Thursday, August 26, 2010

8 Pitch Entry #21: RC Shivers

Title: Maddie & Mook and the Message in the Bottle


Genre: Middle Grade

Twelve year old Maddie is a dreamer. Throughout the day she dreams of the ‘far away’ places her photographer mom gets to visit and take pictures of. She is a smart young lady that fills her need to explore by searching the beach near her house, with her crazy little puppy Mook. The note in the bottle floods her mind with thoughts of who wrote the note? Where did the bottle come from? What do the initials on the note mean?

Maddie searches, with the help of her mom and the companionship of Mook, for the place the old bottle came from. The internet and detective work help the team decipher the message. They start on an adventure that takes them across the ocean and down into the tropical islands of the Caribbean. Maddie and Mook are on a quest to find the writer of the message in the bottle, but first they must find island where the mysterious bottle started its’ journey.

8 comments:

  1. While I always enjoy stories with heroic and exciting moms, the bad grammar in this query stops me cold. I can't help but wonder if this book will be an interesting story poorly written.

    The lede is a little confusing, as in one sentence Maddie is on the beach, and all of a sudden some note in a bottle is flooding her mind. Also, in the second paragraph, the author states that Maddie goes on the adventure with her mom and dog, but later says only Maddie and Mook are on the quest.

    As with a book, the query needs me to get a quick picture in my head of what's happening here, and unfortunately, while I think the story idea itself is very clever, the descriptors are a little disjointed. With some editing, this could have been a better example.

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  2. I like the premise of this story and where you can take it but I think maybe you should start with the message in the bottle to incite some mystery right off the bat. Maybe through a quote or whatever part of the message incites Maddie to take her journey. Then you could follow it with Maddie's reaction to finding the bottle and show her natural curiosity and dreamer personality. What does she hope to find or who?

    And I don't think you even need the parts about the mom, her job and that she helps Maddie....I would show more of the bond between Maddie & Mook, is she an only child and is that her only companion? I would also give some hints at the setting of the Caribbean.

    Hope this helps!Good luck RC!

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  3. Twelve(-)year(-)old Maddie is a dreamer. Throughout the day she dreams of the ‘far away’ places her photographer mom gets to visit and take pictures of. She is a smart young lady that fills her need to explore by searching the beach near her house, with her crazy little puppy Mook. (Too much telling!)

    The note in the bottle floods her mind with thoughts of [...]. (What note? Complete non sequitur here.)

    Maddie searches, with the help of her mom and the companionship of Mook, for the place the old bottle came from. The internet and detective work help the team decipher the message. (Still too much telling.)

    They start on an adventure that takes them across the ocean and down into the tropical islands of the Caribbean. Maddie and Mook are on a quest to find the writer of the message in the bottle, but first they must find (the?) island where the mysterious bottle started its’(no apostrophe needed) journey.

    This is all telling. And why would Maddie's mom let her go chasing after a bottle? Why does she need to find the message-writer? So what if she doesn't? How is this any different from the zillions of times a kid finds something, wonders about it, and... moves on? You need to SHOW me more about Maddie for me to care what happens.

    (Perhaps the accidentally deleted part of the pitch would help.)

    Good luck!

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  4. This sounds like a really fun premise. I like the idea of the message, where it came from, and the mysterious island.
    One suggestion I have is that you should lead with Maddie finding the bottle, maybe 'Twelve-year-old Maddie finds a bottle washed ashore holding a mysterious message...' or something of that nature. As is, there's no clue that she found a bottle or how/where/when this occurred. Since it seems to be a major event, you need to explain a little more.
    Also, you mentioned Mom as part of the detective team. Be careful that she doesn't play too big of a role. The story should focus on Maddie and how she solves the problem.

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  5. I really like your premise and it sounds like it will be fast paced. I really liked your first lines but I agree with Dawn that starting with Maddie finding the bottle would be stronger. Perhaps start: Wandering the beach with her crazy little puppy Mook, twelve-year old Maddie finds a bottle washed ashore containing a mysterious message. (or something more specific)She couldn't help thinking about it. (then ask all your great questions here.)

    I agree with the others that you should focus on Maddie and Mook and downplay her mom.
    Maddie searches, with the help of her mom and the companionship of Mook, for the place the old bottle came from. The internet and detective work help the team decipher the message. Perhaps say instead: Through the internet and detective work, Maddie discovers (tell us something about the message)

    I like that they go to the Caribbean.

    I really like how you end with a stake. I feel like it needs a little something more. And I want to see why Maddie feels like she has to find the person, some stakes for her.
    But a good start. It just needs a bit more specifics.

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  6. You've already got some good feedback here. I think all the personality traits you want to show us about Maddie will shine through if you open with her finding the bottle and wondering about its contents. Then you can tie in the dreamer aspect and her mother's job. The phrase that I would definitely strike is "young lady." It sends off an immediate "author alert" and takes us away from the voice you want to come through in your query--Maddie's.

    I love the name Mook and think this sounds like an exciting book with a fun setting. Best wishes!

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  7. Comments interspersed in parentheses:

    Twelve year old Maddie is a dreamer. Throughout the day she dreams of the ‘far away’ places her photographer mom gets to visit and take pictures of. (Not, perhaps, the grabbiest opening.) She is a smart young lady that fills her need to explore by searching the beach near her house, with her crazy little puppy Mook. (Oooh, no, please don't refer to your protagonist that way.) The note in the bottle floods her mind with thoughts of who wrote the note? Where did the bottle come from? What do the initials on the note mean? (Wait, what note? I think you should open with finding the note.)

    Maddie searches, with the help of her mom and the companionship of Mook, for the place the old bottle came from. The internet and detective work help the team decipher the message. (Is the puppy good at googling? *g* Maybe her mom is most of the help before they start traveling.) They start on an adventure that takes them across the ocean and down into the tropical islands of the Caribbean. Maddie and Mook are on a quest to find the writer of the message in the bottle, but first they must find island where the mysterious bottle started its’ journey. (I like the quest.)

    Could be a neat premise, but I want to know what the note says. Having Maddie be a dreamer who always gets left at home is a start, but a really compelling search would be even better. Is someone's life at stake? A promise of love? Finding a secret civilization? Treasure?

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  8. I want to know more about Maddie and Mook through their actions and descriptions. Not so interested in Mom at this point and I think that's how it should be.

    Where are they starting from? What makes the message so intriguing? Is there something in the message that speaks of danger or a call for help?

    More details can help to ground the readers and get pulled into the story. Rather than telling us what Maddie likes to do, show us, even in this short pitch.

    Very nice idea and I think with an overhaul of the pitch, it would present very well. Just remember that a query/pitch often tells an agent/publisher how solid your writing skills are.

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