Tuesday, January 04, 2011

Face-Lift 856


Guess the Plot

The Lifewishers of Dragonfly Valley

1. The kids at Dragonfly Valley High have nothing to do but wish for a real life, away from this boring suburb with the queerest name imaginable. Then Mandy wakes up to find she's got a new life all right, complete with dragonfly wings. And her crush Mike is a hungry sparrow.

2. When Burt discovers that he can wish into existence new forms of life that are not easy to domesticate, his creations cause havoc and destruction in Dragonfly Valley. Banished, Burt must decide whether to help the very people who ostracized him.

3. For fifteen years Emily and Bob have struggled to bring their animated fantasy to the big screen. But when distributors turn them down, they're at wit's end, until a mysterious phone call has them plotting ways to make money. But is robbing banks, extortion and murder-for-hire really the best way to finance a kids' morality tale?

4. Pinkawink is happy in the saccharine-sweet magical realm of Dragonfly Valley. As chief of the Lifewishers – a caste of pixies who wish life into every creature – her life is idyllic. But when evil billionaire Gil Bates plunders the valley for his unicorn ranch, Pinkawink must lead the dangerous rescue and revenge mission. Can the Lifewishers cut the sweetness with a dash of…deathwish?

5. When Polly is diagnosed with a terminal illness, her mother seeks the only ones who can cure her, the legendary Lifewishers. But are these faeries as benign as they appear, or does the deal come with a hidden cost?

6. The Lisellan queen's life-wishing power lets her cause death as well as life, with a single word. Fearing this power, Princess Dalia and her fiance, a dragonfly rider, ride a millipede into exile to await the queen's death. But they encounter an army of lizard riders preparing to invade. Should they ride back on dung beetles to warn the queen?



Original Version

Ash is a dragonfly-rider knight, tasked with protecting both the Lisellan people and those they enslaved in the last war, the Bedun.

When a Bedun war criminal escapes from the Lisellan underground prison and disappears into Bedun territory, rumors spread that the Bedun are preparing for war, led by this unknown stranger. [If the Bedun are enslaved, aren't they being monitored by the Lisellans? Why would the Lisellans need to get their information from rumors? Shouldn't they have first-hand knowledge of war preparations?]

Because Ash's father was Bedun, and his mother was a Lisellan noble, and he's accepted by both cultures, the Lisellan queen decides to use him to make a gesture of goodwill by marrying Ash to her daughter, princess Dalia, along with a public promise of eventual freedom for the Bedun and unification of the two peoples. Dalia shares Ash's desire to unify the two peoples and end the conflict.

But this announcement doesn't pacify the Bedun. Conflict breaks out, and Ash volunteers to lead the effort to end the violence and forge peace, for he wants to keep his engagement with Dalia intact, prove his loyalty to the Lisellan, and protect the Bedun from the bloodbath and sorrow the last war created. [If the Bedun were subjected to a bloodbath in the last war, and they're now enslaved, what makes them think they can win this time? Do they have any weapons? Do they vastly outnumber the Lisellans?]

As conflict swells into war, and the fighting begins to go badly for the Lisellan, Ash is accused of treason. He's jailed, interrogated, tortured, and sentenced to be executed.

Dalia knows he's innocent and breaks him out of prison. [Apparently breaking out of Lisellan prisons is a piece of cake.] They decide to escape into exile until the queen should die, at which point they can return as rulers to bring peace to all. [I'm not sure you've made the queen look bad enough to justify this. She just offered freedom and unification, so Ash and Dalia flee to await her death?] But Dalia has another reason to leave--she's come to fear the queen's secretive power of "life-wishing" that the queen uses to manipulate everyone around her, even to kill with just a word.

They sneak out of the city with the traders, riding on the back of a millipede. [It's slower than a horse, but you don't have to put a millipede down if it breaks a leg.] When they pass the forest border they observe the ruthless Northern Lizard-rider army quietly massing for an invasion. [It takes a lot of discipline for an army to mass quietly.]

Ash realizes that with the Bedun and Lisellan armies at each other's throats, the only way to repel the invaders is for both armies to unite and work together, else everyone he knows will be killed or enslaved.

Lisellan general: Look, I know there's still some hard feelings from the bloodbath and the whole enslavement thing, but we need you to fight alongside us in repelling the lizard riders.

Bedun general: Alongside you?

