Thursday, August 26, 2010

8 Pitch Entry #46: Traci Van Wagoner

Title: Searching


Genre: MG Historical Fantasy

When Dad said they were moving west to get a fresh start, twelve year old Chris had no idea she’d be plopped into the middle of a real live ghost town with a magical stick and buried secrets. All she wants is to go back home. But home is something she'll never have again since Mom died.
The day after a ghostly figure appears beneath her window in the middle of the night, she finds a magical stick in an old Indian granary. The Stick pulls her into a destiny centuries old, from a time when Thunderbirds flew the skies. The quest falls to her to set the Thunderbird spirit free. Problem is, she’s not the only one searching for the burial chamber. So is Mr. Blackley, the Boss, and he’s not about to let anyone stand in his way of making the find of the century and becoming rich and powerful. Especially not a few dumb kids. Locked in a smelly root cellar, how can Chris save the Thunderbird spirit and send him home?

8 comments:

  1. When Dad said they were moving west to get a fresh start, twelve year old Chris had no idea she’d be plopped into the middle of a real live ghost town with a magical stick and buried secrets. All she wants is to go back home. But home is something she'll never have again since Mom died. (Nice.)

    The day after a ghostly figure appears beneath her window in the middle of the night, she finds a magical stick in an old Indian granary. The Stick pulls her into a destiny centuries old, from a time when Thunderbirds flew the skies. The quest falls to her to set the Thunderbird spirit free.(this is a total non sequitur. What quest? what Thunderbird spirit? huh?)

    Problem is, she’s not the only one searching for the burial chamber. So is Mr. Blackley, the Boss, and he’s not about to let anyone stand in his way of making the find of the century and becoming rich and powerful. Especially not a few dumb kids. Locked in a smelly root cellar, how can Chris save the Thunderbird spirit and send him home? (I'm so confused -- is she back in time still? what other dumb kids? how does Mr Blackley know about the thunderbird?)

    The first para is great but the second one needs some streamlining.

    Good luck!

    ReplyDelete
  2. I like the sense of adventure here, but I think the plot could use some clarification.

    A few questions I had:
    Does a voice/vision (or the ghostly figure) tell her about the Thunderbird spirit and point her to the burial chamber?

    What is Mr. Blackley the "Boss" of?

    What powers does the stick have that would make Mr. Blackley rich and powerful?

    You mention "especially not a few dumb kids." I thought it was only Chris--does she have a friend or two?

    I get the general idea, but I'm fairly confused--I really like your first sentence, but then the plot gets a little muddled for me.

    Best of luck--the story sounds cool and unique!

    ReplyDelete
  3. Hi Traci! I hope my comments are helpful.

    I think the main problem with this pitch is that you are almost assuming that the reader knows what your story is about pre-pitch. There are a lot of statements and non-sequiters that aren't established and by the second paragraph, I was completely lost.

    Here's my breakdown:

    When Dad said they were moving west to get a fresh start, twelve year old Chris had no idea she’d be plopped into the middle of a real live [real life?] ghost town with a magical stick and buried secrets. [The "magical stick" and buried secrets don't seem to come from anywhere. Especially the stick. It's not an intrinsically "magical" item and without a reference point, I was already lost.] All she wants is to go back home. [Maybe instead, you structure like this: …real life ghost town. She's not really interested in legends and magic: all she wants to do is go home.] But home is something she'll never have again since Mom died. [Awkward. I get the idea but it's a little clunky.]

    The day after a ghostly figure appears beneath her window in the middle of the night, [What does it do? Does it tell her something? Why is the ghost important to this story?] [Chris] finds a magical stick in an old Indian granary. The Stick pulls her into a [centuries old destiny,] [I restructured, but again, I'm having trouble following. Was she pulled into the past? An alternate reality? A magical realm? Calling it a centuries old destiny doesn't give me a sense of it.] from a time when Thunderbirds flew the skies. The quest falls to her to set the Thunderbird spirit free. Problem is, she’s not the only one searching for the burial chamber. So is Mr. Blackley, the Boss, [Who's boss?] and he’s not about to let anyone stand in his way of making the find of the century [you just used a similar word above] and becoming rich and powerful. [Not sure how he's going to become rich and powerful based on what you've shown us so far...] Especially not a few dumb kids. [There are more than just Chris? You've only established this as HER quest.] Locked in a smelly root cellar, how can Chris save the Thunderbird spirit and send him home? [This whole last section needs some work. You're introducing elements from nowhere. You have to remember we haven't read this book and we don't know that the quest involves searching for a burial chamber. You need to explain it, not just throw it out as fact.]

    Good start, but I think you need some more specifics about the plot in here to really help your reader follow the pitch.

