Monday, September 10, 2012

Pitch Polish #52

GENRE: YA Dystopian Adventure
WORD COUNT: 76,000


If you told Caddy a week ago that she’d scale the side of a sixty-story prison with a reckless orphan boy, she’d laugh in your face and walk off with your wallet.

But that’s before a sandstorm rocks the seventeen-year-old pickpocket’s world. Before the vigilante boy, Twist, drags her into the secret ruins beneath the city. Before the Service—the civil police—starts pulling people off the streets in search of a stolen diamond. As tensions between the citizens and the Service grow to suffocating heights above ground, Caddy fights to keep herself from getting too close to Twist below. If there’s anything she’s learned on the streets—it’s to avoid attachment.

But when the Service arrest her brother after he lies to protect her, Caddy's desperate to save what little family she has left. And she knows there’s only one person who can help break her brother out of prison: Twist. But when her actions risk not only her life, but that of Twist, she is faced with a decision that could cost her everything.

First 150:

Heat presses against me. I duck my head as I scan the swarm of bodies packed tight in the streets through the orange haze. The dust is high today. Another sand storm is coming.

Exhausted, I try to focus. I can’t let the heat get to my head. At this rate I’ll never bring home enough to support the four of us. I stick to the shade of the massive glass buildings. I would call them skyscrapers, but the name doesn’t do them justice. In Cidy, all the buildings penetrate the indigo sea above me.

My head pounds from the cries of barterers, and I tuck a strand of red hair behind my ear. It’s Mercy – the third Wednesday of the month. Today, thousands of people will be on the streets to trade what they have for what they need. Meaning the Service will be on high alert for pickpockets.


Emily said...

Great beginning! It gives us a clear picture of Caddy right off the bat.

In your second paragraph, I think you should use a different descriptor word besides "pickpocket" because we already know this about her.

Also, the way it reads makes me thinks she lives on the streets, but then she has a brother, so that makes me think maybe she has a home and family, but I don't know.

The rest of the pitch is great and really strong. You give us the stakes, plot, and the characters--nice job!

Your first 150 are good!

Bluestocking said...

I agree that your pitch is really strong. I'd also echo that I was surprised she had a family as well... usually people pickpocket bc they have no other options, but here she's doing it for her family (instead of her own survival). I think that is an important distinction to make.

In your 150, Cady has red hair. I can only imagine that is a hindrance for a pickpocket who relies on blending in. Not so much a critique as an observation...

Robin said...

Wow-the 1st line in your query is perfect. I get voice, I get storyline, I get a great MC I'm willing to go quite a while with. "to close to Twist below" took me a minute to get, right, below the city. Otherwise great pitch.

Nice 1st 150 as well-2 thoughts-The 1st sentence I don't know what kind of heat we're talking about. Maybe something a little stronger to start. 2-the word red jumped out at me. In 1st person I can't see myself saying, "I tucked my brown hair behind my ear"

I would definitely read more.

If you get a chance let me know what you think of mine (I'm #51)

Jessica Becker said...

Really good beginning! It makes me want to read more.
Sorry I can't be more helpful

Unknown said...

I agree that this is a great query and the first line hooked me.

Maybe it's more an opinion but I don't see anything wrong with saying "I tuck a strand of red hair behind my ear". I mean, how else would we ever learn what an MC in 1st person looks like? I've read lines like that in plenty of books.

My only real thought to add to what's already been said if about the last two lines in your first 150. I'd combine them to read like this "Today, thousands of people will be on the streets to trade what they have for what they need, meaning the Service will be on high alert for pickpockets.

Really great job.

Jennie Bennett said...

I love your first line, it's full of voice and pulls me right into the query. The objective then is to get the rest of the query to sound the same way.

I can see how your second line is trying to mirror the first, but the cliche of 'rocking one's world' falls a little flat. I want to know what it is about a sandstorm that can rock somebodies world beside the obviously physical effects.

I'm guessing you mention the sandstorm to introduce Twist, if such is the case then you should combine the second and third lines. i.e. "But that's before the vigilante boy, Twist, drags her underground to avoid a havoc causing sandstorm." I haven't read your book so I'm certian you could phrase that better, but you get the idea.

The next thing I want to know is if Caddy is living both above and below ground. I get the inkling that she is becasue you mention getting close to Twist and the Service (BTW, is 'The' part of the name or is it just Service? Because if the Characters call it 'The Service' both words should be capitalized.) If this is the case then I didn't see it without re-reading your query. Is her family above ground, is that why she goes back. Give us hint of the struggle between her torn parts above and below ground.

I like everything about the last paragraph except the last line. What is the decision she faces? Is it between her brother and Twist or is it about becoming some sort of icon for the fight against the service. I think spelling out what the decision is would leave the reader with a punch in the gut powerful enough that they must read on.

I like your 150 you have some great visuals. My only advice (and you don't have to take it) is that I'd like the first line to give me more of a hit of that same personality we saw in the first line of your query. Is this witty girl really only thinking about heat? If she's about to rob someone and she's afraid of getting caught I know there would be other things on my mind :)

All in all, great story idea, I love the premise and I wish you the best of luck!

Tamara said...

I love this idea. Is Twist a play on Oliver Twist? (Just wondering)

I really liked it, but the tense of this first part caught me off guard.

If you told Caddy a week ago that she’d scale the side of a sixty-story prison with a reckless orphan boy, she’d laugh in your face and walk off with your wallet.

It felt like it should be:
If you'd told Caddy a week ago that she'd scale the side of a sixty-story prison with a reckless orphan boy, she'd have laughed in your face and walked off with your wallet."

I didn't notice anyone else mentioning that, so maybe I'm wrong, but that's how it felt like it should read to me.

Also, this felt a little wordy:But when the Service arrest her brother after he lies to protect her, etc...

It felt like it could be easily cut to: But when the Service arrests her brother, etc...

I don't think the reason for his arrest has to be stated. We automatically get the idea that the Service is bad, so there's this almost built in understanding that any arrest they make would probably be crap.

Also, the last line: she is faced with a decision that could cost her everything.

Is there anyway to get what the decision is in the query? What conflict is she facing that she has to overcome? It felt like that would make the query even stronger.

I loved the voice in the first 150 and I am crazy about the idea. I had a pickpocket in my first manuscript. Pickpocket-writers of the world unite! haha.

Nice to meet you, btw. I just started a new blog I'm trying to get off the ground. I'm always looking to meet new writers, so it would be awesome if you'd drop by.

Hope this helped and I wish you the best of luck with it. Oh and, I LOVE the names. Caddy and Twist. Awesome.

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