Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Entry 7 Kate Larkindale

TITLE: Chasing the Taillights
GENRE: YA Contemporary
CONTACT: katelarkindale(at)gmail(dot)com

PITCH: Lucy and Tony share nothing except their genetic code. When a car accident kills their parents and leaves Lucy scarred - both physically and emotionally - she and Tony are thrown together and forced to rely on one another in a way they've never had to before. As they struggle to come to terms with their loss, and each other, they discover they might have more in common than they thought.

2nd LINE OF 1ST PARA.: I strain to push the lids up, but they’re already wide.


I cup my chin in my hand and stare at the screen, fingers scraping across unshaven stubble. It’s not late, but I find myself drifting off to sleep in front of the computer. My leaden eyes close and my head drops down toward the heavy wooden desk. I snap myself awake and shake my head. This assignment isn’t going to write itself, is it? Focus. Focus. World War II. That’s what you’re supposed to be thinking about. More importantly, the economic factors that led to World War II. I bite the inside of my cheek and the sharp bloom of pain makes me start. With the salty taste of my own blood flooding my tongue, I begin typing again.

I’m dragged away from hyper-inflation and the rise of the Nazi party by the insistent ringing of the phone. I realize it’s been shrilling for several minutes now, and wonder why neither of my roommates picked it up. Maybe they’re not home; it is Saturday night after all. It’s only jocks like me who have to spend Saturday nights catching up on schoolwork. Parties are just one of the things I sacrifice for my sport. Diving’s a huge time suck.

“Okay, okay… I’m coming.” I drag myself out of my chair, stumbling over the sneakers I kicked off earlier. My legs ache. A four hour practice can do that, especially when it’s all platform. Climbing all those stairs is a killer.

I scoop up the phone from the kitchen counter, half-expecting whoever’s at the other end to have hung up. “Hello?”


  1. Hi, Kate!

    Love the title and the basic concept of your story. In the pitch, however, the first line is a bit unclear. Are they brother and sister? Sisters? (Tony is a gender neutral name) Cousins? Also, I don't understand how they are "thrown together" and "forced to rely on one another." Because they live in the same household? Or something else? Is there a way you can clarify that without adding too many words?

    In the 250-word snippet, I like the sleepy mood you created. It's very clear that the viewpoint character is struggling to stay awake. The one thing that I feel is too absent, though, is emotion. Almost everything stated is external actions rather than (what I personally prefer) a mix of the external action with interior thought and emotion. All of that affects the voice, which (to me) is coming off a little too dry. But that very well could be because of the character's lack of mental focus in this particular scene. The phone call at the end of the snippet intrigued me, and I would have kept reading on to see what news, or change, that call brought to the character.

    Good luck with this! :D

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  3. Hi Kate,
    Your entry hooked me right away. The title is just great, and I felt your pitch was perfect. They have lost both of their parents and now it's just the two of them against the world. They only have each other.

    In your 250 word snippet I immediately formed a mental picture of Tony and deduced that a) he's athletic, b) he's driven and self-disciplined (his commitment to diving) and c) school is a bit of a chore. I feel that you convey Tony's lethargy and lack of enthusiasm really well. I like the fact that he isn't overly emotive or introspective. He's a jock, right? He just wants to "get 'er done."
    I only have minor suggestions. I would change the word "salty" to perhaps, "metallic" but I could just be nitpicking here. Same with the word "scoop" (up the phone) I just couldn't see this athletic dude "scooping" up a phone! Maybe he simply "grabbed the phone from the counter?" But this is just my take.

    Good luck with your story. I for one, would love to read a whole bunch more of your words!

  4. Hi Kate, you immediately make us sympathetic toward your characters in your pitch. But I lose something between your 1st para sentence and your 2nd para 250. Great visual of a sleepy teen (?) The last setence hooked me to want to read more. with that said, Were the two orphaned? Were they brother/brother, etc.? Why do they have to lean on each other?
    Like the idea. Good luck (please excuse any spelling errors, no spell check here, lol)

  5. Hi Kate,
    I think your pitch could be great, except I felt confused by the characters sharing a genetic code. I immediately think of brother and sister. I am unclear who they are to each other. Once that is clarified, I think it will be great.

    I like your 250 words b/c you create a good visual. However, I think it would work even better in a more active voice. For example, instead of writing "I begin typing again" just say "I type again." Try to avoid "I start" or "I begin" b/c it makes for a passive voice. Also, "I'm dragged away" seems passive, implying something is being done to your character rather than him as the active one. Nitpicky, but still important, I think.
    Best of luck to you!