Friday, November 6, 2015


TITLE: The End and Everything After
GENRE: YA Contemporary Fantasy

When Aura Lea and her boyfriend attempted to take their own lives they never thought one of them would survive. As Aura Lea struggles to pick up the pieces of her life, she receives a cryptic message from her dead boyfriend, postmarked a few days before his death, leading her to believe that what happened that night was not a suicide pact, but something else.

Time. It's what I'd been told would make all of this bearable.

But time had moved forward and left me behind.

As I stood at the end of E Hall contemplating my limited options, I realized I only had two choices: go to class, present a brave facade and face my jury or hide. The bell rang and my feet remained planted hard in the ground. Maybe tomorrow.

As a stampede of people pushed their way past me, I let myself get caught up in the forward momentum. The crowd veered right toward the bungalows. I turned to the left and pushed my way out.

Knowing that I needed a place to hang out for the rest of the day, I took off toward the gym. At the end of the hall, just past the locker rooms, I came to the equipment room. It was the only place on campus where I could go and truly be by myself.  I tested the knob and then took out my keys from my backpack and found the one I'd painted burnt orange to match the door. I took one last look to make sure no one was coming and then slipped in. The fluorescent lights flickered as the small ten by ten foot room filled with light. The familiar smell of damp concrete and chalk made me uneasy, but I knew the alternative was much worse.

I looked around and quickly noticed things were different. The change was subtle, but for someone who spent as much time in here as I had, it was obvious.


  1. Nice setup. I have to say the logline didn't interest me, but I started reading and the writing pulled me in. The narrator feels real, as do her choices. And the orange key raises a good question. So now I want to read it!

  2. Love the premise! It sounds like a dark contemporary, but you're calling it fantasy, so that intrigues me. I like the set up and would definitely read on. You could tighten everything up by removing filter words. Example: "I looked around and quickly noticed" would have more impact as: "Wait a minute. Things were different. (then list a couple of differences) It was subtle, but it seems time had moved on in the equipment room too." Or something. In first person you don't want to slow the action with looked, saw, realized, thought--just skip to what they saw. Good luck!

  3. I love the premise and your opening line. It's relatable, and I immediately want to know what has made your MC's life unbearable. Instead of spending so much time describing the school, could you get in more information about why your MC wants to hide? Also, I found the sentence with her choice a little confusing. Perhaps a comma after jury would set off the long clause more distinctly from "or hide."
    Great start! Good luck Tuesday.

  4. I'm intrigued by the premise, but unfortunately this first page is not as compelling as it could be, in my opinion. The narrator does not interact with anyone or anything, so it reads a bit dull, even though the writing is pretty solid. She's moving around through halls and into rooms, but we don't really know what's going on yet or why we should care. On the first page, a good way to draw in the reader is to show the viewpoint character interacting with someone or with something actively happening around her. We get to know the character immediately by seeing how she reacts to people and things. We will be more interested in reading a character's story once we get to know them. So we need to see who they are on page one, see if they are a character we want to read about. This opening doesn't really show me who she is. However I do love the concept in your brief pitch before the story opens, so I think this has potential. Good luck!

  5. Nice emotional arc. I wasn't sure what E Hall was, but learned later it's on campus, so I imagined this was university, but this is YA so I realized this is high school. I wonder how easy it is for her to skip classes. However, nice premise. I suggest you change the way you start the paragraphs: "as" "as" "knowing". In the paragraph before the last, a lot of sentences start with "I". Good luck.

  6. Interesting premise! Like someone else mentioned, I think you could remove some of the filter words to make things more immediate. Also, a comma in the choice sentence before the "or" (go to class, present a brave facade and face my jury, or hide) would make it flow a little better. I'm curious how this is a fantasy and what's different about the equipment room. Good luck!

  7. hi! I was very intrigued by your logline, it definitely leaves me wanting to know more. So I think that if I'd read it on the back cover of your book, it wouldn't bother me that a suicidal teenager is alone and in her own head, without interacting with others right off the bat, but that's just me. I think your opening sentence is really strong, and the dark tone of the story is quite clear from the get-go.

    As for things that made me stumble, I found "E Hall" and "bungalows" confusing, in terms of a school setting. They made me stop and go "huh?" and so that slowed the pace for me.

    Also "took out my keys from my backpack" - this is a bit awkward, maybe either removing "out" or else saying "took my keys out of/from my backpack" would read more smoothly.

    Finally, I think ten by ten foot room should be hyphenated: ten-by-ten-foot room

    good luck!

  8. Your logline is really good – on your premise alone I would read this book. I love the mystery and sadness implied.

    And your first line even better. It sets a mood for the entire novel that matches your premise. Well done.

    Your writing style is easy to read and enjoyable. You set the scene well and show that your MC is struggling with something akin to depression – this makes the reader want to know more. Why is she sad? Why is she hiding? The only thing I could suggest for improvement is taking out a few of your filtering words, like Stephanie C suggested above – words like “realize” “look” “notice”. This would make the story a little more immediate.

