Monday, September 10, 2012

Pitch Polish #41

YA Paranormal Romance/Thriller
56,000 Words


Hallie’s life didn’t turn from mind-numbingly ordinary into a total freak show by chance.

Bored with her average life, Hallie dreams of the day life will intrigue her. The new guy at school, Colton, is tall, dark and totally swoon-worthy. Sounds awesome. It would be if he didn’t treat Hallie like she’s the bane of his existence from day one. So not awesome. His disarming and enigmatic personality makes Hallie yearn to punch him—or kiss him. To say he’s confusing is a massive understatement. Hallie’s curiosity is unrelenting. She needs to know who—or what—Colton is and where he came from. His cryptic answers only lead her to question her sanity.

Colton conveniently leaves out a few major details when he reveals his secrets. Hallie finds herself in seriously hot water and doesn’t know who to trust or what to believe. The only certainty she has is this:
She will never be the same.
She will never forget.
And that’s assuming she can find a way to survive the lies.

 First 150 Words:

My entire life has consisted of nothing but normalcy and dullness that makes me want to stab myself in the eye with a pen just for dramatic effect. Maybe that’s why most of my free time is spent pretending I’m someone else in an exhilarating place. The excitement fizzles when I shut the book. So I run as fast as I can toward something better. When my feet stop moving, I’m always back at home—back to everything that is ordinary.
The wind was whipping past me, blowing strands of hair backwards. My legs were moving me so fast that it made the cold, early-evening air feel even colder as it blew past my face. I didn’t mind though. Running felt awesome.
            I took my usual path between the apartments, past the office buildings and Saffron Park. Without slowing down I flipped through my music selection. Just as I found a song I wanted, I slammed into something rock-solid.


Nicole Zoltack said...

I don't get a sense of who Hallie is in your query. I want to know more about her and her life before Colton enters her life. You do have voice in the query, which is good, but you also repeat yourself a lot in the second paragraph.

Brittany Pate said...

I really, really like your query. It's full of voice, as are your first 150. Honestly, the only critique I have is to be careful not to slip too far into a passive voice in the second paragraph of your first 150. Your opening is very strong and made me want to great more. Great job!

Dahlia Adler said...

I feel like there is so much voice in your query just screaming to get out and be used in a way that shows us Hallie, but what's actually happening is that you're giving us Hallie as her life revolves around Colton. She's your protagonist, which means "she" should be the subject in your sentences, but instead, she's kind of taking a backseat to the boy.

I can tell that Hallie's a passionate character, so let us see it - have her take hold of and control the query and the story, especially that last paragraph, which right now reads a bit like a series of non-sequiturs. Don't tell us Colton held back; tell us Hallie knows he held back, and how that relates to her problems and why it matters.

And I would cut that first line completely, just because you're not really illustrating what it says throughout your query, so it just seems a little random. Hope that helps!

A.J. Locke said...

What's missing from your query is a sense of the plot, or the stakes for your character. We get introduced to Hallie and Colton and the fact that Colton is enigmatic and Hallie is drawn to him, but what is the novel about other than their relationship? What is the "hot water" Hallie finds herself in? What are Colton's secrets? What lies? I don't get a sense of anything paranormal, so if Colton is a ghost or werewolf or something, you should say that, then say what that means for Hallie, how is she affected or involved by whatever Colton is? Let your paranormal elements come through. You don't have to give it all away in your query, but you also can't be too vague, you really need to let the plot of your novel come across clearly. Right now your novel can be any of the many stories involving a girl and a charming/secretive boy, so you need to make it stand apart from all the others. In the query I think you can cut back on describing Hallie and Colton's relationship and include more about the plot they're involved in.

Jodie Andrefski said...

I guess I feel differently. I was really getting much voice or sense of Hallie from your query. I was getting peeks of her from the first paragraph, then I felt she totally disappeared and some announcer/narrator came in for the second. Also, a lot of the word choice stuck me as unusual for a teenager--even an intelligent teen. Although the might know the words...would they use them or *think* them? I also didn't get enough of what your book was really was almost too vague. There wasn't really enough that would have lured me in, and made me think "I have to find out more!"

First 150
I feel your MC much more strongly here. "...makes me want to stab myself in the eye with a pen just for dramatic effect." Good. It gives me a sense of her personality!

The one thing is found confusing is that I thought you were using a metaphor in paragraph one when you were talking about reading, and the exciting fizzling when you close the book, so you run as fast as you can to something better (I thought you meant to another book ...another means of escape).
But then all of a sudden in paragraph two and three, it seems as though she is literally running outside. I wasn't ready for this jump. I thought we were still talking books. If anything, I was prepped for the setting to be somewhere where the MC was reading since you had said how told us that is how your MC spends most of her free time. I just didn't know how we got there.
Other than that, I liked your voice in your 150, and am interested to see where you take it.

