Pitch G- The Packing House

The Packing House
YA Contemporary
82,000

Query:
Sixteen-year-old Joel Scrivener’s nightmares are back and worse than ever. Living a duplicitous life complicates everything but it’s also how he’s survived. Since he’s not sleeping at night he finds himself nodding off in school. When he falls asleep in study hall he doesn’t expect to have a nightmare in front of everyone, nor does he expect it to be recorded. When his brother Jonathan starts slipping him Mϕnster drinks to overcome his lack of sleep Joel thinks his brother’s being nice. Or is he?

When Jonathan sets up a viral attack on Joel he unintentionally lets out family secrets even Joel doesn’t know how far back or how deep they span. Joel must face his problems and overcome them or lose everything important to him, including his one chance to prove to Amber Walker he’s not broken. She’s the only anchor he’s got left. To make matters worse his memory is choppy at best, which sabotages Joel’s efforts to get to the root cause.

As Joel’s life twists through an unrelenting course before him, Joel struggles to hold onto anything important. This includes his long distance relationship with Amber and his deteriorating sophomore year grades. Coupled with finding out who the root cause of his nightmare-inducing problem is, and discovering the real reason he was hospitalized after his parents separated, Joel is on a fast track through a barrage of trouble. Too bad Joel’s solutions—a 911 call, multiple fights (some with his brother), a beginner smoking habit, a runaway attempt, and a school break-in—land him in psychological evaluations. Even worse? The root cause is only the beginning. When the cops show up, Joel must dig deep to tap into toughness he never realized he had beyond his outer shell. He’s going to need it if he hopes to steer the heart of Amber Walker away from her current boyfriend, or risk losing her forever.

First 150 Words:
1 | Monster
My brother’s being nice to me all of a sudden.
Either that or he’s trying to get me in trouble.
I mean to find out which one.
The tell-tale sign? This morning he gave me a forbidden Mϕnster drink he stole from the fridge. One of the jerks my mother dates stashes them at our place, but they’re off limits for us. Like police lights rolling red-blue-red-blue from every reflective surface off limits. Doesn’t mean we haven’t pinched a few.
I’ll probably join him since I drank it. I’ve gotta do something. Sleep’s the main thing I can’t handle with these nightmares getting worse.
I corner him in our sparse room pinning him to the wall. Not like he has anywhere to hide behind crates that are makeshift furniture and mattresses on the floor for beds. The smell of tuna hits me like an uppercut. That and the fight just isn’t in me, but I can’t let him know that.

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7 thoughts about "Pitch G- The Packing House"

  • I think I’m interested in this story, but the query is so confusing I’m not sure. Early on I thought Jonathan was the bad guy, but by the end, I wasn’t sure if that was right or not. There are family secrets, but do they revolve around Jonathan or someone else who isn’t named? And I’m not sure how Amber fits in. It kind of feels like she’s a token love interest because a YA book has to have romance in it.

    I think you have too much going on in the query and really need to focus in on what Joel’s central problem is, and how he’s going to try and solve it.

  • Pat Esden says:

    There’s some interesting, cool stuff going on in this story. But it’s hard to tell from the query what the main thread of the story is. Is it the girl friend, the nightmares or the Monster drink? I think if you revealed a bit more about what’s going on backstage, then the query will draw the reader in more.

    Why is having your nightmares recorded a bad thing? What happens when he dreams which is so different? Exactly what do you mean by ‘duplicitious life’.

    All said, I’m dying to know what’s really going on with the Monster drinks–and the title makes me even more curious.

  • Jen says:

    I have to agree with the other two commenters. I think there is something here that I’d really like, but I can’t figure out the query. There is so much going on. I think you want to pick out the most important part of the plot and focus on that for the query.

  • Indigo says:

    First, your query and your first 150 words suffer from a severe lack of commas between all the clauses, which would make it read much nicer. There’s lots of tension here, but the plot points are unclear. A duplicitous life, family secrets, his problems, it’s all very vague, nothing specific. And the root cause of what exactly? Be more specific up front. On the other hand, in paragraph 3, you include too much detail that feels superfluous and unimportant. It makes your query way too long, especially once you add the housekeeping. A query should only be one typed page long—250 words max. So hone into the very heart of the conflict only. Get rid of everything else. And make sure the important characters are identified early on. Then make his choice and its consequences clear at the end.

    There’s good voice in the first 150 words, but it’s a bit jumbled and unfocused. What is that first line all about? The police car analogy doesn’t quite fit really. Use the proper form of the word Monster, even though it’s a brand name. If I were you, I’d start off with the effect so little sleep has on Joel then include those details that give it so much voice.

  • Writerlicious says:

    Hopefully you understand what we’re all trying to say here. Make us feel it right here in your query/first page. You’ve got good characters and a lot of potential, and for all I know, you’ve filled in all the right stuff within the story itself. But you’ve got to show it here FIRST! Easy peasy, right? *Sigh*

  • Juliana says:

    I’m agreeing with the comments that you need to be as clear as possible. Take the first sentences for example: “Sixteen-year-old Joel Scrivener’s nightmares are back and worse than ever. Living a duplicitous life complicates everything but it’s also how he’s survived.” What does that second sentence mean? Yes, in writing, we like to keep our readers in the dark, but the query isn’t the place for that. Have you first sentence relate to your inciting incident: “When Joel Scrivener’s nightmares come back worse than ever he deprives himself of sleep using the Mϕnster drinks his older brother gives him. But as the drinks…”

    One other issue you have is the similarity of the names Joel and Jon. I would highly suggest changing one of them. They look so similar on the page it’s easy to mix them up (trust me, I did this in my first book too and had to go through and change everyone’s names!)

    Hit me up if you need anything! And be sure to stop by the blog tomorrow for the birthday giveaway!

  • Terri K. Rowe says:

    I like that you will be exploring the siblings relationship as part of your novel. These early relationships do so much to shape are perspectives and our abilities with future relationships.

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