Friday, November 29, 2013

(43) YA Magical Realism: CHICK MAGNET

GENRE: YA Magical Realism

JD Marshall has a power most guys would trade their left nut for. With one hypnotizing look, he can get a girl to do whatever he wants. But his power’s really a curse a witch put on him, one he’s got four months to break or lose any chance of ever having a real relationship. Unfortunately, the probable curse-breaker happens to be his hot new English teacher.

Getting with Susan Milton should be the last thing on my mind.

I should be thinking about Northeast and their defensive line, the one that racks up eight QB sacks a game. I should be running through Coach’s five new plays—the ones the Panthers won’t see on the scouting tapes. I should think about how David and I are going to get a keg for the beach after the game. Or how if I don’t play the game of my life, we won’t even need one.

Maybe I should focus on my senior project.

Or the Pre-Calc test I have in thirty minutes.

But I just can’t get my mind off her.

Ever since she walked into English on the first day of school, I haven’t been able to focus on much else. And not just because Susan Milton’s the hottest chick I’ve ever seen. I mean, she is: tight little body, sexy smile, shiny blond hair that smells like the flowers growing in my backyard. She has a habit of wearing these low cut tops, and if she bends over just right, I almost get a free show. And God, her voice. The way she recites poetry, it’s like she’s singing—just to me. I used to hate English. Now I hate the wait until third period for my new favorite class.

But Susan Milton is forbidden. Off limits. I can’t have her.

And unfortunately I can get practically anybody.


  1. Love the voice in this! I think you nailed it and i would for sure keep reading.

    The only thing that pulled me out was the last line:

    "And unfortunately I can get practically anybody."

    It's the unfortunately that doesn't work for me. Because he's talking about how Milton is off limits and then he says "and unfortunately" and i don't see how they relate.

    I suspect he/you mean unfortunately because he's cursed and it actually sucks, but it didn't come off that way to me.

    But otherwise, loved it.

    Good luck!

  2. Heh. I found this to be an especially strong narrative voice. It has just the right blend of cocky yet with a solid grounding to it. And the logline promises more than simply a shallow, gratuitous yarn (which the general premise might imply, i.e., a guy who can get any girl). It feels like a story that will have some honest-to-goodness heart in it.

    Best of luck with it!

  3. I'm torn on this one. The voice is great, the premise is intriguing, but where I'm having a hard time with it is liking the MC. I want to root for the character, but I'm not sure I feel quite comfortable doing that with things like:

    "he can get a girl to do whatever he wants"
    the way he describes Susan's body
    "I can’t have her"

    This could become really controversial (with the premise alone). I think you can avoid that if you turn it on its head pretty quickly -- like within the first few pages.

    Because I am a (admittedly sensitive) female reader, a lot of this is really strongly worded in ways that make me feel uncomfortable for Susan (or any girl that JD thinks he can get to do whatever he wants).

    As much as I'd hate to attack the voice here, I feel like it needs to be toned down and show more of JD's own redeeming qualities--or at least so we know he doesn't use this power only to get the things his libido wants.

  4. I'm inclined to agree with Valerie about wanting to root for JD. I'm desperate for a reason to like him and looking for a hint at his future growth.

    I think the "unfortunately" attempts this, but not sure.

    I played football with guys that sound like this MC, and I didn't get along well with them. If you show me more of his internal conflict, I'm much more likely to cheer him on.

    That all said, You've done a nice job firing up an emotional response within me. Good luck!

  5. Valerie articulates her position really well, but I'll offer a slightly different POV: I, too, don't think I really like this MC. But it also seems to me that that's the point. He's been cursed, and this narrative voice suggests he's got attitude issues that probably earned him that curse. If his character arc is going to involve learning to create real relationships, he'll need to get his heart broken, get roughed up by life, and get humbled, and fast. If I start out liking him, I can't also start out wanting him to get served the way this book needs to serve him. I think this attitude justifies all the hell the author can put his/her MC through, and that's something that would make me read on.

    I don't have to like a character to want to spend time with them -- I just have to find them, and their situation, too interesting to ignore.

    Good luck!

  6. I love the voice in both the pitch and the first page! I tend to agree with Tracy. I don't like the way the MC character describes women or his attitude at this point, but I want to keep reading to see him break out of it. I would suggest to include something that is redeemable, even if small, from the beginning. I mean, this is only the first page. We'll probably get this in the coming pages!

    The one line that felt awkward to me was the last one. I know why it's there, but it just doesn't sound right to me.

    Good luck!

  7. I like the voice, but I agree with the others. It seems like you tacked that last line on specifically to have a zinger at 250 words, but it doesn't really bring the big hit that it's supposed to.

    It seems interesting, and I'd be really interesting in following JD through the story. I actually like this beginning a lot. I don't have a problem with JD being borderline jerk-y this early into the book, since I assume he'll tame down a bit throughout. Great job and good luck!

  8. I disagree with the problems a lot of people have about the way he talks about this woman. I think it fits his voice perfectly. He sounds like a horny, teenage boy-- one who's used to thinking about women this way, and getting what he wants. I'm intrigued by him, and would definitely read more.

  9. The first sentence of your logline might be my favorite ever. As a whole, though, the logline does leave me wondering what it will take to break the curse, and why it's unfortunate if the curse-breaker is his English teacher. (Also implying the question of who is an ideal curse-breaker?)

