Saturday, December 26, 2015


Name: Vivian Jessup

Genre: High-Fantasy

Title: The Son of Aranor 

Pitch: War is waged on Aranor, Wilhelm II fights back. An unexpected death shakes Wilhelm’s family and in his sorrow he finds the furry to fight. War is coming. The Son of Aranor will rise victorious.

First 500: 

Queen Belleanna Fandir sat looking out her window. The sunlight streamed through the window, spring had come early this year and it was the perfect time for a royal birth. She pressed her hands to her swollen stomach; the baby kicked her hand. "Not long little one, not long..." Belleanna muttered. The door behind her swung open. She did not turn around.
"Milady, the king's condition has worsened...he may...have only a...a few days left," Bréharlfing said.
"Yes, Bree. I spoke with the healer earlier...If the king dies will you take your duties as Steward?" 
"Yes, milady, I will."
An hour later Belleanna Fandir sat at her husband's bedside. "Faranon? Dearest, what shall we name our child?" Belleanna asked.
​ ​
Queen, be" the king burst into a fit of coughing. A drop of blood dripped from the corner of his mouth and slid down his graying black beard, leaving a trail of scarlet. " wise my love. Care for our children; if the child is a son he-" the king coughed. More blood. "he will be named after my father, if a daughter name her after your mother...I do not have long, my love. Stay with me here for a moment longer." 
​          ​
Belleanna clasped her husband's hands in hers and laid them on Faranon's chest. His breathing slowed, and by midnight he was gone. Faranon VII the Great, king of Aranor, slayer of Dragons, Rider of the Winds, and Head of the Council of Faruin, died of wounds received in battle against the Drakelves. He died on the tenth day of Mer and had ruled Aranor for thirty years. 
On the tenth day of Arn, Belleanna was laying in bed, her daughters, Gloriana and Melhelenia sitting next to her. 
"Mumma," three-year-old Melhelenia asked, "is the baby going to come today? Will it be a girl like me? Will it have black hair like Papa did? What will you name it? Can I hold the baby?Will he look like Gloriana or me? Will the baby play with dolls?"
Belleanna laughed for the first time since her husband's death."I don't know, to be honest. Why don't you two go ask all of those questions to Babbi, she will know the answers." 
Gloriana and Melhelenia left the room holding hands.
 By six o'clock that evening Belleanna was in labour. She remembered the pain she had before but this time it was worse. Her insides seared. Her vision blurred. Then the world went black.
Belleanna awoke as soon as the child started crying. "Babbi, where is the child?" she asked half asleep. 
"Your son is right here milady. He's got good lungs! In all my years of taking care of the royal family's children this babe is the biggest, almost eight pounds.” 
Babbi laughed showing off her crooked yellowed teeth. Babbi was old, nearly seventy but she was still as lively as when Belleanna first met
​ ​


  1. Hi Vivian!

    This piece takes me right back to Middle Earth ;) I'm a sucker for good high fantasy and you definitely hit the sweet spot here. The names feel authentic, although "Melhelenia" is quite the mouthful.

    As for Bree, you give us no visual description, not even a pronoun, so we're left in the dark about whether it is a man or woman. Perhaps this was intentional, but it seems like an important character to be introduced so early and yet to have no information about other than that they will take duties as Steward when the king dies.

    I think Melhelenia asks just a bit too many questions. I think three or four would be sufficient to show that she is hyper-inquisitive.

    Also, you introduce quite a number of characters in the space of 500 words. I'm not sure exactly who we should focus on. The King's death takes up the most space, and yet there is also a birth going on, and the Steward, and Babbi, and the daughters... I understand that all these things are going on at once, but perhaps for the sake of the narrative it might be good to focus on fewer characters at a time, so that we have the breadth to really get to know them rather than being shuffled through them so quickly.

    Great job, I can't wait to see more of this story!

  2. Pitch: (Since these are used so much in contests, I offer my comments on them too!) I think you've got a good start here on balancing the personal and big-picture aspects of this story, which is a tricky thing in high fantasy. I'd suggest leaning even further to the personal side and use the big picture as backdrop; there are always a ton of YA fantasy mss, so you need to really emphasize what makes your story unique. I think you can drop the first sentence – the second gives the same info, but expands more on it – and use the words you gain to focus more on the death in his family and how it motivates him and/or the nature of the enemies he's facing. (Typo alert - you've got an extra "r" in "fury")

