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Thread: [Closed] Looking to beta swap (finished epic fantasy novel, ~112k words)

  1. #1
    practical experience, FTW Evonus's Avatar
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    [Closed] Looking to beta swap (finished epic fantasy novel, ~112k words)

    EDIT: I've had a couple of beta readers since I first made this topic. Looking for another. My novel is epic fantasy, with a darker side to it. It's just over 112,000 words. I would prefer a beta with at least 100 posts.

    I'm willing to swap. I read primarily Fantasy and Sci-fi, so I can probably offer better advice for books in those genres, but I'm always down for a good story!

    Reply or PM me if interested!

    Query:


    "Dear Agent,

    Evarian spent his life hiding behind his sister, Venisha, but when he’s indicted for using telekinesis, not even she can save him. On his knees before Magnus, the pontiff and prime judge, Evarian begs for mercy, swearing that his use of the forbidden art was unwitting and that he would never do it again. Magnus scoffs at Evarian’s pleas and condemns him.

    Venisha liberates Evarian before his sentence can be carried out, but she pays for his freedom with her life. Clutching his sister’s corpse, Evarian swears that there will be no more crying or hiding; Magnus will to pay for what he’s done. But Magnus is an immortal sorcerer who commands an empire of zealots, and Evarian has no idea how to control his telekinetic abilities.

    Journeying the countryside, Evarian rescues other victims of Magnus’ perverted justice and offers them freedom from persecution if they’ll fight for him. As full-scale war erupts with Magnus, factions emerge with Evarian's militia--threatening to tear apart everything he has built. Thus, Evarian must unify his flock, through any means necessary, or face extinction by the fiend that murdered his sister.

    SHADOW OF DEATH is a 112,000 word epic-fantasy novel.

    Thank you for your consideration."

    Chapter 1:

    Evarian rubbed his fingers together as he ran, feeling the wetness between them. Blood—he had drawn blood. Lord Realm, save me. They won’t forgive this. Shouts followed him as he fled the training yard, tearing off his armor and extending his leathery wings behind him. Evarian leapt into the air towards Realm’s Cathedral, flapping his wings with all of his might. He didn’t look back; that would waste time, and he needed every second if he was going to escape. Please, Realm, don’t let them follow me.

    Dropping onto a third-floor balcony, Evarian folded his wings and ducked inside the doorway. He raced through the stone halls, past the stained-glass depictions of heroes. Their scornful eyes judged him as he ran like a coward. Evarian’s footfalls carried him up a catwalk, and he slipped into a storage closet, shutting and bolting the door behind him. A makeshift altar waited on the other side of the room, and he dropped to his knees before it, lighting the candle atop its surface.

    “Lord Realm, spare me,” Evarian prayed in hushed tones, tears running from his eyes. “I don’t want to die.”

    A misshapen shadow fluttered against the wall, cast by his guttering candle. Otherwise, his god was as silent as always. Evarian continued to pray until pounding thundered against the wooden door. They had found him. This closet had been his refuge since childhood—but not anymore.

    “We know you’re in there, you filthy parasite,” Clavius bellowed.

    “It was an accident,” Evarian said.

    “The only accident was letting you live this long.” The pounding on the door intensified. “I’m going to string you up by your guts for that other monster to see.”

    Evarian wiped his tears away and clenched his fists. His cloven fingers were still sticky with the blood he’d drawn when he’d slashed Clavius’ face. He didn’t regret it. Not after they’d called Venisha, his older sister, a whore.

    Venisha! Can she help me?
    Evarian hoped. Does she know what’s going on?

    “That demon-whore can’t save you this time,” Clavius said, as if in answer to his thoughts.

    “Don’t you dare call her that!” Evarian yelled.

    Laughter slithered through the wood. “You hear that, boys?” Clavius said. “That sounded like a threat. What’re you going to do about it, parasite?”

    Evarian gritted his teeth and inched toward the door, but another blow knocked it off its hinges, and three fully-armed human teenagers stormed into the chamber. The central human, Clavius, had four scratches up the right side of his face. Evarian wanted to hit him again, to rip the bastard’s face off for what he’d said about Venisha. However, bile rose in Evarian’s throat as the humans drew their weapons, and he shrank back—huddling in the farthest corner of the closet. Clavius’ thugs wielded a mace and axe respectively; they smashed Evarian’s little altar to pieces before cornering him.

