Thursday, August 26, 2010

8 Pitch Entry #4: Monica B.W.

Genre: YA paranormal


Title: Out of My Body

Whenever her soul feels like going out for a float, sixteen-year-old Tanya Reinhart finds herself hovering over her limp, drooling body. Sure, you’d think astral experiences are fun. But they’re definitely not fun when you faint in class—or, crap, fall on the lap of Tanya’s high school crush.

One awful night, after finding her mother unconscious, Tanya realizes being a drooling freak is nothing. Because, according to an ethereal stranger who sifts through the door, her mom has left her body—as she’s done for years, serving the Government. Only tonight, her soul is MIA. The stranger cooks a deal with Tanya: if she becomes an out-of-body spy and discovers a traitor in his agency, he’ll get her mother’s soul back. But what could be worse than working undercover while pretending to be a normal high school student? Well, finding out you’re actually helping the bad guys. And that the traitor not only is the good guy, but he’s your crush. Now, if Tanya doesn’t turn him in, she won’t see her mother again.

8 comments:

  1. I think the first sentence of this pitch might work better as the third sentence. What I mean is, it’s definitely shocking, yes, but it’s almost a bit too confronting, at least for me. I found it to be so confusing (why is her soul feeling things anyway? How come it randomly “goes for a float”?) that I’m not sure I would have kept reading in other circumstances. I’m glad I did, though, because the second sentence really grabbed me! So what if you started with “You’d think astral experiences would be fun” and went on to explain “But not for sixteen-year-old Tanya Reinhart,” when you faint in class, etc., and THEN mention the drooling body… when we discover that she has this episode right in front of her crush. Major drama!

    I’m also wondering if you give too much away in the pitch... I could be wrong, though, if she discovers she’s working for the bad guys and the “traitor” is the crush in the first part of the book. It just reads like a later revelation. Anyway, it sounds like a really cool idea!

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  3. Monica, your pitch intrigued me – I’ve been researching Astral Travel for a book I’m working on.

    Can Tanya’s Astral Travel happen anytime; she sounds a little narcoleptic? When her soul decides it’s time to leave does it just leave?

    As Meagan mentioned, your second sentence is a grabber, and shows Tanya’s voice. Perhaps switch them around?

    Sure, you’d think astral experiences are fun. But they’re definitely not fun when you faint in class—or, crap, fall on the lap of your high school crush. Whenever her soul feels like going out for a float, sixteen-year-old Tanya Reinhart finds herself hovering over her limp, drooling body.

    ‘And that the traitor not only is the good guy, but he’s your crush’ you could switch this around a little, ‘And not only is the traitor the good guy, but he’s your crush.’

    Love the idea of ethereal beings floating around, and lots of lovely plot twists. Oh! Will she turn him in, or will they devise a plan??

    This is definitely one I’m going to look out for :)

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  4. As always, my comments are a reflection of my subjective opinion. So, while I have put on critique-like-an-agent hat, it is still my subjective take. :) And I'm verbose, so I'll break my critique into two comments.

    Overall, I think there’s a really cool concept at the heart of this query. But fake-agent me is left a little confused and wondering if you can pull it off, I think because it needs clarity and some tweaks to make the conflicts logical. See my bracketed comments below.

    Whenever her soul feels like going out for a float, sixteen-year-old Tanya Reinhart finds herself hovering over her limp, drooling body. [I really like this first line, despite the passivity – but it made me wonder, is she not in control at all? If she is, revise to make her active in the floating off…if not, carry on…] Sure, you’d think astral experiences are fun. But they’re definitely not fun when you faint in class—or, crap, fall on the lap of Tanya’s high school crush. [some good voice, but overall I think the second and third sentences could include more plot, along with voice – maybe. I mean, all I know at this point if she astral projects, and that sometimes it’s a drag. A lot of words to convey that. And, this may be the subjectivity again, but the mention of the crush makes me roll my eyes a bit, as opposed to something more interesting…but, that may very much be me. And I would read on. So, you need to trust you instincts here on that. Is there one, significant event you could use to show the drag factor? And if it is the landing in the lap of the crush, then give it a bit more detail, instead of being a throw away reference. ]

    One awful night, after finding her mother unconscious, Tanya realizes being a drooling freak is nothing. [this confused me – astral-projected-her looked down and saw her mother’s unconscious body? Or soul-intact-her found her mother unconscious? And do we need her finding her mother unconscious, or could you just get to what it means that she is unconscious? Ie, but when her mother…. ] Because, according to an ethereal stranger who sifts through the door [image confused me – the sifting, really. Can people, even ghost-like people, sift? Seems like a slightly off word choice, which is one of my subjective pet peeves. ] , her mom has left her body—as she’s done for years, serving the Government [very cool]. Only tonight, her soul is MIA. [and I love this line – and so now I sort of feel like you’ve buried these cool bits a little. Do we need to know about the crush above? Can we just get these bits into the first paragraph? Maybe? Just think about it…] The stranger cooks [cooks also feels a little off, but I’d buy it, if sift didn’t have my word choice radar pinging… ;) ] a deal with Tanya: if she becomes an out-of-body spy and discovers a traitor in his agency, he’ll get her mother’s soul back. [I like the stakes and idea, but feel like I’d buy this more if I had some idea of why she trusts him, or why she feels she has no other choice – so, maybe, if you can’t show why she trusts him, the very next sentence has to show that she doesn’t but has no other choice.]

