Monday, January 21, 2013

Bouncer Post #71

Title: LOCKER 103
Genre: MG Paranormal
Word Count: 40,000


Ever since her mother took off for Nebraska with her loser boyfriend, Winter Malone’s been spending her nights in the band room of G.W. Barrett Middle School. It’s not such a bad deal – a warm place to sleep, locker room showers, and all the concession stand licorice she can eat. But Winter’s not the only one hiding in the hallways. The school is inhabited by the Soul of Mr. Hawkins, a teacher who died in his eighth grade science room.

Mr. Hawkins has spent the past 49 years as the Soul of G.W. Barrett Middle, and he’s sick of the prickly-haired, punk kids with their sagging pants and revolting attitudes. But in order to pass on to the Other Side, he must find someone to take his place, and Winter’s new living arrangements make her the perfect target.

Winter knows his plan – at least part of it, anyway – but she believes that even a mean, miserable fart like Mr. Hawkins must have a heart hidden somewhere in the bricks and mortar. She wagers with him, giving herself one month to remind Mr. Hawkins of the man he used to be – one that didn’t dump little girls into holes under libraries. If Winter wins, Mr. Hawkins will provide her with information about her mother that she desperately needs. But if she fails to fix him – or destroy him – in time, her own Soul is on the line.

First 250:

Mr. Hawkins could feel her niggling around in his ribs, and it made him uncomfortable, like a fly buzzing just out of his reach. He had barely slept in the 21 nights since Winter Malone had been sleeping in the band room. If it had been any other child – that useless skater boy with green spikes sprouting like weeds from his head, for instance – he would have scared her off long ago.

But not this one. He needed her. So he waited.

Somehow he had to break free from the curse, and she was the one to help him do it. There had been a time when he’d thought the offer was too good to be true. But he’d been stuck here now for 49 years – enough time to see the gymnasium covered in graffiti and ugly metal fences walling the grounds. The students blasted incomprehensible music and wore drippy, sagging pants that drug the floor and drug his spirits down with them.

Mr. Hawkins had been a good man, when he was a man. But things had changed, because now he had a secret. It was a terrible, awful secret – the kind that made the skin on your forearms pucker and pull, your blood slow to slush in your veins.

He also had a ferret. Ebenezer prowled the halls each night looking for two things: children, which he promptly reported to Mr. Hawkins, and leftover bits of tuna from the children’s lunches, which he promptly inhaled.


  1. I really like the concept! Ghosts are always fun :) But I think your first 250 needs some tightening. I think you'd do better to avoid an infodump. Also, I'm a huge fan of starting with the MC, so you might be better off beginning with Winter. (Of course, that might just be my personal preference.)

    Good luck!

  2. You do a great job of adding voice to your query! I think you could give us the conflict earlier. In one of the last sentences, you mention that Winter desperately needs information about her mother. Can you move this to the first paragraph?

    Good luck!

  3. I'm a sucker for a good ghost story. And I have to say, this one seems pretty interesting. Especially when you're looking at going through the eyes of both the ghost and the one he's targeting to be possessed.

    Which leaves me with a question - I noticed your 250 focuses on the POV of the ghost, yet the query is more about Winter and her relationship with her mother and now being left alone to live in a school. Is the story split between the two POV's? or is it just about Winter. I guess the question comes from what Sam F brought up as well in terms of starting with the MC. It's not a rule set in stone but I'm curious.

    In terms of your query, I was also wondering what the stakes were for Winter. at first she seemed a bit non-chalant about her mother leaving with her boyfriend, but at the end of the query she wants info about her mother. I would love to know what she is really searching for and why the ghost is getting in her way.

    Query leaves me wanting.

    BUT - your first 250 is a fun read (even if it is in the eyes of that sneaky phantasm). I love the descriptions, but try to avoid info dumping as Sam stated too.

    Regardless - I see a lot of potential with this sort of story line, especially since it puts a new twist on the ghost story path.

    Good luck!

    -Copernicus (post #43)

  4. Love the query! The story sounds awesome!! I want to read this! I smiled when you said she was living in the band room. I agree that the first 250 need some tightening. I would save the ferret for later, and talk about why Winter is different maybe second/third paragraph. It would give you a chance to introduce Winter earlier.

    Something about the first sentence of your 250 thew me off. After reading your query, I took it a bit too literally. Maybe you could rephrase it to say, "Mr. Hawkins had thougts of Winter Malone niggling around in his ribs, and it made him uncomfortable, like a fly buzzing just out of his reach."

    THIS SAID, I really do like the voice, and the writing. If you love it, go with it. (#44)

  5. You're right, Copernicus... it's a dual POV.

    Thanks, everyone, for the comments! I'll be pondering them! Best of luck to you all.

  6. Hi, this seems like a great idea, but it left me wondering a few things:

    First off, I'm not sure if a dual POV would work with such a huge age gap? How old is Winter? If she's in Middle School she must be around 12 - 14? and if kids read up, so a 10-13 year old might be reading this, would they want to read something with an "ole fart" POV? (I loved the old fart reference by the way... but then I'm old too.

    Mayube this is not a MG book, but a grown-up book with a main character being in middle school? Is that possible? The Query indicated it would be about Winter, but the first 250 didn't seem very MG oriented. I had to go back to the top to check a few times to confirm it was a MG book

    And this might seem really weird and maybe it was just me, but I read that first sentence as her mom ran off with Winter's boyfriend -- I'm assuming that is not the case... but maybe some rewording of that line?

    But then you don't see very many ghost stories out there, so maybe with a bit of reworking this could fly? Good luck! ~#68.

    1. Sorry about my mis-spellings and typos. DOH! It's the end of the day and I have "Baa Baa Black Sheep" stuck in my head because it's that kind of day... ~#68.

  7. So I want to give everyone feedback, even when I don't write those magical words! I think you have a solid premise with interesting potential. My biggest hangup was that we didn't get Winter's POV right away. Might you consider starting with her? This would also require some creative "showing" about Hawkins' intents if you eliminate his POV. Hope this helps! Best of luck with your writing!