Son of a Pitch entry #4 – The Freshman Reinvention

b36ce-soap-final

Title: The Freshman Reinvention

Category and Genre: YA/Contemporary

Word Count: 95,000

Query:

Pubic-Head, Jew-Fro, Big Brown One…AHHHH! If Jennifer Arnold knew how to make her classmates stop bullying her, to stop breaking her with each nasty name and rumor, she’d do it. If only she were strong enough, courageous enough to believe in herself, but a lifetime of emotional abuse from home and bullying from school have left her hollow and splintered.

Just when she needs her most, Jen meets Becca Orlin. Beautiful, self-assured and fearless, Becca quickly becomes her new best friend. While at overnight camp for the summer, Becca helps Jen discover her inner strength, tackle her body image issues, and accentuate her outer beauty.

In the fall, when her friendship with Becca evolves into a secret romantic relationship, Jennifer grapples with understanding her sexuality and morals. Their reinvention plan works though, and nearly all bullying at school ceases. Jen confronts her burgeoning fortitude when debating whether or not to share her clandestine relationship with her best friends. If she can’t, she will be forced to continue to hide what is quickly becoming the most life altering relationship she has ever known. However, her secret being divulged and resuscitating the now defunct abuse scares Jen into a claustrophobic silence and traps her in a cocoon of lies.

Although her relationship with Becca soothes her raw soul from years of abrasion, Jen’s damaged psyche could prevent her from knowing true completeness within herself and with another. Her determination to reinvent herself and conquer her debilitating issues brought Jen and Becca together, but those issues might also be what drives them apart.


First 250 Words:

The pain is instantaneous, a microscopic blowfish swimming peacefully in my body until someone yells hate in my direction, causing the puffer to balloon and impale me with one thousand venomous spikes. I yearn for a life without torment.

 “Have a great summer, Pubic Head,” he yells at my back after I pass him on my way out of this god forsaken hellhole of a school.

 “Yeah B.B.O. Maybe you’ll learn how to tame that Jew Fro,” sneers one of his cronies. Their gang of goons erupts with laughter. “Or just shave it off and save yourself from looking like my jock.”

 They can’t see my beet-red face or smell the sweat that dampens me instantly or feel the tremors wracking my body. Nor can they see my desperate soul leaking out through the fresh wounds ripped open by their words, bleeding me dry.

This is what I know about life at fourteen: It Sucks. Capital S.

 But the way I see it, I can continue spending my time wallowing in my misery, focusing on nothing except the epic Greek tragedy that is my life, or I can try to forge a new path. A path that leads to a life not filled with self-loathing or urgent wishes to be born into a different body or a different family in a different town in a different state where people aren’t assholes. There’s only one debilitating question that stymies me every time I have this illusion. How?

15 thoughts on “Son of a Pitch entry #4 – The Freshman Reinvention

  1. 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.

    Query:
    Pubic-Head, Jew-Fro, Big Brown One If (fourteen-year-old) Jennifer Arnold knew how to make her classmates stop bullying her with nasty name(s) and rumor(s), she’d do it. A lifetime of emotional abuse has left her hollow and splintered. There’s not enough courage or strength left to defend herself. Jen has little to hold onto and even less to believe in. All she wants is the school year to end. (Trying to give a bit of time here since you mention summer and fall – need a starting point)

    During summer break?Jen meets Becca Orlin. Beautiful, self-assured and fearless, Becca quickly becomes her new best friend. The friendship nurtures Jen and helps her discover her inner strength, tackle her body image issues, and accentuate her outer beauty. *** see note below – add mention of reinvention here or call it plan or somehow indicate the connection to point below.

    In the fall, Becca and Jen’s friendship evolves. Jennifer grapples with understanding her sexuality and morals as her romantic feelings for Becca grow. Their reinvention plan works (What plan? Above is listed discovery but no mention of plan. Plant the seeds above is you want to tie-in that phrase.) though, and nearly all bullying at school ceases. Jen confronts her burgeoning fortitude when debating whether or not to share her clandestine relationship with her best friends. If she can’t, she will be forced to continue to hide what is quickly becoming the most life altering relationship she has ever known. However, her secret being divulged and resuscitating the now defunct abuse scares Jen into a claustrophobic silence and traps her in a cocoon of lies.
    (While this sentence makes a big point, I’d streamline those words into saying what you mean with a more direct approach.).