    I like the internal conflicts that this premise implies. JD obviously is arrogant and has acted in a way that earned him this curse. But if he's trying to break the curse, it shows that (despite the shallow behavior the curse allows) he values a serious emotional relationship/connection and wants one in the future.

    So despite that some of his (very true-to-character) narration makes me cringe, I also know off the bat that he's redeemable, though it's not yet obvious in the first 250.

    You definitely need to show ASAP that JD isn't abusing this power, because the possibility of rape will be prominent in your readers' minds and will prevent them from connecting to him as a character until they know where he stands morally.

    But once those concerns are addressed, readers will have so much fun with this story!

    Best of luck!

  10. The logline hinted at something that could be fun, however to me the page veered into shallow territory pretty fast. I would have to have faith in you that you give something more to this story than what it seems!

  11. Sorry, this one isn't for me. The premise immediately throws up lack of consent issues and that gives me the creeps. The way the MC acts on the first page doesn't help with that first impression. I understand that this is probably going to be a tale of redemption but I'm too put off from the beginning.

  12. Hey, there!

    You've definitely found a voice for your MC, that's for sure. I think you have the ability to really paint a portrait of someone in so few words.

    Reading over the comments, there seems to be a divide about the likability of the MC, and I think I have to side with those who are having trouble rooting for JD. I'm not sure I like him quite yet either.

    The problem is, he IS objectifying her. He can't get her mind off of her, but the first things that he notices about her are all related to appearance--even her voice is something that's naturally part of her, so I don't buy his sensitivity to her reading poetry. Or even that she'd smell like flowers that grow in his backyard, which feel like flat attempts at making him less cringe-worthy.

    I'm super curious to know why a witch would give him this particular curse of being able to get any girl he wants (which already seems like a shaky curse/punishment) but not allowing him to have true love/a relationship. Is he able to feel love then? He must if he wants to have it and needs to break the curse.

    The only real problem I have here is that Susan is his "hot new English teacher" (I think?) and this sort of relationship just can't fly in YA. Why can't she just be a new student rather than a teacher? Are you sure you don't want this to be an adult story?

    I think if you answer that last question, and then work on making your protagonist someone to really root for, you could have something even better on your hands. The writing is good, but the story needs some tweaking.

    Thanks for sharing. Keep writing and good luck!

  13. Hmmm.

    Unlike the majority of commenters I wasn't as bothered by your MCs voice/power, it was the teacher part that gave me the creeps. I am very curious as to how this could work out in a YA appropriate way.

    I loved the voice. Loved. It felt genuine.

    I am assuming the fact that he isn't a creepy rapist would be addressed pretty quickly to put readers at ease. If not, it needs to be.

    I also think you could make him a little more likable to some readers by throwing in something about the girl he likes. Yeah, she's hot, but I assume he has seen lots of hot girls before. What makes her special?

    Overall I am intrigued. I have a soft spot for unlikable narrators and I think you can pull this off with a little tweaking.

  14. I'm afraid I have to echo the same concerns others have. Two things about this immediately squick me: the way your MC sexually objectifies the woman and the teacher/student romance angle. It's one thing to go for "realism" of a teenage male voice, but it's another to reinforce objectifying women as the "norm." You can make it authentic without being gross. We are surrounded by rape culture and the Male Gaze in real life; I don't want to read it in fiction, as well.

    But mostly I cannot overcome your premise. Teacher/student = majorly inappropriate, both in real life and YA. Do the gender reversal test: if the genders were reversed, people would drag out their pitchforks. A high school student can't really consent to a sexual relationship with an adult, their teacher, even if the student is 18. There is an inherent conflict of interest (for the teacher) and power imbalance that makes it unethical (whether or not it is also illegal). So from the get-go, I just can't handle the premise.

    Now, aside from those red flags, your logline is great, the Beauty & the Beast premise interesting, and sexual objectification aside, the male MC voice is great. I realize the love interest being the teacher is a "hook," but couldn't the new girl be a fellow student?

  15. I'm of the same thought process as the other commenters who had problems with both the teacher/student set-up (I can't imagine that'll survive the first revision from any agent) and the typical high school football player mentality. I understand what you're going for with the strong voice of the MC but even in that voice I'm not sure using such typically sexist terms as 'chick' or 'tight little body' will fly. It's too off-putting.

    There is a VERY fine line you're trying to walk and word choice is going to kill you every single time.

    He's been cursed with absolute power; it'll be close to impossible to avoid non-consensual activity and that'd be X rated rather than YA rated, no?

    I would find this of more interest if the MC wasn't set up to be a football star of some sort (if I had to guess he was already someone who could 'get' any girl in his school that he wanted and that that attitude is what resulted in his being cursed). Which immediately makes me think that you just took 'Mr. Popular' and made him 'Mr. Irresistible' and along with his attitude being so irredeemably sexist it's a character than women will hate and men won't like.

    Imagine if the character was the high school social outcast or something like that who committed one social gaffe (say not holding the door open for someone) and then that someone curses him with power. How would someone like that handle it? Would that be of more interest or is this premise, in any permutation, inescapably flawed?

    And that doesn't even begin to touch on the whole teacher situation, which simply can't work.

    On the plus side, your voice sings, it's just singing the wrong song, I think.