Saturday, December 4, 2010

#36 YA Contemporary: Requiem (BAKER'S DOZEN AGENT AUCTION)

TITLE: Requiem
GENRE: YA Contemporary

When Ben's seemingly perfect older brother chases a bottle of Tylenol with a fifth of vodka, Ben must decide what's more important: exposing the skeletons in his brother's closet-- which may include having knocked up the so-called school slut-- or getting rid of the ones his brother's death has exposed in his own.

Marissa considered the word, let it roll around on her tongue like a jawbreaker, the spicy cinnamon kind that burn if they linger against the inside of your cheek for too long.

Pregnant.

Pregnant.

She repeated it to herself as if somehow that made it more, or perhaps less, real as she clutched a stack of pamphlets covering everything from genetic tests to her options.

A nurse looked at Marissa with a combination of sympathy and disdain but Marissa was used to this, to people looking at her like she's a person to be pitied. And perhaps feared. But in that moment, she was grateful for the familiarity of it, as if nothing really changed even though absolutely everything had.

"You have options," the nurse repeated, placing extra emphasis on the P. Options. Like she was spitting it out.

"You mean I can pick the sex?" Marissa asked. She bit the corner of her cheek to hide the curl forming in her lips-- her one tell.

The nurse looked at her sideways so that Marissa couldn't figure if she was onto her or horrified. Marissa was, of course, hoping for the latter.

"There's an adoption agency I can refer you to," the nurse continued. "Or if you'd rather talk with the counselor about how to manage your pregnancy, I can schedule that, too."

Marissa wondered about that word, manage. As if her pregnancy would require her to add another person to her payroll. Should she collect resumes? Conduct interviews? Negotiate wages?

31 comments:

  1. First sentence was straight-up killer. I'm a boy, so getting a girl pregnant is absolutely terrifying. good job!

    I predict you get a bid!

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  2. The opening's totally different from what the summary says. Caught me off-guard, which is a good thing, obviously.
    Like Marissa's voice.

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  3. I remember this from September and I still really like it. You've got the narrator's voice down perfectly.

    Good luck!

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  4. I love the excerpt - the voice is awesome! And I liked the logline, too, it promised tons of tension. But why is the logline about Ben and the excerpt about Marissa? If Marissa is the MC, why isn't the logline focused on her? If Ben is the MC, why do you start your novel with someone else?

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  5. I'm echoing what others have said. If you're starting with Marissa, I'm assuming she's the knocked up slut and I'm wondering why I'm with her instead of Ben. I'd read through to how you transition to Ben, though. For sure.

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  6. Wow! Your logline is all about one character, then I read the text (which is fantastic) and it's not about either of the characters mentioned in the logline.

    Don't change your text, change the logline so it more accurately reflects the writing. Otherwise you're wrong-footing your readers.

    Love the voice. It's very real and honest.

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  7. Logline - perhaps state in the beginning of the logline that Ben's brother dies from his pill-with-vodka-chaser. It just didn't feel right coming at the end.

    I liked the excerpt, but like others, I wonder why I'm not meeting Ben. As I read, I keep asking myself, where's Ben, which takes me out of your story. The excerpt is good and it works, but with the logline, I'm thinking of the disparity in main character rather than enjoying what you wrote. While both would work separately, I don't think they work together.

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  8. Logline is great. Totally hooked.

    I love the juxtaposition of her internal conflict and her being a smart ass.

    Well done. Good luck.

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  9. You need a semi-colon after "used to this". Otherwise, I like this excerpt but I'm really not sure what this has to do with the main character in the logline. As it is, Marissa sounds like the main character and the novel sounds like it is about her choice (which I don't think it is at all). I would suggest you modify this. Teen pregnancy is WAY overdone and you don't want to turn off agents if your book isn't even about this.

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  10. Excellent voice here! Like the others, I was just confused by Marissa's POV when Ben's the MC in the logline. If they alternate POVs, I'd shift the logline to represent that. (Tough to know with just 250 words, sorry if it's a wrong assumption.) But I wanted to keep reading either way!

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  11. Great opening scene; you prove your ability to characterize right away.

    Logline needs work. I agree with the character discrepancies, but I also have problems with the conflict. WHY ON EARTH would hiding his dead brother's secrets be more important than hiding his own?? And WHY does hiding one prevent him from hiding the other?That information alone tells me the conflict doesn't make sense.

