#SonOfAPitch – ENTRY #2 – THE LAST DREAMER

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Title: The Last Dreamer
Category and Genre: Lower YA crossworlds fantasy
Word Count: 52,000
 
Query:

Fifteen year old Ivy Wilson is whisked off to Yazmine, a world similar to Earth, where she finds herself in the midst of a war threatening Yazmine’s survival and way of life. Ivy is taken in by one of Yazmine’s clans. This Native-American based clan cares for her and protects her after she comes to Yazmine. Awed by this new place, the war seems distant and unreal. Ivy grows to love Yazmine and its inhabitants and while they carry the burden of the war, she has yet to experience any of their pain. However, when Ivy is captured by Malum, a sorcerer fueled by revenge, she witnesses the effects of the war firsthand. Malum can control fire and has enough power to see Yazmine’s destruction through. When Ivy is rescued, she wants nothing more to do with this strange land. After a while, the effects of the war on others convince her to stay and she enlists in the battle to protect her newfound home, friends, and her own future. The price of war is heavy and, if any are going to survive, it must be paid.

 
First 250 Words:

       I had always believed in unicorns, even when the rest of the world no longer did.

       “What you writing there, Ivy?” I jumped and spun my head around to see a classmate looking over my shoulder.

       “Nothing.” I said in a shrill voice as I slammed my notebook closed. At least half the class turned around and looked at me after my outburst. I could feel myself blushing. I ducked my head and looked at the carpet. Why couldn’t they just leave me alone?

       The bell rang and I jumped again. Perfect timing! I slung it over my shoulder and raced out of the classroom. Awesome! It was time for lunch!

       I hurried into the cafeteria and over to my table of friends, bumping into a few chairs in the process.

       “Hey, Ivy,” said Amelia as I sat down.

       “Hey.”

       “How’s the story coming?” Amelia nodded at the notebook I still had cradled under my arm.

       “It’s coming.”

       “That’s good.”

       Amelia started to eat her lunch and I dug into my own as well. I started to zone out and ignore the conversation going on around me. I looked around the school cafeteria. Four grades full of students eating their food in unison. Just like every day. We were like a cow herd. The bell rang, we came to school. The bell rang, we went home. We slept, we ate, and followed the same pattern we had our entire lives. It was all one boring routine.

 

***Note: Please do not comment on other entrants’ posts, only your own. You can bribe, coax, share, tweet, and do whatever to your entry, but you cannot comment on anyone else’s.***

14 thoughts on “#SonOfAPitch – ENTRY #2 – THE LAST DREAMER

  1. Pingback: Son of a Pitch Contest – Week 2: My ten entries | Elsie Elmore

  2. I enjoy stories that place the protag in unfamiliar territory – especially when the new environment helps the character grow. With your query, I feel like I need more to understand this. Try focusing on the main questions:
    Who is the protagonist and what is their conflict?

    Fifteen-year -old Ivy Wilson… feels more connected to the stories she’s writing than to her classmates? Has difficulty relating to those around her? doesn’t seem to stand out? hates being overlooked? Has been bullied? Give me something about Ivy that defines who she is or what her struggle is/will be. —whisked off to Yazmine, a world similar to Earth. Why is she whisked away? If I knew what her inner struggle was, I might understand her opportunity.

    What are the stakes/choices? Is there a change/motivation?
    Ivy is captured by a sorcerer fueled by revenge with enough power to see to Yazmine’s destruction. Her rescue leaves her wanting nothing more to do with this strange land. BUT… After a while, the effects of the war on others convince her to stay and she enlists in the battle to protect her newfound home, friends, and her own future. Is it because they risked their life to save her?

    In a few spots, extra words are in the way of making those questions clear ☺ For example:
    Ivy is taken in by a Native-American clan who care for and protect her. Soon, Ivy grows to love Yazmine and its inhabitants. But while they carry the burden of the war, she has yet to experience their pain or loss?

    Strip it down, then dress it backup. You’ve got a good start, just tinker and streamline.

    First 250 Words:
    I had always believed in unicorns, even when the rest of the world no longer did.
    “What you writing there, Ivy?”
    I jumped and spun my head around to see a classmate looking over my shoulder. (Maybe give the classmate a name and a brief identity to add depth and advance story- I jumped when Sarah peeked over my shoulder. She would tease me again if I showed her my story? They always did. I slammed my notebook closed.— Let the reader know why this is an intrusion and why she responds the way she does– it will help set up the backstory.)
    “Nothing.” I said. My voice broke a little?. At least half the class turned around and looked. Heat crawled up my cheeks. (I could feel myself blushing.) I ducked my head and looked at the carpet.
    The bell rang and I jumped again. Perfect timing. I slung it (please define it) over my shoulder and raced out of the classroom. Awesome (or is it finally? Is she glad to get away from these people or just so excited to see her friends?) It was time for lunch.
    I hurried into the cafeteria and over to my table of friends, bumping into a few chairs in the process.
    “Hey, Ivy,” said Amelia as I sat down.
    “Hey.”
    “How’s the story coming?” Amelia nodded at the notebook (I still had) cradled under my arm.
    “It’s coming.”
    “That’s good.” (conversation is very brief – can it go deeper? Would Amelia ask if she could ever have a peek at the story? Has Ivy shared her stories before? Good place to insert a bit of background here.)
    Amelia started to eat her lunch and I dug into my own as well. I started to zone out and ignore the conversation going on around me.(Can you show this?) I looked around the school cafeteria. Four grades full of students eating their food in unison. Just like every day. We were like a cow herd. The bell rang, we came to school. The bell rang, we went home. We slept, we ate, and followed the same pattern we had our entire lives. It was all one boring routine.

