TITLE: Attie and the Monster Book
GENRE: Middle grade/Magical Realism
A cursed book that Attie got from a strange family counselor sends her on a mission to find out why her siblings keep morphing into dangerous, supernatural beasts. If that wasn’t enough, she must also survive her parents’ childish behavior and looming divorce. OMG, her family might fall apart if she doesn’t hurry!
On that day in December my parents were yelling so loud I up and left the house. Just walked out the front door. No jacket or sweater or anything.
Sure, it was December, but it doesn’t get too cold in Texas, so I was fine. Only after I’d closed the front door and walked about twenty paces and could hear myself think again, I realized I’d forgotten my phone.
But I wasn’t going back.
So I walked a bit further, headed for the ravine. There’s a river down there, and it’s pretty cool. Plus, normally us kids aren’t allowed down there. But whereas mom and dad were inside yelling their heads off, I didn’t think they’d notice.
I saw my sister when I was about half way down the steep incline. She was at the way at the bottom, close to the river—where we are definitely not allowed—and she was hugging a tree. Kind of holding onto it with her full body, legs and all. I was going to shout out to her—say something about how she wasn’t allowed down there—but then I thought the way she was hugging the tree looked weird, so I moved in to get a closer look.
Bad news: the situation got worse.
The way my sister was hugging a tree looked weird because she had changed, morphed. I’m not kidding. Gracie was no longer human. Okay, sure, she was still my sister, but trust me when I say she was definitely something other than human.
First my disclaimer: I've only read a handful of MG books, so some of my suggestions may be off.ReplyDelete
Logline: I feel like the use of “got” in the first sentence is off; I almost like I want to rewrite it like this: Attie receives a cursed book from a strange family counselor that sends her on a mission (etc.). The first sentence makes me wonder why a counselor would give a cursed book to a kid, and how the book ties to her sibling morphing, but maybe that’s not a bad thing. As far as voice: I don’t think “childish behavior” and “looming divorce” sound like words a kid would use. Also, I love the OMG part, but I’m not sure what Attie’s hurrying to do in the last sentence and how it will keep her family from falling apart. Overall, I think your logline has nice world building but the stakes aren’t as clear as they could be.
First 250: The second sentence in the second paragraph doesn’t flow well for me; I feel like something is missing in the last part. As a suggestion, perhaps something like: “and could hear myself think again, did I realize I’d forgotten my phone”.
A voice thing for me again: I'm not sure about the words "Dang," or "whereas" but I could be totally wrong. I don't see my 12-yr-old nephew much but I can't picture him using those words.
I love the intrigue of the sister hugging a tree; it creates a good mystery for your reader. Actually, I really enjoyed this entire paragraph; I can picture the sister wrapped around the tree and how strange it must appear to your MC. However, I think you have too many words in this part: "She was at the way at the bottom".
In your last paragraph, I think you could strengthen it if you showed us more about how Gracie looks with a full description rather than telling us she was morphed. I’m wanting something like: Her arms were green, with little leaves sprouting out of them, and her legs had brown stuff on them that I could swear was bark (or something like this, which may come after this 250, in which case, ignore me).
Hope this helps; best of luck with it!
In your logline I'm not making the connection between the cursed book and her siblings morphing, I would keep the focus on that and make that more clear. Ditch the subplot with the parents divorce in the logline, those words could be better served in upping the stakes. Also, you finish with she better hurry, but then don't tell us what she has to hurry up and do.ReplyDelete
The first 250 is a lot of telling, and not much showing. I'm also not a fan of the use of breaking the fourth wall, it feels like I'm being told the story by your MC, rather than getting into the story with her. I think you should also find a way to get her name in on the first page, because right now she's a nameless, faceless character that I'm having trouble connecting with. I do think you have interesting premise here, just show more in your opening to really suck us into the story.
At 53 words and 3 sentences, this logline is too long and gives unnecessary information. Condense. Use Leah Petersen’s logline advice, which is stellar:ReplyDelete
A logline must contain: Character, conflict, decision, stakes.
Character: Attie—how old? Any special character traits?
Conflict: Receives a cursed book
Decision: ??? I don’t know. What are her choices? Right now, all you’ve told me is that she wants to find out why her siblings are changing and that she must survive her parents’ behavior. What does she have to do to save her family?
Stakes: Destruction of her family.
I really dislike the OMG in the logline.
As for the excerpt:
There are typos, which is a big no-no for the Baker’s Dozen.
-farther, not further. Farther is a physical distance, further is metaphorical/figurative distance.
- “She was at the way at the bottom…” My guess is that you had a different sentence here at one point, changed it, and didn’t remove everything from the initial sentence. Doing a verbal read-thru will significantly help in eliminating such typos.
The first sentence is not catchy. I think it’s because of “On that day in December…” This entire excerpt is very telling. Tighten up the sentences, removing unnecessary words. Don’t be repetitive (the date is told twice right at the beginning, Gracie’s non-human status is mentioned twice in 2 sentences). And I think if a kid sees her sister not looking so human anymore, she is going to think more than, “Bad news: the situation got worse.” I get the voice you’re going for (though it isn't consistent and isn't really working as it is), but don’t sacrifice logical/realistic decisions/word selections for voice.
This seems like it could be a fun MG read, but as it is right now, the typos, repetitive telling nature, and lack of a true MG voice will keep it from making it out of the slush.
This is, of course, just my opinion. Last year, I entered the Baker's Dozen but didn't make it out of the slush pile either. I hope some of this helps and wish you the best of luck!
I think the logline needs to be more focused. I played with it a bit. Since I haven't read your story I was going on what you already had in the logline.ReplyDelete
"When the cursed book came into Attie _____'s hands, her siblings began morphing into dangerous, supernatural beasts and her parents constantly fight. Attie's on a mission to find out how she can stop the changes in everyone before she loses them."
First 250: I like your premise but it needs a bit of structuring and voice needs to stay within that grade level. I think showing us a bit more on how Gracie morphed through Attie's eyes. That had to be a shocker. My fix is below. Take or leave. It's been a while with MG. I like the story. Good luck.
My parents were yelling so loud I up and left the house. Just walked out the front door. No jacket or sweater or anything. Sure, it was December, but it doesn’t get too cold in Texas.
After I walked about twenty paces and could hear myself think again did I realize I’d forgotten my phone.
I wasn’t going back for it. Listening to them was a headache I wanted to avoid.
There was a cool river down in the ravine. It was off-limits to us kids but since mom and dad were inside yelling, I didn’t think they’d notice that I escaped.
Slipping and sliding through the dirt and rocks I managed to stop half way down by grabbing some brush. That's when I saw my sister, Gracie, at the bottom, down by the river. She was hugging a tree. I was going to shout out to her but the way she was hugging the tree looked weird. She was holding onto it with her full body, legs and all. I moved in to get a closer look.
That's when the situation got worse.
It looked weird because it was weird. Gracie had changed. Morphed. I’m not kidding. My sister was no longer human. Okay, sure, she was still my sister, but trust me when I say she was definitely something other than human.