Lisellan general: Well, not alongside, exactly. You guys charge ahead and we'll bring up the rear.]

But if he returns with this news, he may not be believed by either side. If they go to the Queen he may be executed, and Dalia fears what the queen may do to her too. But if they go to the Bedun--no one knows anything about the identity or character of the escaped prisoner that leads them, except that he hates the Lisellan enough to start a war.

But they have to try.

THE LIFEWISHERS OF DRAGONFLY VALLEY is a 100k word fantasy novel.

Thank you for your consideration,


Notes

Possibly it should be made clear whether the dragonflies, millipedes and lizards are huge, or the "people" are tiny.

This is way too much information for a query. Limit yourself to ten sentences in which you introduce your world, introduce your main character(s), describe their problem, and tell us how they plan to deal with it. This is a synopsis, and synopses are boring. You don't want to send something boring until it's actually requested.

Based on the title, the queen isn't the only one with life-wishing power. Is it hereditary, in which case Dalia should have it? Who has it?

If the queen's power allows her to manipulate and kill people with a word, winning a war should be easy. Send her to the front lines and let her work her magic.

27 comments:

arhooley said...

I haven't the slightest sense of any of these characters. It's all geopolitics, except more lifeless because I also have no idea what these Bedun and Lisellan are like either.

If you've created deep, passionate characters and intriguing societies, you didn't do them justice in this query.

Kelsey said...

I agree that the query has too much information, too much going on :)

Right now, I would focus on shortening and simplifying.

Phoenix said...

It takes a lot of discipline for an army to mass quietly.

Apparently armies are generally well-disciplined in fantasy. At least twice in the LOTR movies people looked over a fortress wall and were surprised to see an army of thousands camped out a few hundred feet below.

Author, this won't be important in your rewrite, but if the guy leading the Beduns was charged with war crimes in the last war rather than just being enslaved like a typical soldier, then it seems something more is known about him other than that he fomented a new war.

Still, as presented, since the Beduns refused the offer of peace, seems if the Lisellans win they'll re-enslave the Beduns.

But if things are going badly for the Lisellans, as the query indicates, then why would Dalia think the Lisellans would win and the queen would be around much longer anyway?

These are questions you'll want to answer in your synopsis. Not in your query.

The war and politics here are pretty standard stuff. Your hook will either need to be more engaging characters or a more engaging world. Either of those will need to come through loud and clear in your query. My bet is on the world aspect.

alaskaravenclaw said...

Show, don't tell.

This query reads like the newspaper articles of my childhood. (I'm not sure if the journalistic style was more wooden back then, or if I just found news stories boring because I didn't realize what was at stake.) The writer has chosen words that distance the reader from the action; there's no immediacy here.

To feel interested, we need to care about the characters and what's at stake. You're not showing us anything about the characters here.

Also, lifewishing sounds more like deathwishing.

Anonymous said...

What they said. The conflicts as described seem to call for serious weaponry, not millipedes & lizards. Which doesn't seem to work as a pair of opposing forces, anyway, because millipedes are food for lizards, very much smaller and painfully slow, and their defense is to curl up in a ball, so how can your army work when its steeds are all curled in balls and giant lizard things can dash around gobbling everybody up? Is this a middle grade book? If so, logical issues will not be as important as if it is intended for adults. But still, the fastest millipede in the world cannot outpace a lazy lizard. Happily, you can use auto replace to change them to cockroaches, a very big and speedy bug capable of stealth and flight.

Also, if I am going to make it through 100K words, you will need some witty and/or thought provoking prose and interesting/charming/scary/whatever-kind-of-awesomeness-they-have characters. Which I'm not getting a sense of because you focused on the details of the conflict. Giving a sense of the tone, the quality of your prose, and the charms of your characters is more important for the query.

alaskaravenclaw said...

Is this a middle grade book? If so, logical issues will not be as important as if it is intended for adults.

Hey. Watch your anonymous mouth.

vkw said...

Here's the problem with the query - no one cares about the problem, the main characters or how/why they are going to resolve the problem.

"Lifewishers" appears to be unique to this fantasy, yet the author has failed to tell us much about it or why it's important.

That needs to be addressed.

Small people riding on bugs (I think), is also suppose to be unique, but some minions are focusing on choosing a better bug - which indicates the plot isn't being focused on.

That needs to be addressed.

