Friday, November 29, 2013

(44) MG Contemporary Fantasy: APPRENTICE

TITLE: APPRENTICE
GENRE: MG Contemporary Fantasy

A thirteen-year-old amnesiac and a cockroach have five days to stop Death from triggering the apocalypse.


Death never told me how I died. He just pointed with a bony finger and said, “Come.”

I had to obey. I couldn’t think about not obeying.

The jerk didn’t even tell me I was dead until after he threatened to kill me twice.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. I should start earlier–maybe that first morning, when I was normal. At least, I thought I was.

***

Mom slid her briefcase onto the kitchen counter then poured a coffee. She stared at the mess on top of my head. “Did you brush your hair?”

I mumbled through a mouthful of cereal. “Yeah.”

She knew brushing never made a difference. The only time it ever stayed in place was when it was short. And I wasn’t a crew-cut kind of guy.

“Well brush it again.”

I rolled my eyes and slouched.

Mom whacked my head. “And cut the attitude.”

She didn’t hurt me or anything. It was just part of what most mornings were like. I bugged her. She bugged me. We got along okay, but she was always ‘helping’ me. Helping me dress neater. Helping me study harder. Helping me practice more. I told her it wasn’t really helping if I didn’t want it, but that never stopped her.

Mom sipped her coffee before asking, “Are you going to the dance on Friday?”

I almost choked on my juice. “How do you know about that?”

“You left the form in your pants. I do wash things occasionally.”

27 comments:

  1. This one certainly has voice ("the jerk" when describing death--and the interaction with the mother.) I also think the logline is intriguing--a world-saving cockroach as a sidekick?

    Not sure about "whacked my head." That sounds like more of a hit than it actually is. More of a "swipe," eh?

    Would definitely read on to met said cockroach!

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  2. Love the logline. Great premise.

    Also, the opening line hooked me.

    I had trouble understanding the third line: "The jerk didn’t even tell me I was dead until after he threatened to kill me twice." I guess I'm just not sure how it fits in what what has preceded (especially the "threatened to kill me twice" part).

    I like the narrative voice overall though.

    Best of luck with it!

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  4. I REALLY enjoyed your MC's voice! I even chuckled at the 'help me' line. I think that will resonate with a MG audience.

    A few small suggestions: Consider cutting "I couldn’t think about not obeying." I had to obey says it all, imho. Stretching it out with this second sentence feels a bit redundant. Also, I found the paragraph that follows a bit confusing. Your MC knows he's dealing with Death from the first sentence, so I don't quite get how he doesn't know that he's dead or how being threatened with murder helps him realize this.

    I do like the sense of character these lines establish, though, so perhaps switch them up a bit? Like: Death never told me how I died. In fact, the jerk didn't even tell me I was dead until after he threatened to kill me twice. He just pointed pointed a bony finger and said, "Come."

    See what you think. :)

    This sounds like a super fun story! Good luck during the auction.

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  5. This is really great--packed with voice and the premise sounds intriguing!

    Such an authentic sounding MG boy/mom convo too. This is a super strong entry.

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  6. Love the voice. Absolutely love the realistic mom/son convo. Basically I agree with everything Valerie said above me. :-) I even pictured the mom whacking the kid in the back of the head! Good luck!

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  7. Great voice! I'd love to see you start with the line, "Mom slid her..."

    Good luck!

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  8. I sometimes get frustrated by books that start in one place, immediately to backtrack to another. . . It can feel like a cheap way to grab the reader. But here, I think this narrative voice earns it with the sheer audacity of the voice. The fact that I can completely picture my mussy-haired six year old and me having this kind of a conversation in another seven years certainly helped, too.

    And, really, though the logline isn't supposed to figure much into our comments, I have to say the WHOLE reason I read this entry is that logline. Talk about high concept confidence!

    Good luck!

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  9. That logline is perfect. Seriously, short and sweet and makes me really want to read this. Great job! I also love the voice. You've shown us your MC's voice from the very first line and carried it through. It sounds like it'll be perfect for a middle grade audience. I'd definitely keep reading!

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  10. Your logline made me burst out laughing. Love it.

    The first page doesn't disappoint either. The first part totally grabbed me, and the second part, while quite a mundane scene, was so perfectly MG and still had great voice.

