The Wanderer From Duphia, Aspa - NA Sci-Fantasy

Title: The Wanderer From Duphia Aspa

Genre: Dark Sci-Fantasy, Thriller

Proposed Audience: Between YA (13-18) and NA (18-25).

Proposed Length: Around 50 - 60k.

Status: Outlining and First Draft

Summary

The story opens with WANDA standing in a deserted bar, surrounded by shattered glass, broken furniture and dead bodies. As agents come in and further investigate the area, she discovers a vial with left over residue. A deep feeling of dread is in her stomach. Later that same day, she is confronted by the DIRECTOR who dismisses her due to “recklessness and disregard of orders” when she went after DONOVAN FROST and brought a dangerous drug - the Vampire Dust - onto the scene.

Feeling empty and alone, Wanda walks throughout the city and stumbles upon a historical library. There, she befriends the librarian but walks into another case. As the two dive deeper, Wanda realises that the bar massacre and the murder are connected by the same person. She tries to contact the Director but she’s ignored and makes it her mission to solve it.

Towards the end of the middle part of the story, she finds out that the King of Tanza is working with Donovan. But not for the reasons she thought - instead of following along what he told Donovan, he plans to create something with ID chips Frost stole from the murdered victims. Wanda leads an armed group of people, along with the librarian, against the Royal Guards. The King is killed by her. At the end of the story, Wanda is given her job back but declines. She decides to travel throughout the world and figure herself out.

Major Plotlines/Arcs: When Wanda spies on the King and Donovan during their meeting, which was near the woods, she ended up getting a flashback of something similar that happened to her years prior. It makes her question her identity and the life that she lived for the last ten years, which greatly impacts her decision to leave - instead of return to her job as an agent - and explore the planet.

Notes:

  • WOC protagonist + diverse cast
  • This is the first novel in a series of seven
  • Some sociopolitical themes throughout the series
  • Recurring themes of death + finding one’s self
  • is set in a kingdom called Tanza, despite the title being called “The Wanderer From Duphia Aspa”

This is my first pitch and I would greatly appreciate any feedback, harsh or not. Tell me anything that needs improvement or if the summary doesn’t show crucial information that needs to be told. Thank you!

I think you need to narrow down the proposed audience to either YA or NA. A book written with a 13/14/15 year old in mind is going to be very different from a book written for a someone in their 20s.

The length seems short, but that’s only if you’re going by traditional publishing standards. Generally, SciFi and Fantasy are expected to veer toward higher word counts. And 50-60k sounds more like middle grade than a complete YA, NA, or Adult novel.

Your summary has a lot of intriguing bits! I was interested by Wanda discovering the connection between the massacre and the murder, and I wanted to know more about the king’s plan with the I.D. chips. And it sounds like you set up a plot twist with Donovan seeming to be the “Big Bad”, but then it really being the king? I also like the premise of fusing what sounds a bit like a detective thriller with a Fantasy world. That sounds really cool.

In order to make your pitch stronger, I think it needs to be a lot clearer. You never mentioned if Wanda was some kind of detective or agent, which made the opening paragraph a bit confusing. We also don’t really know why she was dismissed, because the explanation regarding Donovan isn’t familiar to us. Who is Donovan Frost? Why wasn’t she supposed to go after him? What “scene” did Wanda bring the dangerous drug to, and why did she do it?

Why does she make it her mission to solve the crime she learns about in the library? I think there’s an overall sense of missing stakes for Wanda. What is at stake for her in the story as she attempts to solve these crimes?

The last paragraph is a little too vague. We should know what the king’s plan is and why it’s so bad. And how does Wanda come into power with all these people to lead them against the Royal Guard? What did the vial mentioned in the first paragraph have to do with anything? When she kills the king, is she hailed as a hero or vilified?

I don’t think you can fit full explanations of all of these questions into a 500 word summary, but if you answer them and then try to boil them down to the most succinct explanations possible, I think it’ll feel less like there are gaps in the plot.

In addition to some murky plot points, your summary contains some unnecessary phrases and details that don’t advance your explanation of the overall plot. For example, I’d consider cutting:

I agree with the audience thing; during the time I had started planning the novel, my character’s age would change from fifteen to late teens and to her early twenties. So, I wasn’t necessarily sure which audience it would be best for but throughout this upcoming weekend, I’m going to be figuring that out. As for length, I might boost it up to 100k; I researched what you said and you’re right, 50-60k is more middle grade than the audience my book is intended for.

It’s great that you found some interesting bits inside of the summary. I was a bit worried about that and how it all turned out, in general. And I did set Donovan up to be that - in the beginning of planning, he was my decoy antagonist. I wanted people to have their attention aimed solely on him, not realizing that there’s someone moving these chess pieces and that Donovan was really a pawn.

In my next draft, I’ll make sure to be more clearer about that and I’ll take your advice about boiling down my explanations to fit the 500 word summary count. And I’ll cut the phrases you suggested - thank you so much!

When you say this, I get modern-day/ sci-fi vibes, but the existence of kings goes back to fantasy. It was a little jarring to understand because there’s no given setting in this summary that can reconcile how this world functions.

I’m not fully certain what the plot of this story is. There are some interesting components and elements and things happen but to what end?

What is the main character after? Are they after anything at all other than to just generally do their job? Mostly seems they stumble into a couple of murder scenes and then a wrap up.