Again from the top - who are the main characters, why are they "special", (why should I, your reader care if they live or die), what do they want to resolve, why and how are they going to do it. (Why should I care if they are wiped out by lizards.)

All "unique" aspects of a fantasy should be emphasized to separate it from other fantasies.

Tell us about the setting.

Anonymous said...

-Author here-

Man, you guys are tough :P

Half seem to want more about the characters, others more about setting, and the rest want details about magic and bug-riding--meanwhile I'm supposed to be shortening the query.

This is after I stripped out two major subplots, ignored several very important plot developments--such as why the Bedun are dangerous now (they've managed to tame mantises as beasts of war, which can trump the Lisellan's dragonflies and can also kill lizards--didn't think it so important as to include it).

And only the inter-societal traders ride millipedes (as pack-carrying insects), no one else.

Revising this into something special is going to be quite a challenge.

I thought I'd read that when querying for fantasy we get a bit of a word-limit bump for world building, no? There's a lot going on in this world that simply can't be understood without the societal ground rules.

My sense on how to improve this query is to simplify the action portion so it sounds less like a synopsis, and focus on my protagonist and his challenges and arc.

Although, I seem to have taken you 3/4th of the way through the plot with this query. Maybe I should dial that back to just the first major plot development... should have thought of that before.

I think that would allow me to remove all the complicated geopolitical stuff.

Also, I hate when authors try to explain their book in comments as if that were defense :P But, yes, the people are as small as bugs, not the bugs are giant.

Not middle grade, these characters are not cute despite being small--adult fantasy.

And lifewishing has some serious costs associated with it such that the queen can't just win battles with it. And yes Dalia inherited the power but the Queen has not told her how to use it!

Dave F. said...

Gee, you tempted me into commenting.

I always read queries with an open mind. People write about subjects I don't and I am always interested in seeing what interests another writer.

But when I read this, I started out confused and sank deeper into confusion and chaos. Take your two opening sentence, two opening sentences, TWO!

Ash is a dragonfly-rider knight, tasked with protecting both the Lisellan people and those they enslaved in the last war, the Bedun.

When a Bedun war criminal escapes from the Lisellan underground prison and disappears into Bedun territory, rumors spread that the Bedun are preparing for war, led by this unknown stranger.


22 and 30 words, respectively, and they confused me. You say this isn't kid lit, but the first sentence sounds like kid lit.
Then you drop the prospective agent into a conspiracy worthy of Robert Ludlum's Bourne. ALl of a sudden, we have an arranged marriage and a recalcintrant rebellion and, and and, I'm so lost. When I read the next two paragraphs, I'm doing the "B" cheer. It's all babbling, bibbling, bubbling, bombastic babbling...

Sorry, that was a mean way for me to make my point. Step back from your story that you know so well and look at it from 30,000 or 100,000 feet with my eyes. Step back from the lichen and mushrooms and look back at the forest. Please.

a) There is too much of the wrong detail.
b) Is this a love story between Dalia and Ash? Think both sexual love and love of country. The love of your fellow man to have peace in the kingdom.
c) Do vast armies and wars settle this story? Or does some form of talking and diplomatic struggle end the story?
d) They are tiny people but not cute and adorable kiddie creations. What does that mean and how does that sell to adults? I mean, of all the small people I know, the Lilliputians were the most adult and still Gulliver is regarded as a kids book.

It seems to me that this:
"Ash and Dalia, participants of an arranged marriage to save the kingdom, must thwart a rebellion before the ugly queen begins wishing away the lives of her enemies."
might just be the story.

Phoenix said...

Man, you guys are tough

Sweetie, if you think WE're tough, wait till the form rejections start coming in from agents and editors. It's our job to be tough and help set your query up for success.

Deep breath. Everyone has complicated stories and everyone has to ditch a lot of the "good stuff" when it comes to the query.

Hmm. I've haunted a lot of query sites and I've never seen where anyone says the query gets an extra word pass for fantasy. The ms itself might by 20K words or so, but not the query. But I notice you didn't really use much of the word-bump you gave yourself here to world build anyway.

I'm also all for folk explaining themselves in the comments. It gives the author a way to focus and the commenters a way to help advise on what works and what doesn't. For example, I think it's enough that we know that the people of your world are pixie-sized (and "pixie" was my first thought when I was told the MC was a dragonfly-rider) and have tamed insects but we don't need to know the MCs ride out on a millipede or that only certain traders can have them. I doubt that would be detail that belongs in a synopsis even.