    ReplyDelete
  4. When Dad said they were moving west to get a fresh start, twelve year old [Hyphenate] Chris had no idea she’d be plopped into the middle of a real live ghost town with a magical stick and buried secrets [This was a bit vague for me--what is a magical stick?? What buried secrets? Ghostly kind of secrets? Secrets buried in boxes? These are my thoughts as I read this...I'm trying to imagine these "buried secrets and a magical stick, but I'm having some trouble]. All she wants is to go back home. But home is something she'll never have again since Mom died. [You mean she can't have a home because they won't be able to go back where they lived? Or because she doesn't feel at home because her mother is missing?]

    [Overall I think the first paragraph, with a bit of clarifications, would be a nice start. I mean we have conflict, a girls who lost her mother, magic and secrets. SOunds good... just don't let the reader feel a bit confused IMHO ;)]


    The day after a ghostly figure appears beneath her window in the middle of the night, she finds a magical stick in an old Indian granary. [Maybe say "After a ghostly figure...] and you'd nix words] The Stick pulls her into a destiny centuries old [what do you mean by this exactly?], from a time when Thunderbirds flew the skies. The quest falls to her to set the Thunderbird spirit free. Problem is, she’s not the only one searching for the burial chamber. So is Mr. Blackley, the Boss [of whom?], and he’s not about to let anyone stand in his way of making the find of the century and becoming rich and powerful. Especially not a few dumb kids. Locked in a smelly root cellar, how can Chris save the Thunderbird spirit and send him home? [what would happen if she doesn't succeed?]

    I feel this story is fun, especially for children. I think that clarifying some elements (as I said above) would strengthen the query. Good Luck!

    ReplyDelete
  5. I find your pitch basically intriguing, but I’m confused about the actual plot. I think you might be jumping around from one point in your story to another, but it’s hard to follow if you haven’t read the book. Also, in the first sentence, I think "twelve year old" should be spelled "twelve-year-old". How about something like this?...

    ***
    When Dad said they were moving west to get a fresh start, twelve-year-old Chris had no idea she’d be plopped into the middle of a real live ghost town with a magical stick and buried secrets. All she wants is to go back home. But home is something she'll never have again since Mom died.

    The day after a ghostly figure appears beneath her window in the middle of the night, she finds a magical stick in an old Indian granary. The Stick pulls her into a centuries-old world, when Thunderbirds flew the skies. Her destiny becomes that of setting the Thunderbird spirit free. Problem is, she’s not the only one searching for the necessary burial chamber. So is Mr. Blackley, the Boss, and he’s not about to let anyone stand in his way of making the find of the century and becoming rich and powerful. Locked in a smelly root cellar, Chris must find a way out, save the Thunderbird spirit and send him home.

    ***
    Good luck with your book! It sounds interesting!

    ReplyDelete
  6. Wow, thank you for your critiques and comments. You've all given me a lot to think about and directions for revising this. I think I had more clarity in my longer version, but when I cut for the 175 word count, I cut vital information. Now I can go back at it with renewed vigor.

    To answer some of the questions posed:
    Mr. Blackley is the boss of the coal mine where they find the burial chamber. Chris has a few friends who help her throughout. Friendship is a big factor for her in figuring out and completing the quest and in finding home in the end, but I'm not sure about introducing them in such a short synopsis. Mr. Blackley wants to find the burial chamber so he can sell the artifacts and bones of the Thunderbird, thus getting riches and recognition. If he succeeds, he'll shut down the mine, putting everyone out of jobs. Also, the Thunderbird spirit will be trapped, forever unable to go home.

    I will rewrite and try to answer these questions and clarify the plot. Thanks again!

    ReplyDelete
  7. I really like the first paragraph of your query. This sounds like an interesting novel. However, the mention of a stick seemed to come out of left field, so I wonder if you can just drop mention of that in the first paragraph. Also, I loved the last line.

    I agree with others about the 2nd and 3rd paragraphs in that it sounds like you plopped us into the middle of the story. I want more context for things like -- what do Thunderbirds have to do with ghosts and why does she have to save them? Why would the boss get rich from the burial chamber? Is the burial chamber the same thing as the granary?

    Also, be careful about capitalization for words like boss.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Thanks everyone for your great comments. I decided, after much rewriting and debating and writing some more, to post my revision. Hope this is more clear.


    Twelve-year-old Chris had no idea she’d be plopped into the middle of a living ghost town when Dad moved the family out west. Some fresh start—midnight ghostly figures pointing at her, mysterious drums, magical sticks and buried secrets. She wants to go home. But home is gone, buried along with Mom.

    When she finds a carved stick in an old Indian granary, she’s pulled into ancient quest from the first age of man when Thunderbirds flew the skies. The last of the Thunderbirds was buried beneath the mountain, and now the quest falls to her to set his spirit free. Problem is, she’s not the only one searching for the burial chamber. So is Mr. Blackley, the boss, and he’s not about to let anyone stand in his way of making the biggest find of the century which will make him rich.

    Locked in a root cellar, Chris must find a way out to save the Thunderbird spirit and send him home. Everyone should get to go home when they want to.

    ReplyDelete

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