Thursday, February 24, 2011

Are You Hooked? #8

GENRE: Young Adult Suspense

A young boy, raised by his widowed mother to live up to his late father's dreams of being a hero, uncovers a plot to kill the President.

The snow wasn't helping. Thick and heavy, it cut visibility almost to the whiteout point and some of the less-experienced mushers had already withdrawn. But at sixteen, I'd been raised on this sled and there was no way in hell I was going to let the weather beat me.

The spruce trees lining each side of the trail were pale ghosts through the thick flakes, swaying in the wind. Sounds carried differently in the heart of the forest, even the calls of the other racers faded until it almost seemed as though there was no one else on earth but my team and me.

"Haw!" I said, leaning my sled into the left turn as the dogs kicked up snow from the well-used race trail. The scent of the pack was warm and welcome despite the snowflakes landing on my face.

Ahead of me, the ghost image of another team appeared and the dogs surged in response, flying over the snow.

"Trail!" I said, calling to the musher, pushing my dogs to pass as the other rider pulled over and secured his team. I cast a glance over my shoulder, waving, as the calls of a third team caught the wind and carried to me, far behind and not likely to catch up, not now.


  1. I like the imagery you've begun to create, though I wish there were more sensory descriptions of the weather: the cold, the biting snow, etc. I don't "feel" cold like I usually do when I'm reading about a snowy environment.

    The big problem I'm having is with the first line. It doesn't have much impact, and it seems extraneous.

    The idea of the story is intriguing, though, and I wonder where the plot to kill the president comes in, so I'd probably read on.

  2. The first line takes the power away from the narrator and gives it all to the weather... that said, the imagery about the trees, snow, and trail is pretty fantastic.

    I don't know what a musher is - dog or person? - so that threw me out of the story a little bit.

    I'd read on. I love the idea of the story as set up in your logline.

  3. Your scene is exciting. I really loved it, and the unusual place you took me, but I worry you may have started at the wrong place, because of your logline. I sense the race isn't the inciting incident. Just food for thought: You know how agents want to see and feel the change that propels the hero onto a different, life altering path and how they want at least a hint of that up front on the first page (or two)??!! If you consider this, I recommend Hooked by Edgerton. A great book on writing in any case.

    Hooked on the premise.

  4. I liked the premise, and the opening about the snow intrigued me, but then it never changed. It was mostly snow and dogs. I would read on, to give it a chance, but I feel like something more could have happened.

  5. Totally hooked - I just got the shivers, thinking about that kind of snow! Small nitpick - if the wind is blowing in his face, then how can he hear the team behind him?

  6. I would have passed on your log line. It's too generic, I think. You need something there that says your story is different from other 'kids saving the world/president' stories.

    I liked the piece better than the logline. The different locale caught me, and I've always had a thing for the far north. Based on that alone, I'd give you a few more pages.

    The biggest issue here for me was the writing. There are a lot of little slip-ups that are easily fixed, but make me question whether or not I should read on.

    The snow wasn't helping//wasn't helping what?

    But at sixteen, I'd been raised on this sled and there was no way in hell I was going to let the weather beat me.//cut 'at sixteen' and get the age in somewhere else.

    pale ghosts//redundant

    "Haw!" I said//The exclamation point says he did more than say it.

    "Trail" I said, calling to the musher//same thing as above. Try, "Trail!" I called to the musher.

    As I said, they're all nitpicky things and easy enough to fix, but if I'm busy looking at all these little distracting things, it stops me from seeing the big picture. I'm wondering about your technical ability rather than the content of your story.

  7. I liked this a lot but stumbled a bit on your phrasing. Things like 'almost to the whiteout point' and 'until it almost seemed as though' could be simplified but I suspect those details will be considered in future drafts. I love an outdoor adventure story and this one is off to a great start. :-)

  8. I piloted a dogsled once, and your writing brought it right back to me. The smell of the snow; the wind, the silence, the dogs' feet crunching in the snow. Your descriptios are a bit redundant, but a pass for excess words should clear that right up.

    This opening gives me an image of a strong, resourceful MC. I would certainly be interested to see how he handles the situation in your pitch.

  9. Love the sled dogs!

    But not quite hooked. "The snow wasn't helping" didn't hook me into the story or give me a great image of what was happening. It didn't give me a character, either. I did, however, get into the story more once you revealed the character is in a race and there are SLED DOGS!