Monday, February 4, 2013

Bouncer Post #118

Genre: YA Dystopia                                                                                                   
Word Count: 74,000


Fourteen-year-old Quinn is brain-washed. He’s 99% positive that the Citadel is perfect, that it knows what’s best for its citizens. But that 1% nagging, constant uncertainty is the source of stomach upset that would usually be reserved for old, sick people. As he struggles to either resolve or ignore his doubt and accept the Citadel’s flawlessness, Quinn makes discoveries that would cause even the devil to hide in his grave.

As a spy-in-training, Quinn must prove his reliability by reporting citizens that speak against the Citadel—the government of Sulta. As a prodigy, his efficiency is noticed: once he turns in the names of dissidents, they vanish. Quinn has no idea where they disappear to or what happens to them, but he becomes determined to find out.

When he begins to ask too many questions about the fate of his former friends, neighbors and acquaintances, Quinn becomes a danger to Sulta’s leaders who will not have their power questioned. Now Quinn must use those same abilities to unravel the Citadel’s mysteries before it is too late—before he vanishes into thin air as the Citadel’s newest target.

First 250:

Two dark-suited men slowly walked along the sidewalk. The gloom of the fog provided perfect cover for the job they needed to complete. They did not speak to each other. Official business always made them a bit jumpy, but they were prepared to do their job, and they did it well. They had done it hundreds of times before. This time would be no different.

A pretty eighteen-year-old girl woke to the sound of her alarm. It was just before dawn. She looked out the second floor bedroom window and saw nothing but darkness and fog. “Today is going to be a good day,” she thought to herself. She left her bed and began getting ready for the day.

The two men continued down the sidewalk in silence. Finally, one of them put his hand out to stop the other from walking and said quietly, “This one’s it.” They gazed at the front of the house that had one solitary light in the upstairs bedroom. They saw a girl moving around getting ready for the day.

The girl hummed gently to herself as she prepared for work. She changed from her pajamas into a flattering yellow dress. Looking into the mirror, she gave herself a nod of approval. “He will think it’s perfect,” she said to herself and did a little twirl. She checked her watch and realized she needed to hurry. She had to meet him in twenty minutes. The girl switched off the light and left her room.


  1. Nice idea: someone who turns other people in - is "the bad guy", but doesn't realize it.

    In your query, I suggest you remove the brainwashed part and just jump to Quinn being 99% positive. I'm not sure if you need the last sentence in the first paragraph since it is a bit vague and the next two paragraphs have more detail. One thing I wonder is what prompts Quinn to find out what happens to those he turns in if he's so certain of his employers.

    In your first 250, I was a little surprised to see that Quinn doesn't make an appearance.

    Anyway, I think you have an interesting idea and wish you good luck!

  2. Ooooh, really loving this concept. I agree with Laura about the beginning of your query. I would change it to this: Fourteen-year-old Quinn is 99% positive that the Citadel is perfect and knows what’s best for its citizens.

    Because I was hooked by your premise in your query letter, the first 250 were a bit of a let down. The writing itself is strong, but it reads like a prologue. I wanted to launch right into Quinn. At first I thought we might be watching the men with Quinn, but as we moved forward I saw that wasn't so. Is this a prologue? I would still like to read more because I really like your concept, though.

    Best of luck!!

  3. I love the idea of a kid whose on the side of the government in a dystopian story.

    At first I found the two different POVs in the opening a little jarring, but by the time I got to the last paragraph, it flowed well for me. Though it's always a gamble to not have your MC in the opening paragraphs. Overall I liked it: the image of a girl completely oblivious to the coming danger. (At least I assume it's a coming danger).

    Good job and good luck!

    ~Mandy (entry #130)

  4. I wonder if you could give a little more information on the Citadel in your query. The premise of your story is interesting, but I think you could hook people in even more if you distinguished your story's dystopian government in some way. Just a suggestion. I'm with the others in saying that I like the idea of your mc being on the side of the government, at least at the beginning of the story. Best of luck in the contest!

  5. Thank you so much for these comments! They are really helpful. I have been struggling with the opening pages for some time now, and these suggestions really help. I think I will change them for future submissions so that it is the MC's voice right from the beginning.

    Also, thanks for the suggestions on the query letter. It's nice to have this great feedback!