Wednesday, September 12, 2012

CAGI Entry #61

Genre: Literary Fiction
Word Count: 60,000 words


Twenty-two-year-old Tracey Garside is looking for ambition in all the wrong places. After two years of scrubbing Europe’s tourist toilets, she crash-lands back home in Liverpool, England, with little to do but watch daytime TV and the regeneration of her neighborhood passing her by. That is, until her quiet and serious little sister Elaine drops a bombshell: She can correctly predict the result of every soccer match in Europe. Anywhere in the country, this would be a big deal, but in Liverpool, the sport is a religion with two rival churches and a bookmaker on every corner, and her gift is nothing short of a miracle. Now it’s up to Tracey to persuade her sister to cash in on this talent – no easy task, as the memory of their estranged father’s petty crime still stings. Soon the sisters are running a full-fledged business selling tips, and their dreams are growing as quickly as their stacks of cash. But on the night of the European Cup semi-final, they risk everything on the biggest trick of them all in a city where grudges run deep. Think of it as more Fever Bitch than Fever Pitch. Evoking Alan Warner and Duncan McLean’s novels of growing up fast and living on wits alone in the Britain outside the tourist brochures, this is a novel about those feet, that family, and giving it all you’ve got even when all you’ve got is in your head.

I double-majored in creative writing and urban studies at Columbia University, obtained a master’s degree in social policy and planning from the London School of Economics, and am currently pursuing a PhD in sociology at the University of California, Berkeley. I also spent two years writing for BBC Online, and was published twice in Quarto, Columbia University's undergraduate creative writing magazine. For two summers, I interned in the production department at St. Martin's Press. My pitch for The Result won the annual Pitchapalooza competition at San Francisco's 2011 Litquake Festival, and was described by author and "book doctor" David Henry Sterry as "a cut above" with commercial potential. The Result is about so much more than sports and the masses of money that run them - it's about family, loyalty, and the fine art of thinking on your feet.

First 250:

“Elaine, now.”

“No,” my sister hissed. “Game of two halves.”

“Fuck that! They’ll suspect something.”

“They’ll suspect nothing. You don’t know enough about football.”

That was the first time she was wrong.

I knew full well it was a game of two halves. I knew what was a corner and what was a goal kick; I knew the offside rule and I knew that lots of people don’t – and if you’re a woman they assume you don’t. I knew that because Chelsea scored one last week and Liverpool scored one here, if no one breaks the overall draw then this whole sorry match is going to extra time and then penalty kicks. I also knew it was a man’s game, no matter how much Elaine may have wanted to make it otherwise. I knew that when I watched her playing on the pitches in Everton Park the lads tackling her were lads on her own side, trying everything to get her to throw her hands up in frustration and run home. Bonus points if they could make her cry. I knew she was a nuisance, that she wasn’t very good, that she threw a spanner into every kickabout. I don’t know if she knew, but I did, I knew very well. I knew that these hard men get hurt, they get bloodied, they get maimed. And they get paid loads, more than we would ever see even in a lifetime of bets. I knew I wanted nothing of it if it wasn’t going to get me where I wanted to go.


  1. I'd consider maybe dropping the opening dialogue if possible. I always find dialogue to start really derails me - I like to get to know the characters first. The first line of your main paragraph could make a great opening line too. I'd love to see the dialogue dispersed a little more, and I'd also love to see a little more showing. I think you've got a good start though overall, nice job!

  2. The query does a nice job of giving a peek into what the book is about, without giving it all away. It builds intrigue, and that's good. You've also got an interesting premise here. That being said, the query could use some polishing. The two large paragraphs are rather dense. Consider breaking the first paragraph into smaller ones. In addition, I think your "bio" paragraph is a bit too long. Your credentials are impressive, but not all of them are related to writing fiction. I'd cut down the part about your graduate degrees: I don't think you need as much detail about them as you have here. I'd mention the Pitchapalooza contest win, but I'd cut the accolade from the book doctor. I don't think it adds anything, and the query already shows that your book has commercial potential.

    Regarding the first 250: your opening lines could be stronger. In this excerpt, I'm missing a sense of setting, other than the fact that the story is set in England. Are the girls watching the game on TV? Listening on the radio? Are they at home? I want to be rooted in the scene more. Your query suggests that setting plays a strong role in the novel. I'd like to get a sense of that from page one.

    1. Thank you very much for these suggestions. Greatly appreciated!

  3. I like the concept of your novel! I have to agree that I feel your query is a bit long. Looking at it I feel like it is because it is just two block paragraphs. I think if you ended the first para with the reveal of her sister's gift and start a new one with your next sentence you would be golden. I would also say take out any credits that don't exactly pertain to the novel you are writing. If an agents signs you, you will have plenty of time to talk about this stuff!

    As to your first 250. Starting with dialouge actually did work with me, but I like to pounce right into the thick of things. That being said, I think a setting clue after your very first line would be really helpful. Personally, I imagined they are actually sitting there watching the game in a stadium.

    My nitpick about it is that it doesn't sing with the query. From your query I thought we could get a little view of Tracey's life before her return home. If what she did before she came back home is backstory, you should cut those couple lines from your query and just start right it with the fact Tracey crash lands back home-LOVE this line by the way.

    I am wishing you the best of luck!
    Jessica #96