Sunday, July 17, 2011

Auntie B's Book Club Blogfest

Brenda Drake is running this awesome blogfest where the four teenaged members of the book club she runs will decide which books they'd want to read based on a 35 word pitch and the first 250 words of your MS. This is an awesome opportunity for those of us who write for teens!
So, here goes. Apologies to all of you who have read this first 250 more than once before. I promise, in a few months I'll be pimping a new book, so we'll have a new 250...

TITLE: Chasing the Taillights
GENRE: YA Contemporary

PITCH: Lucy and Tony share nothing except their genetic code. When a car accident kills their parents, they are thrown together and forced to rely on each other - and decide whether to reveal their secrets.

FIRST 250 WORDS: The darkness is absolute. I’m not sure if my eyes are open or closed. I strain to push the lids up, but they’re already wide. Something covers my mouth and nose, making breathing difficult. My lungs burn for air, but I can only suck in tiny mouthfuls through whatever smothers my face.

I turn my head, crying out as a savage bolt of pain shoots through it. Teetering on the edge of consciousness, wavy grey lines waft across the blank space before my eyes. I struggle to keep my wits about me - what’s left of them - fighting the darkness threatening to drown me. Certain now I won’t pass out, I gasp for breath. There’s nothing covering my face. It was the ground my nose and mouth were pressed into.

The ground? Wet. Greasy. Reeking of something that reminds me of… gas? Reaching out my left hand, I try to find something to hold onto. My fingers scrabble over small objects, pebbles perhaps, that skitter away beneath my touch. I reach further, wrapping my fist around them. Pain prickles my fingertips. Not pebbles. Glass. Small, sharp shards of glass.

Using my torn hand, I drag myself forward, an inch, maybe two. I can’t move my legs, can’t even feel them. Raising my head, I see light. Not a lot of light, but light. Red light, bright at one end, dull at the other. I know what this is. I do.

I love feedback, so let me know what you think!


  1. Just want to say a big thanks because I've edited out one character introduction, and have tried to define the other characters so that they stand apart from one another.

  2. I think your pitch is great! There is conflict/tension in the first sentence that I would love to see "played" out.

    Your excerpt is also intriguing, but there's this cliche in writing where the main character "wakes up." I'd like to see this story begin right as the car is skidding, flipping, etc. Good Luck!!

  3. I think the pitch is great but the opening lines were weird to me. first she says she's not sure if her eyes were open and then she states with certainty they are open wide. Then something covers her mouth and she can't breathe, then in the next paragraph, she takes in deep breath of air. I agree with foldingfields comment that the story should start with the car flipping, screeching, bodies flying and then stick with whether she can breathe or see. If her face is stuck in the ground, then I think I'd say that upfront and not go back and forth. Otherwise, it has my attention and I think you have some good tension developing. Great job!

  4. Hi Kate! I love your opening 250 words, and I gotta respectfully disagree with those who suggested starting the car crash sooner. I definitely think starting with the actual crash could be awesome, but I actually really like the opening as it already is.

    I recently survived a horrific, six-rollover car accident, and part of my self-imposed therapy was writing down everything I remembered. And what stood out to me while I was writing was the fact that I remembered everything in flashes. Moments of crystal-clear detail followed by long periods of blackness. So I mostly wrote my sentences as fragments. It was choppy and chaotic, but I've been told by many people that I really nailed the feeling of "being there."

    So... My only suggestion to you would be to perhaps make your sentences a bit less perfect. Jump around a little bit with smells and temperature, maybe even throw in the taste of dirt or the stench of the gasoline.

    But I gotta say... Having been there, this is AWESOME. Great job!

  5. Everything about your pitch is fabulous except maybe the last part - why do they have secrets? And what will happen if they don't reveal them? That might create more intrigue. But even from your pitch I'm already in tune with these characters, feel their pain and grief. You do a great job with descriptions and SHOWING the reader what's going on - in fact, I'm there. With her. My only thing with the excerpt - I felt it was a little long - as in I wonder if you could tighten what's going on with her. Even without the log line, I know she's trapped from an accident by paragraph two. I think you could condense paragraphs one and two.

    Great job overall! I'd definitely read more!

  6. I totally agree with LisaAnn about making the sentences less perfect - especially since this is present tense. It is good the way it is, but that would make it great, I think.

    Also, anything could be happening in the first few paragraphs - there's nothing specific about it. I think she would be able to tell the shallow breaths she pulls in have dirt in them.

  7. Holy carp - that's a great start! Definitely hooked :)

    In fact, I really have nothing to add to what everyone else said. I like where it starts, after the crash, and all the showing details. Good job!

    And thank you for stopping by my entry to help out :)

  8. Love your pitch. I agree with making the sentences a little less coherent--choppy, and not so structured. Really enjoyed it.