Friday, November 29, 2013

(29) YA Contemporary: SLAM

TITLE: SLAM
GENRE: YA Contemporary

A forbidden Slam Book forces Kortney Watkins to see that while she is invisible to everyone who “matters,” she is just as much of a bully on her own. Will she do what’s necessary to become popular and lose the friends she already has, or embrace the person she knows she should be?

It all began in the hallway of Pepperdine High, during the fourth week of my sophomore year. School was tromping along, as it does, and I'd just switched textbooks in my full-to-capacity locker when Madison was suddenly standing way in my personal space.

"It's a Slam Book," my cousin whispered as she snuck a yellow notebook to me in-between English and Spanish (which is confusing, having those two back to back, because how am I supposed to remember one language while trying to learn the other? I mean, I know English is my "native tongue," but still...).

"A what?" It looked like a plain old notebook to me, nothing like my leopard skin or (fake) jewel-encrusted ones. No name on the cover, and the cardboard was wrinkled and wavy, like it had either been dropped in a bathtub or pawed through by the entire class. Which, it turns out, it had been. Pawed through, I mean, not dumped in water.

"It's something Andi's mom did when she was in school, like fifty years ago. She said it was all 'the bomb'."

Andi herself was more than scary. She had a constant crowd around her, but I'd never felt like braving her bossiness to be a part of her popularity-ness. Just thinking about her made me shudder, and let’s not even talk about her mom.

Madison was still going on. "Everybody in our grade is in it, a different name at the top of each page. You write something about each person, like if you go to my page you write 'awesomest cousin ever,' then go on to the next one."

24 comments:

  1. This reminds me of the "burn book" from Mean Girls (best movie ever!) and I love the idea of a YA novel delving deeper into that idea. You have some great descriptions here, and the voice is really good. Great job!

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  2. Well, first off, I learned something new because I'd never heard of a slam book and had to Google it :-)

    Now that I'm "in the know," I think the title provides a nice, visceral impression of what sort of emotional impact I should expect form this story.

    The logline strikes me as fairly common as currently written (i.e., the struggle between trying to be popular over being yourself), but at least it lays out what we're in for. Maybe look for the unique angle this story has on that plot?

    One item I would note in the opening is the introduction of characters. For one, there are quite a few packed into a short space (Kortney, Madison, Andi, Andi's mom). Also, it wasn't immediately clear to me that the "my cousin" dialogue tag was in fact Madison (at first I took them for two separate characters). Personally, I think the mention of Madison as her cousin is much stronger further down where she tells her to write "awesomest cousin ever" in the book. I'd suggest just "she" in the beginning, as it's not yet relevant.

    Crits aside, I must say there were a number of little items throughout that really made me like this narrator, especially her choice of words ("tromping along" "way in my personal space" and that fact that she does asides in brackets (I happen to really like narrator's who don't shy away from bracketed comments :-)).

    So the overall story and the narrative voice grabbed me. I'd keep reading.

    Best of luck with it!

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  3. I think this is a great hook. I immediately want to tear open the notebook and look at the MC's page with her, and I can feel the combo of terror and excitement that would go along with that action. The voice is fantastic and I appreciate being dropped right into the action while still gaining insights into Kortney's personality and situation. Nicely done - I would read more.

    Good luck!

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  4. Hi, there! First, I'm here to echo some of the comments before me. I was immediately reminded of the "Burn Book" in Mean Girls, and it sounds like an interesting idea for a YA. The synopsis definitely piqued my interest as well--the fact that the MC isn't popular, but that hasn't stopped her from being mean to others. And furthermore, if given the choice of knowing how to become popular, will she do it? Or will she make a different choice? It sounds like it could be tricky to deal with the MC's likability in this situation, but it could also be a huge pay off if it works in the end.

    I also agree that there are a lot of names/voices being introduced in this beginning and I'm not quite sure who they are. I'm a fan of labeling characters almost as soon as they appear, so I would think about saying "...when my cousin Madison was suddenly standing in my way...." And I have no idea who Andi is or how her mom fits into the story. (As an aside, I'm not sure Andi's mom would have said "the bomb," would she?)

    I'm curious to know if Madison just found the slam book or if it purposefully gets passed around? If it doesn't get passed out on purpose, then this discovery should be more of a shocking development, right?

    There are a lot of ways to take this story, and it sounds promising. Great work--and thanks for sharing!

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  5. Okay, I'm definitely not the target audience here, but I like the way this written -- the pace and voice seems very natural. I think the log line could use a little embellishment to let us know what the big conflict of the story will be, but the story selection itself was well done.

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  6. The pitch left me a little underwhelmed--sorry! I think it's just a matter of getting the right details in there. The phrase "just as much of a bully on her own" should be stated outright--what is she doing that makes her a bully?

    Moving on, I love the voice in the excerpt! The pacing is nice, and I like how immediately we get to the slam book and its origins. The visual details on the notebook set the scene well, and I like that they immediately discuss that the idea of a slam book is an old one since so much bullying now takes place online. Not a fan of the name Kortney, but I guess in a post-Kardashian world some of us will just have to deal.

    Love the voice, I wish you lots of luck!

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  7. Loved the concept of this slam book, and I also would like to find out what is written about Kortney in there (or based on the invisibility in the log line, maybe no one bothered to write anything about her at all?)

    What I didn't like was the part about English / Spanish. I think it made the MC come off as pretty dimwitted.

    I did like Madison and her suggestion of what to write on her page, lol.

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  8. I like the idea of this with the whole Mean Girl theme. I was confused by the first line in the second paragraph because I thought she was standing at her locker and her cousin slipping her the book between classes suggested walking in the hall. I didn't like the English/Spanish aside. It took me out of the action.

    The voice is great, but the first line feels a little "telly", like she's talking to the reader instead of internal monologue.

    Best of luck!

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  9. I liked the voice and man, I really wish I could see what her page says (presumably not much, judging by the logline, but still)

    I'm with a few of the others in that the Spanish/English bit didn't work for me and I wasn't sure what you were trying to convey. Is English not the only language she speaks? If that's the case, I think there's probably a better way to convey that. If not, then I really don't know.

    Good luck!

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  10. Oooo this story is primed to have drama. I'm hooked.

    I like the line about English/Spanish being back to back, and the line about being "the bomb" makes me feel very, very old.

    Good luck!

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  11. You have to post in 20 page increments. Also, you can't post a full until after the 5th bid. I think I should win this automatically.

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  12. 126 pages. You don't get to win by default. (there were two sets of rules.)

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  13. I thought you could bid the full if the full was the fifth bid. Aw hell.

    So...149 pages?

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  14. Argh, and now I see comments posted later so now I can't bid for the full. :(

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  15. BIDDING IS CLOSED.

    The full goes to Michelle Wolfson!

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  16. Congrats on the full!

    I love the voice (the internal rhyme of bossiness with popularity-ness just really got me). I do think this is a well-trod road so I'm hoping that you have a unique take on it (which is why the voice is so important, complete with those wonderful parentheticals, and the fact that she recognizes her own bullying).

    I agree with everyone else that we want to read along with the slam book!

    Best of luck!

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