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  12. The logline is all about Ben but the first scene starts with Marissa. I do not think that's such a good idea.

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  13. I agree with others re: the fact that logline doesn't reflect narrator in excerpt. I like the writing of the excerpt very much -- is the narrator the "slut" and does the POV shift in your book?

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  14. You channel Marissa so well and are developing her like a main character. Bravo. I agree with others about the logline being misleading, since it didn't include Marissa.

    Why not atart with: Ben and the pregnant school slut, Marissa, paths most cross, when his older brother chased ... to the grave. Ben must decide ...


    I didn't like "of the ones" in the logline. Consider: . . . exposing (cleaning out) the skeletons in his brother's closet first or some of his own. This is shorter and will leave you room to talk about Marissa.

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  15. I love Marissa's attitude and the joke she makes about picking the sex. I did wonder if you might reverse the first and second paragraphs, giving us the word she's considering before you tell us how she's considering it.

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  16. Logline:
    I liked it--but it threw me off that the logline was about Ben, but the excerpt about Marissa.

    Line comments:
    -EXCELLENT opener
    -I don't see how sympathy and disdain = fear

    Overall:
    Solid writing and great voice. I'd read on.

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  17. I won't beat the dead horese about the logline because it's an easy fix. Crafting an opening page (the voice!) like this not so much. Disagree about the semi-colon since, and this is the English nerd in me here, a semi-colon is used to link two independent clauses and that's not what you've got here ("to people looking at her..." is technically not an independent clause). But, sylistically it could be so I'd split the difference and use an em dash.
    I really dig this, though. And the promise of a brother story, too. I'm a sucker for those though....

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  18. Like the others, the log-line and text don't match (unless this is a story told in several voices, but even if it is, the log-line needs work).

    I remember this also from a previous contest, and loved the voice then. Love to read more!

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  19. In the logline, I wondered why Ben would want to expose his brother's skeletons when he's just committed suicide? Doesn't seem like the sort of thing you'd do.

    Great voice on the first page, but I hope this isn't a prologue with the rest of the book from Ben's POV, because after this I want more of Marissa. You need to fix the differing tenses in the line beginning 'A nurse looked...' otherwise it's very good, her pesonality really comes across.

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  20. I'm not going to repeat the comments about the logline not matching the start of the novel, since that horse is good and whipped. :)

    I do get a good sense of Marissa's personality here, but the start seems a little wordy to me. There seems to be a lot of internal wryness and not a lot of action. It might just be a personal desire, but I'd like to see Marissa do more, while thinking those clever, biting thoughts.

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  21. I bid to read the first 25 pages.
    Kate McKean
    Howard Morhaim Literary Agency

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  22. I bid to read the first 50 pages.
    Melissa Jeglinski
    The Knight Agency

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  23. I bid to read the first 75 pages.
    Suzie Townsend
    FinePrint Lit

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  24. I'd liked this one from the beginning so I'm taking no chances.

    I want the complete manuscript!

    Melissa Jeglinski
    The Knight Agency

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  25. BIDDING ON THIS ITEM IS NOW CLOSED!

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  26. My assumption is that your story is told from more than one point of view, so the Melissa/Ben thing didn't bother me. I love the voice. If you make Ben as interesting as you did Melissa, I'd definitely read on.

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  27. A full request! Congrats to the author. How fun!

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  28. Damn! My West Coast location kills me again! I just got here and the one I wanted is already gone. *pouting*

    Laura Bradford
    Bradford Literary Agency

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  29. The logline doesn't fit the excerpt, but other than that, it's okay.

    I'd also suggest dropping the "chased a bottle of Tylenol with a bottle of vodka" bit if you keep it in the logline, as that's a key line from Girl, Interrupted.

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  30. I'm confused why we start with Marissa if the story is from Ben's point of view. But it's a very nice first line/couple of paragraphs. The voice is quite nice. Gets just a little awkward in the paragraph w/ the nurse looking at her. The last paragraph, about adding another person to her payroll, sounds a little too adult-workaday-world for a teen mom.

    Yet all of those are little things that can be edited, and the voice and characterization are what hooked me, and those things moved the plot along nicely.

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  31. (BTW, to answer someone advising a semicolon after "used to this"--no, that's not a comma splice and a semicolon would be incorrect.)

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