Son of a Pitch Entry #1- From Flame To Ash

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Title: From Flame to Ash
Age and Genre: YA Dystopian
Word Count: 64,000
 
Query:

Kiara Talwar is an empath: she senses the emotions of others and can often tell the cause behind them.  She views her ability with indifference until she’s discovered by a United States government founded on the principle that ignorance is bliss.  The government was well-intentioned, but created its utopia by taking away the freedom of its citizens.  They accomplished this by erasing the citizens’ memories of horrible events and then limiting access to information.  The government takes advantage of Kiara’s ability and forces her to become a spy for them.  She is threatened with death if she does not obey.

Sixteen-year-old Blake Richards is training to be a soldier for the same rebel group where Kiara is sent undercover.  He befriends and eventually falls for Kiara.  Blake has been raised among the rebels and fighting with them is second nature to him.  The fight becomes personal when Blake’s mom is killed by the government. Blake’s connections within the rebel group make him a valuable source for information and Kiara takes advantage of that by manipulating him.  His naivety and trusting nature cause him to remain oblivious to her hidden motives.

 

As Kiara falls deeper into her own inner darkness, Blake is put securely into harm’s way.  Kiara, one of the people Blake trusts most, has now become the biggest threat to his safety.  He still fails to see Kiara as the villain she’s been forced to become.  It may be too late for her to be saved, but Blake could still have a chance: if he can survive Kiara revealing her true colors.

 
First 250 Words:

Alone. That’s how I liked it. And that was how I sat now, in the corner of the cafeteria watching people dance. This year’s Homecoming was as unbearable as any other dance. If I could make my own choice I wouldn’t be here, but my friends managed to convince me to come. The same friends that abandoned me now.

      It was so hot and sticky in here. I wiped my sweaty palms on my dress. I might have hated the dance itself, but I did like my dress at least. The pretty turquoise color stood out nicely against my dark skin and black hair. At least that’s what my friends said.

      “Are you okay?” A voice said behind me. I turned around.

      “Yeah, I’m fine.” I said as I rolled my eyes. “Why?”

      The boy who had approached me shrugged. “You look lonely.”

      “Why do people always think it’s bad to be alone?”

      The boy shrugged again.

      I sighed before saying, “the fact that I’m alone doesn’t mean I’m lonely.” People were always assuming I was lonely.

      “Good point.” The boy motioned to the chair next to me. “Anybody sitting there?”

      “Be my guest.”

      “Thanks.” He flashed a grin and ran his hand through his dark brown hair. He was tall and the color of his hair exactly matched his eyes. “My name is Caden. Yours?”

      “Kiara.”

            Caden started to snack on the pretzels he was holding. I turned my attention to the center of the cafeteria. I had tried to spend my evening dancing, but that didn’t work out well.

 

10 thoughts on “Son of a Pitch Entry #1- From Flame To Ash

  1. Pingback: Son of a Pitch ROUND 2 | Elsie Elmore

  2. First, my disclaimer: All suggestions are IMHO and are meant to be thought provoking. Take ‘em, leave ‘em. This is your rodeo, so it’s up to you.

    ** Time frame?** In the year 2017**, the US government have created a utopia by commandeering the mental freedom of its citizens?. Memories of tragic events (leading to the new world? Or personal?) are stripped from residents’ minds (– why?.) Information is guarded and obedience/ignorance enforced.

    Citizen/XX-year-old? Kiara Talwar’s life changes when the government discovers she’s an empath. She’s never been (impressed/moved/affected/interested) by her gift to sense both the emotions and the origin of the feelings of those around her. (But the government is very interested) She’s forced to become a spy in the rebel camps or die an untimely death.

    Sixteen-year-old Blake Richards is training to be a soldier for the rebel group –( group got a name?is the group fighting to restore personal control over memories? Do they want to overthrow the government?) Blake has been raised among the rebels and fighting is second nature to him. (Is he taught to guard his emotions?). (Despite his training? – He befriends and then falls for the newest recruit named Kiara? Or does he fight his attraction because they are in the same unit? Snippet to clarify?). The fight becomes personal when Blake’s mom is killed by the government. (He turns to Kiara, unaware that his) connections within the rebel group make him a valuable source for information.

    Kiara takes advantage of the situation without clueing Blake in to her hidden motives. As Kiara falls deeper into her own inner darkness (guilt? Despair? Job?–is she starting to have feelings for Blake? Do the emotions of the battle get to her because she’s an empath? What is her darkness? ) Blake is put securely into harm’s way. Kiara, the person Blake trusts most, has now become the biggest threat to his safety. He still fails to see Kiara as the villain she’s been forced to become. It may be too late for her to be saved, but Blake could still have a chance: if he can survive Kiara revealing her true colors.
    There are stakes for her too? What about the rebel movement?

