Friday, November 30, 2012

(60) YA Paranormal: Power Struggles

TITLE: Power Struggles
GENRE: YA Paranormal

A revenge-seeking sixteen-year-old attends boot camp to master her telekinesis and protect herself against psyfons—the power-draining psychics responsible for killing her father. Once there, she catches the attention of Jonas, the gorgeous junior trainer whose very presence makes her dizzy and distracted. Could the boy she’s falling for be one of the monsters who killed her father?

Over the past hour, the girl next to me had ignited several small fires with her bare hands.
Our destination was Camp Awakening. Our purpose: to master our powers in two weeks. Get it right, you could end up a hero. Get it wrong, you could end up dead.

I wish I were kidding about the dead part.

I stared at the smoke drifting from the girl’s fingertips. Sure, it was freakishly entertaining, but we didn’t need open flames while crammed into a non-air-conditioned school bus on a sticky July day with nearly fifty other sixteen-year-olds. And it wasn’t like she was the only one on board who could do it.
“Stop it, Erika, you’re gonna get us in trouble,” a girl across the aisle whispered. “There’s no smoking on the bus.”
“Or burning,” I added.           

Erika rubbed her fingertips on her charred jeans and smirked. “What are they gonna do, toss me off? It’s up to them to make sure we get ‘proper’ training,” she said, adding the air quotes. “And I obviously can’t control my power at the moment.”

Power. As in the singular form.

“Hey blondie,” the guy in front of me turned around. “I think you’re hot, too."

I frowned. “Excuse me?”

“I can read you.” He winked.

“You can?” I glared at him and fought off a wave of panic. “How about now?”

“Let’s see.” He shut his eyes for a second. “You think I’m… super dreamy?”

A girl behind me giggled.


  1. Adorable! Love the voice:
    "I wish I were kidding about the dead part." That line made me fall in love.
    My only suggestion would be to make it "the girl next to me on the bus..." in the first line, because I felt a little disoriented there and that would make the situation clearer from the get-go IMO. But that's a small detail. I like this!

  2. I think this is really good. The writing's clean and easy to read, you get straight into the action, I want to know what's going to happen at the camp and there's a nice light bit of humour. Also, if I hadn't read the logline, I'd be dying to know what the MC's power is. Great job!

    The only minor suggestions I would make are (a) the genre sounds like SFF rather than paranormal, and (b) the first paragraph doesn't quite work for me, the sentences are a little staccato and it doesn't quite flow as well as the rest.

    Good luck!

  3. I actually enjoyed the first line! It wasn't aggressively trying to get my attention, like some lines where someone gets stabbed or something, and kept my attention. I think your MC's voice is killer so far. I'm assuming soon in this manuscript you get to her power, because I did a double take at the "I can read you," part, and I'd forgotten about the ability you mention in the pitch.

    Good luck!

  4. I agree with the first comment about mentioning the bus or perhaps "riding next to me". You stated a destination but not how they were travening until a paragraph or two later.

    I WOULD READ THIS! Great work on capturing the teens voices.

  5. I love the first paragraph. They are the hardest to write, so much pressure to get the hook right out of the gate, but you did it! Can't wait to see this on the store shelf. :)

  6. I think the voice is terrific--speaks to the YA target market without writing down to them. I was hooked from the first line on through. I'd definitely read on.

  7. I gravitate immediately toward the mention of boot camp, because it's a cool setting, even if it doesn't always turn out how I expect.

    Once we get to the pages, I'm a little thrown by the opening. I want to be grounded a scene, and while pyromancy is certainly cool, I want to hear about the bus first.

    Then when we get to the cute boy, it seems to come out of left field. With this being first person narrative, why does she not mention that's she admiring him before he mentions that he can read her?

    That said, I agree with others: the voice is fun, with just the right hint of sarcasm, and you can relate to the character right away, which is great.

    Good luck!

  8. So fun! I absolutely would've kept reading--you've hooked me with by hinting at danger, the fact that our narrator probably has multiple powers, and the flirting scene. Nice job!

  9. I'm interested right away. I agree that we need to know she's on a bus, a quick fix. I like the mystery started with the line Power. As in singular form. That means some of them probably have more.

