Monday, September 17, 2012

GUTGAA Pitch Contest #14: THE CHILDREN OF THE NEPHILIM

THE CHILDREN OF THE NEPHILIM
YA Sci-Fi
63,000

Query:

Sixteen-year old Paxton Mills freaking hates living in space.  The station is freezing cold, her berth is barely bigger than a port-a-potty and her fear of heights doesn’t lend itself to a comfortable intergalactic experience.  She’s one of several hundred teenagers saved from the fires that ravaged Earth.  Handpicked for their ability to acclimate to celestial living, they were taken to ensure humanity’s survival.  However, Paxton isn’t grateful to her rescuers for whisking her into space and educating her in hydroponics and uniform maintenance.  Why should she give a damn about hanging squash or pride herself on having a wrinkle-free jumper, when she's haunted by memories of her loved ones being left behind to burn to death?

But her days of sulking end when she realizes her teachers aren’t humans, but aliens called the Nephilim.  Knowing she needs proof, Paxton breaks into the forbidden Red Block and finds curled and crusty teens barely clinging to life.  That's when she discovers she and the other kids were never taken to ensure humanity’s survival.  They were taken to ensure the survival of the Nephilim. 

Unwilling to end up resembling an oversized fetus, Paxton rallies her friends so together they can find an escape.  As they unravel the mystery of the station and their captors, Paxton’s boyfriend is murdered.  If Paxton wants to save her friends from this same fate, she must trust an annoyingly perfect hybrid named Kendal and accept that good and evil don’t always run skin deep.

First 150 Words:

Dammit!  I blinked my eyes trying to shake the image of shadow and flame consuming Earth from my thoughts.  I was fourteen when it happened.   Two years later, those last images to pierce the portal of the carrier ship still haunted me.  Lying on my stomach, ankles crossed, I flipped the forgotten novel onto its belly and pressed my eyelids with my fingertips.  I waited until muted colors appeared chasing away the vision.  Satisfied I’d emptied my mind, I turned the book back over and re-read the page.

“Paxton, what are you doing?”

I didn’t have to look up to know Mo had entered my compartment.  Although his voice had deepened in the two years I’d known him, only he still called me by the unusual girl name my mother chose.  It didn’t surprise me that he showed up.  Mo had been my best friend since we boarded, and I knew he’d only excuse my absence for a few days before coming for me.  

8 comments:

  1. I lurrrve your query--full of voice and really does a good job of explaining the basic plot.

    The 150 is very good too, but I think there's a little too much backstory in the third and fourth sentences of the first paragraph. I'd prefer to get that info later, spread out more organically into the text. But I'd totally read on anyway :-)

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  2. I'd love to read this story! Good voice in your query and what a neat concept! Good luck!

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  3. Ooooh, that sounds gooood! I love stories like that, evil plots and aliens and what not.

    I think your first paragraph in your query is a little on the long side, just a big wordy. I know what you're going for and the voice you create with it and info is all great, but consider condensing just a bit, help your reader get to the goods faster.

    Good luck!

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  4. Interesting premise. I like that the aliens are called Nephilim.

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  5. PITCH: Whoa. This is a really well-written pitch. It has everything I try to do when I write my own pitches—character, goals, conflict, stakes. It also has a great sense of the setting, which is sometimes hard to do in science fiction and fantasy pitches.
    FIRST 150: These are strong, but not as strong as the pitch. That first paragraph feels a little awkward. What about dividing it in two? The book didn’t seem to follow from her memory of Earth burning, although now I see she was reading, then was distracted by the memory, then goes back to reading. Is there something more space-shippy she could be doing, to better introduce us to the setting?

    You might hate me for saying this, but this one was so, so close. My heart is breaking right now.

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  6. Thank you all for taking the time to comment on my entry. :) And Missus - you are so very sweet. I appreciate knowing I was close and the feedback you provided is top notch. I'm excited to go back in and make some changes to this opener. :)

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  7. I loved the query and I agree with Missus Braidyhead that it's stronger than the first 150 which could use a little tightening up (why did the book make her think of the earth burning? what was the trigger?) Having said that, from the query, this is a story I WANT TO READ. Your voice is strong in the query and in the sample. YOU HAVE MY VOTE.

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  8. Thank you all so much. Here's attempt #2 (or 356, but who's counting?) I have no idea on how to make italics -- so Just once more. should be italicized.

    First 150:
    My knees burned from pressing against the honeycomb design of the metal deck. Just once more. Leaning forward, I pressed my forehead against the tiny portal, waiting until the ashen rock rotated into view.

    It had been two years since I touched a blade of grass — two years since fresh air entered my lungs. Yet the green and blue that once bejeweled Earth rarely entered my thoughts. I was too haunted by the last images burned into my memory. Shadow. Flame.

    The dim light from my old planet finally appeared. Although my heart raced, the rest of me remained frozen until it vanished again from my sight. I forced myself to stand, my legs warming as the blood slowly returned to them. Now what? My eyes moved to the pile of neatly stacked books that lay on my floor.

    I snatched the novel on top and ducked into my pod.

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