Monday, September 10, 2012

Pitch Polish #3


DORO JEAN MORETTI MAKES A WISH
MIDDLE GRADE
43,000 words

Query:

            Sixth-grader Doro Moretti’s greatest accomplishments are first chair cellist in the school orchestra – out of only two cellos – and crosswalk monitor every other Monday. So when Doro discovers her new cello grants wishes, she’s sure it’s her chance to leap into the spotlight. She’ll wow the crowd, win a scholarship to music camp, maybe even become famous like her super-genius sister.
            But magic isn’t easy to master. Doro wishes a mustache on a lady teacher, floods her school and buries her bedroom under a tidal wave of Skittles.
            Doro’s wish to be the best makes her fingers dance over the strings. It also eliminates the competition. Her best friend and musical rival, JaElle, stops playing and blames Doro’s magic for a mysterious illness striking her family. Doro wants to help her friend, but if she undoes her wish, she may lose her ability to play – and her chance at fame – forever.
            DORO JEAN MORETTI MAKES A WISH (43,000 words) is a mixture of magic and middle grade reality that may appeal to fans of books such as Bigger Than a Bread Box by Laurel Snyder and 11 Birthdays by Wendy Mass. The first 150 words are pasted below.

First 150 Words:
DORO JEAN MORETTI MAKES A WISH
               Doro peered between the bedroom curtains and laughed. The goats were having a dance marathon. Nonnie stood on the feed bunk shakin’ his tail like a hip-hop star while the rest of the herd bumped and bleated like backup singers. The cold tugged at Doro’s fingers as she cracked open the window.
            “Wooooo, Nonnie!”
            Mom opened the bedroom door and stood in the frame. Doro froze. The open window and her wild, unbrushed hair were sure to wipe away Mom’s goofy smile.
            “Morning, Sweetheart. Hustle downstairs. Your Dad and I have a surprise.” Mom’s voice rose at the end of the sentence and finished with a tiny squeak.
            “What--” But the door had already closed.

10 comments:

Jessica L. Foster said...

Sounds like an adorable premise. I was a little confused in the query about How the wishes you mentioned (the mustache and skittles) relates to her fingers dancing over the strings. I also was confused about the fingers dancing over the strings because I thought cellos used bows (but I know nothing about music).
And maybe clarify if it's that she floods the school with water and then her room with skittles or if it's she floods both the school and her room with skittles.
The first chapter starts off snappy and awesome. Maybe find a way to eliminate one of the word likes in the second sentence.
Maybe have the mom react more to her wild hair and open window since the character was worried about it.
Excellent start though.

Cat said...

The genre you put is wring. MG is an age range. the genre would be fantasy (even urban fantasy). So you'd write MG Urban Fantasy.

Other then that I can't find anything that nags me. The references to music right in the beginning of the novels shows how important it is for the MC, and the query is clean and succinct (I love the mustached teacher). Good luck with it.

Anonymous said...

Just a couple suggestions. Changes are in caps:

~

SO FAR, sixth-grader Doro Moretti’s greatest accomplishments are first chair cellist in the school orchestra – out of only two cellos – and crosswalk monitor every other Monday. BUT when Doro discovers her new cello CAN GRANT wishes, she’s sure it’s her chance to leap into the spotlight. She’ll wow the crowd, win a scholarship to music camp, maybe even become famous like her super-genius sister.

Doro wants to help her friend, but if she undoes her wish, she FEARS SHE MAY lose her ability to play – and her chance at fame – forever.

~

My other thought is that Doro is already first chair, which is a big accomplishment. So the sentence "leap into the spotlight" doesn't really go, since she would already be in the spotlight. Maybe it's better just to say "she’s sure it’s her chance to win a scholarship to music camp, maybe even become famous like her super-genius sister."

Jayme said...

This is only a suggestion, but I think your query might be stronger if you jump right into the magic. Maybe something like this:

Sixth-grader Doro Moretti never meant to flood her school, wish a mustache on a lady teacher, or bury her room in Skittles. Until a few days ago, her greatest accomplishment was landing first chair cellist – out of only two cellos – in the school’s orchestra. But when her new cello starts granting wishes things get a little out of hand.

When Doro wishes to be the best cellist in the world, her fingers dance over the strings like never before. But it also eliminates the competition. Her best friend and musical rival, JaElle, stops playing and blames Doro’s magic for a mysterious illness striking her family. Doro wants to help her friend, but if she undoes her wish, she may lose her ability to play – and her chance to become as famous as her super-genius sister – forever.

Obviously, that’s just my opinion. Either way, I think you have a strong hook. I’ve never read a story about a cello that grants wishes. I also like the dancing goats in your first 150 words. Very funny. :)

Shiela Calderón Blankemeier said...

I love your voice here and your writing is strong and concise. I second that if you mention she's worried about her mother's reaction to her hair, than there should be a reaction, or at least a reaction to the non-reaction (yikes, that's a lot of reactions lol) like: It must be some surprise for mom not to mention my hair, or something like that. Or simply drop the reference altogether. I also agree that you should start with the magic. We don't need too much info about her motivation, just what she wants, what's standing in her way, and what happens if she fails. You've got clear stakes and conflict, but I'd go right for the magic. Gives you a much stronger opening. Good luck!

cocoanqueso said...

I had to repread the first paragraph. Perhaps it is because of the mention of a scholarship. Perhaps it is because of the entry above yours which deals with a grant. Either way, at first I thought you were referring to a financial grant rather than granting wishes. But I'm sure that is just me. With that resolved, the query looks good.

I like the first 150 words too. Especially "the cold tugged."

You might clear this up in the next part of the story, but Doro's fear of Mom struck me as a little odd. Perhaps froze is too harsh? Or Doro mentions how unlike her mother this is? Or like someone else mentioned, Mom does mention the window and/or the hair.

Good work!

Heidi Schulz said...

I think Jayme's query suggestion is spot on. It makes for a much stronger hook.
As it stands I started reading feeling like her accomplishments were something to be proud of. It threw me a bit when the second sentence made it sound as though she was unsatisfied with them.
The first 150 convey a strong voice and a sense of fun. I'd definitely want to read more.

marcyblesy.com said...

I like Jayme's suggestion at reordering the first paragraph. I think the premise is interesting. Kids in middle school still like to read humorous books. I was confused as to whether or not Mom knows what is happening in the barnyard? I assume that will be answered soon. The "goofy smile" makes me think that maybe she does? Best wishes.

Creepy Query Girl said...

cute premise! I think we should get a better sense of just how important her cello playing is to her in the very first paragraph. You say she only has two accomplishments but maybe you could focus on what she doesn't have, so we can see why she'd want to cling to playing the cello so well, even in the face of her best friend's family getting sick.

gailecn said...

Love this idea! As funny as it is, I think you could delete the second paragraph of your query without losing anything necessary. Or rearrange it as Jayme suggested above.

The dancing goats are hilarious! :) I think your first 150 are in good shape.