    (The plot sounds fast paced and full of action but the intro slows me by going back to the setting/climate – I rearranged the sentences to come in from a different angle.
    And is the story told in dual POV? (I assumed this is dual POV. If not, Blake should be introduced through Kiara’s perspective. If yes, tell Blake’s section more from his vantage point. Merge the two after introduction.)
    Definitely great stuff here. Tinker a bit with phrasing and approaches.

    First 250 Words:
    Alone. That’s how I liked it. And that was how I sat now, in the corner of the cafeteria watching people dance. This year’s Homecoming was as unbearable as any other dance. If I could make my own choice I wouldn’t be here, but my friends managed to convince me to come. The same friends that abandoned me now. (They abandoned her, but is she glad since she likes to be alone?)
    It was so hot and sticky in here.(Active? The Heat and sweat weighed down the air? Great observation – punch it up.) I wiped my sweaty palms on my dress. I might have hated the dance itself, but I did like my dress at least. The turquoise color popped against my dark skin and black hair. At least that’s what my friends said. (They were telling the truth – she knew. She always knew? Incorporate her ability so we get a peak at her power?)
    “Are you okay?” A voice said behind me. (did she detect any specific emotion? Can she do that as an Empath?) I turned around.
    “Yeah, I’m fine.” I said as I rolled my eyes. (was that gesture meant to discourage further interaction? Need to understand her response?) “Why?”
    The boy (who had approached me -needed?)shrugged. “You look lonely.”
    “Why do people always think it’s bad to be alone?”
    The boy shrugged again. (He shrugged again – would she make a mental note about his reaction or lack of comment?)
    I sighed before saying, “the fact that I’m alone doesn’t mean I’m lonely.” People were always assuming I was lonely. (So why was she frequently alone? Was being surrounded by so much emotion overwhelming? Hint?)
    “Good point.” The boy motioned to the chair next to me. (What does he look like? Add details sooner.) “Anybody sitting there?”
    “Be my guest.”
    “Thanks.” He flashed a grin and ran his hand through his dark brown hair. He was tall and the color of his hair exactly matched his eyes. “My name is Caden. Yours?”
    “Kiara.”
    Caden snacked on the pretzels he was holding. I turned my attention to the center of the cafeteria. I had tried to spend my evening dancing, but that didn’t work out well.

    Knowing that she’s an empath from the query makes me wonder what that’s about and how it plays out in her life. I added a few comments about diving a bit deeper into motivations/inner reactions and details because of this power– good luck – Strong start.

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      • This is my new and improved query. Would it be possible for you to take another look? Thank you!

        In the near future, the US government has created a utopia by commandeering the mental freedom of its citizens. Memories of tragic events leading to the new world are stripped from residents’ minds to keep them feeling happy and secure. Information is guarded and ignorance enforced.

        Sixteen-year-old Kiara Talwar’s life changes when the government discovers she’s an empath – she senses the emotions of others and can often tell the cause behind them. She’s never been interested by her gift, but the government is very interested. She’s forced to become a spy in one of the rebel bases or die an untimely death.

        Sixteen-year-old Blake Richards is training to be a soldier for the rebel group fighting to get the citizens their freedom back. Blake has been raised among the rebels and fighting is second nature to him thanks to lifelong training. He befriends and then falls for the newest recruit and trainee named Kiara. The fight against the government becomes personal when Blake’s mom is killed by them. He turns to Kiara, unaware that his connections within the rebel group make him a valuable source for information.

        Kiara takes advantage of the situation without clueing Blake in to her hidden motives. Kiara’s job ultimately takes its toll on her conscious as she’s forced to do worse and worse things. And Blake is caught in the middle of it all. Kiara, the person Blake trusts most, has now become the biggest threat to his safety. He still fails to see Kiara as the villain she’s been forced to become. As the destructive flames surrounding both of them burn brighter, Blake is put securely into harm’s way. Not only is he Kiara’s pawn, Blake’s unknowingly helping her bring down the rebels as well as his family. It’s too late for her to be saved, but Blake could still have a chance: if he can survive his final, bloody encounter with the monster Kiara is now.

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      • Awesome work!
        I did note a few things:
        Paragraph 1
        She’s never been interested by her gift, but the government is very interested.
        What if you trim that to
        She’s never been interested in her gift, but the government is. – just a thought – to kill the echo
        and next in paragraph 2:
        Sixteen-year-old Blake Richards is training to be a soldier for the rebel group fighting to get the citizens their freedom back. Blake has been raised among the rebels and fighting is second nature to him thanks to lifelong training. Tinker to weed out the echo with fighting.
        Paragraph 3 could be a little leaner, but this sounds really strong.
        Great work!

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  3. Query…
    Kiara Talwar is an empath: she senses the emotions of others and can often tell the cause behind them. (NEAT-O!) She views her ability with indifference (it’s not special, other people can do this too?) until she’s discovered by a United States government (A government? There’s more than one?) founded on the principle that ignorance is bliss. The government was well-intentioned, but created its utopia by taking away the freedom of its citizens. (I’d get rid of the previous sentence and go right into … “ignorance is bliss”, then go right into the erase memories bit…without the “they accomplished” part, that slows it down, you want us to be shocked by this, which I AM! HOLY GEEZ!)They accomplished this by erasing the citizens’ memories of horrible events and then limiting access to information. The government takes advantage of Kiara’s ability and forces her to become a spy for them (Why do they need a spy? Where is she sent? Spy on whom?). She is threatened with death if she does not obey. (This last line could be stronger. Hit us with it.)

