Monday, September 2, 2013

Prep Work #4

TITLE: The Cry House
GENRE: YA Gothic Romance
LOGLINE: Between heated arguments and a simmering sexual tension, seventeen-year-old Faith and Logan are forced to relive the memories of murdered spirits from the abandoned Cry House. They must solve a century old crime in order to bury the dead for good—but a malevolent ghost is standing in their way, waiting to wrap his sulfur-tinged tendrils around their minds.
FIRST 250: Faith quickened her pace to a run. Someone was following her. Shadows shifted on the desolate street, and she peeked back at the Cry House. It stood in the distance, dead silent and empty. Not a single floating sheet or rattling chain in sight. She would have welcomed a moaning specter, something to explain the feeling of being studied. She had a lot more to fear from the living than the dead.
Wind tossed her hair around like scattered straw. A streetlight flicked on with an electric hum and pop above her head. The sun began to set below the horizon, the last rays of daylight spearing violet streaks across the sky.
Faith took another scan of the street. Empty. She slowed down and exhaled.
Get over yourself. No one is chasing you.
She froze at the sound of Logan’s voice. Oh God, kill me, kill me now. She closed her eyes, waited a beat, and reopened them, willing herself to disappear. He probably thinks I’m eight shades of crazy.
“Hey, I thought that was you,” Logan said as he caught up to her. “What were you running from?”
She’d let herself get carried away by an irrational fear, and the shame of it burned her pale cheeks. Toeing at a weed that poked through the sidewalk crack, she tried to come up with a witty response.
“Um, you.”
“Figures,” he said.
He leaned down to whisper something in her ear, and she backed up a step.


  1. Logline: I enjoyed this; the stakes are clear and the words you use are creative and paint a nice picture. I believe the first sentence could be stronger, however; it comes across to me like arguing parents. Maybe instead something like this: Between heated exchanges and simmering sexual tension (etc.) Also, how about "mystery" instead of crime? And perhaps it’s too cliche, but "souls" instead of "minds"?

    First 250: If you should switch your first two sentences, the action would follow the thought. It might increase the pacing as well, and help to build the tension you're aiming for. How about "watched" instead of "studied" to continue building the anxiety?

    You have wonderful imagery in the "hair like straw paragraph"; I particularly loved this section: "She closed her eyes, waited a beat, and reopened them, willing herself to disappear. He probably thinks I’m eight shades of crazy."

    When Logan asks Faith what she's running from, it almost seems like a set-up for her "Umm you" comment. If you added something like, "I called your name but you kept going. What were you running from?" it might flow into her funny comment better.

    I don't think you need the "an" before irrational fear although it's probably my personal preference.

    Anyway, I hope my comments help. Nicely done!

    1. Thanks! I'll get my critiques going after the fever breaks :)

  2. At 59 words, this logline is too long and gives unnecessary information. It is also a little bit confusing. Are Faith and Logan both 17? Will this story be about them both (told from 2 perspectives), or is it really Faith's story and Logan is more of a secondary character? Why are they reliving the memories of spirits from an abandoned house? Did they move there? Are they there together? Why? This needs clarification and tightening.

    Leah Petersen’s Logline advice and example is stellar:

    Logline contains: Character, conflict, decision, stakes.

    Example: A brilliant young physicist is accused of treason; to fight for his own life, he’ll have to betray his lover, the Emperor.

    Character: Brilliant young physicist.
    Conflict: Accused of treason.
    Decision: Betray the man he loves or not.
    Stakes: Death.

    As for the excerpt:

    I would remove the “Someone was following her.” It’s very telling. Let the reader discover that someone is following her by Faith’s actions and reactions to being followed. The rest of the paragraph is confusing. Does she actually see something when she peeks back? I expected her to since we were told so clearly that she was being followed. You have the ability to hint at the ghostiness that will be in this book without spelling it out for the reader. Playing with the shadows and building up the tension and Faith’s unease with the silence and growing darkness.

    The rest of the excerpt didn’t make much sense to me and just didn’t engage me or make me want to read on. Things seemed to happen a little out of order. The sun would start to go down before the light would pop on. And if she’d looked down the street, how did Logan suddenly appear? Also, the dialog seems off, especially for a teen. Kind of forced. You shouldn't need to tell the reader that she's trying to come up with a zinger, just zing.

    To make this really pop, you need to remove the telling, heighten the tension, and make your dialog zing. I think the story idea could be intriguing, but as it's set up right now I think it won't make the Baker's Dozen cut.

    This is, of course, just my opinion. Last year, I entered the Baker's Dozen but didn't even make it out of the slush pile. I hope some of this helps and wish you the best of luck!

  3. I liked this pitch very much. It caught my attention and got right into the action. Nice showing.

  4. I like the premise of this story.

    On the Logline: I think you can start right at Seventeen-year-olds... You don't need to add the arguments and tension bit that will come out in the story unless this story is more about the romance in which case then the logline needs to be focused towards that and less about the ghosts. I also do not know what the Cry House is (and will when I read the story) and that sentence reads clunky to me. I would take that out.

    Seventeen-year-old Faith and Logan are forced to relive the memories of murdered spirits who won't rest. A malevolent ghost stands in their way, waiting to wrap sulfur-tinged tendrils around their minds unless the two of them can solve this century old crime.

    250 words: I agree with Martha above on the changes. I enjoyed it. Good Luck!

  5. Sorry it's taken me a while to post. I've been dealing with sick kids.

    After taking more time with it this morning, I still really like it, but I have a few thoughts for you.
    First, I was confused by the sentence that goes something like: "she had more to fear from the living than the dead..." because according to your logline, the dead are going to be pretty darned malevolent. So I'm left wondering why she fears the living here in the beginning and if one of the living she fears is Logan.
    Second, when I read it the first time, I thought the scene was dark--set in the gloaming--or later at night. Today when I read it, the scene seemed much lighter: streetlights coming on, rays of daylight streaming through... and I was wondering what your thoughts were. I like the idea of it being dark to begin with, since one of the main characters is scared, but I haven't read the whole book. Maybe you have a great reason for making it just the start of evening.
    I think you should change the "and" in the last sentence to "but". Logan leaned in to whisper in her ear, but she backed away...
    Just a thought.
    Again, I really liked your work. Best of luck!