Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Grab My Heart #35

TITLE: How to Save a Friend
GENRE: MG Contemporary

Sixth grade was supposed to give Felicity bravery. It gives her a mess. The new president of the Northern States wants to deport the ‘Southies’, immigrants from the Southern States.

Then Felicity gets in the middle of it. She makes friends with a wisecracking Southie named Madrid. Staying friends requires bravery—or foolhardiness, with the imminent deportation.

But she can’t just walk away.

HOW TO SAVE A FRIEND is middle-grade contemporary fiction with a twist. It is 40,000 words.

            Some people say it began when the election did—when every person in the country heard and saw who was going for the top. Others say it started when the final candidates were picked, and the promises started to happen.

            For me, it started when I came to breakfast one morning, following the smell of scrambled eggs. My parents were smiling, and I knew what had happened. I knew before I looked at the newspaper dangling from Dad’s grip. I knew before I read the blaring headline.

In presidential election, the country chooses The Honest Way.

            It was my first real election, since I was seven during the last one. I was eleven then, my twelfth birthday drawing nearer as fifth grade drew to a close. But though I watched the men debate on television, I had no clue what was really going on. I barely knew who the candidates were, much less their campaigns.

            My parents had voted for him. They thought he was the best option, and fooled themselves into thinking that meant good.

            At my school, if the election came up at all, everyone would just say what their parents had said. Almost all the kids said their parents were voting for the Bard.

            The Bard was his nickname.


  1. I think this is a great opening, definitely speaks at the right level for MG. A few things I think you could add though to clarify would be is this a boy or a girl? Also Their parents seem pleased with the election results, but perhaps say a little on how they feel. Happy, nervous, or even indifferent? You say it's contemporary but it seems like it's set in a different timeline, so more sci-fi/fantasy?

  2. I find this idea very intriguing I was just a little confused when reading this. Starting with your pitch (which is more of a query than a pitch) I think you have a good start here I just think it needs to be shorter and more to the point. I like your opening page but the voice didn’t scream MG to me, personally. I think like the other commentor said it could do better to show some of how your MC is feeling. And I agree about your genre as well. It seems as if it would at least be maybe an alternate history sort of thing? Still, I find the premise of your novel to be really intriguing!

  3. Great idea, alluding to the pain of deportation and that feels contemporary for today. I like your set up of cheery normality and the foreboding feeling of what's-to-come. You have good tension and I agree with fellow commentators that showing what the MC is feeling would give more clarity to the opposing conditions you're presenting.

  4. Hmm...your pitch needs a little work. Think about what your MC wants, who stands in his or her way, what happens if he or she doesn't get it, and done in about 50 words or less. The ideas of your story come straight from the world around us-good-but you may not be starting in the write place. We need to get a feel for character, your character's world, and some conflict. Maybe you should move ahead a bit? Good luck!

  5. This is an interesting idea, but it does sound like alternate history, in which case, the genre needs to be labeled correctly.

    The narration is also very distant, like we're listening to an adult looking back and recalling her childhood. It's true that most eleven-year-olds are still parroting their parents' political opinions, but most of them also feel like those opinions are their own, and they're pretty passionate about them.

    That being said, it does draw me in and makes me curious how this world is different from our own. I would read on.