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    Adam Jarvis

    September 8, 2020 at 2:06 am

    Hey Nicole,

    Very nice, and I would definitely read this. You’ve captured well the epic feeling of the story and world, and there’s a great sense of the precipice the tribe is facing as the world changes around them. But, in some cases, there may be too much information. I have a few suggestions for streamlining things.

    For the first paragraph, you begin with a general statement that suggests a deep history – but that’s not what (I think) the story is about. The story is about the Vehrka people, and you can combine your epic history with the next line to capture the main civilization of the story, place, and the idea of repeated traditions.

    Then, I wondered about the idea of describing the winter refuge, as again, it doesn’t sound like this is what the story is really about. Perhaps remove that and stick to the main detail, which is what gets the plot of the story moving: the ice age is ending, and the hunting grounds are opening up (this might make the winter refuge irrelevant anyway).

    That would make the first paragraph look like this:

    For generations, the Vehrka people have journeyed the plains of Avalonia between the summer hunting grounds and the winter refuge, but the time of the eternal winter is coming to an end. The matriarch, a fierce warrior-chief, leads her tribe deeper into their summer hunting territory.

    For the second paragraph, you could start by introducing your two main characters and explain the mysterious discover that awaits them. I’d also think about dropping some of the details of the mosaic to keep things flowing, as it’s enough for us to know that the gems hold the knowledge without knowing how (and further intrigues us to read the book to find out how).

    That would make the second paragraph read like this:

    Twins Obayan and Adria will one day assume leadership of the Vehrka. In a mysterious cave, a gift from another time awaits the arrival of the twins. Set into the wall of the cave, a mosaic of gemstones reveals the secrets of the universe, a library of all the knowledge of the earth and the heavens.

    For the third paragraph, I think your opening two sentences are excellent (and also leave us some mystery as to which twin succumbs to evil desires). But the last two sentences I’m less sure about. They feel anticlimactic, or make things sound too easy. All she has to do is hide a gem? Not knowing your story, it’s hard for me to suggest things here, but I think there needs to be a stronger hook. You may consider not revealing the decision that Adria takes, but rather suggest that, before losing her brother, Adria must make a decision that breaks with the tradition of her tribe (or some other epic sounding dilemma). This leaves us wanting to read your story to find out what that decision is, and (as this is book one) whether or not Adria will succeed.


    On a different note, two books come to mind that are somewhat similar in scope or topic. Child of a Mad God (by R.A. Salvatore) has a cave of crystals from which a barbarian tribe draws its power, and the world building is awesome, but the book is otherwise awful and so probably only deserves a cursory read. People of the Wolf is the start of a series that did quite well, and tells the tale of the first people who came to North America during the ice age. It is the next on my to-read list, so I’ll have to tell you later if it’s any good.