Thursday, August 26, 2010

10 Pitch Entry #37: Laurel Amberdine

Title: Tattered Sky


Genre: YA SF

Civilization has been destroyed by a time travel experiment gone wrong. Now every day the sky rips open to show scenes from lives that have never been, showering the world in radiation. Electronics no longer work, mutations abound, and day-by-day, humanity is dying off.

17-year-old Avilon Dex lives in a disused hunting lodge with her mother and little sister. All they want is to be left alone, but when a group of tyrants kidnaps her sister, Avilon learns there is more to her family that she ever realized. Avilon’s mother admits that the little girl is not her daughter — she might not even be human. She appeared the night the sky tore open, seeming to replace an infant born two nights earlier, dead. With her only help a handsome, mysterious rebel, Avilon must rescue a little girl who might not be her sister, but may be the only hope of saving the world.

10 comments:

  1. A few things caught my attention:

    -What do you mean by "the sky rips open to show scenes from lives that have never been"? Do you mean that literally?
    -rephrease "She appeared the night the sky tore open, coincidently replacing an still born infant from two nights ealier." or something similar.
    -You need a transition between Avilon discovering her sister is not who she thought she was, and her decision to go rescue her.
    -Also, I would add more details about the handsome rebel, add his name, why is he helping or something.

    Right now I like what I know of your story but I think you need a little bit more details to make it even more enticing.

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  2. Civilization has been destroyed by a time travel experiment gone wrong. Now every day the sky rips open to show scenes from lives that have never been, showering the world in radiation. Electronics no longer work, mutations abound, and day-by-day, humanity is dying off. (cool!!)

    17-year-old Avilon Dex lives in a disused hunting lodge with her mother and little sister. All they want is to be left alone, but when a group of tyrants kidnaps her sister, Avilon learns there is more to her family that(than) she ever realized. Avilon’s mother admits that the little girl is not her daughter — she might not even be human. She appeared the night the sky tore open, seeming to replace an infant born two nights earlier, dead. With her only help a handsome, mysterious rebel, Avilon must rescue a little girl who might not be her sister, but may be the only hope of saving the world. (I'd like to know why the sister might be the hope of the world, and what Avilon's personal stakes are.)

    Otherwise, this rocks. I'm normally not into pitches that are mostly set-up, but this reads like back-cover copy.

    Good luck!

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  3. Love the title and the unique premise.

    Civilization has been destroyed by a time travel experiment gone wrong. Now every day the sky rips open to show scenes from lives that have never been, showering the world in radiation. Electronics no longer work, mutations abound, and day-by-day, humanity is dying off. (STRONG OPENING)

    17-year-old Avilon Dex lives in a disused hunting lodge with her mother and little sister. All they want is to be left alone, but when a group of tyrants (I'D QUESTION THE WORD CHOICE HERE. TYRANTS ARE USUALLY HIGH UP AND DON'T DO DIRTY WORK LIKE KIDNAPPING) kidnaps her sister, Avilon learns there is more to her family that she ever realized(THE LAST PART OF THE SENTENCE IS A LITTLE CLICHE). Avilon’s mother admits that the little girl is not her daughter — she might not even be human. She appeared the night the sky tore open, seeming to replace an infant born two nights earlier, dead. With her only help a handsome, mysterious rebel, Avilon must rescue a little girl who might not be her sister, but may be the only hope of saving the world. (MAYBE A LITTLE MORE DETAIL ABOUT HOW HER SISTER MIGHT SAVE THE WORLD)

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  4. I love your title and the premise of your story! I think your query just needs some tweaking. How about something like this?...

    ***
    Civilization has been destroyed by a time travel experiment gone wrong. Now every day the sky rips open to show scenes from lives that have never been, showering the world in radiation. Electronics no longer work, mutations abound, and day-by-day, humanity is dying off.

    Seventeen-year-old Avilon Dex lives in an abandoned hunting lodge with her mother and little sister. When a band of tyrants kidnaps her sister, Avilon learns there is more to her family than she ever realized. Avilon’s mother admits that the little girl is not her daughter — she might not even be human. She appeared the night the sky tore open, possibly replacing an infant born dead two nights earlier. Avilon must rescue a little girl who might not be her sister, but may be the only hope of saving the world.

    ***
    I changed "17-year-old" to "Seventeen-year-old", by the way, because it begins a sentence. Good luck with your book! It sounds awesome!

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  5. This starts out awesomely! The first paragraph is perfect--but I think you get a little caught up in your explanation in the second. I'm going to take a stab at rewriting: "Seventeen-year-old Avilon Dex lives in a disused hunting lodge with her mother and little sister, xxx [for clarity's sake, please put her sister's name here! It will reduce the need for repetition]. All they want is to be left alone, but when a group of tyrants kidnaps xxx, Avilon learns her family's secret-- Xxx is not her sister. Adopted by Avilon's mother the night the sky opened, xxx might not even be human. Now Avilon must rescue a little girl who might not be her sister, but may be the only hope of saving the world."

    I'd get rid of the rebel completely--it feels like one too many character.

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  6. I do not see my commentary here, yet I know I posted it... Dangitall! I will try again...

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  7. You have a good story idea here. It's clear that there is great potential, but for me it does have problems. Here are my comments. As always they are just my opinion. YMMV.

    >>The world stuff is interesting, but I think you spend too much time setting it up. The essentials of your world for hooking someone are: civilization destroyed by time travel experiment gone wrong, electronics no longer work and mutations abound. The others may be true and interesting, but not necessarily the essence of your story.

    >>I would like to see Avilon Dex worked into the opening paragraph of the pitch. The story is really about her and her relationship with her sister.

