Monday, December 17, 2012

Hangover Round 1 Entry #34

TITLE: The Intimacy of Fire
GENRE: Contemporary Young Adult

When sixteen-year-old Rachel kisses Tom, the blue-eyed loner rumored to have killed his parents in a house fire, embers of truths ignite full-force - she's already on fire. The flames reach her older brother whose secret is too hot to handle, and her sex-crazed BFF who is nothing but a cloud of dark smoke. The burn scar on Tom’s chest reveals more than the truth that he is NOT a cold-blooded killer, but intimately connected to Rachel as her true love.

My anger made me sweat. It was the kind of summer morning so sticky-humid that it made me feel dirty. As I sat on a weather-faded, splinter-giving wood bench outside the Billingstown bus station, I looked around and fumed.

An old man in a light brown trench coat bent down to put his leather suitcase on the cracked cement sidewalk. A new bead of sweat formed on my upper lip just looking at him. A trench coat? Seriously? I breathed in deeply. Then wished I hadn’t because I swallowed the stink of another man wearing a dark black business suit walking past me. The station and the people in it matched my mood – sweltering and rank.

I couldn’t believe I had to go away to Tillsdale for the whole summer with my older brother Alex. He got a swimming scholarship at Tillsdale University – Go Tigers! (Gag me.) We had to stay with our loopy Aunt Millie too.

It was all so cliché, and yet, here I was living it. To make it worse our parents sold our house so coming home would be…well, it wouldn’t be coming home.
I shifted my heavy backpack to the other shoulder. It knocked Alex (my “perfect” brother) who was sitting beside me surfing on a laptop.

“Ouch,” he said. “Why you gotta be all up in my grill?”

“Really?” I said. I stared at him. Being forced to go with him was the cherry atop my tragically dilapidated layer cake of a life.


  1. Your logline is a bit confusing. It comes off as a fantasy with all the fire references especially since it begins with a kiss and with the burn scar revealing that Tom is Rachel's true love. It's not expressing the conflict. What does Rachel want and why can't she have it?

    The voice is strong and I like Rachel already. You might want to work on the first line though. If her anger is what is making her sweat why do you go on to describe the weather as the culprit? And I'm not sure about the tense in the "coming" home. Wouldn't that be "going" home?

    I think the slang (gag me and grill) may date the story and it would be just as effective without it. :)

    I like the premise and would keep reading. (Would love to hear your thoughts on my YA Contemporary #29) Thanks and good luck with it!

  2. I wasn't sure about the puns in the logline but then it worked for me by the end of reading it. I was ready to feel the heat when I delved into your first 250! Despite describing a hot and humid scene, the first paragraphs felt very breezy to me and I get a sense that the narrator is going to be fun to read. I do wonder, though, if the writing might end up being too cute and difficult to sustain once the story gets going. You definitely have me interested in reading more and I can imagine picking this up as a fun beach read.

  3. I really enjoyed reading this. The logline works for me too--I think for YA the puns are fine, snappy. The slang may be out of style, but I wouldn't know that or be qualified to comment on what is in or out for YA readers. The only place I felt that could use some improvement was the first paragraph. The hot and steamy language is repeated too much I think. The first sentence doesn't really do much for me to propel the story--the third brings me right to the scene. I'd just delete the first, and then switch the first and second, but that's just me. Also one stinky old man is enough for me (dealing with two is at least one too much).
    The voice is funny and I love the brother (up in my grill-what a riot, what an older brother! Geez!) Anyway, I love Rachel already and would love to read more about what happens to her. I hope the kiss is greatly anticipated and very short. Hopefully she sees the scar on his chest when he's at swim practice or something! (Just kidding.)
    I would not put this down.

  4. I didn't love the logline with all the references to fire, not for contemporary YA. Also, there are no stakes. What does Rachel want, and what will happen if she fails?

    Your writing is strong, and I enjoyed the opening page. I think you could tighten up some of the description of the hot afternoon. It started to feel like a little too much.

    Good luck!

  5. I agree that the logline seemed a bit too heavy in metaphor and didn't really tell me enough of what the story is about. I was actually turned off a bit -- she is into a guy who maybe killed his parents?

    The first paragraph seems like it could use some work. Her anger made her sweat but it was so humid, wouldn't that make her sweat alone? I know you want to give a sense of her being upset at what's going on but she seems almost too angry to me in a way that could turn readers off. Just something to consider! Good luck!

  6. I think the logline went a little too far with the fire references. I had to double check to decide what referred to real fire and what not.

    I felt yucky reading about the sweaty, stinky situation, so good job there. But there was a little too much ungrounded anger. Ultimately the previous mentions over played the more genuine sounding teen snarkiness. Lighten the first couple paragraphs a bit and the rest will shine.

  7. I agree with what the other commenters said - it's either the heat or her anger to make her sweat. Also, the slang seemed wrong. Gag me makes me think 80s valley girl, but grill? Innercity hoodlum, maybe? I could see this kind of lingo if he was a basketball player, maybe, but a swimmer? And while the valley girl and hoodlum don't really mesh, I understand it shows just how opposite they are from each other. I just don't think it works well here. And, honestly, the slang could be dropped and not really hurt the story or the character development at this point.

    The logline just isn't working for me. I need to know Character, Conflict, Decision, and Stakes. The metaphors were interesting but confused me and not really appropriate in the logline. Also, I thought...with all the fire talk...that this would be a fantasy or paranormal or something, not contemporary.

  8. Everyone is rocking my world. THANK YOU. So much learning is happening right now...THANK YOU!