    Does Ivy feel disconnected to most of the students? Does she feel overlooked? Why is the boring routine getting to her today? Need to understand what feeds her inner conflict/tension – and just a peek will get me started. I want to be on Ivy’s side, but I need to understand who she is.

    Best of luck! If you have questions, give me a yell 😀

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    • I really appreciate all the feedback you’ve given.Thank you so much. It helped a lot. I’ve completely rewritten the query and made some big changes to the first 250. Would you be willing to take another look at them, or if not the first 250, the query? Thank you so much!

      Like

      • Query:
        The Last Dreamer is a 52,500 word upper middle grade crossworlds fantasy. Similar to Suzanne Collins’ Gregor the Overlander series, The Last Dreamer is a fantasy novel that shows the war between good and evil as it truly is, not some glorious experience, but something destructive and full of loss.

        Fourteen year old Ivy Wilson feels more connected to the stories she writes than to the people around her so when she’s asked to travel to Yazmine, another world, she leaps at the chance. When Ivy arrives, she is taken in by a Native-American clan who care for and protect her. Ivy is in awe of this new world and her naivety keeps her ignorant of a terrible war going on around her.

        She stays ignorant until she is captured and psychologically tortured by Malum, a sorcerer fueled by revenge for a past wrongdoing. Malum can control fire and has enough power to see Yazmine’s destruction through. Ivy is eventually rescued by the clan that took her in, but she is traumatized from her experience and can’t stand to stay in this strange land any longer.

        However, her love for her new home and its inhabitants ultimately convinces her to change her mind. Ivy decides to do whatever she can to bring about an end to the war that’s threatening Yazmine. But she has never experienced anything like this before. What help can she give in this world so used to war? Ivy enlists in the battle to protect her newfound home, friends, and her own future. But the price of war is heavy and, if any are going to survive, it must be paid.

        First 250:
        I had always believed in unicorns, even when the rest of the world no longer did.
        “What you writing there, Ivy?” I jumped and spun around to see Blair looking over my shoulder. I slammed my notebook closed. Of course I wasn’t going to show her what I wrote! How could she think I would when she had teased me so much about it the last time?
        “Nothing.” I said in a shrill voice. At least half the class turned around and looked at me. My cheeks burned. I ducked my head and looked at the carpet. Why couldn’t they just leave me alone?
        The bell rang and I jumped again. Perfect timing. I slung it over my shoulder and raced out of the classroom. At long last, it was time for lunch.
        I hurried into the cafeteria and over to my table of friends, bumping into a few chairs in the process. I sat down and and tried to pay attention and contribute to what they were gossiping about. Nothing important, just complaining about different teachers and classmates.
        I started to zone out and ignore the conversation going on around me. I looked around the school cafeteria. Four grades full of students eating their food in unison. Just like every day. We were like a cow herd. The bell rang, we came to school. The bell rang, we went home. We slept, we ate, and followed the same pattern we had our entire lives. It was all one boring routine.

        Thank you so much!

        Like

  3. Query: While saying the planet is “similar to Earth” and the tribe is “Native American-based” may be descriptive in a way, they don’t hook: what is going to hook us are specific details, and in general they’re going to be details of how things are DIFFERENT than everyday life, since this is fantasy. Also, I’m completely ungrounded. Why was she whisked off? How? And where from? And this war – what is it about and how does it threaten the way of life? Show us the conflict, and the stakes.

    Also – “has yet to experience any of their pain”. Don’t tell me what she hasn’t experienced, tell me what she does experience.

    The sorcerer is “fueled by revenge”: for what? And “has enough power to see her destruction through”. I’m confused why he wants her destroyed, and why it would take extra powers to destroy her. I also don’t know why being kidnapped by him would allow her to see the effects of the war firsthand. “When she’s rescued…” How? By whom? Why? Then she wants nothing to do with the strange land, and “after a while” then does…this seems like a complicated character arc to treat in this way in a query.

    The 250 – I love the voice, and I really immediately fall in love with your MC. Some might argue it’s more of an MG voice, but you’re almost in a grey area there anyway.

    I’d take the continuous tenses out “had believed in unicorns” – change it to just “always believed”. Take out “my head” (just “spun around” is fine), and take out “after my outburst” (it’s implied).

