Sunday, July 17, 2011

Auntie B's Book Club Contest

And of course I'm entering, and taking advantage of the opportunity. (Oh yeah, it's here.)

So here's my entry, as specified by the contest rules.

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Title: Echo

Genre: YA (suspense)

Pitch: Benjamin couldn't control Olivia's mind. She was the only one he ever met with his power, and the only one who could stop him from hiding the truth behind a deadly accident.

250-Word Excerpt:
Sitting in that hard plastic chair in the principal's office stunned Olivia. It was worse than a bad day, or a bad dream. It was more like a nightmare.

Olivia sat motionless in her seat, her hands folded in her lap. If she could have coiled herself into a ball, she would have. A nervous chill tiptoed its way up and down her spine.

To her left was some girl who had claimed to witness the incident. Legs crossed, her foot shook to some beat that only she could seem to hear. Her gaze never found its way towards Olivia. To her right was Hunter. His eyes were set on the receptionist’s desk, fixed as though he could see through the panel of wood, directly at the secretary who continued to type away at some problem of her own.

Every now and then, Olivia felt his gaze shift, as though he were staring her down through the corner of his eye. She wouldn't blame him. He was the victim's brother.

Olivia did not want to think of Chase as a victim. It made her feel like she hurt Chase on purpose. It made her not want to think at all. As she sat there waiting for her parents though, listening to the ongoing click-clack of a keyboard behind the receptionist’s desk, the unpleasant thoughts pushed their way through, invading Olivia’s mind.

She never wanted to hurt him, Hunter or Chase.

After maybe an hour's wait, and countless people passing through the office doors, Olivia's parents came rushing through.

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I made some changes since my appearance on First Impressions, and I'm still open to comments and critiques, and I'm even willing to accept a compliment if you can dig one up. I'm ready for it.

Update: made some changes based on the comments. As they say, an artist's work is never truly complete.

Final Update: This is what I'm submitting. Wish me luck!

6 comments:

  1. On your pitch: The repetition is (to me) a waste of words when you only have 35. Especially because those words could be used to give the "accident" more context and make me care about it. It could be anything from spilled milk to destroying the world. Just a little hint to why it matters to him would be great. Thanks!

    On your first page: She did not want to think about the situation at all, but as she sat there waiting for her parents, listening to the ongoing click-clack of a keyboard behind the receptionist’s desk, the unpleasant thoughts pushed their way through, invading Olivia’s mind.
    This is a really long sentence. Almost a run-on. Try to break it up somehow and it'll read easier.

    The girl to her left had her arms and her legs crossed, her foot shook to some beat that only she could seem to hear.
    You need a period or a semi-colon where you have the comma.

    His eyes were set on the receptionist’s desk, unmoving, fixed as though he could see through the panel of wood, directly at the secretary who continued to type away at some problem of her own.

    Having unmoving and fixed is a bit redundant. Fixed is the stronger word. Keep that one and delete unmoving.

    Sitting in a hard plastic chair in the principal's office was unreal for Olivia.
    This is kind of a telling statement rather than a showing one, and its a weak verb to start us off with. Was. Try a more active verb that gives us more about Olivia and in what way its affecting her.

    Thank you for sharing. I think you could put a bit more in here to make it extra awesome instead of just regular awesome. Like what does the girl look like? How does Olivia feel about her? What about Hunter? We know she doesn't care for Chase. Does she like Hunter? Give it to us in context here rather than working it in later. We'll have a clearer idea of the scene, and that will draw us in more. I'm intrigued but I'm not dying to hear more. Thanks for sharing!

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  2. You say "to her right was the victim's." The victim's what? Is there a word missing here? I'm guessing it's brother.

    I was a little confused because Benjamin is introduced upfront in the pitch but he doesn't appear in the 1st 250 words. It might work better to keep the pitch focused on Olivia.

    You have some passive voice in the excerpt that I think you could weed out to keep the reader's attention better. There's not much action in this opening so I think you'd benefit by playing up the setting and Olivia's emotions a bit more. There is tension but I think you can increase it slightly by getting rid of some of the passive verbs and getting the reader into Olivia's head a bit more.

    It's off to an interesting start. I definitely want to know what happened to Chase.

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  3. Shelli,
    Oh, oops! Somehow I forgot to stick that word in there. Yes, "brother" was supposed to come in after "victim's."

    As for Benjamin, I'm still debating on an opening that included him. It's just tricky for me because Benjamin and Olivia are probably equal in weight in the story, they're just introduced separately. So I could probably still use some work on a decent pitch.

    And if you wouldn't mind, could you point out some of the passive voice? I seem to struggle with that. That, and the showing vs telling thing.

    Thanks though!

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  4. The first sentence sounds like the chair is stunning Olivia. Re-word it, start with Olivia sat...

    In the first paragraph you mention the people sitting on her left and right, then you get more into detail again in the third paragraph. You can cut out the third and not lose any of the story.

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  5. Oh I like it! I would definitely read this book!

    My only suggestions: "To her left was some girl" I would change to "a girl" or "the girl".

    And: "Olivia sat motionless in the center, her hands kept to herself, folded in her lap." I would change to "Olivia sat motionless in the center, her hands folded in her lap".

    Good job all around! Good luck in the contest :)

    ReplyDelete