Monday, April 18, 2011

Submission Neal

Name: Neal Wollenberg
Title/Genre: 13TH SUMMER -- Middle Grade Realistic Fiction

Pitch: A Halloween prank gone way wrong, a stolen truck and the bully with a death wish… yours. Where’s summer break when you need it?

1st 250: Bing Stanley and his best friend Hayden Carter raced through the darkness along the deserted street. Each step carried them first through pools of illumination from streetlamps then the darkness between. They finally stopped to catch their breath underneath one lamp’s phosphorescent glow.

“Bing, I think they saw us!” said Hayden.

“No way. It was just the automatic lights on the garage that came on.” Bing hissed each word between ragged breaths. “We got away.”

His laughter began deep along his sides, silent at first then bursting from between his lips in gales. Within seconds Hayden’s laughter blended with Bing’s and soon the two were clutching the lamppost in order to stay upright.

“When you said you wanted to fork someone’s yard, I didn’t know it would take that long!” Bing hiccupped and tried to stifle more laughter.

A low rumble interrupted Hayden before he could respond. Both boys froze.

“Hey peckers!”

The Camaro crept down the street and slowed to a stop beside the boys.

“I said, ‘Hey peckers!’ Don’t flippin’ ignore me.” Chad Craven rested against the inside of the driver’s side door. His left arm hung from the window, and an amber long-neck bottle dangled from his fingertips.

Bing’s breath came slow and shallow. He was nervous, but tried to cover it. “Hey Chad, ‘sup?”
Chad’s passenger yelled, “The sky!” then erupted in shrieks of laughter.

“Shut up, Evan, you idiot. I’m talkin’ here.” He leaned out of the window. “Why you ‘tards out so late?”


  1. Looking through the list of submissions, I chose Neal's (thinking Neal is male, but I could be wrong) because males generally write differently than females.

    This 1st 250 is fast-paced and opens directly into the action. I like that. It's strong. When I was a middle-grader, some high schoolers scared me. This read reminded me of that, so I was sucked in.

    On occasion there are too many adjectives or it gets description heavy. Paring these slightly would improve the flow. Overall, I'm intrigued and already rooting for Bing.

  2. This runs a bit edgier than I'm used to seeing in MG and this excerpt gave me the willies (in a good way)--I felt like something really bad was going to happen. The question at the end of your short pitch made me think it was going to be more humorous, though, so I was a little surprised at the tone.

    The situation is portrayed realistically, so great job on that! I felt the tension and was freaked out by the high-schooler. You placed me right in the scene :)

    I agree with Barbara that some descriptions seemed a tiny flowery considering your realistic situation (for instance, "silent at first then bursting from between his lips in gales").

    I'd read on to see where this is going! Good luck in the contest :)