A few, well-chosen specifics of the world, the plot and the characters will be enough to give the needed flavor. The hard job is choosing which specifics to include. In your case (as with most fantasy), you'll want to provide details that don't require the reader to know all the intricacies of your society.

no-bull-steve said...

"Because Ash's father was Bedun, and his mother was a Lisellan noble, and he's accepted by both cultures, the Lisellan queen decides to use him to make a gesture of goodwill by marrying Ash to her daughter, princess Dalia, along with a public promise of eventual freedom for the Bedun and unification of the two peoples."

Ms Snark's rule was 10-word sentences. I don't agree that they should be that short, but your sentence (52 words) is longer than EE gives us for GTP descriptions!!!

What I like, complex world and it seems there's a lot of conflict that's heaped upon the characters. Good. Now just figure out ways to world build within your plot summary...often these can be done in "hooky" ways. You even allude to one in your explanation.

"Not all small creatures are cute. Lisellans ride millepedes, but they also enslave their neighbors. Their queen's life-wishing power lets her cause death as well as life, with a single word....."

GO!

chelsea said...

I think you could start the query with Ash's and Dalia's arrangement. That way we see you have two self-sacrificing characters who are passionate about saving their people. It also explains the Lisellan/Bedun conflict: if these two have to marry to make peace, the two groups are clearly at war.

I personally don't think Ash's imprisonment needs to be mentioned in the query, especially since Dalia breaks him out a sentence later. I think it's enough to know that Ash and Dalia "discover" the lizard-riding army.

Here are the big things I would leave in the query:

Lisellan dragonfly-rider Ash agrees to marry Bedun princess Dalia in order to bring peace to their warring peoples. Unfortunately, a Bedun war criminal seems hell-bent on leading his people in a revolution, and won't be satisfied until the Lisellans are overthrown completely. To make matters worse, Ash and Dalia discover a plot to take over both groups by a group of Lizard-riders, but neither the Lisellans nor the Bedun believes in the riders' threat. If Ash and Dalia can't convince their people to band together, they'll all be insect food.

It's not a real attempt at a query, just a parring down of the plot points, but I think you see what I'm getting at.

alaskaravenclaw said...

Author-of-the-query, I think what everyone is saying, in one form or another, is that they don't know what's going on and they're not sure why they should care.

Please read this query.

vkw said...

the author wrote "I thought I'd read that when querying for fantasy we get a bit of a word-limit bump for world building, no?"

YES! yes! YES! I agree.

Who do we write to get this done?

Until the rules do change, fantasy writers get the same word count as others.

I wasn't as confused as others about your query but here's the bad news . . . I read fantasy - a lot of fantasy, I read a variety of fantasy, I don't have a favorite author and I'll occassionally read historial fiction and I'll occassionally read something else and your query didn't interest me.

But you can make it better!

I rewrote my query at least 25 times. That helped. Also what helped me is reading short, short synopsis of other fantasy books. If Lord of the Rings can be summed up in four paragraphs, then your novel can be summed up in 300 words.

War is imminient unless the (main characters) accomplish this (xxxxx)

However, they must overcome (this) and (accomplish this) by doing (this).


vkw

Anonymous said...

(Author again)

Thank you for your input everyone! Any other comments, impressions, etc., keep 'em coming :)

@ Chelsea: That really hits home, excellent. Makes a ton of sense. Simple and communicates well. Will adopt that as a model, ty :)

It's clear I've fallen into the "synopsis tendency" with this query.

I usually think authors simply don't change their queries enough when they go to revise them, so I'll make sure my next one is a radical departure--hopefully in the right direction.

I hope you'll review my revision as well, over at Phoenix's, when I get it in :)

Anonymous said...

Did you decide on the age / genre first, and write it for that audience? If not, it might help to rethink your marketing scheme.

Yes, we automatically think pixies are for kids. This description seems fully compatible with marketing for middle grade readers. Are there any human size people in this? Maybe it would be best to hold off on the dragonfly knight info and let our first impressions be about the plot and complex characters, etc. The adult stuff. Then mention the dragon-fly riding, etc.

AA said...

I'd suggest using this as a framework to rewrite the query. You don't have to, of course. It will need more flow, and more detail. Mainly detail that makes us care about the characters and their struggle.

I'm not sure it's correct but this is what I got out of the query.


