Friday, November 28, 2014

(46) YA Contemporary: THE MIND TAMER

TITLE: The Mind Tamer
GENRE: YA Contemporary

A teenage boy seeking to win back the love of his life develops telekinesis, only to discover a shadowy conspiracy of telekinetics that he alone can prevent from taking control of the world.

She walked into Biology as the bell rang but didn’t look at me.

She’d never done that before.

I closed my eyes. Rosie, I thought, look at me. But when I opened my eyes, she was talking to the girl behind her, oblivious to my mental plea.

Our teacher, Ms. Styborne, was reviewing the procedures for dissecting the frogs that had been delivered that morning.

“Matt,” she said. I looked up. “You and Pedro will pith the frogs, then distribute them to the teams.”

I nodded. We were her lab assistants, chosen because we’d do her dirty work. Our more squeamish classmates objected to certain procedures, so we had to perform them in the teacher’s lab, a small room behind the whiteboard at the front of the class.

Another glance at Rosie. She was staring at the wall, as if the Animal Kingdoms poster that had been there all year was suddenly fascinating. I scribbled a note: What’s up? I folded it, wrote a capital R on the outside, and passed it to the kid who sits next to me. It would pass through seven hands before reaching Rosie. Styborne had separated me and Rosie the first week in class. We figured Syborne, who lived alone, couldn’t stand seeing young couples in love.

Pedro and I walked toward the lab. He went through the door but I looked back. Rosie received my note but she didn’t unfold it. Instead, she wrote something on the outside and passed it back.


  1. What did Rosie write?

    Another YA that hooked me, forcing me to read on. I don't usually enjoy YA, so this is a huge compliment. Well done!

  2. Love the premise for this one and the fact that Rosie didn't need to open the note to read it was really intriguing. I also liked the biology class setting that helped build the atmosphere.

  3. I like the modern feel to this and it's nice to read from a boy's perspective in a genre that has more girl perspective books, but I think if you let us in a little to what exactly the conflict is you might grab the reader a little more.

    Specifically with Rosie. Why are they fighting? I really wanted at least a hint, because I didn't even know who Rosie was to him (a girlfriend, a friend, a stranger) and I wanted to know more.

  4. I found your pitch a little confusing but your first page has good voice. I'm left wondering what Rosie wrote on the note, but I'm not sure if starting in class was the right choice or not. I'm still not sure why that moment is important. I'd be willing to read on to find out. I wish you luck in Baker's Dozen.

  5. Your pitch has me wondering HOW he developed telekinesis.

    This is one of those times I actually wanted a little MORE voice. There's a slight formality to the writing

    I also wonder if this is best possible place for the book to start? It might be the simple struggle of only getting one page, but aside from his mental plea to Rosie, there was nothing that screamed why this particular setting/scene/moment were important, and I wonder if there's a stronger way to plunge us in, since the concept IS really cool.

  6. I thought this was a bit slow, not because of the content, but because of the writing. It feels like writing, as opposed to a MG kid. Maybe reconsider words like oblivious, and reviewing procedures.

    Cut explanations (all of parg 6 except for 'I nodded.) It can be assumed and it doesn't matter since you don't take us into the room and show us what they're doing.

    Change the passive writing to active. Rephrase all the 'was ---ing' sentences by eliminating the 'was' and changing the 'ing' words to 'ed' words. And don't talk to the reader.

    Also, rephrase your first sentence. As is, the bell isn't looking at him. Try, The bell rang and she walked into Biology. She didn't look at me.

  7. Agree that there are a few things that could be cut or streamlined. For example, 'passed it to the kid who sits next to me,' could just be passed it to the kid next to me.' Picky, but if you apply throughout your writing, it will read cleaner.

    My main concern is the premise - boy develops power and only he can save the world. It has to be done right or else it will seem like many other stories that have gone before. Wondering if Rosie is threatened by these other telekinetics or if they come after him? Needs to be more specific to Matt and why he would risk his life.

  8. Nitpick. YA is not a genre. Maybe Contemporary Fantasy or Sci Fi depending on how he gets his powers.
    There are some issues with phrasing and tense I noticed, but I was interested throughout. I think other commenters got most of it—rephrasing the first line, and a similar issue with another line further down (It says “procedures for dissecting the frogs that had been delivered that morning” so it sounds like the PROCEDURES arrived that morning, instead of the frogs), getting rid of the “was” –ing phrasing as you can, “Another glance at Rosie” looks like it might be a present/past tense issue and so on... I liked some of the backstory stuff though, so I wouldn’t recommend that you cut it all even if it IS “telling,” it gives some voice.
    I wish I knew a little bit more about the characters relationship and why they were fighting, but that might be asking too much for the first page. Best of luck with this!

  9. Nice title! I was a little confused by the pitch. I wondered how trying to win back the love of his life is connected to developing telekinesis--or is it? But it sounds cool!

    I got an immediate sense of the tension between the MC and Rosie, so that was good. I'm definitely curious about what's going on between them and what she wrote on the note. Plus, I'm also curious about how this all fits in with the pitch above. That being said, as others mentioned, I do wonder about this scene as a starting point, but I would keep reading to see if something happens pretty soon. Maybe those frogs are important??

    Good luck!

  10. This is a cool concept, and I love the tension you set up between Rosie and Matt. That cliffhanger really had me wanting to know what was going on between them and what would happen next!

    I did question whether this should be labelled as contemporary. In the current market, contemporary usually implies the story Will be firmly realistic and won't contain any elements of the supernatural. It sounds like the telekinesis will play a large part here, so I would classify this as either contemporary fantasy or sci-fi (depending on how Matt obtains his powers).

    I also wonder if this is best way to start. A biology class backdrop feels like a fairly well-trod YA trope (I immediately thought of Twilight) - is there a fun and interesting place to start that can really play up the great tension between the characters without relying on a more typical setting?

    I love that you introduce such great tension on the very first page - this has a lot of potential. Good luck!

  11. This comment has been removed by the author.

  12. Hi
    I'm your tweet diva for the contest.
    Good Luck!