    Only nitpick - I'd echo about being a bit confused about death threatening to kill him twice, that could do with a bit of clarifying.


    But basically am dying to read the rest of this, it sounds original and hilarious! Good luck!

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  11. Also not a fan of this style of opening, the "now that I have you hooked, let's backtrack to random boring intro scene." I did like the relationship and I did like the mom. How long do we have to wait to get back to the death part though?

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  12. SO curious about the cockroach. The log line definitely hooked me and you have a very realistic breakfast scene in the first page. I am a little confused on Death killing him twice, but I'd read on. Great job and good luck!

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  13. Ha! This is great. :)

    The only thing is (and take this with a grain of salt as I read a lot of YA and Adult and not much MG), is that it sounds like YA to me?

    Anyway, it's still wonderful. Good luck! :)

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  14. I love this opener! I bid 5 pages.

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  15. 50 pages!

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  16. BIDDING IS CLOSED.

    THE FULL GOES TO JOAN PAQUETTE!

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  17. BIDDING IS CLOSED.

    THE FULL GOES TO JOAN PAQUETTE!

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  18. JOAN YOU SNEAK! There's really no rest during this is there?!

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  19. My job here is done ;)

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  20. Well, first off I have to agree with the commenters about 'I couldn't think about not obeying.' It's a line that isn't necessary. Nor is the 'jerk' line, to be honest. It's stronger without, or with that line tightened.

    It's odd, now that I'm picking back up with leaving comments after the bidding is done, to see what the agents have to say after I've read the entry and made my own decisions. It's nice to know I'm in agreement with my own agent, I guess, is what I'm trying to say.

    I love the voice of this. Confident, strong, and powerful enough that the 'flashback' framing (which irritates me to no end when it sometimes seems as though every single tv show uses it ad nauseum) didn't ruin it for me. I was more than willing to go along for the ride if for no other reason than to meet that wonderful cockroach.

    My only thought that wasn't mentioned by anyone (least not that I noticed...) is an odd one: Your dialogue sparkles. But there's almost too many 'beats' in it. As in: only the very last line of dialogue in the excerpt does not have an action attached to it. And none of the dialogue is tagged with 'he said' or 'she said.' I'm the very very last person to knock you for that...but 1) I was curious if the only reason that the last line of dialogue doesn't have a beat is because the beat got cut off by the word count limit. 2) A beat on EVERY line of dialogue might get a little repetitive and sort of rhythmic. There's a definite 'dialogue'/'action' (or 'action'/'dialogue') rhythm you've established and in a brief conversation that might work. If you were to carry that through a 2 page conversation or something it might annoy the reader (those that notice at least).

    Still, love this, a great deal. Great voice, great concept, confident writing...great job!

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  21. Well, first off I have to agree with the commenters about 'I couldn't think about not obeying.' It's a line that isn't necessary. Nor is the 'jerk' line, to be honest. It's stronger without, or with that line tightened.

    It's odd, now that I'm picking back up with leaving comments after the bidding is done, to see what the agents have to say after I've read the entry and made my own decisions. It's nice to know I'm in agreement with my own agent, I guess, is what I'm trying to say.

    I love the voice of this. Confident, strong, and powerful enough that the 'flashback' framing (which irritates me to no end when it sometimes seems as though every single tv show uses it ad nauseum) didn't ruin it for me. I was more than willing to go along for the ride if for no other reason than to meet that wonderful cockroach.

    My only thought that wasn't mentioned by anyone (least not that I noticed...) is an odd one: Your dialogue sparkles. But there's almost too many 'beats' in it. As in: only the very last line of dialogue in the excerpt does not have an action attached to it. And none of the dialogue is tagged with 'he said' or 'she said.' I'm the very very last person to knock you for that...but 1) I was curious if the only reason that the last line of dialogue doesn't have a beat is because the beat got cut off by the word count limit. 2) A beat on EVERY line of dialogue might get a little repetitive and sort of rhythmic. There's a definite 'dialogue'/'action' (or 'action'/'dialogue') rhythm you've established and in a brief conversation that might work. If you were to carry that through a 2 page conversation or something it might annoy the reader (those that notice at least).

    Still, love this, a great deal. Great voice, great concept, confident writing...great job!

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  22. Thanks for all the comments, and the encouragement.

    Love the detailed reasoning, Peter. Excellent. Thank you.

    Dave

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