Friday, November 30, 2012

(52) YA Contemporary: Rip Her to Shreds

TITLE: Rip Her to Shreds
GENRE: YA Contemporary

When her all-girl band the Wretched Gretchens goes on tour, seventeen-year-old Charlie sings goodbye to the crush all her songs are about and hello to the rock star lifestyle. Between eardrum-splitting shows and heart-thumping parties, Charlie struggles with the increasing distance between her bandmates — and what happens when she’s the only one who wants to go home.

There were at least eleven ways she could screw this up, and as she death-marched from the greenroom to the stage, Charlie counted them all. 

One: drop the mic. 

Two: trip on a cord. 

Three through ten: accidentally-on-purpose forget the lyrics to her songs. 

And finally: faint and do a major face-plant into the first row, try to pass it off as an attempt at crowd-surfing and desperately hope someone would catch her. 

She could probably get away with two through ten. Her band might not even fully blame her. But sabotage was the wrong way to tell them she didn’t want to win, and Charlie wasn’t exactly the crafty type. Besides, number eleven sounded absolutely mortifying, and no one except middle-aged men who refused to believe punk was over really crowd-surfed anymore.

Deep breaths, six/eight time. Charlie glanced at her half-bitten nails before pushing back the stage curtain. She inched to the front, lifting a hand to her eyes as the lights changed from dim to destroy-your-corneas blinding.

Next to her, Roxanne plugged in a guitar. “Stop looking like you’re going to puke,” she said, swishing her long hair over her shoulder. “We’re going to kill it.” 

It only took four cracks of the drumsticks and a crunch of gritty power chords for Charlie to believe her. Then came the bass, shaking her feet and pounding up her spine, forcing her heart to thump with it. The microphone waited, and Charlie flexed her fingers around it, enjoying its coldness against her skin.


  1. This concept sounds really fun. I love band books. It reminds me a bit of The Disenchantments (which I loved). Here are a few nit picks that can help with the voice:

    In the log line, I got stuck on this part. It's fine grammar and structure wise--I just kept getting stuck on the "what binds" part: she struggles with what binds the Gretchens beyond catchy hand-clap choruses

    Opening is great--but I'd add a tiny bit of description when you intro each character.
    Things like: Charlie glanced down at her half-bitten nails or Roxanne brushed her shaggy, red hair out of her face before plugging in her guitar. It helps deepen the introduction.

    Good luck at auction!

  2. Nice idea. The writing in the last paragraph is strong. In fact I'd suggest starting everything at "Deep breaths.." The lines before that are probably a case of too many thoughts, not enough action. I know loglines are killers but I thought the last part of the logline about getting back was a bit too vague. Good luck

  3. I liked this, especially the last paragraph. The 'catchy hand claps' part of the log line seemed a little different style of music than the 'gritty power cords' so my expectations were a little different.

  4. This is fun, it's nice to see something different from the usual high school or fantasy settings. I like that we're already in her head and I'd read on to find out why she doesn't want to win.

    Suggestions: I like the first line but I'd cut it at 'screw this up' and go straight into the list to make it punchier. You could put the bit about walking to the stage later, perhaps 'Deep breaths, six/eight time. Charlie marched to the stage, pushed back the stage curtain...'

    I also agree with the suggestions Valerie made about maybe adding description, and that the end of the logline is a bit vague.

    Good luck!

  5. I too was confused by the hand-clap references to what appeared a more grittier sound. I'd also really like some sensory feel of the walk to the the stage.

    you have some great description...i enjoyed the reference to middle-aged crowd surgers and dim to destroy your corneas blinding

    intrigued by idea of girl rock band, would keep reading.

  6. I've seen this in another contest & it started differently. I like this opening better! This is so voicey, and the quick descriptions make me feel as if I'm tagging along with the band. I liked the beginning two paragraphs - it sets up a conflict and makes me want to know why Charlie doesn't want to win.

    I'm with the others on the disconnect between the logline and the excerpt re what type of music the Gretchens play.

    A part of me always wanted to be a rock star, so I'd snap this up in a heartbeat. :) Best of luck!

  7. I love this! I've been a fan since reading it in another contest. I think this opening works well, especially the countdown as she's moving to the stage, and the mention of sabotage. I like that her breaths reference musical time signatures. A few more character descriptions could creep in here to show Charlie or Roxanne a bit, as someone else suggested.

    I also like how the premise is different than high school set YA, however, I am curious if this is a summer tour or if she's graduated already. This is super nitpikcy, but maybe it's worth noting in the pitch it's a summer vacation tour, or a tour after graduation to give a little more context for her age and place in life. Good luck!

  8. I like a lot of the phrasing ("destroy-your-corneas blinding"), and I think a story about a girl rock band could be cool. But the premise already leaves me disinterested in the main character, because it seems like she has a rather negative goal: to not be a rock star. She wants to stop her band from performing and go home, right? It's hard for me to get excited by that goal.

  9. The logline is a little vague for my liking, and the stakes don't feel really high. But I really like the opening, even thought it's hard to like such a negative MC.