    Although her relationship with Becca soothes her raw soul from years of abrasion, Jen’s damaged psyche could prevent her from knowing true completeness within herself and with another.** again, steamline meaning Her determination to reinvent herself and conquer her debilitating issues brought Jen and Becca together, but those issues might also be what drives them apart. ** I like the closing sentence. – conflicted resolution

    Your query is off to a great start and the plot of TFR sounds like a solid one. I added a few comments/suggestions within the text.

    
First 250 Words:
    **moved first lines down**

    I yearn for a life without torment. This is what I know about life at fourteen: It Sucks. Capital S.

    “Have a great summer, Pubic Head,” he yells at my back after I pass him on my way out of this god forsaken hellhole of a school. (Can she name him and add a tidbit about their history in passing? Jared the jerk has never passed an opportunity to harass me. Jared’s one of the people who I’d avoid at any cost, but usually can’t. Add a hint to who he is and why or what he does.)

    “Yeah B.B.O. Maybe you’ll learn how to tame that Jew Fro,” sneers one of his cronies. Their gang of goons erupts with laughter. “Or just shave it off and save yourself from looking like my jock.”

    The pain is instantaneous like a microscopic blowfish swimming peacefully in my body until someone yells hate in my direction causing the puffer to balloon and impale me with one thousand venomous spikes. **(I really dig this sentiment – well captured –but if you drop it down after witnessing a few of the harsh comments the pain resonates a little more)** They can’t see my beet-red face or smell the sweat that dampens me instantly or feel the tremors wracking my body. Nor can they see my desperate soul leaking out through the fresh wounds ripped open by their words, bleeding me dry.

    But the way I see it, I can continue spending my time wallowing in my misery, focusing on nothing except the epic Greek tragedy that is my life, or I can forge a new path. (This is quite the epiphany. Did she slow in her steps? Did it happen when she stepped off school grounds? Give a triggering incident and then maybe pare down the words a bit.) A path that leads to a life not filled with self-loathing or urgent wishes to be born into a different body or a different family in a different town in a different state where people aren’t assholes. There’s only one debilitating question that stymies me every time I have this illusion. How?

    I like the voice and the torment she’s feeling. Very authentic. I rearranged your sentences just to test the waters with the delivery since the anguish you capture is so well done, I want it to follow the action so it’s more reactive than just descriptive. Well done!! Best of luck!!

    Like

    • Hi Elsie. Thank you very much for your insightful critiques. I sent you an email regarding my Query before I make any changes. If you have a moment, check it out. I worked on the first 250 words per your suggestions, and I have also included the next paragraph in the ms because it covers what you suggest regarding her epiphany. Knowing this info comes one paragraph later, do you still think I should tweak the one prior to include this? I have a reworked suggestion below if you feel that it should be. I hope this makes sense!

      Version 1:
      This is what I know about life at fourteen: It Sucks. Capital S.

      “Have a great summer, Pubic Head,” Zeke yells at my back after I pass him on my way out of this god forsaken hellhole of a school. He hasn’t forgone an opportunity to harass me in three years so why start now.

      “Yeah B.B.O. Maybe you’ll learn how to tame that Jew Fro,” Andy sneers. Their gang of goons erupts with laughter. “Or just shave it off and save yourself from looking like my bush.”

      The pain is instantaneous, a microscopic blowfish swimming peacefully in my body until someone yells hate in my direction, causing the infinitesimal puffer to balloon and impale me with one thousand venomous spikes. I yearn for a life without torment.

      They can’t see my beet-red face or smell the sweat now covering me like a film or feel the tremors wracking my body. Nor can they see my desperate soul leaking out through the fresh wounds ripped open by their words, bleeding me dry.

