Thursday, April 28, 2016

Are You Hooked? Middle Grade #18

GENRE: MG - Science Fiction

Forming a bond with something that feels at home on Jupiter is hard. Two different buddies take on bullies and intolerance in a world with flying saucers and alien invasion films. The boy’s assignment: Saving the world by embracing diversity. Maybe they succeed. Maybe the world blows up.

Carlos McGuire was a boy who liked to fit in and didn’t want to stand out. Normally, he wasn’t the kind of kid found in a book. He wanted to do well in school and please his parents. He didn’t run around town or dig holes or live in a graveyard. He wasn’t a wizard. Carlos thought his life was boring, but boring was okay with Carlos.

His dad was exciting, though, at least in Carlos’s eyes, but this isn’t a story about his dad. Being an astronaut in the year 2068 was not that big a deal anyway. Lots of people were astronauts by this time, but his dad did have an adventure once, and that adventure was about to spill over onto Carlos, messily, like dumping a soda in one’s lap while watching a movie. Maybe it’s a movie about aliens. They’re  currently popular.

The story begins one afternoon while Carlos waited and looked out the window of his simple room in a normal suburban neighborhood. The story begins here because Carlos was afraid that things were about to get weird.

Of course, lately, things had been getting weirder and weirder in the world. Carlos looked up to the sky, but he didn’t see one. That was good. He hated to see them, all ghostly and electric like a storm cloud. They reminded him that things most likely would never be the same. To a kid that likes to fit in and doesn’t want to stand out, change is bad


  1. Hi there! For the logline, I'd rework it as I incorporated it into my query, to make sure it's not reading too "message-y"––if I were an agent I might be turned off by words like "intolerance" and "embracing diversity." Although those things are important, they feel a little adult-ish and buzzword-y; a kid would likely think of this in different, more concrete terms. As far as the voice in this opening––it's not quite there yet. For starters, it reads more like a synopsis, or like how you might describe your book to someone. We're working up to the story, but it doesn't feel like we're there yet. And for that reason it's reading quite authorial. I don't feel like I have a sense of Carlos's personality––I feel quite far away from him, actually. For example, when Carlos looks out his window, it feels like we're about to get a little closer to his perspective, but I doubt he would conceive of his own room as "simple" or his own neighborhood as "normal." Even if he thought of it that way, he wouldn't likely put it consciously in those terms. Work on discovering a voice for your protagonist, one that's unique to him. Bringing this 3rd person a little closer to Carlos will help. How is he experiencing the world? What kind of things does he think about and notice, and how does that influence the way you'll tell this story?

  2. I agree with Erin's critique. The opening doesn't seem to come from Carlos's perspective, but rather, yours. The voice is not really MG. One thing to try is to rewrite your opening in the first-person POV, to help you get closer to Carlos's thoughts. Think about how Carlos would view his situation, and what it means to him.

  3. Yeah, you never want to start a story talking about how the MC loves to be boring. [I've seen enough of those]

    The fact is, you don't need any of this. Start where something is happening, maybe with Dad and 'show' how Carlos wants nothing to do with it -- and why. Is it aging dad? Is he an introvert in an extrovert world? Is it simply too loud.

    Regardless of how it's done, make it about experience more than reflection.

  4. I think you've got something interesting here, but the pitch and opening sound a bit too didactic. You've got some cool elements like the future, a parent astronaut, Jupiter and an incoming storm. I think if you focus more on the cool stuff and just tell the story the message will come out organically and you wont have to outright state it. Trust your reader to get the message out of your work. If you tell a good story it will happen. :)

    I wish you the best of luck as you move forward with this.
    Jamie - Entry #35