    “You wasted your time, you yellow-eyed freak,” the mace-wielder said. “Realm doesn’t listen to demon-prayers.”

    Evarian shut his eyes. Realm, please, I’ve always been a loyal worshiper. Help me.

    Metal clattered to the ground. Evarian’s eyes shot open as the mace dropped in front of him. He reached for it, but a mailed-boot crashed down on his hand. A bone-shattering crunch filled the air, and agony swallowed his arm. The humans laughed at his screams. The other thug kicked at his face while Evarian struggled to liberate his broken claw. He shielded his head with his free arm until a strike below the ribs stole the wind from him. As he gasped and writhed, the two thugs dragged him up and held his arms.

    Clavius approached, grabbing a tuft of black fur on Evarian’s chest and pulling him close. “I’m going to enjoy this. I’ve always wanted to kill you. I just needed an excuse.” He drew his dagger slowly across Evarian’s cheek. “And now I have one.”

    As the blade drew closer to Evarian’s right eye he clamped his lids closed and called out for help. Clavius and the others had made plenty of noise while breaking down the door, and the cathedral was always crowded this time of day. Someone would hear him. They had to!

    Clavius laughed again, grabbing Evarian’s jaw and slashing his face a second time. “No one is going to save you, parasite. Your kind is the filth of the universe. No one cares what happens to you.”

    Clavius took his hand away and glared into Evarian’s eyes, daring him to try something. He did: opening the venom sack at the bottom of his throat, he coughed up a wad of poison. However, before he could spit it into Clavius’ eyes, the human punched him in the neck. Evarian gagged, and the corrosive ichor poured from his mouth and down his face, searing his flesh.

    “Nothing but a stupid animal,” Clavius laughed, drawing a third slash across Evarian’s cheek. “I know your tricks, parasite. My father was a demon hunter…” The mirth drained from his face. “And now I can finally avenge his death.”

    “Please, I didn’t kill him,” Evarian said. “It wasn’t my fault.”

    “All you demons are the same.” He cut Evarian’s cheek a fourth time. “Now, we’re even in flesh, but I still need to pay you back for the insult. Evarian, before Realm, I challenge you to a duel.”

    “I refuse,” Evarian said. “I don’t want to fight.”

    “It’s too late for that,” Clavius said. “You’ve already stepped out of line.”

    “Let me go,” Evarian yelled.

    “Sounds like acceptance to me,” one of the thugs said.

    “I heard it too,” the other said.

    “That’s two witnesses,” Clavius said. “Then it’s official.”

    Evarian’s heart pounded in his chest; he struggled against his captors, trying to stab or slash them with the spikes atop his head, but all he did was chafe his wrists. Clavius punched Evarian in the face, and the world swam with hues of red and black.

    “And after I’ve disposed of you and grown tired of that demon-whore’s weeping,” Clavius said, “I’ll do the same to her.”

    When the fuzziness subsided, Clavius’ dagger was against Evarian’s chest. Agony swarmed across his torso as the blade’s tip bore into him. He shut his eyes as fury and panic beat like opposing drums within him. He was going to die, and then they were going to kill Venisha. No, I won’t let them touch her. Sadistic bastards! The drums beat louder until his head felt ready to explode. Evarian cried out for Realm, but the pain transformed it into a wordless scream.

    His eyes snapped open as Clavius’ two thugs shot away from him, thrown against opposing walls by an invisible force. The pressure in Evarian’s head abated immediately, and he dropped to his knees, the world spinning around him. What in forsaken Oblivion? He put his hand to his chest; it was bloody, but the dagger was gone. He lifted his eyes as a scene transpired in slow-motion: Clavius hurtled past the threshold, over the catwalk, and through the balcony’s wooden barricade.

    Evarian sprang from his knees and lunged after Clavius, reaching for the human’s ankle; however, his claws raked uselessly against Clavius’ greave as the human plummeted out of reach. Evarian turned away and clamped his hands over his ears, but the bone-shattering crash of Clavius’ landing boomed past his fingers. Evarian cried out as tears burned his eyes. Clavius was dead, and somehow, he knew it was his fault. Was this Realm’s answer to my prayer? Guilt twisted his stomach into a knot, and he vomited.