      But the way I see it, I can continue spending my time wallowing in my misery, focusing on nothing except the epic Greek tragedy that is my life, or I can try to forge a new path. A path that leads to a life not filled with self-loathing or urgent wishes to be born into a different body or a different family in a different town in a different state where people aren’t assholes. There’s only one debilitating question that stymies me every time I have this illusion. How? (this version is 261 words but I can cut the last line for the formal re-submission)

      Next Paragraph currently:
      Thank God it’s the last day of school, the final minutes as I steel myself against the hatred flung at me like a professional pitcher releasing his four-seam fastball. Approaching the last door standing between me and freedom, I clutch my yearbook to my chest and feel torn between my dueling desires of destruction and preservation. Garbage can or book shelf. Toss the messages from my friends, the pictures and memories to rid myself of the negativity in this book. The hate. The cruelty.

      Version 2:
      This is what I know about life at fourteen: It Sucks. Capital S.

      “Have a great summer, Pubic Head,” Zeke yells at my back after I pass him on my way out of this god forsaken hellhole of a school. He hasn’t forgone an opportunity to harass me in three years so why start now.

      “Yeah B.B.O. Maybe you’ll learn how to tame that Jew Fro,” Andy sneers. Their gang of goons erupts with laughter. “Or just shave it off and save yourself from looking like my bush.”

      The pain is instantaneous, a microscopic blowfish swimming peacefully in my body until someone yells hate in my direction, causing the infinitesimal puffer to balloon and impale me with one thousand venomous spikes. I yearn for a life without torment.

      They can’t see my beet-red face or smell the sweat now covering me like a film or feel the tremors wracking my body. Nor can they see my desperate soul leaking out through the fresh wounds ripped open by their words, bleeding me dry.

      Thank God it’s the last day of school, the final minutes as I race for the front door, steeling myself against the hatred flung at me like a professional pitcher releasing his four-seam fastball. But the way I see it, I can continue spending my time wallowing in my misery, focusing on nothing except the epic Greek tragedy that is my life, or I can forge a new path. A path that leads to a life not filled with self-loathing or urgent wishes to be born into a different body or a different family in a different town in a different state where people aren’t assholes. (word count: 278)

      Like

      • So, while both are strong, I prefer the second. There’s a pause for her to find relief from the burden…. which also allows time to be reflective.

        You have a great voice. Whatever you choose will be fabulous… I’m certain. 🙂

        And the added detail that creates a history with goober number 1 is spot on.

        Like

      • Elsie, a question about where we go from here to have the final revised Query and 250 posted for final round consideration. Do we send it back to the email for the initial submission or do we post right here as Final Query and 250? Thank you for your help!

        Like

      • (Ok… so I thought I answered this one…. if I did, here’s an echo. If I didn’t, some one get me more coffee.) I am confirming with Katie. Should just be in notes area to indicate FINAL or UPDATEd. Will keep you posted.

        Like

  2. **My suggestions are intended to help. Take them or leave them. Remember- this is YOUR baby!** 🙂 First- good job! I am going to post your query with suggestions–then my pared down version. i hope you can use the two to create a great query that gets you noticed by a press!

    Pubic-Head, Jew-Fro, Big Brown One…AHHHH! (I personally really like this opener. It catches you.) If Jennifer Arnold knew how to make her classmates stop bullying her, to stop breaking her with each nasty name and rumor, she’d do it. If only she were strong enough, courageous enough to believe in herself, but a lifetime of emotional abuse from home and bullying from school have left her hollow and splintered. *(I like this paragraph and think you are a great writer- but for the purpose of query- you may want to pare down a few things. The last sentence is very long for a query letter.)

    Just when she needs her most, Jen meets Becca Orlin. Beautiful, self-assured and fearless, Becca quickly becomes her new best friend. While at overnight camp for the summer, Becca helps Jen discover her inner strength, tackle her body image issues, and accentuate her outer beauty.

    In the fall, when her friendship with Becca evolves into a secret romantic relationship, Jennifer grapples with understanding her sexuality and morals. Their reinvention plan works though, and nearly all bullying at school ceases. Jen confronts her burgeoning fortitude when debating whether or not to share her clandestine relationship with her best friends. If she can’t, she will be forced to continue to hide what is quickly becoming the most life altering relationship she has ever known. However, her secret being divulged and resuscitating the now defunct abuse scares Jen into a claustrophobic silence and traps her in a cocoon of lies. *(This is good- it just needs to be pared down for query purposes. Just trim it down a bit. Make sure everything is clear.)

