps of bread from the loaf Cora had baked that morning, clambering to catch the first drips of honey. She held out the comb and smiled down at the eager faces.  “One at a time, my dears. There’s plenty of honey for everyone. Please move aside when you’ve gotten enough.”

The pieces of bread bumped against one another as the children reached out with thin, trembling arms, but not a drop of honey was spilled. They had learned not to let a morsel of food go to waste. Cora gazed down at their sunken cheeks and bony arms, and wished the lesson had not come at such a steep price.


  1. This is quite wonderful. I would continue to read.

    The only thing I might change is that I don't like the feel of her calling the children "my dears," unless she's a very old woman. It sounds precious and the presence of a passel of starving children doesn't lead to preciousness.

  2. I read an earlier version of this once before. I liked it then and I like it even more now. You've made some small but important changes. The tone is gentle but there is just enough tension to make me want to read more.

  3. I would absolutely read this. You had me at "daughters of the hive."

    But seriously, this brief introduction hooked me. It feels high fantasy but not pretentious (if that makes any sense). I already like Cora even though I know so little about her. The gentleness with which she treats the bees and the children just makes me love her.

    I liked this last time I saw it and I think it's even better now. Well done and best of luck!

  4. Very nice sense of place and voice. I do agree that the "dears" jumped out at me, but I would definitely read on. Love all the detail of the bees. Good stuff!

  5. I have had beehives before and all those children so close to a beehive without protective clothing gives me the willies. Is it because it is fantasy that there are no bees around stinging her or the children lol? Or is she supposed to be some kind of bee-whisperer?
    Other than that, it seems like a good setup.

  6. I had to read the logline a couple times to understand what you were saying - there's a LOT packed in that first sentence. I'm sure your longer pitches are a lot more concise, so I wouldn't worry about it.

    Sounds like an interesting adventure. The tone doesn't hook me in the 250 words, but it's definitely enough for me to want to read on. Sounds like a very cool world, and I want to learn more about it!

    Best of luck!

  7. You've left me wondering what lesson and why the children were part of the steep price. (Having read the short blurb, I'd guess this is after she's saved the newborn, and the god who wanted to kill him was reeking retribution on the people of the village, but that's a guess). I think this opening is interesting because it shows Cora has a special relationship with the bees and apparently with Elassa the Benevolent. A goddess? The bee queen? Probably not the latter if their village is called Elassa's Bend.

    For what it's worth, I liked the "my dears." A simple phrase, but I am now anchored in Cora's point of view about these poor starving children.

  8. I liked the 2nd half better than the first half. Once the children enter the scene, the scene is clear, there's emotion and automatic empathy created.

    The first half with the bees isn't as sharp. Basically, she touches the log and the bees tremble, and you've put the bees' reaction before her action, which also takes something away from the moment. Perhaps gives us a bit more description of the bees and the log, and put her action with the log before the bees' reactions. Maybe give us a sense of a horde of bees.

    I also wondered at daughters of the hive. Isn't a hive mostly filled with male drones? On the other hand, this is fantasy, so the bees, I suppose, can be any sex you want.

    ANd then you have both the bees and the children trembling, so maybe change one of them.

    Good luck!

  9. I liked this slower, gentler opening. The writing flows well. And the overall story sounds like it should be fairly tense.

    I did find the first half of the logline difficult to read though. There's a lot packed in there.

    Best of luck with it!

  10. This is very sweet. I love the detail about the bees, and I can really see the children holding out their bread.

    Though it may not be a problem if it quickly becomes clear as we read on, it did occur to me that-- based just on this excerpt--Cora could be anywhere from 13 to 93. Perhaps you could slip in some small detail about her to show that she's a young woman?

    Also, in the first sentence of the logline that many find unwieldy, you could delete 'into the material realm'--I think that's pretty much a given when you talk about summoning a demon.

    Most of the excerpt flows nicely, however, and Cora's gentleness is quite endearing.

    Good luck!

  11. This is very successful.

    It sets up a fantasy world through imagery and dialogue, and the MC is a sympathetic, nurturing woman.

    I wouldn't mind a little more menace because I know there will be a lot of conflict after reading the log line.
    The thinness of the children and what it implies comes just in time.

    But overall, the entry gives readers a clear picture of what kind of story this will be and the writer's voice.

    Nancy Bilyeau

  12. You have a great introduction to the tone of the character and the world. I think you could start with more insight to Cora’s POV though—as she’s calming the bees. You could bring out the necessity, the NEED she feels to get to that honey. To give a sense of urgency/necessity to her actions that doesn’t come through until the final paragraph. The imagery is beautiful, but I think you also want to focus just as much on the character.

    I think the premise sounds fantastic and your logline is very solid. Good luck!