Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Entry 5 Lori M Lee

Title: Soul Without a Boy
Genre: YA urban fantasy
Contact: leemai82 at gmail dot com


When 17-year-old London Howell inadvertently "creates" a girl, drawing the attention of the city's ruling magus family, he must decide if the answers to newly raised questions about himself and his family are worth the price of the girl's soul.

Second line of the very first paragraph of the 1st chapter:

It was crouched against the wooden post of a neighbor's mailbox, little more than a shadow with large-knuckled fingers that raked at empty air.

First 250 words of your second chapter:

The boy with her—Asian, with dark hair braided back into cornrows—gave Amun a cursory glance before addressing London. "What House are you from?"

London wasn't about to tell them where he lived. He pointed over his shoulder.

The girl with the ponytail laughed.

"What's the name of your House?" Cornrows asked, his words edged with impatience now.

"My house's name?" London repeated, confused. "Can't say we've ever named it." At the boy's tightening jaw, he offered, "Harold?"

"You think you're funny?" he asked, voice rising.

London didn't think so, but that didn't stop him from trying. Humor was a tool, an ice breaker. Or maybe an ice pick, more exact, a way to direct a conversation from topics that were either uncomfortable or too personal.

"Or maybe you're just stupid," Cornrows said. He reminded London of the football players at school—too much competition, not enough anger management. Their animosity was more amusing than anything else.


  1. Your pitch leaves me a bit confused, like, who this "girl" is and why she's important. Maybe just reword it a bit.

    The first 250 words:
    I love this! I want to know more. It pulled me into the story. I like the way you compared humor as an ice pick. That was brilliant!

    I think this will be a great story, one I'd pick up and read in a heartbeat. Great job!

  2. Hi Lori!

    First, I really like the title. It’s different!

    Pitch: I don’t really understand what’s going on from the pitch. Of what nature are the “newly raised questions?” Are they in danger? Or are people simply investigating it? Knowing how high the stakes are would help me sympathize more with London. The idea of an accidentally created girl is definitely intriguing though.

    Second line: Technically, there’s nothing wrong with this. It’s written very well, and the grammar is good. But I’m having trouble connecting just because I have no idea what “It” is and why it’s crouched against a mailbox. I’m guessing it’s some kind of monster? I really wish I could read the first sentence so I know what’s going on.

    250 Words:
    I’m not a big fan of the description of the Asian boy being pulled out with dashes. It seemed to me like an aside, and a way to get in a lot of description without actually working it into the sentence. This is just my opinion, but I would have liked to have seen it sprinkled in slowly rather than given all at once. But I do like the “cursory glance” That is good!

    The House thing makes me think of Harry Potter, which is very cool.

    Something I noticed is that you’re doing some telling instead of showing. For instance:

    “London repeated, confused.” –You could show an action here to show the confusion, like London scrunched up his forehead, raised his eyebrows, took a step back, etc.

    “What’s the name of your House?” Cornrows asked, his voice edged with impatience now. – I feel like the action is on the asking and not the growing tension. I really think you could show an action here. Something like: He glared at me. “What’s the name of your House?” By doing that, you would be showing instead of telling, and you would also delete a repetitive dialogue tag.

    I’m not sure why, but the last line seems a little out of context with what’s going on. Like, it’s kind of humorous, and reflects that London thinks Cornrow’s behavior is humorous. But in reality, this guy is being passive aggressive (or just plain aggressive depending how you look at it) toward London. I think it’s funny to inwardly joke about football players too, but not when I’m being confronted by one. The timing is what’s off to me, I think. It just seems to take away the intensity of the mini-confrontation. Of course, you could be showing a character trait of London—maybe he escapes bad situations with humor? The ice pick thing would coincide with that. If that’s the case, please disregard this last bit.

    I really do wish I could read this from the beginning. I don’t have a firm grasp of what’s going on, but I think that’s because the second line and 250 words don’t resemble the pitch yet. Good luck revising and in the contest!


  3. Hi Lori,
    I remember this as part of another contest within the blogosphere and liked the idea of a character creating a girl by mistake even then.

    Some suggestions/comments/questions
    Pitch: "...he must decide if the answers to newly raised questions about himself and his family are worth the price of the girl's soul." The personal stakes for London do not seem high enough here. Answering questions does not carry the same weight as London's personal loss of something--something dear to him. Perhaps reword to give the reader a sense of his urgency, what he has to lose, why or if he cares about her.

    2nd line: Great description here. I want to know what "it" is. But given this is a second line, I assume this may be addressed in line 1.

    250 words: I agree that the description of the boy should be seamlessly woven into the paragraph rather than punctuated by hyphens. The football player comments sounds like a stereotype, but this may be integral to the character's view on FB players and to his development.
    The ice pick: "Or maybe an ice pick, more exact, a way to direct a conversation from topics that were either uncomfortable or too personal." It sounds as though you're using the ice pick as a metaphor (which I am sure you do not intend to do). From the way it is worded--as a metaphor--ice picks do not direct conversations; they may chip away at them, but not direct them.

    Best of luck in your revisions!

  4. Love the title.

    Like the pitch but I wonder, is his family going to be in danger? If so, I'd say so and up the ante for London.

    Second line; love the it. creepy, intriguing, worrying. Good word choices, like crouch and raked.

    first 250:This is the only thing I'd change:

    "What's the name of your House?" Cornrows repeated, his words edged with impatience now." repeated instead of asked.

    Otherwise I loved this and the voice of London shining through. I can practically hear him and his snarky attitude toward these people, wonder if his humor isn't a cover for fear and whether it might get him into trouble later...I'm guessing probably. Nice job and good luck.