Unknown said...

I really liked your query, your voice is very strong.

With the 150. I think the second paragraph is a better place to start to draw your readers in. I skipped over the first a litter and then the second really grabbed my attention. Perhaps you could find a way to shuffle them around a little and maybe break up in the info in the first and scatter it throughout.

Jayme said...

I love the voice in your query and 150. Things like “so awesome,” “so not awesome,” and yearning to “punch him – or kiss him.” Having said that, I think your query needs an overhaul, even if it means letting some of your great stuff go. Paranormal romance is really crowded right now, so you can’t leave things this vague. After reading your query I don’t know what Colton is. Vampire? Werewolf? Demon? If so, you need to focus on what makes him different from the other vampires, werewolves, and demons out there. If you don’t specify, you’re allowing agents to think, “This is yet another ---------,” and you don’t want to leave the door open for that.

I love how you say, “Hallie’s life didn’t turn from mind-numbingly ordinary into a total freak show by chance.” This indicates she is someone who goes out and makes stuff happen and doesn’t just wait for a handsome man. I think you need more of that go-get-‘em attitude in your query. Tell us what Hallie does and why. Don’t be afraid to be specific. You’re not spoiling, you’re differentiating. Maybe something like:

“Hallie’s never fancied herself Nancy Drew, but when Colton shows up – tall, dark, and totally swoon-worthy – he’s one mystery she can’t wait to crack. But when she discovers he’s really a [whatever he is] she finds herself drawn into a dark world of [what? Then go on to give readers a taste of what happens].” Alternatively, you could try, “But when all signs point to [whatever Colton is], she starts to question her sanity. She knows [whatever he is] don’t exist, but [explain things that happen that change her mind, put her in danger, be concrete].” Try to focus on action. What happens once Colton starts throwing out cryptic answers? Is Hallie targeted by vampire assassins? Does the werewolf council order Colton to kill Hallie to prove his loyalty to the pack? What’s at stake?

Also, I would leave this out:
The only certainty she has is this:
She will never be the same.
She will never forget.
And that’s assuming she can find a way to survive the lies.
^This screams Twilight. You want to show agents how your book is different, not make them think, “I’ve seen this before.”

Sorry if that sounds tough, but I think you’ve got something really great here, and I want it to have the best chance of making it to shelves so I can read it! Best of luck. :)

Unknown said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Unknown said...

I appreciate all the comments on my query. I've rewritten it for the 1459th time. So if anyone stumbles upon this and wants to take a stab at the updated version of my blurb, feel free. It's more than welcomed.

One month ago, Hallie Hartman would have given anything to add uniqueness to her mind-numbingly ordinary life. When it turns into something nothing short of a freak-show, she knows she took being normal for granted. She didn’t expect running into Colton Dane would change everything.

He’s tall, dark, and swoon-worthy. This should have been awesome—a bright spot in her otherwise grey life. She knows he’s hiding something and his cryptic answers only incite her fury. His enigmatic personality has Hallie yearning to punch him—and kiss him. So not awesome. When she finally uncovers the truth, she finds he’s not just from out of town.

He’s an alien.

As if that wasn’t enough to have her questioning her sanity, she discovers the rest of his secrets are far more shocking. Colton’s a part of the Megaera, an outcasted rebel faction, who wants Hallie to join them. She doesn’t know why the deranged alien mafia group thinks she can help them—she’s human. She has to accept the truth being shoved in her face and find a way to trust Colton. There are worse things than being prisoner or a pawn in some other-worldly game—like being dead.

Jayme said...

YES!! This is exactly what I was hoping for – and more! I really feel Hallie’s voice here (nothing short of a freak-show, deranged alien mafia… all so good!). Also, I love that you point out “she took being normal for granted.” Unlike a lot of other protags out there, this makes her a somewhat unwilling participant. I love it! :)

Just a couple notes. I think you can combine the first two sentences: “When Hallie Hartman’s life turns into nothing short of a freak-show, she realizes she’s taken the mind-numbingly normalcy leading up to it for granted.” But that’s just my opinion. I think it works either way.

One thing I would cut for sure is, “…a bright spot in her otherwise grey life.” I don’t think it’s necessary and it sounds a little overdramatic. If it feels too choppy without it, maybe connect a few sentences: “This should be awesome, but Colton is hiding something, and his cryptic answers are really starting to make her want to punch him – when she’s not thinking about kissing him.”

Also, in the final paragraph, instead of saying “she’s human,” maybe point out why this is unhelpful. For example: “…thinks she can help them – they’re the ones with the laser guns and psychic powers.” Not sure if they actually have laser guns or psychic powers, but I’m guessing they have some advantage over humans.

Really, really great job here! I think the 1459th time was the charm. :)

If you have a minute, I’d love to hear your thoughts on my latest revision. I’m entry #5, The Only Infinite.