Saturday, October 12, 2013

Prep Work Round 3 #1

GENRE: Lower YA Speculative Adventure
LOGLINE: Geneva, 2025 – fourteen-year-old American, Thomas Defoe is whisked from home by a rebel priest and dumped in a hidden, thousand-year-old monastery in the Italian Alps. Religion’s banned in Europe and Thomas learns he’s a pawn in a dangerous Vatican plan to change that. Only his missing mother knows why and who he really is. And she’s sitting dead center of a lethal state, a cunning Church and a ticking bomb.

FIRST 250:

Thomas huddled behind a bush and squinted through the twilight at the grungy man talking to his mother. He’d pretty much bet, hand on heart, he was looking straight at a rebel priest. The ones with the long hair, ragged clothes and bulging muscles fresh from the work camps.

Weird. They didn’t break surface often but when they did they were dangerous. And bad to associate with. That’s what his mother had told him and now look at her. Look at him  - in their living room -  punching air, talking fast, pacing like a spooked cat.

Sal whined at his feet. “Shush up,” he whispered, hand on her collar. “Priest alert.” She quivered with an attack of goose bumps. If dogs got goose bumps.

“Easy, girl.” Thomas squeezed his baseball good and tight. One shot, right through the window he was thinking. A kid fooling around - a mistake - it could work. Knock the priest unconscious, grab his mom and run.

He stood up, felt the slight give of the grass at his feet. They were so close to escaping to America nothing could stand in their way. Especially not a crazed priest.

Best not to falter, not to over-think. He picked up the bat, threw the ball and with a sniper eye swung in the direction of the haloed windows of his house. It felt like he was batting the moon all the way to heaven or hell. Knowing Thomas's luck it'd be hell.


  1. I think you have an interesting premise for your story. Your logline comes across to me more as a synopsis, written from the narrator’s perspective. Also, you use broad statements, like the second sentence. It might work better to show, rather than tell us these details. The last sentence is missing some words, and reads more like a list to me, than stakes. Consider taking one overarching point from your story and spell it out in the logline, from Thomas’s perspective, what the goal/consequences and stakes are.

    I like your first 250. You build nice tension with your description of the priest, making me wonder why priests are in work camps, how they escape, and what the priest might want with Thomas. I’m not sure how him saying “priest alert” makes the dog quiver. Does the dog understand Thomas’s words?

    Your last sentence is a great hook.

  2. I like the premise but I think you could describe it in fewer words or in more simple language. You use a lot of apostrophes in the logline and for me as a reader it is distracting - I had to read some sentences twice to understand them fully. For example, you could say, "Religion is" instead of "Religion's."

    The last sentence also tripped me up a bit. You use three phrases that alone I think could pack some punch but together in a row I think they over complicate the last sentence: "dead center" "lethal" "bomb." Also, I am unsure if you are talking about the mother's lethal state, as in state of being, or if you are talking about The State - like the governing force. Further, if you're talking about one church in particular you could write, "the cunning Church" but "a cunning Church" not sure if it's supposed to be capitalized if it is in that context.

    As for the first 250, I love the idea that the protagonist's master plan is to hit a baseball at his target. Very risky and daring - I like it! I'm not sure you need any of the stuff with the dog - not sure it adds anything to the opening unless the dog becomes central to the next plot point.

    Nice work!

  3. Hi.
    I liked your premise and your logline. The only comment I had on the 250 is one that the other commenters mentioned: I wondered about the dog. I like that your MC has a dog, but why would it quiver?
    A very fun read so far. Really interesting work!

  4. I'm very intrigued by your logline! Sounds like my kind of story. I got a little confused in the set up, though I like the pace and feel the tension your creating. his sentnce threw me off: Look at him - in their living room - punching air, talking fast, pacing like a spooked cat.. Is he looking through a living room window. Why are they (fist?) punching air? Then I realize, yeah, he's outside with the dog. MAybe it's just that one sentence. The dog might whimper...mine does when she's scared. Good luck! Your story sounds like a fun romp!

  5. Thanks everyone. Way helpful comments ;)

  6. I love the 250. I think you build the tension well. My only comment there is that I had to re-read the part about the rebel priest in the living room punching and pacing. Because the previous sentence says, "that's what his mother told HIM." I assumed the HIM in the next sentence also referred to the MC, not the rebel priest, so I was confused. Also, you might want to put in the opening that he's looking through the window because I thought they were all outside until the "in the living room" which was another reason that confused me.

    I would suggest that you boil down your logline and specify the stakes for him because he's being used as a pawn. Then what Thomas must do to overcome. Does he have to make a choice? Does he have to escape? Is he trapped because he's afraid for his mother's life? Focus on him, not the mother. For example: Held prisoner by rebel priests, fourteen-year-old Thomas must _________ in order to _________ before _______. (Like it's that easy when the plot is so complicated! I know. I personally stink at loglines!)

    Hope my suggestions are helpful. Good luck with it!

  7. You've done a great job of building suspence! Rebel priest, escape, ticking bomb-there's so much here to like.

    The others have made some interesting comments about the dog. Maybe instead of "priest alert" you could say "She smelled/sensed trouble."

    Maybe if you added that he saw the priest through the window at the very beginning it would make it clearer that he is outside.

    I wouldn't change a thing in your logline
    Great job!