#SonOfAPitch – ENTRY #6 – LOST IN TRANSITION

b36ce-soap-final#6
Title: LOST IN TRANSITION
Category and Genre: YA Contemporary
Word Count: 55,000
Query: 
In the first weeks of high school, small-town girl and former student body President Vanessa Montgomery is abruptly dropped by her best friend, who also encourages the rest of their peer group to exclude her. Vanessa feels her life spinning out of control, and, paralyzed by anxiety, she turns to restrictive eating. Then, just before she’s lost herself completely, she transfers to a new high school to start over.Vanessa wants to forget what happened at Green Valley. And more than that, she wants to convince everyone around her that she’s “fine”- most of all, herself. But her past still haunts her. She needs to remember the traumatic events she’s repressed and come to terms with her experience in order to move on. But if the truth about what happened last year stays buried underneath the layers of self-protection that are preventing her from ever trusting anyone again, Vanessa risks distancing herself from her peers at her new school too, and spending the rest of high school as an outsider.First 250 Words: 
Chapter 1
June- Summer after Freshman Year
Waiting for Bus to Camp

A low, thin layer of fog hangs overhead, and the air is misty: typical weather for a northwest Washington morning, even in the summertime. It’s not particularly cold outside, but I still can’t help but shiver. That’s one of the side effects of being underweight: I’m constantly cold. I take a deep breath and look around, catching a glimpse of my reflection in the window. The girl I see is perfectly normal-looking, with long blonde hair that reaches almost to her waist. I wish I were as confident as she looks like she would be. About a dozen other kids have gathered in the parking lot to wait for the bus. I smile and wave at a few, but don’t move from my spot on the bench. Despite the fact that I feel like a loser for sitting here alone, I would rather stay by myself than risk being rejected.

The bus pulls in just a few feet away from the Starbucks across the parking lot. I momentarily daydream about a Starbucks scone, but don’t consider getting one. It’s safer that way. I know that sounds crazy. How could a scone be unsafe? But eating one would be out of my routine, and that would make me feel “off”.

A girl with shoulder-length brown hair who looks to be about my age comes out of Safeway and sees me. “Hey, are you here for leadership camp?” she asks. She must have spotted my nametag. I feel a wave of relief.

 

***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.***

12 thoughts on “#SonOfAPitch – ENTRY #6 – LOST IN TRANSITION

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

  2. Your query covers all the bases but is just a bit wordy. Tinker for different approaches and then condense. So much tension and potential here!! Feels like you’re close. I hacked a bit and added questions below.

    In the first weeks of high school, small-town girl and former student body President Vanessa Montgomery is dropped by her best friend. (Is there a link between why her best friend drops her and the traumatic event we see later ? if yes, I’d hint that here) The rest of her peer groups falls , who also encourages the rest of their peer group to exclude her. Paralyzed by anxiety, Vanessa turns to restrictive eating. In a last ditch effort to save herself, she transfers to a new high school to start over.

    Vanessa wants to forget what happened at Green Valley. And more than that, she wants to convince everyone around her that she’s “fine”- most of all, herself.(sounds like The person she most wants to convince that she is fine is herself – trying narrowing. ) But her past haunts her. The traumatic events she’s repressed may help her come to terms with her experience in order to move on. But if the truth about what happened last year stays buried underneath the layers of self-protection, Vanessa risks distancing herself from her peers at her new school too. (This last part has so much potential as a stand alone thought – beef it up a bit), and spending the rest of high school as an outsider who is lost in transition?

    First 250
    Reading the first 250 gives me a glimpse of Vanessa but I want more info to understand her thought process and her struggle.
    for example- The girl I see is perfectly normal-looking, with long blonde hair that reaches almost to her waist. I wish I were as confident as she looks like she would be. (Can you go deeper into Vanessa’s thoughts here? what does that mean? why does she think that? is that how people perceive her?)
    and then people wave at her but she is worried about rejection. If they waved to her, that signals there might be acceptance – so if she’s felling conflicted about that, show us. Have her second guess the authenticity of the waves?
    and here:But eating one would be out of my routine, and that would make me feel “off”. (I’d dig in deeper right here – the nine hundred calories I have planned for the day have already been allotted. Or the butter alone would exceed what I can have for the day – or if it’s not about food, play up the control part of this. What makes her feel off about that?)

    The more could be accomplished with just an added phrase or detail highlighting what we need to understand.

    I love the tension here and the potential story arc – but I want to get to know Vanessa a little better.

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

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    • Thanks so much for your thoughts!! I have to tell you… when I read one of your ideas for my query letter this morning, I literally got goosebumps and teared up a little because it sounded SO GOOD!! I think your suggestions are great and I will definitely tinker with the query and first 250 a bit. Thank you, thank you!

      So how does this work now? Am I allowed to revise and post so you can see the progress? Or do I just use your suggestions as advice for next time? Either way, I can’t tell you how much your encouragement means to me! 🙂

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      • I played around with it a bit based on your suggestions- would love to hear what you think of these changes! Thanks so much for your time!

        Query:

        When Vanessa Montgomery’s best friend abruptly drops her and manipulates the rest of their peer group to follow, Vanessa is paralyzed by anxiety and turns to restrictive eating for a sense of control. Dangerously underweight after a hellish semester of brutal social isolation, Vanessa transfers to a new high school to save herself and start over.

