Monday, April 18, 2011

Submission A. J.

Name: A. J. Spindle

Email: ajspindle (at) yahoo (dot) com


Pitch: Dreaming of saving the world is one thing, it’s another thing entirely when that dream becomes a frightening reality.

Fiirst 250 words:
Bennett stared out the car window, watching the tree whirl past, hoping to find something to take his mind off the trip.

“Make sure you behave for your dad. He’s doing me a favor by letting you stay with him this summer,” his mom said from the driver’s seat. “And I want you to brush your teeth everyday. Just because you’re not at home doesn’t mean you can get away with bad hygiene.”

“I know,” he mumbled back. Doing me a favor, the words rang in his head. Shouldn’t his dad want to see him? Shouldn’t he beg Bennett to come and visit? Or is he still too busy with his job? Bennett’s mother snapped and he looked away from the window.

“Are you listening?”

“Your dad said he’d meet you when you get off the boat. He’s sending someone named Charlie to keep an eye on you, and I’m glad. I still don’t think you’re old enough to go alone.”
“Dad owns the boat, he helped design it, Mom. I’m sure it’s safe. Plus, who’d want to kidnap me,” he said, with a laugh. This made his mom give him her famous worried look, where her eyebrows pulled together and her lips made a hard line. Maybe it was the divorce that did it to her, made her worry so much, because ever since his dad moved so far away, she’d been protective of Bennett, like she was afraid he might leave her too.


  1. This is cute. You immediately feel sympathy for the MC--his dad is doing his mom a "favor"? Psshh! Personally, I don't get hooked on a story when it starts out quite so mundane, but I also don't read much MG fiction, so take that for what it's worth. The pitch catches my attention in ways the opening doesn't. Saving the world? Yes, please! The opening makes this feel like one kind of book, but the pitch tells me I'm in for a surprise. I like that, but you might want to hype up the beginning a little bit and start with a more active moment, rather than having him stare out the car window and listen to his mom talk. I'd like to see this start with more action, possibly on the boat, and Bennett can reflect on this conversation later, because I have a feeling "Charlie" might play an important role.
    Maybe Bennett is face-to-face with Charlie and your first line could be something like: "Charlie Lastname had the worst case of BO Bennett had ever encountered. Standing not two feet from the man hired to escort him from ____ to ____ in the tiny ship's cabin made it impossible to breathe." But better, because you can do better.

    I LOVE the title and I think you've got something here! I'd just tighten it up and make it a little more active.

  2. A.J.,

    I disagree with L.J. a bit. Other than having the trees "whirl" by (whirl: are they spinning?), I think the opening nicely captures a kid who is struggling with his parents after a divorce. While this opening doesn't plunge me into the action, it gives me a strong sense of character and the emotional environment.

    Without seeing how the plot develops, it's hard to know if that is the right way to start or not. Harry Potter starts with his miserable home life and still manages to hook the reader into a life or death/end of the world plot (that said, I found the home life parts of HP to be almost unbearably overdone: you're avoiding that nicely). Your slower, character-building start works for me, but you might need something more direct for your (younger) audience.

    The pitch strongly conveys an interesting idea, but the language could be tighter. "Entirely" isn't needed and "dream becomes a frightening reality" sounds almost cliche. 140 characters is very difficult to work with, but can you give a bit more voice to the pitch?