Monday, September 10, 2012

Pitch Polish #105

70,000 words


“Dead is dead,” Dee Adams always used to say. But when Dee becomes a time-traveling dead woman, she discovers her death is only the beginning.

Before she landed on cancer’s hit list Dee was a commitment-challenged artist who wished her designs lived on gallery walls rather than cereal boxes. Also, she wished her best friends, Rae, Mallory, and Cate, didn't have to carry on without her, that her ex fiancée, Ben, hadn’t moved on, and that she’d done more with her life. But for Dee, dead isn’t dead after all: the surprise of attending her own funeral soon turns to shock, as she finds herself lamenting her mother's choice of lilies one moment then traveling time the next.

A hapless bystander to her former life, Dee uncovers devastating secrets she's powerless to change: Cate, confident and kind, has silently endured her husband’s abuse for years; Rae, the pragmatic loner, is hiding a mystery girlfriend and a desperate wish for a baby; Mallory, the selfless mother, lied about the father of her firstborn; and Dee wasn’t the only one who didn’t believe Ben was ‘the one.’ The present Dee left behind is crumbling as well, with a marriage on the rocks, another unwanted pregnancy, and lifelong friendships cracking under the stress of grief. Helpless to fix any of it, a disillusioned Dee is desperate for the end. So she attempts the impossible: she tries to die, again. And it’s in that final moment when she learns the only way past something, is through it.

As Dee’s friends and family start to accept life without her, the present begins healing the past and it’s ultimately Dee’s death that teaches her (and those she loves) the meaning of life.

First 150 words:

LiliesI wasn’t sure I could forgive my mother for this.
 I can’t believe she ordered the damn lilies.
The most unoriginal funeral flower and they were everywhere: on my coffin, in bouquets at each pew and in a giant wreath that encircled a practically life-sized photo of me with a closed-mouth smile. I didn’t remember the photo being taken and as I peered more closely, I had to admit it looked nothing like me. Aside from the crow’s feet that had appeared the day I turned thirty-five. Was that only five years ago? How depressing this was how I would be remembered: two-dimensional and toothless, immortalized in a lily life preserver.
As best as I could figure, I’d been dead about four days. Breast cancer. I’d been disappointed the grim reaper wasn’t arriving thanks to something more exotic, or at least harder to pronounce. Like lieyosarcoma or malignant meningioma.


Michael Sirois said...

I love the opening line of your query, but I found myself confused by the query itself as I read further. How could Dee kill herself again if her spirit is doing the time traveling? Based on your first 100 words, she died four days before.

Your writing is good, based on your opening 100 words. I especially liked the "...two-dimensional and toothless, immortalized in a lily life preserver," line.

I think if you took another look at the query, tried to reduce the size of it considerably (not so many specifics about the friends' problems), and made sure we understand how or why she's time traveling, I think you would have a stronger query.

Good luck.

Pikes Peak Writers said...

Wow, this sounds intense. Definitely promotes interest. I'm wondering if putting what she discovers about her friends in there is best or reveals too much. Maybe just a snippet about discovering hard truths about her friends, but not outlining them, would be best?

I'm a little confused by this: "The present Dee left behind is crumbling as well, with a marriage on the rocks, another unwanted pregnancy, and lifelong friendships cracking under the stress of grief. Helpless to fix any of it, a disillusioned Dee is desperate for the end." I understand she's time traveling, but this sentence seems a bit awkward and draws me out of what you're explaining to try and figure it out.

The last line of your pitch is a fantastic way to end it.

Unknown said...

I agree with Pikes Peak, I found myself very confused by that part as well. I do think it sounds interesting. Also, I feel like there are some points that are brought up repeatedly, so maybe go through and try to tighten things up a bit. And you mentioned time-travelling in the beginning but I don't really find it again in the query, maybe you don't need to mention it in your query?? I think your query would end well without the very last sentence. Just my opinion. Best of luck :)

Anonymous said...

I agree with all the previous commenters. I was with you until all of the detail in the third paragraph. And I was confused by the mention of time travel. If she can travel through time, why can't she leave this place if it's making her miserable? It's a little confusing. But overall, I think you have a great story and would be interested to read more. Best of luck! :)

Jenny said...

The comments so far have all been spot on. I would open with Dee's surprise at attending her own funeral and being conscious for it (we don't need to know how she died or what her life was like.).

Maybe something like: Dee's surprise at attending her own funeral turns to shock when she unintentionally travels to another time to relive the secret pasts of her friends and family.

I also would only mention a max of 2-3 characters in the pitch; you don't want to overwhelm the reader.

I hope that helps. Best of luck!

Jenny Herrera

Anonymous said...

I love your first 150 words. I mean, LOVE them!! :)

I've already told you my thoughts on your query but I really think you're almost there.

Good luck!