    Although her relationship with Becca soothes her raw soul from years of abrasion, Jen’s damaged psyche could prevent her from knowing true completeness within herself and with another. Her determination to reinvent herself and conquer her debilitating issues brought Jen and Becca together, but those issues might also be what drives them apart. *(This is good but a tad clunky. Read it out loud and see if there are ways you can make it smoother.)

    PARED DOWN VERSION:
    Pubic-Head, Jew-Fro, Big Brown One…AHHHH! If Jennifer Arnold knew how to make her classmates stop bullying her, she’d do it. If only she were strong enough to believe in herself, but a lifetime of emotional abuse from both home and school have left her hollow and splintered.

    At the moment she needs her most, Jen meets Becca Orlin. Beautiful, self-assured and fearless, Becca quickly becomes her new best friend. At overnight camp, Becca helps Jen discover her inner strength, tackle her body image issues, and accentuate her outer beauty. *(Does she get a make-over? Clarify please).

    In the fall, Jennifer’s friendship with Becca evolves into a secret romance. Jennifer grapples with understanding her *(new found??) sexuality and morals. While the bullying has mostly stopped, Jen struggles with a new problem: deciding if she should tell her best friends about her girlfriend. If she can’t, she will be forced to hide what is quickly becoming the most life altering relationship she has ever known. But the fear of being bullied over her relationship with Becca locks Jen in a claustrophobic silence, trapping her in a cocoon of lies. *(Play around with this some more…Queryshark says avoid starting a query sentence with however or but… I just kind of played around to give you some ideas).**

    Jennifer’s relationship with Becca soothes her raw soul from years of abrasion, her damaged psyche could prevent her from knowing true happiness. Her determination to reinvent herself and conquer her issues brought Jen and Becca together, but those issues might also be what drives them apart. *(This is good but a tad clunky. Read it out loud and see if there are ways you can make it smoother.)

    Like

  3. Query:

    Pubic-Head, Jew-Fro, Big Brown One…AHHHH! If Jennifer Arnold knew how to make her classmates stop bullying her, to stop breaking her with each nasty name and rumor, she’d do it. If only she were strong enough, courageous enough to believe in herself, but a lifetime of emotional abuse from home and bullying from school have left her hollow and splintered. (I agree with Em…too long. Keep it strong and to the point.)

    Just when she needs her most, Jen meets Becca Orlin (When? Where? New kid at school? Vacation?). Beautiful, self-assured and fearless, Becca quickly becomes her new best friend. While at overnight camp for the summer, (Oh…there’s where and when! Might move it up.) Becca helps Jen discover her inner strength, tackle her body image issues, and accentuate her outer beauty.

    In the fall, when her friendship with Becca evolves into a secret romantic relationship, Jennifer grapples with understanding her sexuality and morals. Their reinvention plan (As in…new clothes or what?) works though, and nearly all bullying at school ceases. Jen confronts her burgeoning fortitude when debating whether or not to share her clandestine relationship with her best friends (At the beginning, I didn’t think she had best friends? Where were they during the bullying?). (If she can’t, she will be forced to continue to hide what is quickly becoming the most life altering relationship she has ever known. However, her secret being divulged and resuscitating the now defunct abuse scares Jen into a claustrophobic silence and traps her in a cocoon of lies.- Simplify? She can hide the best thing that’s ever happened to her or risk a new round of abuse.)

    Although her relationship with Becca soothes her raw soul (from years of abrasion-don’t need), Jen’s damaged psyche could prevent her from knowing true completeness within herself and with another. Her determination to reinvent herself and conquer her debilitating issues brought Jen and Becca together, but those issues might also be what drives them apart.

    Version 2 of first 250:

    This is what I know about life at fourteen: It Sucks. Capital S. (I love this opener!)

    “Have a great summer, Pubic Head,” Zeke yells at my back after I pass him on my way out of this god forsaken hellhole of a school. He hasn’t forgone an opportunity to harass me in three years so why start now.

    “Yeah B.B.O. Maybe you’ll learn how to tame that Jew Fro,” Andy sneers. Their gang of goons erupts with laughter. “Or just shave it off and save yourself from looking like my bush.” (Setting? Sights, sounds, smells…all wiped away by their words, but ground me in a place.)

