The Wanderer

Hello! Kindly help me finalize my pitch. Constructive criticism is much appreciated.

Story description: Riva Phadnis has a great life with a loving family, perfect grades and a bright future. All that changes when she realizes that she is a Wanderer who can travel to another world in her dreams. A world where political power holds greater value than a person’s life. And when that person turns out to be her mother, she has no choice but to accept her destiny and go on a quest that involves a mysterious baritone Prince.

With a strict deadline that comes with dangerous repercussions if not met and wandering emotions that get in the way of that, our smart heroine has to figure out what holds more importance in her life. She needs to figure out which world she’d rather choose, one with her perfect life or one with a chance at love.

Story summary: (spoiler alert!) Riva Phadnis considers her life to be perfect with good grades, a wonderful family and a bright future. That is before she begins to travel to Lennum, another world in her dreams. Initially unable to believe the possibility of it, she is forced to come to terms with her situation when her dreams begin to affect her reality.

During one of her travels, she comes across Prince Nikomedes, a war hero and former Crown Prince of Kravengroth, on a quest to reclaim his position, after his step-brother takes the throne of his kingdom. After being belittled as a bastard child in front of his subjects, Nikomedes takes an oath to open the Gates of Heaven, a kingdom of gods (higher beings) in return for the throne and an apology.

Riva is unwilling to get involved in the ongoing power struggle, and the seemingly impossible task that Prince Nikomedes has undertaken, but she is given no choice in the matter when the past actions of her grandmother, Coarla Blint, end up affecting her mother. The only way Riva can save her mother’s life is by befriending and betraying Nikomedes and making sure he doesn’t complete his quest.

Riva embraces the powers that come with being a Wanderer as well the the additional ability she has as a spell caster. She uses a charm given by her grandmother to stay grounded at Lennum without coming back to Earth. But, since that requires her to be asleep for a long period of time without her spirit in her body, she is given a deadline of six months to save her mother before she herself dies.

Riva once again meets Niko and joins him on his quest. Although wary of her initially, he soon grows fond of her. Throughout the quest, they travel to different kingdoms of Lennum, befriend many people, fight various battles and demons to collect the relics required to open the gates of Heaven.

When they are almost done, Riva is reminded of her initial task as well as of her deadline. Saving her mother takes precedence and so, Riva betrays Nikomedes. She secures the relic of Kravengroth, ‘the healing stone’ from Prince Morrin, the step-brother of Niko and returns to Earth. After saving her mother and realizing she can no longer travel to Lennum, she realizes that she is in fact madly in love with Prince Nikomedes.

The horror and guilt of having betrayed the person she loves are traumatic for her and she becomes a watered-down version of her previously shining self. However, she continues to train on Earth to keep her abilities intact as they are the only reminders of her adventures on Lennum.

Five years later, a former friend from Lennum uses a different portal to travel to Earth and urges Riva to go back with him to help Prince Nikomedes who is dying. This time with nothing holding her back, she bids farewell to her life on Earth and chooses to save Nikomedes.

She finally succeeds in helping him reclaim his pride and the throne after a long struggle. She apologizes to Nikomedes for her betrayal and works to redeem herself. He eventually forgives her and together they begin the “Golden Period of Kravengroth.”

Intended audience: New Adult

Genre: Fantasy, Adventure, Romance

Story length: Currently about 20,000 words. Estimate it to be about 120,000 words.

Logline: Riva, a teenager with close to perfect life, finds herself embroiled in a political power struggle when she learns that she’s a Wanderer who can travel to another world in her dreams.

@nick

I was tagged…?

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Yes, um if it isn’t too much trouble, could you please help me out? I need to submit this within 5 days for the Awards but I don’t know if it’s fine. :see_no_evil::sob:

@TheTigerWriter @AmyMarieZ

Sorry for the tag! But, kindly help! TT

Hey, there :wave:

You didn’t ask for my help, but I stumbled across this and thought I met try my hand at critiquing.

What is a wanderer and what are the powers? Reading this, that point could use a bit of clarification. You say she has additional powers of a spell caster, but what are the powers of a wanderer? If you feel this is too clunky, you don’t have to elaborate, but for fresh eyes, a brief explanation would help.

Beyond that, I don’t see anything I’d change unless you wanted to condense any.

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Thank you so much! I really appreciate your help. :heart:
I will elaborate on what it means to be a Wanderer.

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Yeah, no problem :heart:

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Hello, I hope you won’t mind if I toss something in. Just noticed this forum (is it new?) and I’m not quite sure of the rules. Anyway, just jotting down some thoughts that occurred to me on the off chance they will be useful to you.

First off, Riva seems to start off as Ms. Perfect with a perfect life to fit, then progresses to having a choice of two goods rather than two evils. Perfect life or Mr. Right? (a “baritone Prince” - well, I guess that says it). A nice problem to have. As a premise goes, it’s … dare I say it … a tad dull?

Here’s the thing: story is all about the hero(ine) and how she develops. If I were an agent or editor, I’d like to know what Riva’s problem is and what her need is. Her need is another way of saying what her flaw is (or flaws) - the thing that she needs to get fixed to become a better person - who she really is. Then, I’d want a strong hint as to how her need gets satisfied (how she will change to fix her flaw). The need and how it gets resolved define her character arc.

Her problem - which could be related to her need or might turn out to be a red-herring - can be fixed or could become a disaster; that’s less important, but is often the catalyst that results in recognizing and satisfying her need.

