Thursday, August 26, 2010

11 Pitch Entry #30: Jim Hill

Title: The Case Against My Sister: Sixth Grade


Genre: Middle-grade

Marshall spent the summer preparing; downloading school bus schedules, memorizing teacher names, studying school maps, and practicing his clarinet (because in sixth grade you never know when a jam session will breakout). With overloaded backpack and trusty clarinet he plans to hit sixth grade with everything he’s got. M.Alice, his sister, has other ideas. Put Lucy Van Pelt, a pit bull and every mean girl you’ve ever known in a blender and you might end up with her equal.

M.Alice begins her takedown during class assembly hitting Marshall with nuclear-level humiliation by way of a hacked presentation and damning photographic evidence of Marshall’s loser-dom (two words: superhero underwear). Then she gets personal and steals his clarinet. His only chance to find it and get to jazz band on time is to overcome the class bully, survive gym, and solve the riddle she left in his empty instrument case. When your evil sister promises to ruin your life, believe her.

11 comments:

  1. I absolutely love the voice in this query! Perfect for middle grade. However, I did feel the first paragraph could be tightened. You repeat "clarinet" and "sixth grade" and should probably edit out most of the second sentence to just "He plans on hitting the first day of school with everything he’s got."

    I think there should be a comma between "assembly" and "hitting" in the second paragraph, otherwise this is another great use of voice!

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  2. This sounds like an extremely fun read (and one that boys with older sisters will love).


    I'm curious about the sister's motivation--normally an older sister (I'm assuming she's older, but maybe not) tends to ignore her younger brother, taking opportunities to humiliate when they arise, not going out of their way to plan elaborate suffering. She's either got a serious beef with him about a specific incident (if so, please mention it), or is pure evil, which has got to be fun to write :)

    Great story.

    I agree with Nikki--the voice really comes through here!

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  3. Marshall spent the summer preparing;(for what?) downloading school bus schedules, memorizing teacher names, studying school maps, and practicing his clarinet (because in sixth grade you never know when a jam session will breakout).(love the voice)

    With overloaded backpack and trusty clarinet (cut, redundant) he plans to hit sixth grade with everything he’s got. M.Alice, his sister, has other ideas. Put Lucy Van Pelt, a pit bull and every mean girl you’ve ever known in a blender and you might end up with her equal.

    M.Alice begins her takedown during class assembly(,) hitting Marshall with nuclear-level humiliation by way of a hacked presentation (in middle school?!) and damning(language choice?) photographic evidence of Marshall’s loser-dom (two words: superhero underwear). (This is great voice, but there might be a better way to convey it. maybe cut 'a hacked' through 'damning'?)

    Then she gets personal and steals his clarinet.(why? why is she being so mean? just for the sake of it is kinda boring. And what's Marshall doing to fight back?)

    His only chance to find it and get to jazz band on time is to overcome the class bully(you mean HIS SISTER?), survive gym,(what does gym have to do with finding his clarinet?) and solve the riddle she left in his empty instrument case.(mention this when she steals it.) When your evil sister promises to ruin your life, believe her. (nice wrap-up.)

    GREAT voice.

    good luck!

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  4. I agree, this has tons of voice and sounds like a fun read!!

    My one hang up was why is it so important for him to get back his clarinet...is there a big concert/competition he needs to get to? There has to be more at stake here than humiliation, although that bites :D.

    Good luck with this, I like the MC already!

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  5. HA! I love this!!

    Like others said, the voice is spot on. My only critique is that the first and second sentences seem redundant in some way. And, I'm wondering about why the MC's sister is so mean to him. And, it seems like all this happens to him--what does he do to control the situation (you don't want him to appear "passive.")

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  6. Actually, I like this, voice and sibling rivalry. I researched it, lived through it, and I think that almost every kid deals with it in some way. You have it in such a funny way! M.ALice must be short for MaryAlice, right? It seems odd that it's M though. Who is Lucy Van Pelt? Another character? The conflict and tension is easily conveyed here, but he's gotta get her back! LOL. And get his dignity back. Is his only goal jazz band practice?

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  7. I love this idea and think its a great idea for MG. I do agreee with Nikki...some editing of the first two sentences to tighten everything up a little and create the "hook" will benefit, otherwise, I think you're on the right track.

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  8. i agree with most of the comments. cute voice and likable MC.

    however, i'm not seeing what the main conflict is (getting back is clarinet? why?) or why the sister is being so mean? i totally get that kids are mean for the sake of being mean sometimes - but as well as know, no villian is purely evil just for the sake of it. there has to be some motivation.

    again, i really like the voice and MC, i'd just work on tightening this a bit.

    (bekah - i think the M.Alice is a play on words for malice - very cute, btw!)

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  9. Apologies for lateness; my work week ended late last night. :)

    --

    Marshall spent the summer preparing;

    --

    Colon, not semi-colon.

    --

    downloading school bus schedules, memorizing teacher names, studying school maps, and practicing his clarinet (because in sixth grade you never know when a jam session will breakout). With overloaded backpack and trusty clarinet he plans to hit sixth grade with everything he’s got.

    --

    Comma after 'trusty clarinet,' unless you cut it as suggested, which I think might be better. It's unneeded.

    --

    M.Alice, his sister, has other ideas. Put Lucy Van Pelt, a pit bull and every mean girl you’ve ever known in a blender and you might end up with her equal.

    --

    I *love* this comparison. This is excellent. The whole 'M.Alice' is awkward, though.

    --

    M.Alice begins her takedown during class assembly hitting Marshall with nuclear-level humiliation by way of a hacked presentation and damning photographic evidence of Marshall’s loser-dom (two words: superhero underwear).
    --

    Took me three takes before I figured out what you meant by loser-dom. Maybe a simpler phrasing?

    --

    Then she gets personal and steals his clarinet. His only chance to find it and get to jazz band on time is to overcome the class bully, survive gym, and solve the riddle she left in his empty instrument case. When your evil sister promises to ruin your life, believe her.

    --

    I think this sounds great. Perfect for middle grade, as said, with a dynamic villain and fun story.

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  10. Thanks for the comments. Definitely room to tighten it up, and correct some errors made in haste to get in the top 50.

    I had the chance to do a short reading at a local conference and it went very well. Laughs in all the right places, and folks wanting more at the end.

    Now to batten down the hatches for tomorrow's hurricane!

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  11. I like the characterization of the sister. But why is she so evil?

    Britt Leigh, entrat #43

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