Monday, December 17, 2012

Hangover Round 1 Entry #49

TITLE: Through the White Light
GENRE: Middle Grade Fantasy

When Lucas becomes an angel, the White Light obliterates his memory of dying, leaving only a sense of his little sister being threatened and a feeling it’s his fault. Determined not to dodge responsibility, Lucas breaks angel rules, defies guardians, and risks everything to unravel the truth about his own death and acquire sufficient skills to ensure his sister’s safety.

My last day began without any kind of warning or premonition.  I know that’s normal, and I wasn’t expecting a flashing neon sign above my bed saying, “Lucas, this is your last day.”  Still, I would’ve liked a subtle hint.

The day ended in disaster, but it went wrong from the moment I got up.  Over breakfast, I argued with Mum and Dad.  I’d promised to look after Emily, but forgotten, and I’d have to cancel my plans because of their stupid business dinner.  Afterwards, I discovered that Emily had drawn flowers in my biology report and I shouted at her until she cried.

In school it became worse.  The biology report flipped open to the flowery page and the whole class exploded in laughter.  Including Sophie.  During the day, Thomas tried everything to find a solution to the babysitting dilemma so I could join them at Laura’s house in the evening—without luck.  And dragging Emily along was no option.  Last time, the telly had bored her, and she’d decided to leave and gotten lost.  The police had brought her home, and Dad had lectured me for hours about responsibility, his voice sounding like Darth Vader’s which was worse than if he’d yelled.

After I picked Emily up from swimming class, I dragged her and my bike through the slushy snow to the newsagent’s to hang out with my friends.  I hoped to catch a glimpse of Sophie, but she never turned up, and, despite her pink suit of armour, Emily whinged about the cold and the late afternoon darkness.


  1. I like the log line but I think there is a ton going on in the first 250 words. I feels like 5 different scenes have been described quickly. I like the information for the scenes but it is rapid fire.

  2. I like the concept as well. The first paragraph worked for me. We find out his name and get a glimpse of his voice. However, the rest of the entry seems rushed and a little choppy. Rather than describing what happened, I would like to experience the argument with Mum and Dad over breakfast, see the class laughing at the drawn flowers, get some insight into how he's feeling, etc. This will allow the reader to get to know the protag and also get a glimpse at his sister's personality. The plot has a lot of potential and if you take your time with each scene it could really shine.

  3. The sense of foreboding plays out well in the first paragraph. I agree with the other readers that the rest of the page reads like a summary rather than a story. Keep the age of your readers in mind. They are 8 to 12 years old and they want to be involved in the scene. Walk yourself through Lucas’ day and write it from his POV as it’s happening. Let us feel his despair or frustration grow as the sequence of miserable events take its course. Emily’s "pink suit of armour” – well described. But does she whine? Or is she winging? Your spelling may be English rather than American, but I think there is an error here. You have a great premise for your story but slow down and show us what’s going on in Lucas’ life.

  4. Thanks for the comments! And sorry for the British English spelling--guess I should have changed that when submitting on your side of the Atlantic.
    This is an attempt at starting with a prologue, but I get the sense it's not working...

  5. Actually, I loved the first paragraph, and didn't realize this is a prologue. Prologues are considered fiery hot objects and not to be touched by reader or agent. If you are able, if it doesn't destroy your story, consider revising to get rid of the prologue and just write in chronological order. Don't give up, this is well worth pursuing.

  6. Thanks Heartfelt. I never give up. And my 10+ other attempts at the opening didn't include a prologue. For a short while this felt like the right opening, but I see the problems you're pointing out.
    Which entry is yours?

    1. I didn't expect to be asked that, so I'll tell you a bit of how I've gotten here because it's similar to what you're going through. My entry is The Tree House Mother, but the portion that I submitted to Baker's Dozen is entirely different from what appears here, from logline to chapter. The BD entry was - ta da!- a prologue! Comments from Authoress about why certain entries were kicked out of competition were that prologues deny readers an opportunity to build sympathy for the protagonist. Absolutely true with my original entry. And I hated the logline the minute I published it, but too late by then (though it was maybe the 15th effort and I'd asked many friends to comment on and vote for earlier LL.)
      When Authoress said it was acceptable to submit revised work to Hangover, I rewrote the first chapter. The original prologue is now chapter 5, and the logline addresses the deeper and darker issues of the story.
      So when you said that your submission is a prologue, I understood where the problem is and felt experienced enough to suggest that you revise as well.
      I wish you well and thank you for asking about my work. May we both be published someday!

    2. I'll take a look at your entry in a minute. There are even more similarities in our way to the Hangover. My BD submission began with action, and I also revised based on comments from Authoress. Thanks for sharing, and best of luck.

  7. I definitely agree with Heartfelt. This sounds like a great story. I loved the logline, and I too enjoyed the first paragraph, but have to agree that the rest felt like a summary. Starting the story in chronological order would definitely be interesting. If you do go with a prologue though, don't be afraid to have it be a few pages. The kids will love to read about the events as they're happening.

    The other option would be to not give any of the back story just yet, and give it to us in pieces throughout the first few chapters, depending on where you're going with the story.

    I think any of those three options would work, it's just a matter of how you execute them. I loved your logline by the way. Good luck!

    1. Thanks Candyce!
      I'm so pleased to get good feedback on the logline, it's the first one I've ever written. If only I could get the opening right--first step is probably to get rid of the prologue again..

  8. (Haven't read other comments so apologies if I repeat)

    Sounds like a great story! I'm intrigued to know what happens.

    However there were a couple of problems for me: First, the voice doesn't sound MG enough to me. I think you really need to get in there and talk like a 12 or so yr old would. Second, I think you're moving much too fast on this first page - slow down, take your time to get to your MC dying, build up his world and himself more slowly and immerse the reader. I get plenty of info here, but I feel rushed. There are some nice details like his sister drawing flowers, but you zip through too long a time period for me.

    Lastly, I get that you're setting up your MC to be mean to his little sister, then die and feel bad about it and come back to save her - but be careful about making him seem *too* unlikable at the beginning (eg shouting at her till she cries, letting her get lost(!)). You need the reader to like him enough to want to take this journey with him.

    Like I said, seems like an interesting story, and with a little less rushing and a bit more voice, I'd certainly read on. Good luck!

  9. I too love you log line. Interesting take on the afterlife and redemption. Your first paragraph is wonderful, but I felt bombarded by everything the happened in the rest of the post. Slow down and give us a reason to cheer for Lucas.