Monday, September 10, 2012

Pitch Polish #37

YA Speculative Fiction
78,000 words


Staggering away from her emptied village, Nyah knows she was left behind on purpose.  The entire silent world is hers, but for an actor and scribe, it’s a gift she can’t accept. 

And then she finds another.  Shade, a left-behind from a different village, is as gentle as he is evasive.  He's determined to bring together and provide for all of the left-behinds, to ease his remorse about cursing them to this barren world.  

Only they're not as alone as they first thought.  The loved ones who abandoned them, cruelly transformed and vicious, are returning for something.  There are nine left-behinds, but there should only be eight.  A vision of Nyah's little brother tries to warn her, but she can’t accept that her life will be ripped apart because of a baby, again.  

The left-behinds must fight together or sacrifice the one who was never meant to be there.  Either way, the existence of the ninth ensures their failure.  Nyah and Shade, denial and guilt, will see to that.  

Set in the wilderness of a pre-industrial civilization, the left-behinds run from the obvious danger, but discover it is impossible to run from themselves when silence is their most steadfast companion.

FIRST 150:

I found the mouth of the cave three weeks after leaving my emptied village.  I froze when I saw it, grabbing the top of Nell's head to shush her.  The entrance was no more than a yawn in the rock, and I was terrified if we moved it would close.  

Because it was so much more than a cave.  It was a promise of sleep: one night free from worry that a cougar would clamp her maw around my neck.  Or worse, gnaw at Nell.  Inside, we could be two girls on a campout instead of a girl and a doll, left behind. 

I took a tentative step forward, and whimpered when it didn't dissolve.  

Nell gave me the idea that we needed to flush out any creatures before bounding in.  My chatter often bounced back from her and made some sense.  If I didn't have her, I might have wandered right into the claws of a wolverine.


Laurie Dennison said...

Hi! I really like the opening line of the query, and the overall tone. I'm intrigued by the premise, but I feel like I want to know more about the world. How is the silence important? Why is Nyah left behind? And how is it all Shade's fault?

I was also a little confused in the 150 at first, because I expected her to be alone, and then she was shushing someone. Is Nell actually a doll, like Wilson in Castaway?

Overall I think your writing is really beautiful, and I'd love to read more of this story. :)

Unknown said...

You have a lot of really interesting ideas going on in your query.
As I read-- I wondered why the silent world would be considered a gift, what Shade is hiding, and what made the world barren. The returning loved ones sound scary! (shivers) All good stuff that makes me read on!

I'd love to understand why the eight don't sacrifice the ninth that dooms them/ensures failure. Feel like I'm missing something important--doom and ensure are strong words that lead me to believe this ninth is a finite evil. And yet, are they protecting #9? The way it's worded makes me feel this future is foregone instead of the uncertain possibility that I would turn pages to learn.

I puzzled over why they need to run from themselves--what is causing the inner turmoil?

The first 150 painted a great picture of the MC's hardship. I love that she talks to the doll!

What an interesting premise! You have lots of great conflict and an engaging style. I definitely want to know more. :D

Anonymous said...

Interesting premise. It definitely hooked me.

Query nitpicks: I'd swap 'emptied' village to 'deserted' village.

-"to ease his remorse about cursing them to this barren world" seems a tad vague and I wonder if it is necessary to know Slade's character motivation upfront at the query level. Maybe you could cut it out?

-I was a little confused by this sentence "The loved ones who abandoned them, cruelly transformed and vicious, are returning for something." There's something wooden about the cruelly transformed/vicious part. Do you mean to say that the loved ones have not only returned, but have become EVIL and are on the hunt for the 9th left-behind character? I'd re-word for clarity and it needs...more ooomph.

"My chatter often bounced back from her and made some sense" is vague. I get what you're saying, but wonder if there is better way to re-word it.

I think you have a lot of interesting ideas, but I generally find the speculative/world-building concepts the hardest to explain to the general audience. With a bit of tweaking to eliminate vagueness, your entry will be awesome!

Good luck! Hope my comment was helpful and not absurdly nitpicky!

Patrice said...

I love the voice in this piece it is so strong it moved me as for my suggestions everyone else has stated what I would say so no need for repeats. Great work and thanks for checking out mine, it was #27.

Unknown said...

The first line in the Query got my attention right away. I wanted to read it to find out what happened to them. The 150 words left me with that feeling. Would love to read it. Good job.