Sennight by Tara Dugan
Once upon a time in a faraway land, there was a kingdom—a tyrant—a humble peasant—and a narrator stuck with the gig. But in this economy, you know.
When Asen, our unfortunately pragmatic hero, learns that he’s luckless enough to be the Prophesied One, he’s shown the fine print: because of rules of the bored ancients, all prophecies have expiration dates. He has a single week to vanquish the villain before his destiny’s akin to sour milk.
There’s no more time to be original.
Thus Asen sets out on a quest of epically condensed proportions. There are mountains to climb, plot-holes to bear up under, and swords to drop at the most unhelpful times. At his side is the book Questing: the how-to manual hammering out the basics of what those nobler, stronger (and taller) heroes did long ago. All he has to do is follow each step. And survive to the last page.
Somewhere between the minions, the demented gnomes and the speed-knitting, Asen starts to wonder if there isn’t more to his own story—and that the epic everyone else is hell-bent to get right might not have the ending they’d expected at all.
For even in fantasy, life doesn’t always go exactly by the book.
With loving irreverence similar to Douglas Adams’ The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy and a search for significance like Norton Juster’s The Phantom Tollbooth, Sennight aims for the heroic, fails, and somehow finds a point in there anyway.
Arielle & David: This sounds like such a fun story, between the speed knitting and the sour milk deadline and demented gnomes. Great specificity in these details. We also loved that the economy sucks in your world, too. It makes your story very relatable. You’re also working in a long and glorious tradition, with flawed heroes who can’t possibly succeed, except when it comes to entertaining and illuminating readers. Love the comparable titles. What can be improved? Your pitch starts with a cliché, which could really turn off an agent or publisher. Everyone has to understand, publishing professionals are so overwhelmed and inundated. And they’re trained to say, “No!” They look for a reason to turn you down. If you don’t wow them from the very first sentence, chances are you’ll get back that horrible e-mail that everyone hates: “Dear Author, I reject you, Love, Agent”. And again, because you’re working in an area where there’s been so many books and so many stories, you have to distinguish what’s unusual and unique about your hero’s quest, the world you’re building, and the villains that must be overcome.