    Before he could catch his breath, something hard smashed into his head, and his vision blurred. Through the haze, he saw Clavius’ two thugs looming over him, weapons held at the ready.

    “What did you do to him, you freak?!” one of them screamed, coming towards him. “What did you do?!”

    Evarian huddled against the railing. Fear welled within him, and he yelled, “stop”, but it came out much deeper than his voice, and the words echoed.

    The second thug, the mace wielder, tackled his companion. Relief flooded through Evarian, and he used the railing to pull himself to his feet. Before he could shuffle away, however, the mace-wielder howled like a wild animal and started bashing his friend’s head in. Evarian froze, staring in shocked horror at the lunacy transpiring before him. Realm, just make it stop.

    Evarian stood up, “Stop,” he said, but the madness continued. “Stop!” he yelled, his voice again carrying the odd echo.

    The mace-wielder halted for a moment, remaining as still as a statue, and then convulsions wracked his body. As the thrashing stopped, a vacant expression consumed the thug’s face. Beside him, the other human’s head had was so battered, he was no longer recognizable. Over the broken railing, Clavius’ corpse lay on the cathedral’s main floor, surrounded by a crowd. What have I done?

    Blue-robed figures, Realm’s priests, were ascending the steps towards Evarian.

    Tears filled his eyes. Venisha, where are you? “They wouldn’t leave me alone. They were going to kill me. I didn’t mean to… I didn’t want to.”

    Realm’s priests kept coming, and he ran back towards the closet, tears blurring his vision. He crashed into something hard and dropped to his knees.

    A man in a blue robe stood before him.

    “P-Please, you have to let me—” Evarian said.

    “You have done enough,” the man said.

    “You’re coming with us,” said a second cowled figure, clamping his hand on Evarian’s shoulder.

    “Don’t struggle. Everything will be alright,” a third said. “We’re taking you to see the Gatekeeper. He’ll help you.”

    “The G-Gatekeeper? No, please. He’ll—”

    Something hard slammed into the back of Evarian’s head, and everything faded.
    Last edited by Evonus; 11-13-2017 at 04:42 AM. Reason: Updated!

  2. #2
    practical experience, FTW Evonus's Avatar
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    Bump. I completed a couple of successful beta rounds. Looking for another! Reply or PM if interested.

  3. #3
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin
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    Hi Evonus!

    Just a couple of thoughts on the query. All of the reading and studying query-writing over the last two years reveals a few fairly hard and fast rules if we are to believe them. The query must be even better written and more succinct than the novel. It should be as short as it can possibly be and still convey a strong message, and have zero redundant words. It should also eliminate any words or phrases which illuminate a "given" or "clearly implied" thought or fact.

    I have taken the liberty of offering my thoughts on your query from above, hoping you won't mind some suggestions. Obviously, I offer but you are welcome to peruse or ignore at your whim. Here are my thoughts:

    Evarian spent his life hiding behind his sister, Venisha, but when he’s indicted for using telekinesis, not even she can save him. (eliminate one word by “even she cannot save him”) On his knees before Magnus, the pontiff and prime judge, (eliminate four words by changing to “Pontiff Magnus”) Evarian begs for mercy, swearing that his use of the forbidden art was unwitting and that he would (eliminate three words by changing to “to”) never do it again. Magnus scoffs at Evarian’s pleas (unnecessary as “Evarian’s pleas” are a given and redundant) and condemns him.

    Venisha liberates Evarian before his sentence can be carried out (eliminate four words by inserting “execution” which is a stronger word), but she pays for (eliminate three words by using “buying”) his freedom with her life. Clutching his sister’s corpse, Evarian swears that there will be no more crying or hiding (eliminate eight words by using “grows up”); Magnus will to pay for what he’s done. But Magnus is an immortal sorcerer who commands an empire of zealots, and Evarian has no idea how to control his telekinetic abilities.

    Journeying the countryside, Evarian rescues other victims of Magnus’ perverted justice and offers (eliminate one word by using “offering”) them freedom from persecution if they’ll fight for him. As full-scale war erupts with Magnus, -end sentence, new sentence- factions emerge with Evarian's militia-- (replace with comma) threatening to tear apart everything he has built. Thus, Evarian must unify his flock (replace ‘flock’, which implies peaceful sheep, with ‘troops’ or "fighters"), through any means necessary,(eliminate phrase as redundant and given) or face extinction by the fiend that (using “that” makes “murdered” the focus. The focus is actually “the fiend” so replace “that” with “who”) murdered his sister.


