Saturday, December 4, 2010

#7 Fantasy: Estranged (BAKER'S DOZEN AGENT AUCTION)

TITLE: Estranged
GENRE: Fantasy

After a violent car accident, sixteen-year-old Jeremy Drake is thrust into the coma-state world of Nevermore - a dream world accidentally created by his estranged brother. Hunted relentlessly by a shadow, Jeremy must come to terms with his parent's death and escape the coma before his mysteriously aging body falls victim to the ravages of a fabricated existence.

Jeremy slouched in the passenger seat, face pressed against the car window, breath steaming the cool glass. Outside, people in black drifted downhill, passing like a procession of shades under the dark, leafy oaks of the cemetery.

"Would you like to talk?" Mary asked, wiping at the mascara smeared beneath her eyes.

"What's there to talk about?"

"Nonna-" his sister caught herself. "Grandma Maria was the last family we had."

Not entirely true, he thought. What happened to you, Peter?

"But I'm home for good now," she continued as they left the lot. "And... things will be different."

In that instant, Jeremy loved her. She honestly believed what she said; but what Mary needed was the future and what Jeremy wanted was the past.

"Jeremy-" Mary stopped and frowned. She pumped the brake repeatedly, the car answering with empty thuds as she brought her foot down again and again. They weren't slowing. Her knuckles whitened on the wheel. She slammed her foot down, but the brake pedal grunted uselessly.

Jeremy's eyes locked on the intersection ahead and widened. The traffic light screamed red, screamed stop.


Everything slowed, the moment stretching into eternity. A maze of cars through the intersection. The light glaring red, red, red, unchanging. And finally, a massive truck, barreling at them like some hammer of destiny. But he didn't believe in destiny. And the moment was most certainly not eternal.

The semi slammed into the passenger side, sending the two ton sedan tumbling like a child's toy.


  1. I like this but I was confused. You mentioned Peter, but I didn't get a sense who he was? I would consider removing some of his thoughts and keeping us in the moment up to the crash.

    Good job.

  2. The logline is fairly solid although I find the consequences a little vague. What are the ravages of a fabricated existence? Is this a flowery way of saying he might die? If so, just say that.

    As for the excerpt, your logline makes the car accident sound like the inciting incident of the story. While I love how you start right into some serious action, if this is true, you need to build the character a bit more before you incite him into the story.

  3. I'd worry that that a serious car crash immediately following a funeral is a bit much - and the Oh my gosh the brakes don't work ploy seems hackneyed.

    Otherwise, promising.

  4. I really like the premise of this novel, but I felt the sudden loss of breaks -- while nice for the action -- seemed rather forced and unlikely. I want to believe this car crash a little more than I do.

  5. I'm not really a fantasy person, but I did really like this beginning of your story. (which hasn't gotten to the fantasy part yet!)

    Quite the opening scene. Immediately I was wondering, or guess I assumed that someone had tampered with the brakes. Who and why? Otherwise, if it was just pure mechanical failure it seems a bit contrived. Distracted with grief and running a red light would suffice.

    I also wondered who Peter was and how he related to the whole thing. Maybe just need a tad more to identify him.

    I really liked the line, "...what Mary needed was the future and what Jeremy wanted was the past." Very nice.

  6. Logline:
    There was a lot of detail in this for me--I think simpler would be better, overall, but I'm interested in the premise. (Also: side note--but is this really YA Fantasy, given the ages of the characters and subject matter?)

    Line comments:
    -I like the future/past contrast between Mary and Jeremy
    -Very dramatic opening!
    -Great last line

    It was an interesting opening, but I had a little trouble with it. Everything felt too quick--you put the characters in a deadly situation before I really had a chance to care about this, which lessened the impact.

  7. Absolutely loved it! Only niggle I would have is that the logline is a bit wordy.

  8. Logline - I really liked this. It introduces the character, his world and several challenges to overcome. Very intriguing!

    Excerpt - I like what you have here except for one thing. The faulty brakes thing doesn't happen nearly as often as you see in books or TV. I'm assuming that it's only a detail of how the accident happens and doesn't really affect the rest of the story; the real issue is that the accident happens in the first place. Would you consider changing the cause of the accident to something more realistic? Perhaps Mary gets distracted by their conversation and turns to look at them only to look back to find herself running a red light and getting T-boned? That's the kind of accident that can and does happen every day. The brakes taking that moment to cut out seems a little convenient.

    Otherwise, the story you set here starts off nicely.

    Good luck!

  9. Logline - I wondered if the parents died in the same car accident that put him in a coma. (after reading the excerpt I learned the answer, but you might want to make it evident in the logline.) And I wondered how his brother plays into things, since he created the world but is not mentioned again.

    Excerpt - I liked that we got right into things, and I liked the mystery of Peter (although I'm guessing he's the brother from the log-line so he wasn't really a mystery, but your reader won't have the log line.)

    A few issues. As others mentioned, there are the brakes. If all that matters is the accident, let them run a red light or let someone else run one.

    Jeremy's looking through the windshield and sees the truck barreling right at them. Then the truck smashes into the passenger side. Shouldn't it have hit them head on?

    And the scene starts with them in the car, and Jeremy's watching people walk down a hill. I imagined they were sitting in the car at the cemetery and that the car wasn't moving. Perhaps add a line somewhere that shows that they are moving.

  10. I just noticed my comment has "breaks" instead of "brakes." *sigh* This is what I get for trying to crit on mushbrain. Sorry!

  11. I'm all for the inciting incident happening right away, when it works. However, it does seem a bit contrived in this approach. We're at a funeral, which provides plenty of fodder to establish character while keeping tension on the page, so there's no need to jump right into the car crash. And brakes just suddenly giving way... You lost your believability there. The reader is clearly going into the fantasy world soon and will have to make a leap of faith to believe everything is going on in this Nevermore; don't make them make a leap of faith to believe the car crash happened in the real world, too.

  12. What I really love about this is e concept. It's killer.

    I do think is excerpt moves a little fast. I understand your desire to get to the action quickly, but a little more scene setting, a little more establishment of his relationship with Mary, would go a long way toward making me care about him.

  13. Sorry to see this didn't get a bid as I really liked it. Perhaps, as others have said, you need to take the reader into the story a little more slowly to involve them with the MC more before getting to the accident. Good luck.

  14. I'm not hooked by the concept. Too nebulous, and too many mediocre fantasies have done almost the same thing (both in movies and books). It's a cliche that has to be turned on its head or tweaked in some way to make it stand out, and the world being created by his brother instead of just being heaven or purgatory or some nebulous afterlife isn't enough of a twist.

    The accident also happened way too fast. Give the character time to be established as a baseline before taking him off somewhere new to grow. Also, the whole brakes not working at all so suddenly was confusing--were the brake lines cut or something?

    Voice is pretty good, so really it just needs to be given room to breathe and a concept that will stand out.

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