Monday, December 17, 2012

Hangover Round 1 Entry #21

YA – Sci-Fi

When sixteen-year old Paxton discovers the Great Rescue was the largest abduction in the history of mankind she realizes she and her fellow teens weren’t taken from Earth to ensure the survival of humanity but that of their alien captors. To save her friends and herself, she must first accept that good and evil don’t always run skin deep.

My knees ached from pressing into the honeycomb design of the metal deck.  Leaning forward, I pushed my forehead against the tiny porthole in my berth, waiting until the ashen rock that was once Earth rotated into view. 

It had been two years since I touched a blade of grass — two years since fresh air entered my lungs.  Yet the brilliant greens and blues of the bejeweled planet that had been my home for fourteen years rarely entered my thoughts.  More often, I was haunted by the last images engraved into my memory.  Shadows.  Darkness. 

Every day I waited for it… and every day I experienced the same anguish.  My ravaged planet finally appeared and an odd excitement flooded my veins before subsiding to a dull pain.  I remained frozen until the grayish light vanished. 

I shut the shade and stood, my legs warming as the blood slowly returned to them.  Even with the burned planet out of sight, the pounding in my chest continued, making it difficult to breathe.  I glanced at the time and knew I should be heading to the galley but I couldn’t convince myself to go. Not yet.  What I wanted was some hope.  My eyes moved to the pile of neatly stacked books that lay on the floor. 

I grabbed the novel on top and ducked into my pod, wanting to think about something other than the assembly scheduled for tonight.  The leader of One Nation had ordered a meeting and would soon arrive on the Mayflower. 


  1. I love the premise. Your opening gives me a lot of good information about her without feeling like an information dump. I don't understand why the old planet Earth is orbiting them (going by at the same time every day) if they've been traveling away from it for two years. And I'm assuming her berth (bed) is in her pod, but she never leaves her pod before she ducks back into it so the logistics confused me.

    One little technical thing: It appears that you have two spaces after your periods. That might just be the way the computer made it look, but if not, it has become standard to only use one space.

    I liked the voice and would definitely keep reading. Good luck with it. (Would love to hear your comments on mine-#29. Thanks!)

    1. Regarding your logline, it's a bit vague. I don't know what "good and evil don't always run skin deep" means and how it applies directly to your story. Start with identifying the actual problem the protag has to face and what she concretely has to do to defeat the villain/power against her. Realizing something (especially something vague) isn't a concrete action that she must do, so I'd try to incorporate that into your logline.

      As for the excerpt, I really like your first paragraph. Nothing like getting a glimpse of our destroyed home planet to give us the chills and make us want to read on to find out what happened to it.

      To be nitpicky, I'm not really sure what "odd excitement" is in the third paragraph. It's kind of vague. What makes it odd and why?

      Also, in general you're kind of distancing the protag through filter words like "I heard" and "I wanted." Those are telling phrases. By removing them and getting more directly in the protag's thoughts and emotions, we'll feel closer to the protag and therefore be more invested in her story. That being said, who is the protag? I know we know from the logline, but it's also a good idea to try to establish name, age (well, I see you've established this one), and sex within the first 250 words if you can. It helps ground the reader with the person they're going to spend the whole story following, you know? So the sooner you establish those things, the better.

      Lastly, your eyes can't move to a pile of books (imagine them popping out of their sockets and floating over to it), but your gaze can.

      Sounds like a fun story, though! Good luck with it!

  2. The first part of your logline is total awesomness and then the last part is "huh?". The "good and evil don't always run skin deep", I don't understand it. But, the first part made me want to read.

    Also, I didn't quite understand why she said she rarely thought about the beauty of Earth and only of darkness, then she was so excited to see it. I'm just not sure of her emotions. She misses Earth? She's haunted by her memories? I'm just not sure.

    But, I love the premise of rescue by aliens that was really an abduction. LOVE. So I would keep reading.

  3. I agree, the premise is awesome! A girl discovering her rescue is a fake one- let alone by aliens- is great. Maybe the last line in the pitch can be tweaked to something more specific, like can she overcome her fears by trusting there are a few good aliens out there? Or maybe one good alien? :)

    The writing on your first 250 is so pretty. I took her motivation for looking out the porthole akin to why people can't look away from car wrecks-- maybe another line elaborating that feeling could make it clearer? I loved your passage and would love to follow this MC's journey.

  4. I love your premise, but your science needs tweaking. It takes between 150 to 300 days to travel from Earth to Mars, so your ship is, at minimum, twice that distance. From Earth, Mars, which is half the size of Earth, appears as a red point of light. From Mars or beyond, Earth would appear as a dot of bluish light--or in your story's case, greyish. And as others have mentioned, Earth would not rotate into view; it would always be there unless the ship were slowly rotating for some strange reason. I'm also confused about the leader soon arriving on the Mayflower--is the leader not on this ship? The Mayflower is an interesting name for a spaceship, but of course, it comes with historical baggage about settling a new world. I'm also left wondering why the teens are necessary to ensure the aliens' survival, so I'd be interested in reading this!

  5. I love the voice and am already feeling for your protagonist. I agree with the others that the last sentence of your log line needs to be refined. In its current state it's a bit out of left field. The science aspect of this didn't bother me at all. The color of a star or planet is determined by the elements it's made of and its surface temperature, not just the distance. Also, if she's looking down on the planet that's rotating into site, I'm assuming she is the one rotating? If so, do you show that later? Anyhow, I liked this a lot and would keep reading.