    Sixteen-year-old Blake Richards is training to be a soldier for the same rebel group where Kiara is sent undercover. He befriends and eventually falls for Kiara. (He’s training to be a soldier in a rebel group, rebelling against what, against whom? Show us him meeting Kiara, if you mention in the first para that she will be sent to spy on a group of rebels, we’ll figure out that she’s undercover, so you won’t need to say it.) Blake has been raised among the rebels and fighting with them is second nature to him. (Fighting how? Fighting where? Has he been in many battles? What are they trying to accomplish?) The fight becomes personal when Blake’s mom is killed by the government. (When his mom is killed by the government, then what? What does he want? What does this drive him to do?) Blake’s connections within the rebel group make him a valuable source for information and Kiara takes advantage of that by manipulating him (To do what? What information is she trying to get? Does she feel terrible about spying, is she just scared, or does she want the rebels to be stopped? What is her motivation? What does she want?). His naivety and trusting nature cause him to remain oblivious to her hidden motives. (Instead of telling us this…give us his emotions, He likes her… loves her?…his mom is gone, he turns to her? Why is he naive? He’s grown up in a rebel group? How does he not know of all the terrible things the government is doing?)

    As Kiara falls deeper into her own inner darkness (Oh! How? Why? Is she conflicted?), Blake is put securely into harm’s way (NOOOO! HOW?). Kiara, one of the people Blake trusts most, has now become the biggest threat to his safety.(How? What is happening?) He still fails to see Kiara as the villain she’s been forced to become. It may be too late for her to be saved, but Blake could still have a chance: if he can survive Kiara revealing her true colors. (This is very vague and left me lost…I need a few details, to really punch me in the face with what’s happening. Let me feel all the emotions and then leave me with that ball of nervous goo, so I need to read! I really like this concept!)

    First 250 Words:
    Alone. That’s how I liked it. And that was how I sat now, in the corner of the cafeteria watching people dance (set the scene here…the decorations, the music, the lights, the smells, the sounds of conversation and laughing, the people twirling, smiling). This year’s Homecoming was as unbearable as any other dance (repetitive use of “dance” you don’t need it…And how is it unbearable? What does she hate?). If I could make my own choice (well…why can’t she make her own choice?) I wouldn’t be here, but my friends managed to convince me to come (Ah, yes, peer pressure). The same friends that abandoned me now. (Oh dear.)

    It was so hot and sticky in here. I wiped my sweaty palms on my dress. I might have hated the dance itself, but I did like my dress at least (so she feels bad about wiping her hands on it? Maybe after wiping her hands on her dress, she can gaze at it, she can show us how she feels about her dress, give us something happy in the ho-hum of the dance?). The pretty turquoise color stood out nicely against my dark skin and black hair. At least that’s what my friends said.

    “Are you okay?” A voice said behind me. I turned around.

    “Yeah, I’m fine.” I said as I rolled my eyes. “Why?”

    The boy (what does he look like? What is his body language like?) who had approached me shrugged. “You look lonely.”

    “Why do people always think it’s bad to be alone?” (what does she think of this kid? Does she just want him to go away?)

    The boy shrugged again. (I like this exchange…teenage awkwardness at its finest.)

    I sighed (Is she annoyed? Or just sad?)before saying, “the (-capitalize) fact that I’m alone doesn’t mean I’m lonely.” People were always assuming I was lonely. (Why? Give us a bit of backstory here, let us get to know her.)

    “Good point.” The boy motioned to the chair next to me. “Anybody sitting there?”

    “Be my guest.”

    “Thanks.” He flashed a grin and ran his hand through his dark brown hair. He was tall and the color of his hair exactly matched his eyes. “My name is Caden. Yours?”

    “Kiara.”

    Caden started to snack on the pretzels he was holding (He had a handful of pretzels? Was he fidgeting with them before?). I turned my attention to the center of the cafeteria. I had tried to spend my evening dancing, but that didn’t work out well. (why?)

    ~I get the feeling that she’s happy being by herself, but is trying to be what she thinks she should be. People keep calling her lonely, so is she questioning whether she is lonely? I want to get to know her a bit better. How she reacts to her surroundings, how she describes the room and the people will really let her personality shine. However, the first 250 don’t relate to the query at all. Feels like a different story, besides her name. Give me a hint at her powers. A hint of the world you described in the query, because that world is cool!

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  4. Josie, Thank you for participating in SOAP this week and sharing your work. Keep up the tinkering and tweaking because Kiara’s story is very strong. Please keep me posted on your successes. All the best.

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