Monday, September 17, 2012

Rd 1 Agent Pitch Contest #10 - ESCAPE FROM THE FORBIDDEN PLANET

Escape From The Forbidden Planet
Middle Grade Science Fiction
52 500 words

Query:

13-Year-Old-Caramel Cinnamon, a telepathic elf from the planet Cardamom thought the worst day of her life was when her grandparents, the King and Queen of Cardamom went missing.

She was wrong!

It is the day she spills sticky toffee syrup onto her father’s computer that her worst nightmare begins. She finds herself marooned on a forbidden planet called Earth, sent there by an evil clone with a very sticky secret. Caramel is desperate to escape. If she fails she will never return to Cardamom to become a healer like her Mum.

With the help of a motley crew of Earth friends, Caramel embarks on an outrageous plan to defeat her enemies and rescue her grandparents. No problem, piece of cake. Except her grandfather is wounded in the rescue, and the spaceship they jumped on to escape is now hurtling out of control towards Cardamom. Luckily, she has a secret of her own and the lives of her family and friends depend on it!

First 150 Words:

Caramel Cinnamon awoke to a searing pain in her leg and chest. Water began rushing through the open windows pooling rapidly, engulfing her in a heartbeat but somehow she knew to hold her breath. Shutting her eyes tightly, she tried to block out the pain when a splash startled her. Her world spun, making no sense at all until a familiar face swam in front of her, speaking into her thoughts.
‘Keep holding your breath honey, just till I get you to the surface.’
She couldn’t answer him, not even in her mind, as fear gripped her by the throat. Carob Cinnamon undid the car seat harness urgently, pulling her into his arms and stroking frantically towards the gleaming light above.
Caramel felt desperate for her next breath and she gulped for air, spitting out dirty water as they broke the surface. Waves of pain went pulsing down her leg and in the distance there was cat-like screaming as Carob plucked her from the water.

9 comments:

SugarMagnolia said...

Thanks for participating! My plan is to read through all the entries and then begin my comments and critiques. I will give out my top ten my votes when I'm finished.

Best of luck to you, and stay tuned!

Cat said...

I like the query but had a small problem with the beginning. I've heard peple say over and over again thyt you shouldn't start with a character waking up, and in this beginning it's clear why. As a reader, I haven't got the slightest reason to care for Caramel (yet). I'd like to get to know her a little first. It would be nice to see a teensy bit of her ordinary life before the accident (or murder attempt or whatever), so we know that a) she's an elf, b) why elves are driving cars, c) who else was in the car, and d) why we should care about her and her family. I know. That's not easy to convey in only 150 words... I feel the pain. ;-)

Wendy said...

My first impression was that it is very hard to keep track of characters whose names all begin with the letter "C."
Based on the query, I was taken by surprise by the tone of the first 150 words. The query has an engaging playful tone, and I expected an adventure with a sly comic edge but the first words came across very serious in tone. I also agree with Cat(above) that I wanted to meet Caramel first. Maybe we could meet her driving a few minutes, then have her plunge into the water? Just thoughts! Hope it helps.

Jambo said...

Thanks Cat and Wendy for your feedback.
It is quite difficult to show in the first 150 I guess.

Yes my story has some very light hearted moments and comedic elements, but I also aim is to show how my little girl elf Caramel is effected by a car accident that leaves her with a limp. Her experience shapes how she grows into a teen and it is what makes her passionate about becoming a healer like her mum.

I originally tried to use this in flashback later in the story but it just didn't work. I was advised to use it in the beginning to get us straight into the action.

So thankyou for taking the time to review my query and first 150, it is much appreciated.

Jayme said...

Hi, Julie! I adore your query, especially the bit about “a forbidden planet called Earth” and the teaser at the end about Caramel’s secret. I agree with the others that it might be nice to get a sense of Caramel and the playful/comedic tone earlier, but I’m not sure it calls for an entire rewrite/restructure. Sometimes a couple really powerful/funny sentences make all the difference. Maybe something like:

You’d think a telepathic elf at the top of her class would have excellent reflexes, but when Caramel Cinnamon awoke in a sinking car – water rushing through the windows, pushing up past her pointed ears in a flash – she hardly remembered to hold her breath.

Obviously that’s really long and a little messy. Also, since I haven’t read your manuscript, I’m not sure if the voice is right and I can’t really customize it. For example, instead of “top of her class” you could give a better overview of her classes, which might help with world building. Maybe something like:

You’d think a telepathic elf at the top of her class would have excellent reflexes, and usually she did. Caramel Cinnamon could hit [an alien animal] with a [laser weapon?] from an [alien vehicle] racing along at [alien measure of speed]. Blindfolded. But when…

I guess what I’m getting at is that I think you can get right to the action and address the comments here pretty easily. But that’s just my opinion. It might be if I saw more I’d understand why it started here.

Good luck with this! Also I'm on Twitter too (@writerjayme), so I'll definitely drop by and say hi. :)

SugarMagnolia said...

(Hi again! I plan to give out comments during this round, and then I'll give out my top ten votes as soon as I have critiqued everyone's queries.)

I love your reference to the forbidden planet Earth. I also like the idea of a telepathic elf joining up with a band of motely Earth friends.

I'm just not sure that the lighthearted nature of your query matches the scary, dark opening of your first 150 words. If this car accident (and its ensuing limp) is important enough to be your lead in the manuscript, I think you should defintiely mention it in your query. Otherwise, it's hard to know what to expect.

Great job, otherwise. This sounds like a very fun read!

Tracy Bermeo (A2Z Mommy) said...

I happen to love your reference to the world of cinnamon and spices and food in general. But, there are a lot of C names which can make it a bit of a tongue twister. The "motley crew of earth friends" is awesome. In the query, I'd love to know more about how spilling sticky toffee coffee on a computer opens up a portal sending Caramel to Earth and how the evil clone fits in. Also, since there is only one reference to becoming a healer like her Mum, I think you can leave it out of the query. Returning to her parents and friends and home planet fits better in the overall scope of the query.

Jambo said...

Thankyou Sugar Magnolia. I have been given so much advice about removing the backstory about Caramel's accident and her limp in the query, but I realise it needs to be there, so here is my revision.

13-Year-Old-Caramel Cinnamon thought she was just like every other a telepathic elf on the planet Cardamom except for her lame leg, until a visit to the legendary tree-tenders of Alira changes everything she has ever believed about herself. She always dreamed of becoming a healer like her mum. Her new found ability of tree-tender throws her into a total tree spin, but that is now the least of her worries.

When her grandparents, the King and Queen of Cardamom go missing and her sinister Aunt assumes the throne, Caramel’s world begins to crumble and she can’t believe things could get any worse.

She was wrong!

When she spills sticky toffee syrup onto her father’s computer, everything pails in comparision. She finds herself marooned on a forbidden planet called Earth, sent there by an evil clone with a very sticky secret. Caramel is desperate to escape because if she fails her grandparents will be lost forever and she will never be able to return to Cardamom to fulfil her destiny, whatever that may be.

With the help of a motley crew of Earth friends, Caramel embarks on an outrageous plan to defeat her enemies and rescue her grandparents. No problem, piece of cake. Except her grandfather is wounded in the rescue, and the spaceship they jumped on to escape is now hurtling out of control towards Cardamom. Luckily, she has a secret of her own and the lives of her family and friends depend on it!

The Rooster said...

I loved this story and wish I had more votes. I would suggest maybe making the names more diversified. I got bogged down with trying to keep everyone straight. And everyone has their opinions of where to start. I generally like to know the character before they're fighting for their life and I skim too much back story. You have to go with your gut on where her story begins.

Good luck in the future!