    But overall I really enjoyed reading this and would like to read more. Good luck!

  9. I like the premise of your story.

    I'm not sure about the verb tense but somehow "time had moved on" sounds a bit odd - maybe "time has moved on" ?

    Like some of the others I find the school setting odd - "bungalows" sounds more like a college (and with YA it could be) but the lockers in the hall puts it back in high school.

    Instead of "contemplating limited options" - just say what they are. I agree with Stephanie C - take out "realize" etc. Just say what you want to say: boom, boom, boom.

    And hallways can be pretty vicious - not sure she'd be ducking anything by standing by her locker instead of going to a class where a teacher is in charge.

    You end on an intriguing note. I'd like to read more!

  10. To be honest, by the log line, this is not the type of novel I'd want to read. Not that it much matters as everyone has different tastes. That being said, I did find your opening compelling. The MC didn't come off morose and dark as I would have thought by the log line. She seemed normal, in a good, relatable way. I found myself sympathizing with her, so well done!
    Good luck!

  11. I have so many questions because I want to know what happened and what happens. Great premise. However, if I hadn't read the logline, I wouldn't have been drawn in with my questions. If you introduce the boyfriend's name or a hint of what happened, otherwise it sounds like she's just running from class or homework or anything else.

  12. I work in the mental health field, so I would be keen to see how you treat the aftermath of the boyfriend/girlfriend suicide and suicide attempt, and her reactions to surviving when he did not.

    Also, minor gripe, but I note a lot of writers have the 'classroom' scene as the penultimate test of how people will react to them after a major event, but when I was in school, just having students swarm around me - the judgements and reactions of others (or my perceptions of them) would have already been taking place. I realise the classroom is a confined space, but there would be her fellow students passing her already in the hall. She even gets drawn along with them, so I'd make it clearer that she is already feeling watched/judged. That could then add to her urgency to get out and get to the gym.

    I agree that I'd introduce the boyfriend's name, so we are not just following her through the school for several paragraphs. In fact, you could probably get her there quicker, so we are learning of unexpected changes to that room sooner and something more than just her discomfort is pulling us along.

  13. The log line drew me in. The excerpt, not so much. If I didn't have the log line, I wouldn't have any clue as to what was happening except that the MC wants to hide for some reason. Perhaps, get in the reason she wants to hide. Not knowing doesn't make me want to read on to find out why. It's just annoying. However, if I know this girl and her boyfriend had a suicide pact and he died, and she didn't, that would pull me in. Perhaps get that on the page.

  14. I thought the logline was intriguing. I don't mind that we don't know exactly what's going with the MC here - it's page one, for Pete's sake. It's obvious that something terrible has happened to her, and she wants to avoid everyone. Some things to consider -

    "Bungalows" confused me - are there schools that call their buildings bungalows?

    This paragraph - "As I stood at the end of E Hall contemplating my limited options" is a little disjointed. She has two choices, both of which require her moving. I think it might be better to give her two choices and then start moving toward her class with the crowd, then say "Maybe tomorrow" and head to her hiding spot.

    Do the other kids not know what's happened? No one in the halls seem to be staring at her, whispering, etc.

    I don't write in first person often, but I think what Stephanie C. said is true - many actions and transitions that have to be described in third person are unnecessary and clunky in first.

    I'm interested about the fantasy elements of this and, of course, the reason for the suicide pact. Good luck!

  15. The logline was interesting, but don't really think the first 250 really caught my attention. It just seemed a little bland. I'd continue reading because of the logline though.

  16. Creepy logline. Makes me want to read.

    I'd break the two choices up by numbers—One: go to class... Two: hide (or find some other way to better separate them). The way it's written, my brain read go to class as the first choice and started reading present a brave facade as the second choice... and then just got confused when I read what looked like two additional options. It took a second to sort it out.

    But I liked the indecision about going to class and facing her jury. I can definitely feel the survivor guilt.

    "bungalows" threw me at first, but I reasoned it meant some kind of temporary classrooms.

    I'm getting mixed signals toward the end. The equipment room is the only place she can truly be herself, yet the familiar smells made her uneasy.... is there a reason for that? Curious about the change she notices, so I'd read on.

  17. I agree with Barbara. The logline drew me in and the excerpt didn't. I wouldn't read on with this excerpt. It doesn't draw the reader in or talk about her problem. I think a good 1st page gives the problem, setting and the MS's voice. Writing in 1st person, you have the opportunity to pull the reader in with emotion and language. Show us her emotion. How does she feel? Perhaps start with when she receives the message from her dead boyfriend. You can always have her think of memories to show the backstory. I think you have a good logline/idea you just have to start in a different area.

  18. "As I stood at the end of E Hall contemplating my limited options, I realized I only had two choices: go to class, present a brave facade and face my jury or hide." This sentence doesn't work for me. Maybe eliminate "choices?"

    The beginning of the second to last paragraph lacks interest, because it just seems like you're listing different rooms that she's walking past and into. Try more description other than the names of the rooms...or eliminate it altogether if it's not essential to the story.

    Good job!