    >>"disused hunting lodge" feels wrong. Dilipidated would be better because while an unused hunting lodge does get run down, it takes years. If this place was in decent shape, you can bet its owner would have been running for it right away. It's likely secluded. A hunter would also know the game trails. And even more important, that hunter would know the best way to protect themselves on their own hunting land. In the case of an appocalypse, that's where I'm going. Just one hunter's opionion.

    >>How old is little sis? I know this may be a nitpick, but the two days is a long time for a kid to not know their sister was born dead, unless they are very close in age. My best friends had a still birth and the whole family knew it right away, including the 2 year old. For this to work, they need to be really close in age unless Avilon was away at camp or something like that. Which would pose a whole other set of problems.

    >>You don't need to say that all they want is to be left alone. Their choice of living location already showed that. Don't tell what you've already shown. The words are precious.

    >>Why did the tyrants kidnap the sister, or even know about her? Makes no sense. They're living in the middle of no where. There's more to these tyrants than meets the eye. Show me.

    >>What leads her to believe the little girl might not even be human? Seems like a weird thing to say. Remember. Their whole world has fallen appart. This honestly might be one of the less weird things that happened to them around that time. She looks human. She acts human. I think they would assume she is human.

    >>The handsome mysterious rebel only gets one line. And we don't even know his name? And a cliche one at that. He has a story. And whatever it is, probably drives him to help. Tell me more or don't introduce him. But don't give him only six words. He's helping save the world.

    >>Don't refer to the sister as "little girl". This girl is her sister. Adopted or not. She loved this girl before she knew, and will love her after. Two reasons. Love extends beyond blood relatives. And they've been through a lot. The types of things you're talking about build bonds as strong, if not stronger, than familial ones.

    >>But none of that matters. Becauase her sister is the only chance of saving the world.

    >>Now the above critique may change if she hated her sister. But I see no evidence of that. In fact, the one thing that seems to be missing in general is emotion. There's scary stuff happening. Dead sister. Fake sister. Isolation. Kidnapping. Potential love interest. Fate of the world in her hands. Avilon's has to feel something. Conflict. Loss. Terror. Love. Something. Show me what it is.

    That's all I have right now. I'll check in again after you've done some revisions. I'm interested to see how this one changes.

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  8. Thank you all very much! I'm still processing all this great advice. I have a new try with some simple tweaks, below. L. Bowser, I really appreciate your suggestions too, but it's taking me a while to incorporate your suggestions and concerns.

    Anyway, here's the easier attempt:

    Civilization has been destroyed by a time travel experiment gone wrong. Now every day the sky rips open to show scenes from lives that have never been, showering the world in radiation. Electronics no longer work, mutations abound, and day-by-day, humanity is dying off.

    Seventeen-year-old Avilon Dex lives in an old hunting lodge with her mother and little sister, Miere. When a group of tyrants kidnaps Miere, Avilon learns that Miere is not her sister. Adopted the night the sky first tore open, Miere might not even be human — but she might be their only chance to undo the paradox and save the world. Now Avilon must rescue Miere from those who would prefer to be mankind’s only survivors.

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  9. I like this version better, but I do have more questions/comments.

    >>You can get rid of "gone wrong". This is implied by the next sentence. If it had gone right, none of this would be happening.

    >>In the second sentence, remove the word now. It will make it feel more urgent. I would also remove "showering the world in radiation". I feel like its intangible nature takes away from the imagery of the sky ripping open, showing lives that have never been.

    >>When you say humanity is dying off, do you mean in the physical or ideological sense? Is the human race dying? Or is it the things that distinguish us from other animals that are going away?

    >>I still like dilapidated as a description of the hunting lodge. It's more powerful than old and shows us they don't want to be found.

    >>You need a word other than tyrants. Militia, terror-group, thugs, gang, etc... Tyrants just feels wrong. Also get rid of "group of". The plural shows its a group. "When tyrants kidnap Miere..."

    >>kidnaps should be kidnap.

    >>I still struggle with "might not even be human." Tell me why. Did aliens appear at the same time? God told her in a dream? She bleeds green? What?

    >>I'm not sure paradox is the correct word. I may be mistaken, but I would still consult Mr. Webster on that one. Rift may be better. It fits better with time travel experiment gone wrong. Look up "rift in spacetime".

    >>Your last sentence is fantastic. This should be the basis of your tag line. It tells the essence of your story. It should also be its own paragraph for emphasis.

    You have enough words left for another short paragraph. Maybe you can expand on the tyrants story. Is this the real reason they have been living in the cabin and not the fact that civilization has collapsed?

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  10. I've re-arranged your query a bit to show you another way you might present this. I've also trimmed it a little. There are roughly 90-100 words, which means you can lengthen out this pitch a little bit and give us some other enticing details.

    I provided some samples of what I would want to see, at the spot in the query I would want to see it.

    Seventeen year-old Avilon Dex lives in a dilapidated hunting lodge with her mother and little sister, Miere. Every day the sky rips open, showing scenes from lives that have never been. Electronics don’t work. Mutations abound. The human race is dying. All the results of a time travel experiment gone wrong.

    When a group of thugs capture Miere, mother confesses her secret. Miere is not Avilon's sister. She appeared from nowhere the night the sky first tore open.

    >> Here's where you need to fill in some of the details of what's happening in the story. Give us something about why they want Miere. How they know about her. Who they are. Why they wouldn't just kill Miere (which seems the logical end if that's what it would take to secure their status as sole survivors). How will Avilon know how to find her. You might re-introduce the mysterious rebel (give him a name) and show more of the story to us. Give a taste of why Miere might be the only chance of fixing the rift in space time.<<

    Now Avilon must rescue Miere from those desiring to be mankind’s only survivors.

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