Friday, September 27, 2013

Prep Work Round 2 #2

TITLE: The Selection
GENRE: YA Contemporary

Logline: Miriam has lived all of her 16 years within the secluded Serenity’s Children cult. When their leader forces her into marriage with a virtual stranger, she begins to question the beliefs of her society. But in order to be with the man she loves, she will need to choose between him and the only life she’s ever known.

FIRST 250: 

The girls don’t get a choice. It has been this way for as long as I’ve been alive, and longer. My father chose my mother, a fact he has never let her forget.
I don’t know how the other girls feel about the Selection. It is not something we talk about. As female Children of Serenity, there is not much that we are allowed to talk about. This bothers me more than it should, considering it has been my experience that no one ever says what they really mean.
And there is no way to know how the boys feel about it either. Our whole lives, we have been kept separate from them, except for Sundays at chapel. And of course there is no speaking at chapel. That is a rule that even I have never broken.
The Selection is our biggest celebration all year. It goes on for days, out in the open desert, beyond the high walls of our city.  There is singing, and dancing, and feasting. The stars decorate the sky like thousands of candles, and the smoke from our fires climbs into the vast darkness like an offering to God. 
I can feel Boaz’s gaze on me. He is standing on the other side of the fire—the boy’s side. His eyes are bright in the firelight, his skin a dark bronze against the white of his shirt.  And I dare to hope that maybe, just maybe, tonight he will call my name.


  1. I think you did a great job with the logline, but I found the opening confusing. I would suggest starting with them gathered around the bonfire and introduce the Selection, then work in your narrator's thoughts and how she has no choice.

    Also, I'm a bit confused as to how she can have a particular boy in mind if she has no contact with any of the boys. If all she knows of Boaz is the glimpses in chapel, I need to know a bit more why she would rather have him than anyone else.

  2. There's already a NYT Bestselling YA book called "The Selection," so you may want to reconsider your title. I really like your opening, though - I like that you get quickly through some structure for the world you set up and then go to Boaz and the potential that he might choose Miriam. I agree with the previous poster, though - it would be good to know a little bit about how her attraction on him developed.

  3. Logline: Cut "virtual". Otherwise, it was good.

    First 250: "It's been this way.." instead of "It has...", "he's never let her" instead of "he has" and all the other contractions you should make. Normally, I would write them all down for you, but you passed my limit of 2.

    Cut the "from them" in the boys-girls chapel line.

    When you say, "...the high walls of our city..." I instantly transport to fantasy land. This is contemporary, though, right?

    I love cults, so I feel like this is something I'd read. I would continue reading if I could.

    Also, reconsider your title. "The Selection" by Kiera Cass came out in 2012.

  4. I love the premise of this and I've seen tweets from agents looking specifically for cult stories recently, so this is a perfect time for your MS.

    This had a dystopian feel to me; I think "the walls of the city" as well as the feasting, the desert, etc., did it. I get an isolated feeling, which may be intentional. I assume the cult lives far from civilization, but it's not completely clear. I realize it's only your first 250, but this is all others will see in upcoming contests, so maybe explain a little better, or take the high walls out and work it in later.

    Your query suggests she'll have to choose between leaving the cult to be with the boy or staying without him. I'd love to see a hint of rebellion in your MC in your first 250 to back this up. Maybe sneaking out to whisper with the boy? Or anger at some rule, etc.

    Best of luck with this!

    The following confused me: "there is not much that we are allowed to talk about. This bothers me more than it should, considering it has been my experience that no one ever says what they really mean." If no one ever talks, how are they saying anything, let alone not saying what they really mean?

  5. Hi.
    I agree with much said by the other posters, particularly the comment that Martha made above about the sentence "considering it has been my experience..." I like the general idea that in this cult no one ever says what they mean. There are certain things that you say, stock answers, and that's all. You might think something else, but you don't say it. So I like the idea, but I didn't think it worked here. It seemed like an odd transition, and the prose would flow better if you just moved from the girls not talking to the boys not talking either.
    Unlike another poster, I thought you were able to capture a bit of the rebellious spirit of your protagonist in this selection. I thought when you said that thing about how she's never talked in chapel captured the fact that she breaks the rules at times.
    On the other hand, I agree with the others that I wanted to know more about this boy and how she knows she likes him. Okay, so they've never spoken--but maybe she can see what he's thinking in his eyes. But when would she have been that close to him? Again, like the others, I like that we have this scene out in the desert and this interesting community and a rebellious protagonist, but I want a glimpse into her attraction to Boaz.
    I also disagree with the comments about the high walls. Many cults live in like locations, and I thought if the whole community exits the high walls at least a few times a year, this would give your couple a chance at escaping. The only question I had about the setting is where it is in general. Are we in America? It doesn't feel like it with the desert and the dark skin... but I'm not sure. I think I would like it to be in America, but I'm sure that's just me wanting to identify with the protagonist.
    I hope these comments help. I would read your book.

  6. Hey there,

    I agree with the commenters above about the 250, so I'll leave that be.

    My main issue is with the logline. It's written perfectly fine and I like the premise, but I don't know if it's really going to stand out. The premise itself sounds a bit like the book Matched by Ally Condie. And if you read the premise, it's pretty much the same as yours, especially the last sentence. I don't know much about your book to rewrite it, but it might help to add more of a hook for your final sentence. The first two sentences were fine, by the way.:)

  7. I'm with Rebecca. It's the first thing I thought - Matched by Ally Condie. Hers is dystopian and I see some people got a dystopian feel with the 250. I'd really look into trying to make it feel contemporary and find anything that will set it apart from Matched.