Wednesday, September 12, 2012

CAGI Entry #70

Genre: Romantic Comedy
Word Count: 91,000


For a quarter of a century, Braxton Murphy endeavored to prove his manhood with brains rather than brawn. When Man Land, an amusement park filled with manly pursuits open, Braxton surprises himself by piercing five out of five apples at the William Tell challenge and acing the Garbage Truck Obstacle Course. He decides to put his brain on hold and compete for the title of King of Man Land. He’s well on his way to victory until a beautiful and conniving southern belle challenges his go at the kingdom.

Wanting to ‘know thy enemy’, he schemes his way into her life, only to find himself falling for her. While she alternates between leading him on and setting him up to fail, Braxton uncovers evidence that the entire competition is rigged, and she appears to be part of the plot. As the Man Land saga goes viral, Braxton teeters between being an underdog hero and a laughing stock. The only sure thing is that, one way or the other, it will all be over by the Fourth of July.

First 250:

Braxton’s twenty-fourth visit to Man Land came on a crisp Saturday in April.  He pulled in just as the amusement park opened and strode to the gate.  The castle-like entrance with suits of armor flanking either side and the huge ‘Statue of Man’ in front didn’t catch his attention any more. The Squire at the turnstile swiped his Man Land card, nodded in recognition, and let him pass through.  He glanced at the leader board, like he always did.  For weeks, his name had been in second place.  Bull Clark was just ahead of him and no one else was even close.

This time, as he looked he didn’t even break stride. He headed towards Water World, convinced he would master the Log Rolling challenge. But, something made him pause. He stopped and backed up, his gaze now steady on the board. First place still belonged to Bull. But Braxton’s name wasn’t in second. His name was in third. In second place was a new name. A name he’d never even seen on the board before. A name that pierced his brain like an arrow from William Tell’s bow. “Who the hell ever heard of a man named Carol Glassner?”


Sweat dripped down the back of Braxton’s neck as he stared at the leader board, his left eye twitching like it always did when he stressed.  After a full minute, he slapped away a mosquito and stalked towards the DMZ, the restaurant and bar situated in the middle of the five worlds of the amusement park, log rolling all but forgotten.


  1. In the query, you are missing an 's' on the "open" :-) Otherwise, love the premise, and love that you jump right into the story in the first 250.

    Good luck.

  2. This is definitely a unique premise and you have a good start here, but I'd like a bit more detail in the query and first 250 words. For example, where is this set (I'm assuming it's modern day)? And in the pages, perhaps describe the park in greater detail, so we feel like we're there with him. What do the people who work there wear? Is it crowded or empty?

    I'd also like to know more about Braxton - you say he "endeavored to prove his manhood with brains rather than brawn" - but what does this mean? Tell us a little more about him. What's his profession, for example? How does he feel when he arrives at the park? Why does he want to win this thing so badly? What happens if he loses? I'd also like to know more about the southern belle - for example, why is she competing? What does Braxton like about her?

    Adding a few more details to the query and the opening would help clarify things a lot, but this is a great start!

    1. Elizabeth - thanks for your comments and insight. Always the dilemma of keeping the query short but giving enough (but not too much) information and starting the story at the beginning but not losing the readers in some world they don't yet understand :-)

      Appreciate you doing this!

    2. Figuring out the right balance of detail is definitely hardest part about writing a query. I did like that you started the book in the middle of the scene though, instead of opening with backstory, etc.

  3. This really sounds like an interesting story, and I love the line about "a man named Carol Glassner..." Very funny. The only thing I've noticed that no one's mentioned is the comma placement in the second sentence of the query... I think the comma should come before "opens" and not after... That's it. Great job! I would read on based on what you have here. Good luck!

    1. Thanks for your support - it is always encouraging if *someone* likes it :-)