In your pitch, once I get past the boring bit about her perfect life, I see a hint of the problem: she’s got this condition - inter-world traveling superpower - and it exposes her to a place where the rules are … the same as in our world? And there’s a mysterious handsome prince? Okay, as problems go, it might be a problem, but might just be a good time.

I don’t see any hint of her need, though. She seems like she’s pretty well set up. She’s probably good looking, too, though you didn’t say that in the pitch.

For example, given the romance angle, maybe her need is a simple one: she’s the girl with the good life, but inside she’s lonely, doesn’t have that soul-mate who makes life bright (the prince). Or it could be more complex, like she’s haughty or selfish or insensitive or … disloyal to friends.

In the last sentence of the pitch, you write “She needs to figure out …” but I think that isn’t a need, that’s a story problem. She’s faced with a choice: good. A choice between two goods: not so good. If it were a choice between a happy life and saving some poor cat or poor sap at terrible cost to herself, better. Choosing the heroic path could then turn out to resolve her need as well. And, since there’s a romantic element, she might unexpectedly win the gorgeous prince - but that’s a detail.

There are some small issues, like what the heck is a baritone Prince (a prince who sings baritone?)

Story summary: I assume this is the synopsis? Structurally, it is better - I can see what’s going on. But there’s a hint of either a structural problem in the synopsis or in the story itself, in this bit:

It’s given a very quick brush-stroke description, but I would guess that’s maybe 1/4 or 1/3 or the story? Generally, a synopsis should give weight to each part roughly in keeping with it’s size / importance in the novel. Does this truly reflect that the quest is only 5% of the story? Pretending to be an agent or editor, I would suspect that it means the quest longer, but actually not critical to the story, and might be flabby.

But wait - it isn’t even written yet, so there’s a very good chance to redeem the quest and adjust the synopsis accordingly!

By the way, I think the “MC betrays present or future romantic interest” is an interesting angle for being unusual and challenging - but that make it also more likely to be a compelling read if you can carry it off. It’s a really serious antihero flaw. The issue I see is not so much that this is a problematic angle, but that it sounds like it comes rather late in the story (“when they are almost done”) - perhaps too late to create a redemption arc for the MC. Redemption is one of the important hero needs.

Hope you find something among these comments of use to you.

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Thank you! I found this super helpful.
She does have a present romantic interest.

I need some assistance in parsing through this, so I’m going to take my best shot.

I think the first half of the description is all the preamble and set up to basically an isekai/portal fantasy to help a prince save another world? There doesn’t seem to be anything else to gather from that top half because it doesn’t outline the character’s needs or wants or what she’s going to try and change in herself, it’s mostly just background. You could start the description at the fourth paragraph, really, where the real story is.

This is a major issue. I have no idea how or why I am supposed to connect to this character as presented. Her life is great and she gets a bonus on top of it of travelling to a fantasy land. Typically in these set ups, the main character is a lovable loser who only has value in the other world but lacks it in this one, because portal fantasy is generally a metaphor around our desires to make our lives feel more meaningful. That and living out power fantasies. It uses the word fantasy very literally.

Your character is the opposite. This is fine if it sets up the issue that Riva is perfect in our world, but finds in this dream world she’s a total screw up, super weak, and largely useless, and she struggles with being bad at something when she’s otherwise been so good everywhere else. But that’s not what happens. She’s effectively the chosen one of this world too, so it’s very hard to connect with anything or understand what she is going to learn or how she is going to change.

Also, your plotline appears to suffer from some Sword Art Online tendencies, in which the main character is given a life-or-death situation on a timer and then goofs around for a while with side quests and no urgency. Imagine a Mission Impossible movie where they’re told a supervillain has gotten their hands on a nuclear weapon, and then they proceed to go execute a couple of unrelated missions on a different side of the Earth. You would really wonder how big a threat that nuke actually is or why you even got told of it. You simply can’t do that. You also can’t have a middle section that skips itself in a plot summary.

Currently, I suspect the reason the middle is glossed over is because usually that’s where the character faces trials specifically relevant to their character change problem, and where they are tested, fail, and learn for the conclusion. But since your character doesn’t have any flaws to learn or help her change, she doesn’t have anything to do. She can literally waste time until the ending.

Lastly, the ending puts a lot of pieces together that aren’t previously expressed. Once she fixes everything, why can’t she go back to Lennum? That wasn’t really established in the start as something she would have to face and it would’ve made for an interesting conflict point. Should she get to know anyone and make connections or should she try to make no friends so it’s easier for her to leave and never return? Why does she have to betray Nikomedes? Seems like he’s sort of doing some unrelated thing so I don’t see how his quest and her quest have any relation? Beyond that, for you to lock the door on returning and then just reopen it again later, randomly and without explanation, is a bit cheap. There’s no weight or impact to the character having to make a difficult choice (even if I don’t understand it) if the negative of that choice is then erased anyways so that they can get an absolute perfect ending.

Also, this isn’t New Adult, but is rather Teen Fiction or even Middle Grade in terms of the plotline and approach to difficult subject matter in its current iteration. Which is fine, both of those are fine audiences to write for, just make sure you know which audience you’re aiming for and aligning a story to their needs.

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Thank you! I realised there were a lot of problems with the plot too. It’s currently under a rewrite. I’ll definitely take your suggestions into account.