    Let me say something here: queries are, like, really SILLY-hard – they’re a whole different animal than just writing – and yours needs a lot of work. But the voice in your writing pulled me in immediately, and that is REALLY DIFFICULT to do. Voice will get you further than a lot of things 🙂

    Thank you for your entry 🙂

    Like

    • Wow! Thank you so much! The compliments have me grinning ear-to-ear! And, yeah, I knew my query still needed some work. I think the queries are harder to write than the actual book! I’ve really been working on mine and have rewritten it. Could you maybe take another look at it? I would really appreciate it. Thanks for the feedback!

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      • Very good changes you made to the query. I still am hung up on the “fueled by revenge for a past wrongdoing” because I want specifics – Ivy’s wrongdoing? How did she manage to make a magician angry? Also, I would just remove the “Malum can control fire” sentence – it’s pretty much implied.

        I would also remove, “But she has never experienced this before.” (Implied/redundant). and just add the “But” to the next sentence: “But what help…”

        250 looks better, too 🙂 Good work.

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      • Final updated version:

        Query:
        The Last Dreamer is a 52,000 word upper middle grade crossworlds fantasy. Similar to Suzanne Collins’ Gregor the Overlander series, The Last Dreamer is a fantasy novel that shows the war between good and evil as it truly is, not some glorious experience, but something destructive and full of loss.

        Fourteen year old Ivy Wilson feels more connected to the stories she writes than to the people around her so when she’s asked to travel to Yazmine, another world, she leaps at the chance. When Ivy arrives, she is taken in by a Native-American clan who care for and protect her. Ivy is in awe of this new world and her naivety keeps her ignorant of a terrible war going on around her.

        All that changes when she is captured and psychologically tortured by Malum, a sorcerer fueled by revenge for one of his clan’s past wrongdoings. Malum plans to use his powers of fire to raze Yazmine to the ground. Ivy is finally rescued by the clan that took her in, but she is traumatized from her experience and can’t stand to stay in this strange land any longer.

        However, her love for her new home and its inhabitants ultimately convinces her to change her mind. Ivy decides to do whatever she can to bring about an end to the war that’s threatening Yazmine. She eventually enlists in the battle to protect her newfound home, friends, and her own future. But the price of war is heavy and, if any are going to survive, it must be paid.

        First 250:
        Four grades full of students eating their food in unison. Just like every day. We were like a cow herd. The bell rang, we came to school. The bell rang, we went home. We slept, we ate, and followed the same pattern we had our entire lives. It was all one boring routine.
        Lunch was always boring, but it was a great place to catch up on the homework I had forgotten to do last night. I finished the last few problems on my math worksheet. ‘Ivy Wilson’ I wrote on the top. What was the date? I could never remember. The lunch bell rang. Perfect timing. Math was next bell. Fortunately, it was the last bell.
        I spent the next hour staring out of the window and trying to look like I was paying attention. Why did Mondays seem to last as long as math class? The absolute worse was math class on a Monday. The rain outside was coming down in bursts. I shivered despite the sweatshirt I was wearing. Why some teachers keep their windows open in the middle of October was still a mystery to me.
        At long last, the clock struck 2:00 PM and we were free. I piled on the bus, my backpack bursting at the seams. I sat towards the front by myself and went back to staring out the window, just like in math class.
        The bus turned into my neighborhood. The streets and streets of two-story white houses and perfect lawns were so typical.

        Thanks again!

        Like

  4. Very intriguing concept! But..the query lacks suspense. There’s a lot of generalization, but no real connection to the characters or the world. I want to care about this war that’s happening. I want to feel the trauma that your MC feels when she is captured, the reason why she doesn’t want to care about the war anymore and just wants to go home. Also, you name the world a bit too much. Try to use other phrases in place of it so it doesn’t feel so repetitive (“this strange land” is a good start).

    The first 250 need more of a hook as well. “We were like a cow herd. The bell rang, we came to school. The bell rang, we went home. We slept, we ate, and followed the same pattern we had our entire lives. It was all one boring routine.” I love this! THIS gives me a sense of the character and the disconnect she feels from her own world. I would recommend leading with this in the first paragraph to build a better connection between the reader and the MC.

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      • Just realized that I had not swung back by 😦 bad me. I’m terribly sorry.
        The query has come so far! Makes me smile. I’d still slip out extra words like ultimately and eventually to bring the action closer. Also, the Malum portion – do any of the inhabitants get hurt in her rescue? I want that connection that fuels her to fight back stronger.
        The changes in your first 250 are good. I like this new approach to Ivy’s personality. and that fact that she doesn’t interact with folks supports her being more connected with her stories. Showing those behaviors that support the MC’s personality are key! Great work 🙂

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  5. The feedback is leading you in the right direction, keep plugging away. My only suggestion for your query is:
    Change the first paragraph to the last and concentrate on your protagonist and the story details.
    Congratulations on your participation in Son of a Pitch – your hard work speaks volumes regarding your courage and willingness to follow your dreams and achieve your goals!

    Like

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