The Lisellan queen makes a gesture of goodwill by marrying Dragonfly-Rider knight Ash to her daughter, princess Dalia, with a promise of unification of the subjugated Bedun and priveleged Lisellans. Dalia shares Ash's desire to unify the two peoples and end their conflict.

But this doesn't pacify the Bedun, and war breaks out. Ash is accused of treason and sentenced to be executed.

Ash and Dalia decide to escape into exile, and sneak out of the city. As they pass the forest border they observe the ruthless Northern Lizard-Riding army massing for an invasion. The only way to repel the invaders is for both armies to unite and work together, but if they go to the queen Ash will be executed.

Their only choice is to go to the Bedun army which is run by a war criminal they know nothing about.

They have at least one important advantage. The queen has a secret power called "life-wishing" that she uses to manipulate everyone around her. She can even kill with just a word. As a descendant of the queen, Dalia has the power, too. But she doesn't know how to use it.

This is still not too interesting, but you can fix that. The idea is to get down to the basic plot and characters first, then build on that afterward.

If you're trying to cut down 100k words to 250 you're probably doomed. If you start over with the most basic plot and characters, and the most basic conflict or choice, then build UP, you'll do better.

Anonymous said...

(Author)

"Did you decide on the age / genre first, and write it for that audience?"

I'm writing what I would want to read. It is YA / adult. 13 year-olds couldn't sustain this plot.

Thematically there's no true love story, no sex. But there is death, murder, torture, betrayal, supernatural aspects, ...and a thing or two I'd rather keep secret for now ;)

The setting/size of people is integral to the plot, as is the insect riding.

I never use the world "pixie" in the book, nor any other indication that they would have any idea their size is not normal. There are no normal size people in the story, and it's not set in modern day.

How they became so small is backstory I never go into. But there is a reason. And it has to do with lifewishing itself.

The magic of lifewishing doesn't play a huge role until the very end. Except perhaps metaphorically through the main chars.

Becca C. said...

Is it THAT important (at least at this stage) that we know that the characters are pint-sized? Why not just mention the bugs they ride and kind of let us think that maybe the bugs are big, which wouldn't be that big a deal in the query. The characters' size would only really matter if there were human-sized people in the fantasy world, as well.

I dunno, to me it seems like if you didn't mention the size thing we wouldn't have that initial thought that the story is for kids.

Phoenix said...

I'll jump in one more time just to be a counterpoint to the commenters who thought this was kids' lit. It being for kids never crossed my mind while I was reading it. But then, I loved the Wolfriders series where magic-wielding elves ride wolves to battle and I never thought of that as being for kids either. When I said my first thought was your MC is a pixie, I certainly didn't mean the cute, dust-sprinkling kind.

Your audience is agents and editors who deal regularly with spec fic; I don't think they'll be confused by whether this is adult lit or kids'.

BuffySquirrel said...

If the Bedun are slaves, it seems likely they won't have territory. They'll live among their owners. This sounds more like an uprising or revolt than a war; the Bedun presumably want to be free again, and perhaps take back what was 'theirs'.

Or is there a remnant of free Bedun who still have their own bit?

The concept of a war criminal seems jarringly modern in and amongst all this pseudo-medieval stuff. What did they do? Pull the wings off the dragonflies?

The plot seems sound enough: Ash is chosen to unite the Lisellan and Bedun peoples through marriage to the Crown Princess because he shares both heredities. Before the marriage can take place, conflict between the Lisellans and their Bedun slaves turns to open warfare.

Fleeing for his life, Ash discovers that the neighbouring Lizard-riders intend to take advantage of the turmoil in Lisella to invade. Can he unite his peoples to face this common threat? Or will everything he's sworn to protect be destroyed?

Eh. Yeah, I know--I'm no Phoenix :).

BuffySquirrel said...

Btw, when I saw the title, I assumed this was for kids. If it's for adults, it needs an adult title.

Marissa Doyle said...

What BuffyS. said--the title gives it a distinctly kid-lit feel, IMO. I also agree with the suggestions to leave out the references to dragon-flies and lizards in the query--yes, they may be important to the plot, but are they so important that they should be among your 250 words?

Good luck with revisions, author.

Anonymous said...