        Vanessa wants to forget what happened at Green Valley. And more than that, she wants to convince herself and everyone around her that she’s “fine”. But her past haunts her. Remembering the traumatic events she’s repressed will allow her to come to terms with her experience and move on. But if the truth about happened last year stays buried underneath layers of self-protection, Vanessa risks distancing herself from her peers at her new school too, and spending the rest of high school as an outsider lost in transition.

        First 250:

        “Are you sure you’re going to be okay here by yourself?”

        “I’ll be fine, Mom.” I know she’s asking because of everything that happened last year. I really wish she’d stop. I wish everyone would stop. I don’t know how many times I have to tell them I’m fine.

        I give Mom a hug good-bye and close the car door. I see about a dozen other kids gathered in the parking lot to wait for the bus, and they’re huddled in groups a few yards away. I smile at a few who look my way, but take a spot by myself on a nearby bench. Of course, as soon as I sit down, I can’t help but worry that they’re talking about me, and thinking about what a loser I am for sitting here alone. I take a deep breath and tell myself to stop being such a freak. No one’s talking about you, Vanessa, I say to myself. Those days are over. Everything is okay now.

        A low, thin layer of fog hangs overhead, and the air is misty: typical weather for a northwest Washington morning, even in the summertime. It’s not particularly cold outside, but I still can’t help but shiver. The doctor says that’s one of the side effects of being underweight: I’m constantly cold. I take a deep breath and look around, catching a glimpse of my reflection in the window. The girl I see is perfectly normal-looking, with long blonde hair that reaches almost to her waist.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Query: I would tighten it as much as you can and make it punchier. “Spinning out of control” – I’d be more specific – show me. If you mostly mean the anxiety etc. that you already mention, I’d take out the “spinning out of control” part. Also “before she loses herself completely”…I don’t know what that means, and I’d be more specific. I had a friend with a severe eating disorder, and so I know you might mean anything from institutionalization, to permanent health effects, to death, and I’d like to know what the stakes are here.

    “The truth of what happened”. Is this something we don’t know/don’t find out until later? If so, emphasize, because mysteries and hidden truths play big in the hook. If it’s just that she’s repressing how horrible it was to be rejected, make that clear. I also don’t think you need the “but” at the beginning of that sentence.

    250: I like getting into her head, and I think you do a good job here. The last sentence: “I feel a wave…” Avoid verbs like “feel, realize, imagine (you use this, too), believe” etc. as much as possible. That sentence, you could say, “A wave of relief washes over me”. Cliché, maybe, but it still makes us feel it ourselves – it’s showing, not telling. And usually more convoluted non-cliché ways, like saying, “Dainty fingers of relief pranced up my spine” or whatever, take people out of the story…unless you have a goofy voice like that 🙂

    Good stuff here, and thank you for the diversity in your MC 🙂

    Thank you for your entry!

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    • Thanks so much for your feedback! I played around with it a bit and re-posted above- I would love to hear your thoughts on the changes I made based on the wonderful feedback I got from both of you. Thanks so much for your time!

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      • The query is very good. The 250 – some will tell you to not start with dialogue, but it doesn’t bother me. End of second paragraph, put her inner thoughts in italics (this might have just not translated to the comments, I know), but you can also remove the “I say to myself” because the reader “gets” it, and the writing flows better (this was something I learned when I got LOVE OR MONEY back from editing – she’d taken out almost all of my “I thoughts”, and I was like, oh, yeah, I didn’t need those at all 🙂 ). Good work.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. The changes are good. Stripping down all the descriptions allows you to focus more on the important parts.
    I tinkered more -because the query game is addictive.
    Step back and mull over what you’ve done.

    When (age?)Vanessa Montgomery’s best friend abruptly dumps her, the rest of her peer group drops like flies (or something dramatic). Anxiety paralyzes her. She turns to restrictive eating for a sense of control. Dangerously underweight after a hellish semester of brutal social isolation, Vanessa transfers to a new high school to save herself and start over. (this sentence is smashing!) (I tinkered with sentence length – you decide how it should flow. message is coming through much more clearly. )
    Vanessa wants to forget what happened at Green Valley. And more than that, she wants to convince herself and everyone around her that she’s “fine”. But her past haunts her. She wants to deal with the traumatic events she’s repressed so she can move on. But the truth about what happened last year is buried beneath layers of self-protection. If Vanessa can’t face her past, she risks distancing herself and spending the rest of high school as an outsider lost in transition.

    First 250 tinker – like this start…
    good move with the depth of perspective – very nice 😉

    suggested trim:

    “I’ll be fine, Mom.” She’s asking because of everything that happened last year. I really wish she’d stop. I wish everyone would stop. How many times I have to tell them I’m fine?
    I give Mom a hug good-bye and close the car door. A dozen other kids gather in the parking lot to wait for the bus. They huddle in groups a few yards away. I smile at a few who look my way, but take a spot by myself on a nearby bench. Of course, as soon as I sit down, I can’t help but worry that they’re talking about me, and thinking about what a loser I am for sitting here alone. I take a deep breath and tell myself to stop being such a freak. No one’s talking about you, Vanessa, I say to myself. Those days are over. Everything is okay now.

    Like

  5. The changes you’ve made are really working! Great job! 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! Good luck!

    Like

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