Thursday, February 24, 2011

Are You Hooked? #17

TITLE: Wonderland
GENRE: YA Dystopian

Sixteen-year-old Ana must beat a psycho angel's funhouse or the earth dies; but the only way to win is to become part of the game.

Ma keeps telling me not to complain about spring. It means warm weather, she says, and sunlight instead of the Glow, and lettuce. She's right, especially about the Glow, but she's not the one on her knees every April, yanking out clumps of purple loosestrife.

"Yanno, Pars, you'd think this crud would give up the fight after ten years."

Pars, my sort-of boyfriend, grinned at me from his pile of uprooted seedlings.

"It's like a cockroach, Ana. You can't kill it, and it's no good to eat."

"If only dandelions were as fertile. I have two jars of snap beans waiting to become dandelion green soup." I yanked two handfuls of weeds and threw them on my pile.

We weren't the only indentured servants—that is, everyone out of diapers—doing time in the Delaware Farm that Wednesday. It hadn't rained for a week, and that meant weeding. My twin sister and brother were on the broccoli quarter-acre. Arguing again. What a shock.

"Hey, brats! Less whine, more weed."

They gave me the raspberry in unison. Why ma says fourteen is so mature is beyond me.

Something tickled the back of my neck. I swatted at it.

"Ow!" Pars caught my hand. "It's me, not a black fly." His arms circled me. "You look so sexy when you're sweaty. Makes me want to—"

He kissed my neck. I leaned against him as pleasant shivers traveled down my back. And then he copped a feel.


  1. This scene is fine. I'd suggest you eliminate the places where she talks to the reader (ie, my sort-of boyfriend, my twin...). I also think the opening paragraph would work better if it came after you established where this is taking place. As written, it sounds like it's happening now which is confusing when we realize it's not.

  2. I see you putting yourself into this scene and thereby creating natural sounding dialogue, which also built the charcaters. Well done.

    My only pickie is more about getting an agent than your writing which is fine. Maybe I missed something, but I didn't sense a hint of the inciting incident or the incident itself that propels Ana on her journey.

  3. I agree with Holly and think the first paragraph could happen later. What if you opened up with: Pars and I weren't the only indentured servants...

  4. I'd like to know where, when, what happened, etc, but I'm sure that's coming later in the story. The voice is good, the descriptions are good, and I think the narrator is likable. I don't know about the logline - psycho + angel + funhouse = confusing to me.

  5. Right off, I like the narrator, both her voice and her personality - I'm not much of a YA reader, but this 'feels' YA to me. If I hadn't read the logline, what I get from this at the very beginning is almost a historical feel - sortof pastoral, but once the characters begin speaking, they sound like modern teens. I'm guessing we'd start to see where the angel funhouse comes in later on, but if you could get in a hint of what's to come a little earlier, I don't think it would hurt. I'd read on because I like the characters and I'm curious to see where this is going.

  6. Mixed feeling. The Glow and the weed I've never heard of throw me off-balance, and the cop a feel takes me from thinking the MC feels good to wants to slug him (if she was happy about it, wouldn't she use a less ugly way to talk about it?) OTOH, the characters are well developed, and we've got a lot of information already. Indentured servitude is an intriguing setup. So there you go, FWIW.

  7. The description didn't hook me (it was a bit unclear for me) but the writing sample was better, especially the last line. Nice touch of humor!

    Nitpicky: People don't tend to call each other by name in conversation so I'd axe those references, especially this one: "It's like a cockroach, (Ana). You can't kill it, and it's no good to eat."

  8. The logline confused me, rather than intrigued me. It seemed *too* rushed. But I'm interested in the worldbuilding and how things work. The world presented in the sample doesn't seem to match the world presented in your logline.

  9. I ADORE Dystopian YA, so I couldn't wait to read this. Like others have said, the logline re: angels and funhouse didn't engage me, but then, we won't necessarily see where that is going yet, right? That said, the writing DID engage me. I actually really like that shift where she talks to the reader. I love the dialogue, though I agree with Helene that you could and likely should eliminate the names...though in this case, that was likely added so we know who your MC actually IS...I felt it was almost a pioneer-type historical setting until we got to the names. Then the "doing time" para propelled us into the futuristic setting. I was okay with that though, and I don't mind waiting to see where we are and why we're there. I DO think a female reader will keep reading at this point. Not sure a male reader will, as the action isn't there, but maybe they aren't your target. One glaring thing for me though? The "cop a feel." I have no issue with the action, but the phrase was jarring and out of place with the rest, in my opinion.

  10. This unfortunately sounds and feels way too Hunger Games for me - not that I didn't love those books ... I did. But it's been done. Maybe the rest of the book makes it feel much different, but not this passage.

  11. I'm okay with this one. I think the plot sounds interesting, though I'd be extremely wary of anything to do with angels since the people seem to think they're overdone. I like your MC's voice, though this feels way too complacent. I want to hear more about this Glow and why I feel like it should be more terrifying than you're making it by only mentioning it in passing.

    Also, not sure about having the sort-of boyfriend cop a feel like nothing. If the MC's not reacting because it's so normal, then I'm a little confused as to how their relationship works out. There seems to be a lot of parts of the story that get brought up all at once here, but not enough of the central conflict.

  12. As I was reading this I felt left out. You, the writer, and all the characters know the details about this world. I don't, and you mention a couple things that I have no idea what they could be. Also, I'm not very hooked, I'm sorry to say. I'm not invested in the story. So I would suggest beginning with a different scene. Good luck with your writing!