Friday, November 30, 2012

(32) YA Light SFi: Jane, Body and Soul

TITLE: Jane, Body and Soul
GENRE: YA Light SF

When his first love is killed in a prom night accident, teen genius Daniel stuns the world by using radical new medical research to bring her back to life. Now Jane’s body is failing, doctors are baffled, and she’s more interested in her “near-death experiences” than in recovering. Daniel must find a way to save Jane—or watch her die again.

Waiting for Jane at the bottom of the staircase, I have this weird, jittery feeling, but I’m trying not to fidget since her dad and her grandma are standing right next to me. The slightest movement seems to echo off the marble floors in the entryway, and the only other sound is her grandma’s breathing. I feel like I’m in a funeral parlor or something.

Crap. What am I doing here? I still can’t believe Jane asked me to prom.

She told me I should come meet her dad, but he’s barely said a word since he opened the door to let me in, and I can’t think of anything to say. I keep looking up at the top of the stairs, hoping Jane will suddenly appear.

Her dad clears his throat. “Did you use stem cells?”

“Wh-what?” Wow, I totally wasn’t expecting that. “I-I mean, yes.” I guess Jane must have told him about my internship. “Our research used stem cells, but not the embryonic kind.” I try to smile. People are usually happy with that answer.

But her dad just makes this “hmmph” sound, and his stern expression doesn’t change.

Underneath my rented tuxedo I’m covered in sweat—thanks to the bike ride over here—and now my skin feels clammy. “W-we were able to successfully revive dead organs.” I glance at him, then down at my polished black dress shoes. “The procedure has tremendous potential for saving human lives.”

24 comments:

  1. Good sense of voice here! Intrigued by the logline and eager to read further since I know an accident of some kind is about to occur.Got a real true sense of how awkward Daniel feels in this situation. Love the reference to a funeral parlor and Grandma's breathing. Funny
    Good luck!!

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  2. Well written, but ... I've read it multiple times to figure out why I'm not intrigued.
    Nervous guy waiting for prom date: well written but has been done to death. Medical research to save Jane: admirable and difficult, but doesn't sound exciting. And if Jane isn't interested in being saved, not sure readers will invest in the struggle to save her.

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  3. I think this is fascinating - it's like a modern-day Frankenstein. I especially love the tidbit at the end where the MC mentions having ridden his bike to Jane's house in his tux. It's so unexpected & makes me see the character in a different light. The waiting-for-his-prom-date might not be the most original of openings, but I think it works here with the strong voice and the discussion of scientific research.

    Best of luck!

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  4. Love it! The 'nervous guy waiting for prom date' IS sort of a cliche at this point, but then you turned it on its head by having the conversation focus around Daniel defending his research, which connects me to him and the story immediately. I think it's a great premise and I want to read on.

    I think if there's a weak link in this snippet, it's your opening line - it's perfectly fine, but I think you could make Daniel's nervousness a bit more unique and characteristic than just a weird, jittery feeling.

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  5. You've done a great job of immediately creating a likeable MC. I'm already rooting for him. And nice ice-breaker with the stem cells.;)

    I love the whole Pet Sematary vibe as well.

    Good luck!

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  6. I like this! The pressure! The defense of his research and the 'not embryonic kind' phrase shows he's been down this road before, but never with his date's dad. Awkward!

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  7. I quite like your first page, I sympathise with Daniel and can picture the scene well, although I agree you could have a more gripping first line. Perhaps start with him feeling sweaty from the bike ride, or just with him arriving? Also perhaps tell us something about the grandma to bring us into the scene more?

    I'm not sure I'm totally sold on the logline - even if it's SF, a teen genius medically managing to bring back the dead stretches my credulity a long way. But of course, if it's well-written, the reader will find it easier suspend disbelief.

    Good luck!

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  8. Great premise with lots to like. Your descriptions were vivid and I could relate to the MC. I'd read on.

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  9. Curious enough to read on. There really isn't anything I'd change. Well, I might lose the word stern. You already did a good job of relaying he wasn't all smiles and bunnies. Good luck.

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  10. I remember loving this in the WriteonCon convention and I think it's even stronger now. The only suggestion I'd have would be to be careful not to overuse the stammer. You do a good job of making it clear that he's nervous. I would just pull back on it a little because the stutter puntuation is a little distracting when overused.

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  11. Sympathizing with the awkward situation he finds himself in, I feel connected with Daniel from the start. But I do have to agree with another ciritquer that if Jane isn’t interested in being saved, it’s going to be hard for readers to stay engaged, no matter how likable Daniel is. In terms of your logline, I’d play up the stakes without giving Jane’s sentiments too much bearing in them.

    As to the opening itself, you do an excellent job of capturing the awkwardness, as well as the lighter tone of this story. The fact that you’re able to establish your tone so effectively from the outset is a real strength in this sample.

    I do have to agree that the waiting prom date does feel a bit cliché, but I think some people would really say Prom’s cliché, and that’s not fair given the YA territory you’re treading where the event is considered a major rite of passage. But that doesn’t mean you can’t turn the trope to your advantage. I think you’re well on your way to doing this with the humor in your description and the nature of Daniel’s conversation with Dad (which is far from “typical.”) I’d play these up more. Give us a bit more of the clever bite. Try another way to get the strangeness of the situation to come across. Cut the stammering. I think it weakens your text. Let the situation be awkward in its very nature, rather than falling on the tired tropes.

    As it stands now, I’m not sure I’d keep reading. It does feel a little too “it’s been done,” but if you could really tighten this up and shift it into something that’s truly your own, you might just be able to change my mind.

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  12. The prom date is a situation, and the writing is the thing. Your voice is strong. Your descriptions are sharp. Situations can, and often do, in editing.

    I didn't read the logline as Jane not wanting to recover, I read it as she's drawn to the near death experiences, and not in a healthy way. Almost like an addiction?

    Intrigued.

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  13. That would be can, and often do, CHANGE in editing. (See? I edited. Totally did that on purpose. Ahem.)

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  14. I'm immediately hooked by the original premise.

    Sure, we've read/seen the "waiting for the prom date," but this is definitely different...in a good way!

    This is VERY intriguing! I'd want to read more. : )

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  15. 40 pages!

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  16. BIDDING ON THIS ITEM IS NOW CLOSED.

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  17. NOOOOOO! ::wails::

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