  10. I love this! The writing is fantastic and I really like the details (i.e. "half-bitten nails"). Great voice, too!

    Good luck with this!

  11. I was actually intrigued by why she wants to go home. Maybe for us to really understand that we need the reason in the log line?
    Love the descriptions - like the blinding lights! What about the crowd? What does she hear??

    I have to agree with the person who mentioned that there seemed to be a bit too much internal thoughts there in the first few paragraphs. I also agree, maybe starting with her breathing and then counting down her reasons she might screw up. I think it would get the reader to the action faster? IMO.
    Also agree with something a little more descriptive about her bandmate. Bands= at least three other characters and for us to keep them straight we'll need those (JK Rowling - I used her as reference since she was the master at simple one word descriptors that set every single one of her multitude of characters seperate.) one line descriptors to keep them straight.
    Other than those little things, I like the story and girl bands rock!
    Good Luck!

  12. You caught the nervousness before a performance perfectly. As someone who forgot memorized words before every choir concert, I completely sympathize. You got the voice down.

    Little nitpick: there are a lot of types of microphone, and most I've touched have hard, gritty plastic bases that barely feel room temperature. And if they aren't first in this contest, it wouldn't feel cool any more.

  13. I saw this logline previously and was hoping this entry would show up in this contest b/c I loved the premise.

    I think my biggest comment is around the moment where she steps onto the stage. Something is off/missing there for me--would she really inch to the front of the stage? I'd like to get a sense of the energy in the room at that moment--is the crowd cheering in expectation, or is it crickets? I love the energy of your logline (eardrum-splitting shows, heart-thumping parties) and would love to see some of it translated here.

    I did find it very intriguing that at first you think she is nervous about messing up, and then you realize she's actually trying to think of ways to mess up on purpose. Really interested to see what she ends up deciding to do during the performance.

  14. Hi there!

    Well, it's no secret that this is one of my favorites, but I will try (very hard) not to gush.

    The first several lines is one of the best I've read in a long time. I notice since the last time I've read this that you've broken it up from a larger chunk into separate, standalone paragraphs/one-liners, and I think this was a great decision. It highlights Charlie's panicked internal thoughts and the fact that she's mulling over a series of choices (one worse than the next). I love it.

    This may be an unpopular opinion, but I think all of the internal thoughts are perfect for this first 250. Charlie is basically having a panic attack, and the fact that she's sort of stuck in her own head with this crazy internal debate rings true for me.

    Good luck! I sincerely hope Rip Her to Shreds finds a home! (I've reserved a spot on my bookshelf.)

  15. I liked virtually everything about this. Nit-pick: I think the sentence about middle-aged men and crowd surfing rambles a bit. It took me three times to understand what you meant. Just tighten it up.

    Good luck.

  16. Love your premise - I'd definitely read more. The opening line was a bit long and might work better if you shortened it up.

    Nice job using the setting to give the reader a feel for who Charlie is and what she is doing. I loved the sensory details you used to describe what it feels like for Charlie to be on stage with the band. I felt like I was there!

    Good luck in the auction!

  17. I don't exactly understand what's going on by the end. I know she wants to sabotage when she starts, but does she change her mind?

    I like the details, and I'm definitely with her on the jitters. I *saw* this scene, and that's a great thing. I'd want to keep going to see what Charlie decides!

  18. What immediately worked for me was the list. It’s precise. It gets us right into the setting. It’s self-mocking. I would change the “finally” to “eleven”. I found it jarring that she switches out after she’s been counting. But, of course, that could just be me.

    I’m actually going to go against the masses and say that I’m quite intrigued by the idea of someone maybe not wanting the spotlight, but being torn because expressing that wish means letting others down. But I’m going to agree with Myra McEntire here (hi Myra, my love!) that I was confused by where we ended up, since your main character seems to have shaken off the nerves and thoughts of self-sabotage, and is getting ready to let go and rock out.

    Another thing that has me a little confused from logline to sample is where are we? This seems like a battle of the bands type contest. Is that what launches the Wretched Gretchens on tour? Because we’re coming into the narrative in the middle of action, I’d love some grounding to understand the context for all of this. I think you can sneak in a line just fleshing the significance of the contest out somewhere in here. It can be quite short. But it will give your reader something concrete as he or she moves forward.

  19. A contemporary story——— that rocks!!!!

    Only niggle? I kind of wish the last line ended with Charlie flexed her fingers around it, losing the rest...

    That is all!

    Good luck!

  20. This one really appealed to me. I bid 5 pages!

  21. I messed that one up last time--gotta get to 150!!

  22. Gosh, this is hard!

  23. Oh... then I'm confused... *scratches head*
    So someone did NOT steal that other ms from me on the other thread?

  24. Ami, I messed up--my apologies. I was just looking back, and it said 150 AND five bids, not OR. I should have done 150/Full. You win if you want, or if you want, we can ask for a semi-exclusive...and fight for it later :)

  25. It was a win-win, really--because if you were right then I'd have won that other one I lost. Your semi-exclusive is tempting, but... no. I'll keep my dibs ;)

  26. Okay, I adore you both, and this one goes to Joan.


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