Wednesday, September 5, 2012

CAGI Entry #20

Genre: YA Psychological Thriller
Word Count: 48,000


A drug induced, comatose journey into her own mind is Sophie’s last chance.  The experimental therapy is her final, desperate attempt at normal.  All she has to do now is survive it.

Dr. Warner’s theory is simple.  Find the source of Sophie’s trauma – then they can begin to fix it.  Unfortunately, they’ve been working on that for years without progress.  She’s avoiding her past, and sabotaging her future.  She wants to get better, but she’s too scared to go back.  Without being able to revisit her past, she can’t move forward. 

Something drastic must be done before she loses herself completely.  But the treatment is untested, and dangerous.  If she falls too deep into her own mind, there’s a chance she may never come out again.  And she has no idea what’s lurking inside. 

First 250:

Sophie could feel it slipping.  She was desperate to hang on to it, but it was slipping.  Her sanity was getting up and walking out the back door.  Drastic times called for drastic measures.

The door locked with a bang, sounding way too much like a prison door being slammed.  Looking around, there was nothing but white, so bright it was blinding.  She had to squint to take it in.  Not that there was much to see.  Just the soft walls and ceiling, padded into gigantic tic-tac-toe grids.  It was as creepy and clinical as she had imagined.  Sophie was officially in the crazy room.  Sadly, it was the only place left in the world for her.  The only thing missing was the straight jacket.

She heard them slide the little blue pill through the slot in the door.  This would be the only communication from anyone until the treatment was over, which could be days.  The sliding of pills and food though the slot.  But there was no food now.  Just the tiny blue pill.  Not even water.  She gagged.  She hated swallowing pills without water. 

She walked over, taking a deep breath.  There was nothing left to think about.  Her decision had been made.  She picked up the pill and swallowed it.  It slid right down.

Her parents were strongly against Dr. Warner's radical techniques.  She’d been in therapy for years, and this was unlike anything else.  But Sophie was desperate to try anything.  Convincing her parents was another matter, but they could see her slipping too. 


  1. Interesting premise - not sure what's going to happen. I think the query is perhaps a little too vague? I do think you could tighten up some telling - e.g. sentences like 'she heard...' could be turned into action as it happens. Just 'The slot slid open'.

  2. Like Jess said, I'd like a few more details in the query. I'm not sure how a drug-induced coma would help someone overcome a past trauma, unless the Dr. was somehow able to guide her into that part of her mind and, not only make her relive it, but have her come out of the coma with the memory still active. If it's something like that, I'd include it in the query.

    Also, I think it's a super interesting premise but I'm a little unsure what's happening in the first 250. I mean, I get that she's in a padded room (which is a really intriguing opening) but I was under the impression that the treatment would consist of putting her in a coma. If that's so, how could she take the little blue pills every day? Also, someone in a coma would need to have their vital signs monitored and a catheter or something. None of that seems to be in this room. Is this not where she's going to be starting the treatment? If that's the case, why is she waiting in a padded room to start it?

    Like in the query, I think a few more details in this part would make it stronger. But again, I want to stress, I think the premise is awesome and--even without the extra details--I'd keep reading based on the query.

    Good luck with this~ I'm number 29 if you want to check it out. :)

  3. This sounds really interesting, and I think you have a good start with this query but need to flesh it out with more details. Right now it's a bit vague and also repetitive. For example, the first two sentences say almost the exact same thing, so maybe combine them or cut one? And lines like "She’s avoiding her past, and sabotaging her future. " How is she avoiding it and how is she sabotaging her future? How, specifically, does her trauma manifest?

    All I know about Sophie is that she needs a dangerous treatment, something bad happened in her past, and she might lose herself. But what is she losing? Who is Sophie? Also, what else is going on in the book - is there a romance? Is there involvement with her family?

    We need more details about who Sophie is, what she's facing, what's she's giving up, and what the stakes are. I'd also like to know the setting - is this in a mental institution? I guessed this from the pages (which give a nice, creepy sense of the setting and her conflict), but it would be good to mention in the query too. I also don't get any sense that this is YA and not adult, but adding a few details would fix this problem. I'm definitely curious to see where this is going!

  4. Thanks for the feedback ladies! I really appreciate it. I've tweaked the query quite a lot. I think it's quite a bit stronger now thanks to your suggestions. :)

  5. Here is an updated version of the query for anyone who is interested. I'd love to know what everyone thinks:

    A drug induced, comatose journey into her own mind is Sophie’s last chance. The experimental therapy is her final, desperate attempt at normal. All she has to do now is survive it.

    Dr. Warner’s procedure is untested and risky. But, Sophie has become a danger to herself. She wants to be happy, but can’t even remember what that feels like. She has nothing left to lose.

    If she is successful in finding the source of her downward spiral, she will be able to begin the healing process. If she is unsuccessful, falling too deep into her psyche, there’s a chance she may never come out again. And she has no idea what’s lurking inside. Her subconscious could conjure so much terror, it could cause a perilous surge of adrenaline to her heart. She could literally be scared to death.

  6. I am absolutely loving the premise, especially because it looks like the perfect method of writing a character study.

    I do however have a question. Are you trying to pitch a novella? 48k words is very, very little, in fact, I don't even know if it properly reaches 200 pages. I think a story is considered a novel at 50,000 words, but most publishers like the 70,000 to 90,000 range. Again, I'm not sure, and I don't want to give false information, it's just something I read a while ago.

    Either way, I really like this query/concept :D