Thursday, August 26, 2010

8 Pitch Entry #12: Dawn Malone

Title: The Upside of Down


Genre: Contemporary middle-grade

Hobo Crane’s life is the pits. He’s the star player on his eighth-grade basketball team though he hates playing. Then there’s the nosy neighbor girl with a Jupiter-sized crush on him who invades his kitchen after school every day to help with the Crane family catering business.

When Hobo discovers a runaway named Up living in the giant blue spruce on an overgrown city lot one afternoon, things get interesting. Up is a sneering, sarcastic shrimp boat. He’s also well-read, carries a jar full of mysterious buttons, and has a past he’d rather not talk about. Through several chance meetings, the boys form a tentative bond. Each sees in the other what they crave most – for Hobo it’s a life without boundaries and for Up, it’s someone to trust.

Soon Hobo decides it’s up to him to change Up’s desperate situation. Throughout THE UPSIDE OF DOWN, Hobo risks losing friendships, his parents’ trust, and his status on the team as he helps his unlikely friend continue a cross-country journey to find a family member.

8 comments:

  1. I like the phrase "Jupiter-sized crush." Not sure the first sentence is catchy enough for an immediate hook; it's rather cliche. I'm rather doubtful someone can be the star player in basketball if his heart isn't really in the game (he hates playing). It would be hard to play well if he doesn't feel like it. Finding Up in a blue spruce is interesting, but the phrase "things get interesting" is dull and not too informative. More info maybe?

    Um, I don't get how Up IS a sneering shrimp boat; that doesn't make sense to me at all. It's good Hobo is the one to make the decision and have the goal of helping out/solving the story's conflict. The last sentence is a little long, and I had to re-read it to figure out what was going on. It might help if you said Up instead of his unlikely friend--at first I didn't catch that it was Up.

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  2. I love this premise, a boy named Hobo on a cross-country journey with a boy named Up. It's sounds fun.

    The opening hook doesn't work, though. Is there a reason Hobo hates basketball but still plays it? Is he forced by a parent and he does good at it because he doesn't want to disappoint that parent? Loved the Jupiter-sized crush statement, but how is she annoying? Is it just because she's nosy or is there something more?

    I can't imagine how Up is a shrimp boat and what that means. Love that they crave what the other has. I think you need to either pare down the last sentence or cut it into two (I have a problem using long sentences in queries too, but even if I don't use them in my MS the readers of my queries will think I do).

    Great story! :D

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  3. Hope this helps you out:

    I am seriously intrigued by the story. But not entirely so until we get to Up. I do also love the term "Jupiter sized" - very cool. BUT, lets take a look at that first paragraph...

    Is his life really "the pits?" IDK, that's up to you. But I'd question it as is. Maybe we need another example as well. And maybe a simple "he hates being on the basketball team, but his dad would never let him quite." Or he'd be letting down the town. Or something like that. Then we get what he's feeling and you don't have to throw out there that he's the star but hates it which is what's getting people confused.

    Then the girl sounds really important and interesting, yet she isn't mentioned again. Is she? How can you work her in later here, if so?

    The rest reads great to me except for the Shrimp Boat analogy. I didn't get that one either. Sorry. :D Maybe it has to do with where I grew up - no shrimp boats. So all I can think of is Forrest Gump.

    Overall, I REALLY like it and it isn't even my usual genre. I think it is distinctive - LOVE the concept. Good luck!

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  4. I LOVE the title and the premise. I did want to know why the MC was called Hobo (interesting since he's helping a homeless kid). I also needed to know why he hated basketball yet was the MVP. But overall, I love the voice--it made me really want to read the book. If you clarify the issues raised by the other commenters, I think you have a slam dunk here! Best wishes!

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  5. I like the idea a lot! Though I agree with others that the first paragraph doesn't really work - it doesn't seem to fit with the rest of it. It gets interesting when he makes friends with Up.

    I get what your trying to say with the "shrimp boat" thing, but because of the tone of the query it's confusing because we can't figure out if it's literal or figurative right away.

    "things get interesting" is rather uninteresting. you don't have to tell us this because you've already shown us - and quite well.

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  6. Hobo Crane’s life is the pits. He’s the star player on his eighth-grade basketball team though he hates playing.(how's that work?)

    Then there’s the nosy neighbor girl with a Jupiter-sized crush on him who invades his kitchen after school every day to help with the Crane family catering business. (None of this seems bad enough to warrant 'in the pits.')

    When Hobo discovers a runaway named Up living in the giant blue spruce on an overgrown city lot one afternoon, things get interesting. (reword, things get interesting is bland. HOW do they get interesting?)

    Up is a sneering, sarcastic shrimp boat (do you mean he's kinda small? I don't know anybody who'd still use the boat part of that phrase, but 'shrimp' would work).

    He’s also well-read, carries a jar full of mysterious buttons, and has a past he’d rather not talk about. (Neat.)

    Through several chance meetings, the boys form a tentative bond. (Ehhh. This makes me worry that your plot is string-of-pearls - ie, random.)

    Each sees in the other what they crave most – for Hobo it’s a life without boundaries and for Up, it’s someone to trust. (Good.)

    Soon Hobo decides it’s up to him to change Up’s desperate situation. (That is, being homeless?)

    Throughout THE UPSIDE OF DOWN, Hobo risks losing friendships, his parents’ trust, and his status on the team (why would he want to keep it if he hates playing?) as he helps his unlikely friend continue a cross-country journey to find a family member. (Neat, but so are you saying Hobo runs away with Up?)

    Maybe a little less set-up and a bitttt more of the conflict (the trip).

    Good luck!

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  7. Hobo Crane’s life is the pits. He’s the star player on his eighth-grade basketball team though he hates playing. Then there’s the nosy neighbor girl with a Jupiter-sized crush(cute!) on him who invades his kitchen after school every day to help with the Crane family catering business. (like this opening.)

    When Hobo discovers a runaway named Up living in the giant blue spruce on an overgrown city lot one afternoon, things get interesting. Up is a sneering, sarcastic shrimp boat (are you missing a word here? do you mean shrimp boat captain?). He’s also (not sure if you need-is also here)well-read, carries a jar full of mysterious buttons, and has a past he’d rather not talk about. Through several chance meetings, the boys form a tentative bond. Each sees in the other what they crave most – for Hobo it’s a life without boundaries and for Up, it’s someone to trust.

    Soon Hobo decides it’s up to him to change Up’s desperate situation. Throughout THE UPSIDE OF DOWN, Hobo risks losing friendships, his parents’ trust, and his status on the team as he helps his unlikely friend continue a cross-country journey to find a family member.

    Overall I like the concept, it sounds like a fun read! Good luck with this.

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  8. There’s definitely a strong sense of the voice of the writer in this pitch, which I think is a good thing, according to all the agents out there who talk about voice, voice, voice. Aside from one line I didn’t understand at all (which to judge from previous comments, I'm not alone in--shrimp boat?) I think the writing is great.

    My one major complaint, however, is that while you talk a lot about the characters in the story, you don’t talk at all about the plot except to say that they go on a cross-country journey. I feel like we should know why they go, what makes it different from any number of other road trip stories, what kind of obstacles stand in the way, and specifically how it’s going to impact Hobo’s life, rather than the more general issues mentioned here.

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