    NEW QUERY
    Evarian spent his life hiding behind his sister, Venisha, but when he’s indicted for using telekinesis, even she cannot save him. On his knees before Pontiff Magnus, Evarian begs for mercy, swearing his use of the forbidden art was unwitting and to never do it again. Magnus scoffs and condemns him.

    Venisha liberates Evarian before his execution, buying his freedom with her life. Clutching his sister’s corpse, Evarian grows up (matures?). There will be no more crying or hiding; Magnus will pay for what he’s done. But Magnus is an immortal sorcerer who commands an empire of zealots, and Evarian has no idea how to control his telekinetic abilities.

    Journeying the countryside, Evarian rescues other victims of Magnus’ perverted justice, offering them freedom from persecution if they’ll fight for him. A full-scale war erupts with Magnus. Factions emerge within Evarian's militia, threatening to tear apart everything he has built. Evarian must unify his troops or face extinction by the fiend who murdered his sister.

    Now at 163 words. Based on the guideline of 200 to 250 words for a good query length, you now have almost 90 words to play with in adding illuminating or clarifying detail.
    Again, offered with helpful intentions.
    mongo
    Last edited by mongo; 09-03-2017 at 06:16 PM.

  4. #4
    practical experience, FTW Evonus's Avatar
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    Bump, I'm still looking for a Beta!
    I'm looking for a Beta Reader (or swap) for my novel, Shadow of Death. Details here: http://absolutewrite.com/forums/show...el-112k-words)

    My published short story, The Watchmaker, can be found here: https://www.amazon.com/New-Realm-Vol.../dp/B00OTYYXYC

    https://www.fictionmagazines.com/sho...alm-vol-02-11/

  5. #5
    practical experience, FTW Antipode91's Avatar
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    Hey, Evonus, I'll be glad to swap with you Telekinesis is my all-time favorite power, and it's also really hard to write a main character with, given how over-powered it can be. So I'd be very interested in seeing how you work with it! I also like the consequences that you seem to use for the MC, which to me is very important in fiction.

    Before we swap--I don't write high fantasy. I write young adult fantasy adventure with elements of magical realism. So I'd like to just paste my query here, to see if it's something you'd like to read and critique. (And if so, I have very tough skin, and open to you completely destroying my novel paha. Anything to improve is wonderful).

    ---

    Avery Wells has no friends, no one to help him raise his little brother, and questionable morals. But he prefers it that way. That’s why his classmates are confused when the deity known as the Lonelight chooses Avery to partake in a sacred game. A magical game that threatens to kill him and his brother.

    Avery is determined to keep his brother alive, at any cost. He gains the trust of his teammates, fully knowing he may have to betray them. He aims to secretly ruin any alliances with other contending teams, so he can win the mysterious prize that may save his brother. And he hides information from the players after the Lonelight tells him the world will soon be obliterated. Avery changes when all the teams work together to defeat an all-powerful beast, opening his broken heart to the idea of friendship. That is until the Lonelight twists the game: the four teams must fight to the death, and the winning team, along with their home city, will survive to create the new world. Everyone else will perish.

    The Lonelight then gives Avery a dark power capable of destroying cities. Avery believes his victory in the game is assured with the new ability. He sets his eyes on Luminaire, a city of light that houses a competing team, and a boy he grew a unique connection with. Choosing between the destruction of his friends, or the death of his brother, Avery learns the painful way that it only takes one mistake to lose everything.

    LONELIGHT (97,000 words) is a young adult fantasy adventure with elements of magical realism. I’ve also included the first three chapters in the body of the email.
    Last edited by Antipode91; 11-12-2017 at 04:25 AM.

  6. #6
    practical experience, FTW Evonus's Avatar
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    Thank you, Antipode. I just messaged you back about a possible exchange.

    I'm closing this topic for now, as I'm currently full on betas.
    I'm looking for a Beta Reader (or swap) for my novel, Shadow of Death. Details here: http://absolutewrite.com/forums/show...el-112k-words)

    My published short story, The Watchmaker, can be found here: https://www.amazon.com/New-Realm-Vol.../dp/B00OTYYXYC

    https://www.fictionmagazines.com/sho...alm-vol-02-11/

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