Sunday, February 10, 2013

Bouncer Post #146

Genre: YA Dystopian Fantasy
Word Count: 89,000 words


When a night of babysitting ends in two boys being kidnapped, fifteen-year-old Minna Gray’s new life in Emerald District is shattered. Guilt turns to panic when she discovers no one is looking for the boys. No one else remembers them. 

It’s as if they’ve been erased. 

Minna finds an ally in Corrin – a boy who knows about the disappearances. He tells her they weren't isolated incidences. Every day more people are taken and erased. He claims she has a magical ancestry, and that her visions will reveal how to prevent the kidnappings. A few weeks ago she would have said he was crazy, but the truth is that she has started to see things and feel things that others can’t. She can even talk to trees.

To develop her powers, he says she’ll need to travel to the  Outlands – the infected waste beyond the city walls. Going there may be the only way to stop the kidnappers, but no one survives the Outlands and Minna’s not sure she’s ready to trade life in Emerald for a slow suicide. She’s not even sure her ally is trustworthy. 

But soon she’ll have to decide. She must race to decipher the visions before all hope for the missing boys is lost. And before anyone else she loves is taken.

First 250:

She’d seen one once before - years ago, with Cameron, by the seaside. Its little round body flitted between palm fronds like a tiny jeweled fairy. They were supposed to turn it in. But they hadn’t. They’d watched it all afternoon, until it leapt into the sky and flew away, back over the Outer Wall. Their secret.

This one seemed even more out of place, amidst the asphalt and early evening glow of the podcar lines. For a second, she thought she was imagining it. But then Ethan saw it too.

“What is it?” he asked, gaze transfixed on the emerald blot making its way across the dull bronze shine of the hood.

“A beetle.”

His brown eyes widened. “A real one?”

Minna nodded. “Don’t touch it.” But she was mesmerized too.

“It doesn’t beep.” He frowned, waving his PestDetector over it.

“Maybe it’s not infected.” Yet. 

They watched its twiggy, spindle-legged progression from latch to windshield. 
“I don’t want anyone to kill it,” Ethan whispered as he backed away.

Technically it was a vector. Technically they were supposed to destroy it. But it was so small and round and innocent. Suddenly, it lifted off. Humming, it vanished into the flurry of the nearby jasmine. Minna exhaled the breath she hadn’t realized she was holding.

“Probably escaped from a DomeZoo.” Ethan said with a shaky laugh.

 “Probably, but you still need to disinfect.” Minna puffed her emergency spray, enveloping the two of them in shivering white mist. Silently they counted out the seconds: eight, nine, ten. Safe. 


  1. I think this sounds so interesting! The idea of people disappearing and having no one remember them is fantastic. And I think it's very honorable Minna wants to save the boys she babysits. (I would have said good riddance to some of the crazy kids I used to babysit! haha)I also like where your story starts. It paints a good picture of your world. Good luck with this! I'd keep reading :)

  2. Great premise! You really caught me at the one-sentence second paragraph. For the query, I'd recommend taking out the sentence "Every day more people are taken and erased," because the italics kind of throw me off, and also because you insinuate the same thing more succinctly in the prior sentence with "not isolated incidents." Also, the final sentence in the query flows a little awkwardly. Instead of starting the last sentence with "and," I'd recommend blending the final two sentences together by just sticking a dash there instead of the period--that way you get a pause for dramatic value, but you don't completely cut off the train of thought. :)

    Great voice in your first 250! It drew me in right away, and if I were an agent I would definitely want to read more. One nitpick: I couldn't get a good visual on the PestDetector--you might insert something quick, like "He passed his PestDetector over the creature, but the long wand stayed silent."

  3. Lori A. Goldstein (@_lagold)February 11, 2013 at 6:29 PM

    I really like your first 250 and agree with Ms. Hughes about the PestDetector. I felt like I got an instant take on the world and your writing style, which I liked a lot. I feel like the pitch can be condensed though. I know you need to show stakes and everything but I almost feel like you have two sets in the last paragraph and the second to last and they compete with each other. I might concentrate on the ally she isn't sure she can trust as opposed to losing more she loves. That line threw me a bit--did she love the boys she babysit for? Maybe but it was jarring to me. Otherwise, great job! #153

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  5. I'd second what Adrianna said on the one line in italics, but otherwise, I love your pitch and your first 250! I'm very pulled in.

    Especially love the way you infused voice into the third person. I'm a huge fan of third person, but it's not easy to personalize it. Well done! #140

  6. I think you might need to rework your query somewhat to make Minna more active, as it stands you've got a lot of 'he tells', 'he etc', which she then reacts to.

    I do like the start of your story and want to read more. Though I will echo that I'm not sure what the PestDetector looks like. I did find it interesting many of there words had been joined like DomeZoo, yet things like Outer Wall remained separate.

    Sounds like an intriguing story overall. Good luck!

  7. I was pulled in by your 250--especially once I got a little more info on what "one" from your first sentence referred to later on. Personally, I'd suggest being more specific with it from the get-go so your first sentence is super strong. But I really loved your writing in this 250 and all that you conveyed about the world through little hints here and there. Nice!

    I agree with the others that your query could use more tightening and focus with making Minna more active. Even the first sentence would be stronger and more active if you rephrased it like, "Fifteen-year-old Minna Gray's new life in Emerald District is shattered when the two boys she was babysitting are kidnapped." I'd also like to be told Minna has visions FIRST before the boy explains to her why she has them, when they haven't been introduced yet in your query.

    I love this premise and you're a very strong writer. Best of luck to you!!!

  8. Wow! This gives a real sense of the world and characters. Love it! #141

  9. Great premise and great writing! I agree w/ everything Kathryn said above. I, too, was slightly confused about what the "one" was, especially because it was referred to initially as a memory. But it won't take much tweaking to clear that up. My fav line: This one seemed even more out of place, amidst the asphalt and early evening glow of the podcar lines.

    My only additional suggestion for your query would be to tie in the dystopian angle earlier. I didn't even know it was dystopian until I saw your genre.

    -Good luck and thanks for your comments as well. Entry #152

  10. Thanks so much for all your kind words and spot-on suggestions. All this is so incredibly helpful!!

  11. Great 250. Love the premise!! I agree above with tightening the query. It'll really make it shine. Great work.


  12. I love the first 250. You reveal so much about Minna's world in a very short excerpt. The query is good, but I think it could be tightened up just a bit. I love how you summarize the stakes at the very end of the query. Good luck!