Why does she reject her job by the end? Why does it matter to her? This reminds me of a sort of cop procedural in which there is a cop and they’re called upon to solve a crime. Yes, things happen but that’s not interesting, it’s just someone doing their job. And while their job involves solving crime, if the crime isn’t remarkable and the solver has no larger motivation, then what’s the investment I should be making?

4 Likes

You’re right. At the time when I was creating this, I hadn’t really thought about it like that. Looking back at the idea, I think there’s some things that needs to be scrapped, because I want to tell this story but at the same time, I want my readers to be invested in it and to feel like they made the right choice to invest in it. So I’m going to think about the plot some more before redoing my pitch. Thank you for replying, Nick!

I’m happy that you got those vibes! But I’ll make sure to reveal the setting more in the next, so that it won’t be as jarring as it was in this summary.

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Title: The Wanderer From Duphia Aspa

Genre: Fantasy

Sub-genre: Sci-fantasy, Mystery/Thriller/ Dark Fantasy

Proposed Audience: Between YA (13 - 18) and NA (18 - 25)

Proposed Length: 90K

Status: First Draft

Logline: In a booming tech city of the kingdom Tanza, a young detective discovers that she has powers. But when it leads her to new clues, and different suspects, she is thrown into something bigger than anticipated… and it could cost her more than her life.

Summary

Chelmsnia Harbor - an important port city for the kingdom of Tanza - was a famous landmark and far more advanced than any city in the kingdom. Along with its ever-growing fame, its most well-known bar, The Lexicon, would gather tourists from all over. But when a murder took place there, a death toll bordering one hundred, it attracts an ex-agent of the Bureau of Magical Control (the kingdom’s main law enforcement agency) turned detective: Wanda Rathmore.

After being granted permission to enter the crime scene, she begins to explore the area. But only an hour in, a hoard of dark wispy figures appear and begin to harvest the souls of all who perished within the building, leaving Rathmore in shock of what she had seen. It wasn’t until the agents of the Bureau appeared that she slipped back into reality and decided to leave… until she spotted a half-empty vial behind a booth, stuffing it in her pocket and made her way out.

She travels to Eyridge to visit the Historical Library, thinking that she would find answers but ends up walking in on a vampire feasting upon a citizen. Her first decision was to grab whatever sharp object that was nearby and kill him. With nothing nearby, she was at his mercy. Bracing for whatever happened next, she was shocked that he just wiped his mouth and introduced himself as HORACE GRIMM before asking what she wanted. After introducing herself and explain what she wanted, he directed her to an aisle on Tanzan mythology.

Weeks after the incident, the pair grew closer to where she showed him the vial that she kept, believing that he could be trusted (although to an extent). He identified it as Vampire’s Dust, a drug that elevates a vampire’s more cannibalistic side. He reasoned that the killer was already dead, but said that there was an organisation known for this: The Rogues.

The two ended up splitting up to investigate: with Horace tracking down the Rogues and Wanda following trails of Shadow creatures appearances to its leader, DONOVAN FROST. With its closest appearance being near the Hart Palace, Wanda decided to sneak into the palace by posing as a Princess who was being scheduled to appear. Her cover was almost blown, but was able to make it inside without being found out.

The King invited her to the conversation and introduced her to Donvoan and his son, who also accompanied him. Because the Princess was royalty, the King proposed a plan - with assistance of Donovan and his group - to gather the ID chips of freshly deceased citizens to strengthen their power and rank. She declined, which angered him and ordered Donovan to kill her. Wanda managed to slip the drug to him, making Donovan spiral out of control and killed majority of those in the palace, although she managed to escape with the Prince. The King died, making him the new ruler and his successor, but during the coronation, he exiled her as punishment.

Major Plotlines/Arcs: The developing platonic relationship between Horace and Wanda, which allows him to open up to more people and explore more relationships after her exile.

The scene in which Wanda sees the Shadow creatures, a living embodiment of Death. It’s a power that only people of Lumorian descent (a race with god-like powers that came to Canus and landed on an island - which eventually was named Tanzanite - and will be explored throughout the series) have and those of such lineage are rare, only showing in royal families. The discovery of said power was only a small piece of her uncovering a life she has no memory of having and why she can’t remember it.

And finally, the change of the Prince’s behavior, where he was a quiet and weak-willed man hidden from the public by his father and forced to keep secrecy of his existence to one of bold confidence, which happens after he hears his father’s plans and assists in his death, but punishes Wanda for her reckless behavior that cost the life of those inside of the palace prior to Donovan turning to dust.

Notes:

  • It still has a WOC as a protagonist and a diverse cast
  • First novel in a series (The Wanderlust Chronicles)
  • Set in a kingdom called Tanza, despite the title
  • Recurring themes of death (and the fear of being taken away too soon and being aware that death is all around you) + finding one’s self
  • Will explore the growth of the Prince and Horace in more depth
  • The overall plan of gaining more power ends up being something smaller in a more complex plan crafted by someone close to each governing head of the kingdoms. Although it resulted in his death, and therefore couldn’t have been uncovered in that moment, it will be hinted at and fully explored throughout the series.
  • Also, as I read back, I realized that I never explained how Wanda was exiled. Although she caused those deaths, no one would have realized that it was really her and it could’ve been pushed towards the direction of framing the Princess she disguised herself as. To make the ending more sense, her mask could’ve suffered a shortage during the altercation between her and Donovan.