  10. I love the voice in this! And the dialogue feels very authentic!

    I definitely think a little bit of setting in the first paragraph would be helpful. As someone already stated, a simple "on the bus" would suffice.

    Also, I'd like to know how she feels about going to this camp; I can't really tell by what you have here. Is she dreading it? Was she forced? Is she looking forward to it? Did she choose to go? I know it's only 250 words, but I think you could infuse a bit of emotion (bitterness/excitement) to show the reader how she's feeling.

    All in all, well done and good luck!

  11. You really capture the teen voice here-- I kinda want to smack the boy who can 'read' minds, which I'm pretty sure is what she's feeling. Like the others, I'd like it a bit more grounded in the first paragraph.

    And what is she setting on fire, anyway-- her jeans?

  12. Like many others, I love the voice in this. The writing completely hooked me.  Great dialogue! I didn't have an issue with the first paragraph--it worked for me. 

  13. This definitely feels like a teen character - nice job finding a terrific voice. I like the first line.

    Would a teen say, "toss me off?"

    Is "super dreamy" what she was actually thinking? Because that didn't seem in character for her. If she was embarrassed that he could read her thoughts, I would imagine something spunkier.

    Overall this is an excellent start!
    Good luck in the auction.

  14. dominic.dinere@judiciary.state.nj.usDecember 3, 2012 at 2:03 PM

    I really love this book. The writing is very good, great flow, great hook. Can't wait to see it on the shelves! The only thing that makes me wonder... is how on earth did an agent not snatch you up yet??? I honestly really can't wait to read it.

  15. I love this, and I would MOST DEFINITELY call it sci-fi over paranormal. You don't want that label if you can avoid it.

    For some reason the charred jeans bothered me, and i think it's because I stopped to picture it. The rest of the details are amazing, and I'm on that bus with the characters. A trip I'd like to take!

    Great work!

  16. I like the voice in this piece, and the situation kept my attention. Great start. I'd like to find out what happens at this camp. Intriguing concept. Good luck!

  17. Love the concept. As others have noted, you may want to update the teen voice a bit (ie, "dreamy.") I also felt that the first graph is more telling than showing. We don't know who the person speaking is and don't know whether to care about her. (We know from your tagline, of course.)

    I did find your tagline a bit confusing as you start with the revengeful teen, go right into the (cool) setting and then bring in the love interest. Why does she think he is involved with killing her dad? And what does the revengeful teen want to do resolve her dad's death and any consequences for doing so? I know these taglines are murder, and you have lots you want to bring in.

    I love the idea and the writing is good, IMHO.

  18. This is breezy, self-assured writing, and I think it sets the stage well for this novel. I understand where I am with the main character, as well as where I’m going and why. To pull all of that off in your first 250 words, is quite remarkable.

    There are some brass tacks things I’d suggest to tighten this. Cut the air quotes bit. It’s implied, and even if it weren’t, I always find that annoying and a sign of a writer not yet comfortable with molding language to his or her will. You’re too polished for that.

    The smoking lines are pun-ny and pithy, but make sure you don’t go overkill on them. What’s smart can quickly become taxing if overdone, and it loses its impact. As the greats say, “less is more.”

    I don’t entirely get where the mind reading bit is going, though I’m sure that will pan out in future. I just threw me that the sample ended on a character outside the conversation giggling. I’d much prefer to stay in the repartee between your main character and the relentless flirt.

    And I think if you can call this sci-fi or even speculative, I’d favor that over paranormal. Paranormal’s a groan word in the industry right now, to be used sparingly. A strong start to a story with an X-men-y kind of vibe. I’d love to see where this ends up going.

  19. I love this concept. And I, too, especially love the line "I wish I was kidding about the dead part."- so simple and really captures the voice. Good luck! I'm rooting for this one!

  20. so, let's start this bidding at 5 pages.

  21. Tricia Lawrence of Erin Murphy LiteraryDecember 4, 2012 at 11:07 AM

    25 pages

  22. Tricia Lawrence of Erin Murphy LiteraryDecember 4, 2012 at 11:27 AM