    First 500: I can tell you have a strong sense of all of these characters, where they’re at, and what their relationships are, and you do a good job of working hints of these dimensions into the story without "telling," but you jump from scene to scene so quickly here that it’s hard to absorb these details as a reader. You could easily introduce the same information in a single sustained scene – maybe the death of the king? Or – even better, I think – start with Babbi right after the birth of the baby? That would give you time to expand more on descriptive details (you have some great ones already - Babbi's crooked teeth, the drop of blood running down the king's face) and get deeper into some reactions (e.g. Belleanna’s lingering grief at the king’s death; her feelings about the birth (unalloyed excitement/pride? This is her third, so she knows what to expect of childbirth, but what are her hopes/expectations/fears for this baby?); her children’s excitement about the baby; Bree's feelings about the king's death and the idea of being steward) and let the characters interact a little more with each other at a stretch.

    Quick technical note: Watch out for ellipsis points in dialogue – it’s really easy to overuse them (speaking as someone who has to do a find-and-replace on these ALL THE TIME :P) I know they’re attractive because they let you render all the pauses in the dialogue as you hear it in your head, but on the page they get distracting. Break sentences instead where possible, or try using verbs (“gasped,” “stuttered,” etc.) to give us a sense of their delivery.

    Hope this is helpful!

    Amelinda (@metuiteme - #2)

  3. Hello Vivian!! Thanks for entering #YayYA!

    Before I critique your work, remember that all advice in writing is subjective, and you are welcome to take or leave my two cents. Whatever works best for your story! Also, I haven't read the previous critiques, so I apologize for redundancy.

    It looks like you've got a solid backstory going on here! That's awesome! Just a heads up, though: if Belleanna is not your main character, it may be better to start your book where you can introduce us readers to your true main character. Also, while these scene snippets are well written, they are short and too fast for the beginning of a story. You actually may be able to summarize some of them as backstory explained later in the story throughout the narrative and start right off with your main character.

    I think something I can tell right off the bat is that you know these characters and their world very well. I'd like to see a little more of the world around them, and their surroundings, which can help a reader establish what is unique about your story. Also, take advantage of the wide variety of descriptive verbs... instead of saying "Gloriana and Melhelenia left the room, holding hands," say, perhaps, "skipped out of the room," "hurried out of the room," "rushed out of the room."

    I hope this is helpful! Thanks again for entering and happy writing!


  4. Hi Vivian,

    I love a good epic fantasy! Your pitch seems to give away the ending – if we know the Son of Aranor will be victorious, where’s the conflict? From your pitch I assume that’s Wilhelm – if the Son is unknown and discovered over the course of the book, that would be a cool thing to highlight. You also say war is coming a couple different ways. I’d rework your pitch to focus on what’s different about Wilhelm and his struggle. The unexpected family death is a good personal touch but we still need more specifics. What happens if Wilhelm fails?

    In your first 500, you move from one short scene to another very quickly. You could give us a richer introduction to your world and characters to a longer, sustained scene with a single focus. Either the king’s death, or the child’s birth, would be good places to concentrate your opening.

    You have intriguing world-building hints like “the tenth day of Mer” and “the tenth day of Arn,” but with no context around them as to what they mean, they may get lost on the reader. What you might want to do is show what that means – on the tenth day of Mer they celebrate xyz, or feast on abc; any sort of detail that helps the reader understand why these dates are meaningful in your world.

    Hope this is helpful!
    Karen (#4)

  5. Hi Vivian!

    For the pitch: I think you should probably not focus so much on the war as the main character and the struggle he has with the loss of this dead relative.

    For the first five hundred: I can tell you know how you want the book to lay out and read and that we are in a classic fantasy world like Lord of the Rings or the Ranger's Apprentice books.
    However, you should probably start with the real main character and get to this later in a flash back or story because the queen isn't in your pitch but the hero isn't in your first five hundred words. Let the readers meet the main character as soon as possible and let them be in the main characters head so that we know them and what they are like and how they feel.
    There's also a lot of jumping around. Try to stick to one reall and straight real scene with not too many characters introduced at one time! Make us meet your cast later on so we don't have to keep track of so many names while trying to get to know the character the story focuses around!
    This does seem like something I'd read and the style reminds me of other writers and authors that I know and love! If you give us an exciting scene that draws into the book even more and give the readers a glimpse at the main character, this would be really cool!

    Hope this helps!
    -Bethany #5

  6. Thanks for all of your comments guys! I'm kind of new to this writing gig an figuring things out as I go. If I was able to show you the rest of the first chapter the main character would be clear and a few questions you had would be answered. Thanks for all of the positive feed back!

    P.S. Thanks for alerting me to the spelling mistake Angela!