    (continued in next comment)

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  5. (continued from last comment)

    But what could be worse than working undercover while pretending to be a normal high school student? [rhetorical questions are like daring me to be rude – and this one really isn’t effective imo because it’s obvious – and what makes her interesting is that she*isn’t* a normal blah-blah-blah. – so, I’d suggest cutting the question and getting on with the plot point. ;} ] Well, finding out you’re actually helping the bad guys. [see, I sorta guessed this was coming. And it’s good for the plot of the book, but I think it makes you may a line showing why she trusts the stranger…or that she feels she has no choice…something, or it feels like the plot is thin. Which I am assuming it is not ;) ] And that the traitor not only is the good guy, but he’s your crush. [not sure this works so distant from Tanya – as the query goes on, it feels like the reader is getting further and further away from her POV – see if you can bring in a little more of a closer third feel. And, honestly, at this point I could care less about her name-less crush. So…you have a choice to make – make him important enough to name, or cut him. And it might be possible to keep the line here but cut the crush from the first paragraph – you might try that. But, honestly, if he’s only a crush, how can he possibly measure up to saving her mother? ] Now, if Tanya doesn’t turn him in, she won’t see her mother again. [it’s not just turn him in, right? I mean, it’s not just the crush thing, it would be betraying her own government, too…Make sure you are clear on your stakes, so that the agent can be confident in the story pitch].

    I think this query has a lot of strengths, and could be effective with some agents on concept alone, but right now it feels like it gives the impression of a possibly coincidental story. I’m guessing it’s got depth and conflicts - so to make them really firm, maybe get in just a smidge more cause and effect plot detail.

    But in the end, you need to trust your view and feel confident in it, and I think this version might draw some agents to read on as is. So, if you experiment with adding some tension or depth, don't do so at the expense of clarity. If it feels convoluted after those experiments, stick with clarity. But do consider if there are places you can tighten up. ;)

    Good luck!

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  6. Whenever her soul feels like going out for a float, sixteen-year-old Tanya Reinhart finds herself hovering over her limp, drooling body. Sure, you’d think astral experiences are fun. But they’re definitely not fun when you faint in class—or, crap, fall on the lap of Tanya’s high school crush. (I'd make the first sentence the last one of the para, and watch your POV - should read 'or fall in the lap of your high school crush.')

    One awful night,(I'd cut this) after finding her mother unconscious, Tanya realizes being a drooling freak is nothing. Because, according to an ethereal stranger who sifts through the door (who? neat), her mom has left her body—as she’s done for years, serving the Government. (I don't see the connection - why does this downplay her being a drooling freak? You need the next few lines for it to work...)

    Only tonight, her soul is MIA. (I'd condense these last few lines.)

    The stranger cooks a deal with Tanya: if she becomes an out-of-body spy and discovers a traitor in his agency, he’ll get her mother’s soul back.(why wouldn't he just get the mother's soul back and have the experienced spy he's used to? why wouldn't he get his employee back anyway?)

    But what could be worse than working undercover while pretending to be a normal high school student?(that's kind of what undercover means, right? pretending to be normal when you're not? And even though it's not the first sentence, I'm not a fan of rhetorical questions in queries anywhere. I could answer this a million different ways.)

    Well, finding out you’re actually helping the bad guys. And that the traitor not only is the good guy, but he’s your crush. (How does she find out they're bad? Does this mean her mom is one of the bad guys?)

    Now, if Tanya doesn’t turn him in, she won’t see her mother again. (Nice stakes.)

    I like this - sounds like a YA version of Phaedra Weldon's WRAITH, which I loved.

    Good luck!

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  7. This is a neat idea, but I'm not sure this query really sells it effectively. The first line really confused me. I had to reread it three times and then think about it, which made me wonder if the rest of the query will be tough to follow. Luckily, the second and third sentences are brilliant, except for a bit of POV stuff.
    In the second paragraph, I too stumbled over the word 'sifts' just because it is so unusual. But then I realized that I LOVED the word choice. I can actually see this guy filtering through the door, which is so much cooler than the overdone melting that ghosts and spirits seem to do. But I don't really get why he asks Tanya to be a spy for him. Why does he need her, specifically?
    I like the tension at the end, choosing between her mother and her crush. Though I agree that if he is just a crush, her mother would be the clear choice. But I think we're just missing some info here, and that the real story is a lot more complex than that.
    Really cool premise! All the best to you:)

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  8. I was intrigued by the premise and was drawn into learning what the story is about. It sounds original and fresh. I think the beginning could be snappier and show the voice more, perhaps something like this:

    You'd think astral experiences would be fun, but they're definitely not--not when you faint in class or fall on the lap of your High school crush. That is exactly what happens to sixteen-year-old Tanya Reinhart when her soul goes out for a stroll...

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