Thursday, August 26, 2010

6 Pitch Entry #42: Michelle

Title: Fried Liver


Genre: MG Contemporary

For the first time since his mom went AWOL, life is finally looking up for Mike McTavish. When he and his Air Force father land in Wichita, they meet a mysterious mutt. Mike's always wanted a dog, and in Sergeant he finds the first friend he won't have to leave.

Then Mike collides with quirky Carma, who appears and claims the dog, Woofus, belongs to her. She also claims to be the state's top chess player. The McTavish men are all about chess, and Mike's dad gives aid and comfort to the enemy by asking Carma to stay with them and attend chess camp while her mother is abroad. When it seems Mike's life can't get any worse, his mom shows up after three years. His dad sends her away, and Mike follows her on his bike and ends up in the hospital with a head injury. Carma makes a sacrificial move to help Mike reunite his parents, but it may be too late for these "gambit pawns" to save the game.

6 comments:

  1. Hi Michelle!

    First off, awesome title!!!! Love it!

    Given that your genre is MG Contemporary, I would guess Mike is around 12-15, no? You may want to squeeze that in somewhere just so the reader is aware of his age, same with Carma, is she 12 or 18, I have no way of knowing, but the simple solution is adding Mike's age somewhere and then something like, "Then Mike collides with Carma, a quirky girl who..." Just adding "girl" makes me realize she's in the same age group as Mike.

    Maybe it's because I know nothing about chess, but I'm a little confused by this line in your summary, "The McTavish men are all about chess, and Mike's dad gives aid and comfort to the enemy by asking Carma to stay with them and attend chess camp..." I'm thinking is the dad a real jerk? It makes the dad sound like he's messing with Carma, a kid, so his own son can beat her in chess, which is kind of cruel. To me, this needs some clarification, because right off the bat I don't like the dad, unless of course I'm not supposed to, then it makes more sense.

    Also, in the intro you write, "...life is finally looking up for Mike McTavish" and then in the next section, "When it seems Mike's life can't get any worse." I don't see how his life has gone from "looking up" to "can't get any worse" other than giving up the dog, so maybe that could be explained a bit more. What is making poor Mike's life so bad now? I want to know! :)

    In this section, "His dad sends her away, and Mike follows her on his bike and ends up in the hospital with a head injury." Maybe you could 86 the part about the bike and put something like, "In a daring move, Mike goes on a desperate search for his mother..." Really heightens the tension.

    I do like this story idea a lot and I know you only have a certain amount of words you can use for this critique, so I'm guessing your query is longer, giving info I may not have. Of note, I'm already concerned about Mike. That is a huge plus, because getting a reader to have compassion in a two paragraph query is no easy task! Great job with that! You are on the right track! I hope my thoughts were helpful in some small way!

    Best wishes for lots of Full and Partial requests!

    xoxo -- Hilary

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  2. For the first time since his mom went AWOL, life is finally looking up for Mike McTavish. When he and his Air Force father land in Wichita, they meet a mysterious mutt. Mike's always wanted a dog, and in Sergeant(since the dog has another name in the next para, maybe leave it out here?) he finds the first friend he won't have to leave. (Nice opening.)

    Then Mike collides with quirky Carma, who appears and claims the dog, Woofus, belongs to her. She also claims to be the state's top chess player. The McTavish men are all about chess,(what a coincidence.) and Mike's dad gives aid and comfort to the enemy (cute voice) by asking Carma to stay with them and attend chess camp while her mother is abroad. When it seems Mike's life can't get any worse, his mom shows up after three years. His dad sends her away, and Mike follows her on his bike and ends up in the hospital with a head injury. (huh? the bit about the mom coming back throws me...) Carma makes a sacrificial move to help Mike reunite his parents, but it may be too late for these "gambit pawns" to save the game. (I like the chess voice with sacrificial moves and save the game, but gambit pawns seems too much.)

    I'm not sure what the book is really about - the dog and Carma and chess, or the mom coming back? the ideas need to be tied together better.

    Good luck!

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  3. Sounds like a great story but I think you need to narrow the focus of this a little. From your opening paragraph, I was expecting the story to be about a Mike and the dog. Then you mention Carma and how she is 'adopted' by his dad since they share a common interest in chess. With his mom coming back, I'm not sure what the main focus of the story is. Each of these together sound like they will make for an intriguing story but I'm wondering what the overall arc is.
    Also, I was a little confused about Mike's mom leaving and then coming back. In the opening he is dealing with his mom going AWOL and he's upset. But when she shows up again, life gets worse.
    I don't know a thing about chess so the play on words at the end confused me.

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  4. Hi Michelle!

    I love your premise, but I think the 175-word limit caused some problems.

    I liked the one you posted in the Cornell DeVille contest better (I just went back and reread it). The main paragraph of that was only 180-some words, so I think you could cut a few words out of that and use it...

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  5. Thanks everyone! Lots of great input kindly given. This is a fabulous forum.
    You've given me some wonderful food for thought as I work on the next entry!

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  6. Hey Michelle,
    Just wanted to let you know it sounds like it's a really sweet story with a lot of heart. As far as tightening it up, Hillary gave excellent advice and I'd follow her suggestions. There's really not much to add after her comment.
    Good job and good luck with it.

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