Monday, January 14, 2013

Bouncer Post #10

Genre: YA Contemporary
Word Count: 77,000


Welcome to The Hit List, a game of sexual conquest coming soon to a school near you.

To sixteen-year-old Sadie Bryant, getting into the Los Angeles School of Performing Arts means impressing talent scouts and a chance to launch her career. But after her last dance partner raped her, she panics at any boy’s touch. When she finds out she’s required to dance with Luke, she’s terrified. Strangely, Luke works hard to earn her trust. He goes out of his way to help her learn to dance with a partner again, like asking before he touches her, and he patiently helps her overcome her fears. Sadie is drawn to him, finally trusting him as a partner and as more than a friend.

Then every student in L.A. starts getting emails for a new blog called The Hit List. The blog posts the weekly results for a sex game awarding points to guys for sexual acts, with bonus points for sex with specific girls. When Sadie finds out she’s at the top of The Hit List and Luke started the blog, she starts believing her dancing dream might not be worth the hurt and betrayal. Even finding out Luke dropped out of the game may not be enough to keep her at the school. If she stays in L.A., she’ll have to dance with Luke and confront both his betrayal and her feelings for him, but if she goes back to New York, she’ll have to kiss Luke and her dreams goodbye.

First 250:

The music crashes down around my body, the bass vibrations sending tingles along my skin. My core flexes and tightens instinctively. My mind wraps around the beat and I automatically tap out the eight count on my thigh. Listening to the words, I wait for the perfect moment. A smile spreads across my face when it arrives.

My muscles pull and glide in perfect coordination. Effortless movement. At least it looks that way. Getting to this point took me years. To know the correct position by feel. To make it look flawless.

This is home. The safest place in my world.

Parents and younger students from the class next door gather at the door of the studio, but I ignore them. When I’m dancing, only I exist. Everything else around me disappears and I lose myself in the music and the movements. This is my way of expression because words are too often flat and devoid of feeling. I don’t do it for anyone else. I do it for me.

Tension radiates through my body and my leg doesn’t extend the way it should as I unwanted thought slips into my mind. The letter should arrive any day. The one that seals my fate for the next two years. Either I’ll be dancing at the Los Angeles School of Performing Arts or I’ll be stuck in New York, doomed to try to make it as a dancer on my own with all the other wannabes the city has to offer.


  1. This sounds awesome, I would totally read this! I love the way you set up the story in your query! Great Job!

    Good luck!

  2. As a dancer, this premise really grabbed me from the get-go. I really like the opening 250. My one quibble about the query is whether or not every student in the entire city of L.A. gets the notification about the blog, or just the ones at Sadie's school.

    Great entry, good luck! :)

    1. Thanks! It's actually all the high school students in the area that get the email. Helps them stay anonymous :)

  3. I love this query and would totally buy this. Good luck!

  4. The whole MS is amazing. It will knock your socks off.

  5. I really REALLLLLY want to read this :D I love the way you start your query and I could *feel* with your character in the first 250 words!

    Best of luck to you, Nikki!

  6. There is a lot of potential here for a really great contender. The conflict between Sadie's past and her relationship with Luke feels legitimate, even without the added betrayal of the hit list. Your writing style is very smooth and elegant, like a ballerina bun with not a strand out of place. I can hear a dancer's voice in the cadence of your sentences. Really great writing.

    However, there are a couple of tweaks that I think would make this entry really shine. For example, the first line of the query doesn't seem to match the rest of it. It's abbrasive where the rest of your prose is sleek. I see why you wanted to lead with it--it's an attention grabber. But for me, at least, it had a sort of misleading effect. It came off feeling jarring instead of intriguing. Also, I think you tell too much in your query. I didn't feel enough of a sense of tension about what choice she would make. I'd rather read that Luke betrayed her in some non-specific way to keep the mystery, the sense of oh-no!-what-did-he-do? I feel like if the agent knows too much at the query stage, then they might not be as motivated to ask for sample pages. (I'm totally out on a limb here. I'm not an agent, so I can't say that this is true for sure or in the majority of cases, but I've spent many an hour on Query Shark's blog, and I have heard from several query-advisor sources that you want to leave them wanting more.)

    As for your first 250, I found the sensory description very evocative--again, your style is lovely--but it didn't quite grab me, I think because it's not specific enough to ground me in your setting. For example, maybe instead of 'music,' you could say a specific song title; instead of 'words,' you could work in something about how the lyrics affect/inspire her; instead of 'muscles,' you could say which muscles; instead of 'parents and students,' you could say specific names, etc. Making it more specific gives the reader some traction, like salt on icy steps. Does that make sense?

    Anyhoo, great work! I know with a little more polish you'll really get there! Good luck!