9. Son of a Pitch: Shadow of a Soul

9. Son of a Pitch: Shadow of a Soul

Title: Shadow of a Soul

Age and genre: YA Urban fantasy

Word Count: 65,000

Query:

Vetis was a young demon who ate good intentions, but the incident that got him booted from the demon realm stemmed from a curiosity about the chaotic humans on whose energy he fed. After breaking the rules by befriending a human girl-child, he finds himself bound to the Earth, trapped in a body that was never meant to be more than fancy packaging to hide the demon within.

Fast forward ten years, and the boy who calls himself ‘Wes’ has adapted pretty well to human life. He has survived in the foster care system that bounced him around, and even learned how to speak as a human after only three or so years of speech therapy. He is scraping by and keeping his demonic nature at bay, even with his mental clarity being muddled by the sixteen year-old boy brain housed in his noggin.

Then fate slaps Wes with a trifecta of rotten luck. He accidentally turns his only friend into a life-eating minion, reconnects with the little girl who started it all as a child, only to discover that now she is a powerful demon hunter who seeks to destroy him, and is contacted by his former demon master. And then there’s the matter of ‘the prophecy.’ It’s a damn clichéd notion, but all of Legion seems confident that Wes is destined to consume the world’s soul energy, leaving it clean for a new age of demons to walk the Earth. Wes doesn’t believe or want any of it, but as his hunger awakens he begins to doubt his ability to not annihilate the place he’s come to think of as home.

First 250 words:

Vetis was baptized in blood. His body, which served as a tether to walk the Earth, was born of a jackal, but his essence was pulled from Legion. His human form looked like a beautiful little boy, with dark blue eyes, rosy cheeks, and a head of thick, straight hair the color of wheat. The formula for his physical appearance had been stolen from the angels. Some demons had frightening bodies, with many heads, forked tongues, or dragon wings. They were meant to inspire terror. On the other hand, a necessity to earn the occasional trust and favor of humans meant that Vetis demons should be pleasing in appearance.

He drifted along the wall of a supermarket now, nothing more than a phantom. His oily black presence would be indistinguishable from the shadows to passersby, but he didn’t need for people to see him. Still, he would try to materialize. He

was only six years old, and not very powerful, so filling out his human form and giving it substance was difficult. Bael, who ruled the Vetis arm of Legion, had instructed him to practice.

Concentrating all of his will, he pushed his essence out as far as it would go, like a balloon slowly expanding. His boy form, transparent at first, began to solidify until the humans who looked would see the boy body standing in the store, leaning against a cereal display. A woman walking by pushing a shopping cart glanced at him and did a double take, shivered and picked up her pace. Most living things could sense the darkness beneath his human skin and instinctively knew to fear him.

 

14 thoughts on “9. Son of a Pitch: Shadow of a Soul

  1. What fun. I started reading this last night but my brain tapped out after a day full of words.

    With your query – it’s a good start and hits all he right notes. The aspect I think you should take a closer look at is all the long sentences. It flows and flows and… you get it. Although it’s flowing with good stuff (really good stuff), dam it up every once in a while and throw in a shorter sentence.
    Here are my thoughts:
    The young demon Vetis fed on good intentions.(I’m not sure this is the intended message – but I was looking for something that was to the point… and the next line is packed with info. Do all demons feed on good intentions? Are you suggesting he did the right thing?) But when he breaks the rules and befriends a human girl-child, he is booted from the demon realm. Vetis finds himself bound to the Earth, trapped in a body that was never meant to be more than fancy packaging to hide the demon within. (this…this!)
    Fast forward ten years, and the boy who calls himself ‘Wes’ has adapted to human life. He survived in a foster care system that bounced him around, and even learned how to speak as a human after only three years of speech therapy. He scrapes by, keeping his demonic nature at bay. But his mental clarity is muddled by the sixteen year-old boy brain housed in his noggin. 🙂
    Then fate slaps Wes with a trifecta of rotten luck. (I love trifectas;) He accidentally turns his only friend into a life-eating minion, reconnects with the little girl who started it (define it) all as a child, only to discover that now she is a powerful demon hunter who seeks to destroy him, and is contacted by his former demon master. And then there’s ‘the prophecy.’ It’s a damn clichéd notion, but all of Legion seems confident that Wes is destined to consume the world’s soul energy, leaving it clean for a new age of demons to walk the Earth. Wes doesn’t believe or want any part of it, but as his hunger awakens he begins to doubt his ability to not annihilate the place he’s come to think of as home.

    First 250
    Okay, here’s the kicker. I tore right through your first 250. And I would have kept reading, but there’s a distance with what’s going on because the start tells us background info. (kind of like Prologue material – it’s important and we need to know, but wes doesn’t materialize for the reader at first) I’m not opposed to this and like I said… I would have kept right on reading because the clever voice. 🙂 When I start reading at HE, I was still pulled in. Consider using the intro info at a later time – as slowly revealed backstory.

    and I did find a few places – very few places – to trim a word or two.