    The pain is instantaneous, a microscopic blowfish swimming peacefully in my body until someone yells hate in my direction, causing the infinitesimal puffer to balloon and impale me with one thousand venomous spikes. (Love!) I yearn for a life without torment.

    They can’t see my beet-red face or smell the sweat now covering me like a film or feel the tremors wracking my body. Nor can they see my desperate soul leaking out through the fresh wounds ripped open by their words, bleeding me dry. (Nice!)

    Thank God it’s the last day of school, the final minutes as I race for the front door, steeling myself against the hatred flung at me like a professional pitcher releasing his four-seam fastball. But the way I see it, I can continue spending my time wallowing in my misery, focusing on nothing except the epic Greek tragedy that is my life, or I can forge a new path. A path that leads to a life not filled with self-loathing (I don’t think a 14yo would use the term self-loathing. She’d wish to look different, thinking of all the parts of her she hates, to be somewhere else, to be loved.) or urgent wishes to be born into a different body or a different family in a different town in a different state where people aren’t assholes.

    ~I like your start. I like Jen and want her to fight for herself, to learn to love herself. AND PUNCH THOSE GOOBERS IN THE FACE!

    Like

  4. FINAL SUBMISSION:
    Title: The Freshman Reinvention
    Category and Genre: YA/Contemporary
    Word Count: 93,000

    Query:
    Pubic-Head, Jew-Fro, Big Brown One…AHHHH! If Jennifer Arnold knew how to make her classmates stop bullying her, to stop breaking her with each nasty name and rumor, she’d do it. If only she were strong enough, courageous enough to believe in herself, but a lifetime of emotional abuse from home and bullying from school have left her hollow and splintered.

    Just when she needs her most, Jen meets Becca Orlin. Beautiful, self-assured and fearless, Becca quickly becomes her new best friend. While at overnight camp for the summer, Becca helps Jen discover her inner strength, tackle her body image issues, and accentuate her outer beauty.

    In the fall, when her friendship with Becca evolves into a secret romantic relationship, Jennifer grapples with understanding her sexuality and morals. Their reinvention plan works though, and nearly all bullying at school ceases. Jen confronts her burgeoning fortitude when debating whether or not to share her clandestine relationship with her best friends. If she can’t, she will be forced to continue to hide what is quickly becoming the most life altering relationship she has ever known. However, her secret being divulged and resuscitating the now defunct abuse scares Jen into a claustrophobic silence and traps her in a cocoon of lies.

    Although her relationship with Becca soothes her raw soul from years of abrasion, Jen’s damaged psyche could prevent her from knowing true completeness within herself and with another. Her determination to reinvent herself and conquer her debilitating issues brought Jen and Becca together, but those issues might also be what drives them apart.

    First 250 Words:
    This is what I know about life at fourteen: It Sucks. Capital S.

    “Have a great summer, Pubic Head,” Zeke yells at my back after I pass him on my way out of this god forsaken hellhole of a school. He hasn’t forgone an opportunity to harass me in three years, so why start now.

    “Yeah B.B.O. Maybe you’ll learn how to tame that Jew Fro,” Andy sneers. Their gang of goons erupts with laughter as everyone in the jam-packed hallway turns to stare at me. “Or just shave it off and save yourself from looking like my bush.”

    The pain is instantaneous, a microscopic blowfish swimming peacefully in my body until someone yells hate in my direction, causing the infinitesimal puffer to balloon and impale me with one thousand venomous spikes. I yearn for a life without torment.

    They can’t see my beet-red face or smell the film of sweat blanketing my body or feel the tremors racing through me. Nor can they see my desperate soul leaking out through the fresh wounds ripped open by their words, bleeding me dry.

    Thank God it’s the last day of school, the final minutes as I race for the front door, steeling myself against the hatred flung at me like a professional pitcher releasing his four-seam fastball. But the way I see it, I can continue spending my time wallowing in my misery, focusing on nothing except the epic Greek tragedy that is my life, or I can forge a new path.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Julie, Thank you for participating in SOAP this week and sharing your work. Your voice in THE FRESHMAN REINVENTION is breath taking and can’t wait to have my own copy. Please keep me posted on Jen’s success. All the best.

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s