Sunday, July 17, 2011

Contest with Teen Judges!

I couldn't resist this one. Brenda Drake is hosting a blog fest with four teenage judges. They're reading the  35-word pitch / loglines and first 250 words of each entrant's WIP, and choosing which one they'd buy. The winner gets a synopsis and 10 page crit, which is so perfect for me, since I'm really worried about my synopsis-writing skills. :)

Now, if I understand the rules right, you get to help me fix my entry before it is judged on the 20th (when I will post it to the entry site). So please feel free to be candid and brutal. I like winning more than I like compliments and I'm perfectly capable of ignoring advice I don't agree with. :)

Without further ado....

35-Word Pitch:

Humans are used to pixies, but human-pixie hybrid Brina will have to leverage her differences to understand her heritage, slow the flow of illegal dust, and win the heart of a certain charming Midsummer ass. 
UPDATE: Based on all the wonderful comments, I've flipped things around a bit. The original (246 words) is below, followed by the revision (249 words). Please comment on whether the revision fixes the problems, introduces new ones, and (if it comes to that) which you like best. Thanks so much!!
First 246 words:

The magazine cover taped to her locker hadn’t been torn carefully, and a jagged gash ripped halfway through Brina’s right wing. As if she needed help looking ridiculous.
Brina stopped dead in the middle of the hallway and forced herself to breathe. Stretched her lips into a slight smile. Pressed her head to the side, as if she were pondering a pleasant surprise. Ignored the churning in her stomach.
Soon, she’d be able to shove her feet forward. 
Brina knew better than to go out in public looking less than her dubious best, but she’d been running late after her workout, and hadn’t even bothered to grow to human size first. Instead, she’d left her backpack and schoolbooks with Moira and rocketed out the palace window toward home and her mom’s birthday party. 
The first flash had come from off to her left and, like an idiot, she’d twisted toward it. Which is how the photographer’s zoom lens caught her: eyes opened wide, long braid slicked back from her face with her own sweat, and limbs sticking out at startled angles from her workout tank and short-shorts. All of it glowing softly brown in the dusk. 
As a special bonus, this particular picture had captured the moment her four bright white wings had frozen in shock, sending her plummeting a few feet downward. The resulting portrait could have been entitled “Freak, Falling” but instead the headline proclaimed: “Human-Pixie Hybrids: The Last American Taboo.” That worked, too.
Revision (249 words):

Brina knew better than to go out in public looking less than her dubious best.

She knew it, but figured hurrying home for her mother’s birthday party would merit a special dispensation of luck. She didn’t even bother to grow to human size first, but left her purse and car keys with Moria and rocketed out the palace window toward home.
The first flash came from off to her left and, like an idiot, she twisted toward it. Which is how the photographer’s zoom lens caught her: eyes opened wide, long braid slicked back from her face with her own sweat, and limbs sticking out at startled angles from her workout tank and short-shorts. All of it glowing softly brown in the dusk.
As a special bonus, the magazine’s cover photo had captured the moment her four bright white wings had frozen in shock, sending her plummeting a few feet downward. The resulting portrait could have been entitled “Freak, Falling” but instead the headline proclaimed: “Human-Pixie Hybrids: The Last American Taboo.” That worked, too.
Naturally, it was taped to her locker first thing Tuesday morning. The cover hadn’t been torn carefully, and a jagged gash ripped halfway through Brina’s right wing. As if she needed help looking ridiculous.

Brina stopped dead in the middle of the hallway and forced herself to breathe. Stretched her lips into a slight smile. Pressed her head to the side, as if she were pondering a pleasant surprise. Ignored the churning in her stomach.


So what do you think? How can I make it utterly un-put-down-able?

14 comments:

  1. Nice. You've been pushing stuff like this through so much (what with our critique pitch session) that you must be an old pro by now.

    *sigh*

    My pitch sucked. How can I possibly do a query, since I'd figured to base it on my pitch.

    I'm just not clever like you.

    Aren't I just pathetic? lol

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  2. This sounds like something I'd liked to read more of. Totally love the paparazzi moment (my "Reluctant Princess" has one of those as well)

    My main suggestion is with the very beginning of the sample. It didn't flow smoothly enough to suck me right into the world. Perhaps you can get it moving a bit quicker:

    Brina stopped dead in the middle of the hallway and forced herself to breathe.

    The magazine cover taped to her locker hadn’t been torn carefully, and a jagged gash ripped halfway through her right wing. As if she needed help looking ridiculous that day. (then go into the flashback of what happened)

    (suggest cutting what precedes the flashback as it's awkward)Stretched her lips into a slight smile. Pressed her head to the side, as if she were pondering a pleasant surprise. Ignored the churning in her stomach.

    Soon, she’d be able to shove her feet forward.

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  3. Hi, Robin, I did update your link for this post. Good luck in the contest! :D

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  4. I want to read more of this story--so much draws me in. I think your logline is perfect, and the excerpt is smooth. Well done!

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  5. Good logline! You managed to tell a lot about the book in a really short space.

    The beginning feels a little choppy. There was a lot to take in and I felt rushed into it. Maybe start with the flashback, then zoom back to the locker and the photo? I'm not sure. Just something to more firmly anchor us in this new world from the start. Otherwise the whole wing thing seems wrong.

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  6. perfect pitch!

    The beginning sounds more like backstory. Is she talking about the picture on her locker? I don't think you need so much detail about the photo. I'd jump right into the heart of the story.

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  7. Donna--you are NOT pathetic. Pitches take practice--you should see how many rejects I've amassed!

    Kit--can you read the revision and tell me if that fixes the beginning issues for you? Thanks for the advice!

    Brenda--thanks!

    Folding--thanks! Do you like the original better than the revision? (Don't you hate it when you can't tell if you're making things better or worse?)

    Kate--Thanks for the advice--I've tried to follow it. Can you read the revision and see if it helps clear up the issues you had?

    Eliza--I've struggled with showing so much of the picture, but since her physical appearance is pretty central to the story, I ended up keeping it. Does the rewrite make it at all better for you?

    Thanks so much for all your advice! Please feel free to continue!

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  8. I definitely liked the second version much better. It's straightforward, starting with the cause and moving on to the effect. Great job :)

    Good luck in the contest!

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  9. I really liked your exerpt. (The revised version) It flows really well, and I would have kept reading if I had more. Good characterization, and it draws you in.

    I am not sure if I am as crazy about the pitch as everyone else seems to be, though. I suppose you get all your points in, but I was a little confused by it. I needed to read it a few times. Granted, it's late, and I'm tired, but that is my first thought. Premise seems good though. Good luck! and thank you for taking a look at my post as well!

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  10. Robin... I came back, because I wanted to read your 250 words again. They are really good. I just wanted to drop you a note to "cheer you on" Your idea seems fun, engaging, and very original. I know it is late, but good luck in the contest, and thanks again for the comments on my entry. Good food for thought.

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  11. Thanks, Jennifer! I'm glad you liked it! Good luck to you, too!

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  12. Leave it to me to totally not make it back sooner. I think your revision moves things along quicker. ^_^

    Congratulations on making the semi-finals.

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  13. Thanks, Kit! I did another first page contest right after this one and refined it even more. :) Hafta say I'm feeling pretty confident about my first page right now. Too bad there are no "whole novel" contests.

    Or would that be the query process?

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