    He drifted along the wall of a supermarket now, nothing more than a phantom. His oily black presence would be indistinguishable from the shadows to passersby, but he didn’t need for people to see him. Still, he would try to materialize. At only six years old, he was not very powerful and filling out his human form was difficult. (But) Bael, who ruled the Vetis arm of Legion, had instructed him to practice.
    Concentrating all of his will, he pushed his essence out as far as it would go, like a balloon slowly expanding. His boy form, transparent at first, (began to – needed? Del?) solidify until the humans who looked would see the boy body standing in the store, leaning against a cereal display. A woman pushing a shopping cart glanced at him. She did a double take, shivered, and picked up her pace. Most living things sensed the darkness beneath his human skin and instinctively knew to fear him.

    Best of luck!

    1. Thanks so much for your input! I really love the suggestions. The first 250 words are actually from the prologue, and one thing I’m working on as a writer in general is how to drop little nuggets of expository info throughout instead of barfing it up all at once.

  2. First of all, you have me completely hooked, and I rarely have any interest whatsoever in demon fantasy novels.

    Query: Tighten first paragraph. Vetis was a young demon who ate good intentions, until his curiosity about the chaotic humans on whose energy he fed led him to break the rules by befriending a human girl-child. Booted from the demon realm, he’s bound to Earth, trapped in a body that was never meant to be more than fancy packaging to hide the demon within.

    Paragraph 2: clarify.

    He accidentally turns his only friend into a life-eating minion, reconnects with the little girl who started it all as a child-only to discover that now she is a powerful demon hunter who seeks to destroy him- and is contacted by his former demon master [hint at WHY this is rotten luck…if it’s because this is the first time he’s heard of the prophecy, then say that].

    250: clarify:

    He didn’t need for people to see him, but would try to materialize anyhow. He was only six years old and not very powerful, so filling out his human form and giving it substance was difficult, and Bael, who ruled the Vetis arm of Legion, had instructed him to practice.

    I think that’s it, from my point of view. Thank you for your entry!

    1. I’m reading through this, and my tightening ideas aren’t very tight 🙂 Lol. That’s what happens when I’m tired, and don’t give myself the opportunity to sit on something and peruse it later. But hopefully you caught my drift…

  3. Thanks for the suggestions!! I updated my Query:

    Vetis was a young demon who ate good intentions, until he was booted from the demon realm. Curious about the chaotic humans on whose energy he feeds, he breaks the rules by befriending a human girl-child. He ends up bound to the Earth in a human body that was never meant to be more than fancy packaging to conceal the demon within.

    Fast forward ten years, and the boy who calls himself ‘Wes’ has adapted pretty well to human life. He has survived in the foster care system that bounced him around, and even learned how to speak as a human after only three or so years of speech therapy. He scrapes by, keeping his demonic nature at bay, although his mental clarity is muddled by the sixteen year-old boy brain housed in his noggin.

    Then fate slaps Wes with a trifecta of rotten luck. He accidentally turns his only friend into a life-eating minion. Then he reconnects with the little girl who kick-started his sentence as a child. Only now, she is a powerful demon hunter who seeks to destroy him. Finally, he is contacted by his former demon master, who brings up the matter of ‘the prophecy.’ It’s a damn clichéd notion, but all of Legion seems confident that Wes is destined to consume the world’s soul energy, leaving it clean for a new age of demons to walk the Earth. Wes doesn’t believe or want any of it, but as his hunger awakens he begins to doubt his ability to not annihilate the place he’s come to think of as home.

    1. While I don’t like my run-on sentence suggestion above, I still think your query opening isn’t *quite* there. Play with it- something between what you’ve done and what I suggested. Vetis was a demon who ate good intentions, until his curiosity about humans got him fired. He breaks the rules by befriending a human girl child, and is booted from the demon realm: confined to Earth in a human body that was never meant to be more than fancy packaging. I like that now, but I’d have to read it later – there are a lot of related ideas to express here, and they’re all good ideas. You don’t want the sentences to be too wordy or too choppy, and you need the right cadence. Openings – especially query openings – are hard.

  4. You’re not going to like this, but your query still needs work. You’ve made good progress, but there are still a couple of typos and some awkward phrases.

    You will like this, however.. YOU GET MY VOTE!

    Congrats. And good luck going forward. If you want a private query critique, feel free to email me leighstatham23 * gmail

  5. Love Wes! Really, and his dilemma, very cool premise! Good luck and congratulations on your participation in Son of a Pitch – your hard work speaks volumes regarding your courage and willingness to follow your dreams and achieve your goals!

  6. This query hooked me! I love the concept, and the reunion with the girl who started it all! It keeps pulling me in the further I read (prophecy, resisting fate–love it all!).

    I agree that the first 250 are bogged down a bit by backstory. Let us see it through his eyes rather than telling us what he sees. Does that make sense?

    Either way, THIS HAS MY VOTE!

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