Thursday, August 26, 2010

7 Pitch Entry #44: Elan Cross

Title: Grounders


Genre: YA SF

In the last years of the nineteenth century, children work hard, abusive fathers get away with too much, and teenage girls like Drift Henry are ignored. Since Mama died, Master Henry has gotten worse, drunk, vulgar--he’s a cussed fool. But what can Drift do? She needs a way out. That’s when Ollie contacts her. A boy from the sky city, Chalcis, Ollie promises her a better life: the life of a Peacemaker, one of the most prestigious paths in the game of Grounders. After being thrust into her first task, Drift becomes Ollie’s Grounder.

She trades her huffing corset and plug-ugly dress for a defensefiber one-piece. And she meets the fourth most highly rated Grounder of all time: the deadly and gorgeous, Mateo Knave. At first Drift’s life improves, but when the prince of Chalcis himself presents her with a glorious, unprecedented task, she must choose whether to complete it (and murder millions of people in the process) or face the consequence of failure. Unfortunately for Drift, when tasks go unfinished, Grounders are expendable.

7 comments:

  1. You seem to have a very well wovened world however, as a reader, I don't know it yet so it made your pitch a little obscure.

    I got the main points but I think you need to add more detail.

    In the last years of the nineteenth century (cut this shorter), children work hard (what do you mean, do they study hard, work in factories….?), abusive fathers get away with too much, and teenage girls like Drift Henry are ignored. Since Mama died (to me, Mama sounded MG, just my personal take), Master Henry has gotten worse, drunk, vulgar--he’s a cussed fool. (But what can Drift do?) I would get rid of that.) Drift needs a way out. That’s when Ollie contacts her. A boy from the sky city, Chalcis, Ollie promises her a better life: the life of a Peacemaker, one of the most prestigious paths in the game of Grounders (explain briefly what Grounders are). (After being thrust into her first task, Drift becomes Ollie’s Grounder.) I would move this sentence or get rid of it. I think the previous and next sentence would read together smoothly without this one)

    She trades her huffing corset and plug-ugly dress for a defensefiber one-piece. (sounds great, and I am guessing I would understand the defensefiber piece better if I knew what Grounders were) And she meets the fourth most highly rated Grounder of all time: the deadly and gorgeous, Mateo Knave. At first Drift’s life improves, but when the prince of Chalcis himself presents her with a glorious, unprecedented task, she must choose whether to complete it (and murder millions of people in the process) or face the consequence of failure, because unfortunately for Drift, when tasks go unfinished, Grounders are expendable.


    Hope this helps. I love the premise though!!!

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  2. In the last years of the nineteenth century, children work hard, abusive fathers get away with too much, and teenage girls like Drift Henry are ignored. Since Mama died, Master Henry has gotten worse, drunk, vulgar--he’s a cussed fool.(and a bit of a cliche.)

    But what can Drift do? She needs a way out. That’s when Ollie contacts her. A boy from the sky city, Chalcis, Ollie promises her a better life: the life of a Peacemaker, one of the most prestigious paths in the game of Grounders. After being thrust into her first task, Drift becomes Ollie’s Grounder.(What does that mean? I have no idea what any of this stuff is.)

    She trades her huffing corset and plug-ugly dress for a defensefiber one-piece. And she meets the fourth most highly rated Grounder of all time (this is awkward - just, ony of the best?): the deadly and gorgeous,(comma not needed) Mateo Knave.

    At first Drift’s life improves, but when the prince of Chalcis himself presents her with a glorious, unprecedented task, she must choose whether to complete it (and murder millions of people in the process) (HOLD THE PHONE. If the MC would ever consider doing this, [and it's called glorious???] I will not like her. Done.)

    or face the consequence of failure. Unfortunately for Drift, when tasks go unfinished, Grounders are expendable. (Don't care. If she'd put herself over MILLIONS OF PEOPLE like that, I don't care if she 'succeeds' or not.)

    So, a couple things here: this is confusing, I have no reason to care about Drift, I don't see why the historical context matters (why she had to come from that era), and if there's a compelling way to explain why I should root for someone willing to kill millions of people to save her own neck, I just don't see it.

    I think you need to strip this and rebuild. What does Drift need - and I don't mean the part about getting away from the abused boring life she had, because she achieves that through Ollie.

    Sorry if I come across harshly but, wow, eek, eeeeeek. (I have no qualms with a protag who needs to murder people, sure. Just the way you're presenting this is without context and makes it sound heartless.)

    Good luck!

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  3. Hi Elan!

    Thanks for sharing your query with me and I hope I can be helpful. This sounds like an intriguing story and Drift sounds as though she'll be a strong female! Girl power!

    After reading this, my first thought was I need to know what a Grounder is. It sounds like something really amazing, but you don't spell out what a Grounder is or does, so it's a bit confusing as a reader who knows nothing about your novel.

    Also, in the intro, I'd make it more Drift centric. "... children work hard, abusive fathers get away with too much, and teenage girls like Drift Henry are ignored." This is vague. Tell us about Drift's life. What is the hard work she does? Why is she ignored? I might take out the "abusive fathers get away with too much..." altogether only because it implies darker issues, which it doesn't sound like this story is about, but that's just my take. Also, I'd change Mama to "her mother". More YA.

    I think with SF you also need to be a little careful with word choice when querying, simple because it won't make sense to a reader unless they know the full story and the world in which your characters dwell. I'd take out "huffing" and "plug-ugly" and "defensefiber", I have no idea what those terms are supposed to convey. "Defensefiber" is pretty obvious, but I'd still stay away from words that aren't real words. It's very clear this is a SF story without using your world's terms. You may want to use descriptive words that are similar to the words in your SF world, just relevant to our world.

    The only other suggestion I can give you is the section where you write, "she must choose whether to complete it (and murder millions of people in the process) or face the consequence of failure." I'd change the last part to something bigger than simple failure, because I think (or at least I hope) most people would immediately chose failure, even if it meant their own death, as opposed to letting millions of people die. I think the consequences Drift faces needs to be as dire as letting a million people die.

    I think this sounds like an amazing world! I want to know more about Drift and for sure meet this cute, but fatal Grounder!

    I hope this helped a little and I can't wait to hear good news from you on the query front!

    xoxo -- Hilary

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  4. Hey all!
    Whew! Queries are hard!!
    Thank you all for your feedback and Hilary for mentoring.
    So obviously I've mentioned the prince's 'glorious' task WAY too early. The query reader has no idea about Drift's nature, the prince's control over her, what she's being threatened with, and of course her ultimate choice in regards to this horrible task.
    It's time to go back to the drawing board.
    Again, thank you:)
    Elan

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  5. Totally - I'd love to see this reworked, now that you mention the prince controls her, I can totally see a horrific inner struggle if that's the case.

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  6. I like your story idea. I think you need to reword you first paragraph. For me it reads just a bit awkward. I also agree with some other comments you've received about us not knowing theowrld you've created. You need to show us that world a little more clearly to show how it stands out.

    I would really like to see you show us the difference between Grounders and the people from sky city instead of alluding to it.

    Great imagination. I look forward to seeing your changes.

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