(Author)

These Q's will be fun to answer ^_^

"If the Bedun are slaves, it seems likely they won't have territory. They'll live among their owners."
- The Bedun and Lisellan are descended from the same people group, and are a brother-sister society that came from a literal brother and sister (Bedu and Lisella). They split when the siblings chose favored parents, split up their living situation and built societies around them. The Lisellan are therefore matriarchal and the Bedun are patriarchal.

Ash's parents are a Bedun guy (now dead) and a Lisellan woman, making him a full citizen of both peoples. Dalia would hold the political power of the pairing.

The people groups live very close, but Bedun do not fly. They are more like herders, tending grasscutter-ants and aphids for food like we might raise cattle.

Lisellan live higher up and do things like weave clothing from spider silk which they then export, making them wealthier by comparison.

The slavery is more like reparations for the Bedun starting the last war and more of a default result of winning than an intended outcome. The Bedun regent is a woman the Lisellan have installed as a puppet ruler, but Bedun still have their own land and work the fields, etc. Just most of their army and male population is now held prisoner or subjugated to manual labor. And Lisellans patrol Bedun land by air.

"The concept of a war criminal seems jarringly modern"
- Agreed. Suggestions? I called him just a prisoner. I should mention the prisoner was tortured by the Lisellan and had an arm amputated. This ends up inflaming the Bedun.

"Or is there a remnant of free Bedun who still have their own bit?"
- There is a splinter group of Bedun living in the forest that have never given up the war, and includes the exiled Bedun king and his son. They have secret refuges in the ant colony also.

"The plot seems sound enough"
- Thanks! I'm glad :) Nothing worse than an illogical plot.

Of course, I'm hiding a lot of plot still, the ending is a mindf--- ^_~ And my antagonist features strongly in the story, in contrast to many works which show little or nothing of the enemy. I show both character arcs anyway.

"Btw, when I saw the title, I assumed this was for kids. If it's for adults, it needs an adult title."
- Noted. Is it that the phrase "Dragonfly Valley" sounds a bit "campy"?

"I also agree with the suggestions to leave out the references to dragon-flies... are they so important that they should be among your 250 words?"
- Maybe. I'll think on it. It does convey a different setting at least from the typical fantasy.

Anonymous said...

This reminds me so much of the Terry Gilliam problem, in which he makes films about kid subjects but the visuals are so creepy/graphic the movie gets an R rating and bombs at the box office because nobody goes to see it. Likewise, Neil Gaiman's STARDUST had this issue. It was a story children would have loved, but the book included a few sex scenes too graphic for kids, which caused confusion and cost him a potentially significant audience. Johnny Depp's LIBERTINE film likewise was a total bomb because of details in romantic scenes that grossed out a lot of people. And the Gerard Butler starring film about Grendel should have been a great kid story, but it never even opened in the USA because the director & producer thought it was funny to have key dialogue scenes show groups of men urinating together in an 'adult' way that few adults wanted to watch, especially in a fairy tale.

There is a whole genre of x-rated fairy tales that are clearly intended to have a pornographic conclusion from the get-go. You don't seem to have that.

What's problematic is creating something that would primarily appeal to an audience with one sort of sensibilities, and then tossing in minor elements that violate those sensibilities -- making the work unsuitable for the audience that would otherwise appreciate it most.

Joe G said...

I agree that a lot of elements about this make it sound like kid lit, although the plot is clearly not kid lit.

I like fantasy, but there is a certain type of fantasy that makes my eyes glaze over and drool start falling out of my mouth. It's the type of fantasy where Llewellyn, the young prince of the Marglews, and his beautiful half elf girlfriend Maryweather McBellDress, must venture into the forbidden hills of Fafnir to find the sword of Sir Kurwillian with their six companions and their furry sidekick, Peesalittlesometimes, if they wish to defeat the evil Queen Cackle and her hoard of UnicornMen.

This kinda sounds like that sort of fantasy to me. I mean, it's just not really my bag. My eyes started glazing when I realized they were little people who rode around on insects. It sort of undercuts the sexual intrigue, betrayal, death, etc. Some people do it really well but I kind of have to be intrigued by the initial concept or really trust the material to jump in.

I thought it was interesting that the queen was so deadly she could kill you with a word. Maybe you should start there and outline the conflict. Most readers are going to assume generic fantasy world from the names alone no matter how many cool details you give us, so focus on the plot and characters, as others have said.

BuffySquirrel said...

Hmm. So it's not so much that the Bedun are slaves as that they're subjugated.

I would just go with 'Bedun military leader'.