Pitch S- One Step Closer to Nowhere

One Step Closer to Nowhere
YA-Family Drama/Mystery

Petra Wilson is tired. She is tired of listening to everyone else’s problems. She has enough of her own. Her mom is dying, her younger sister is too smart for her own good, and no one knows where her younger brother is right now. Petra’s dad is long gone. Just as well. Petra is working two jobs, cleaning up everyone’s mess, but her own. She longs to leave, to travel, to go to school. There’s a boy, but that may lead to more problems. Everything seems to be pointing in one direction. Is death the easy way out?

Can Petra rely on anyone in her family to help her with the important decisions in her life? As Petra’s options dwindle, she discovers what she and her siblings are really made of and the depth of their love.

First 150 Words:
It’s not that I hate her, not really. It would just be easier if she would die. Her anger consumes her and it’s trying to devour me. It would just be easier if she would die, easier for me, easier for her, easier for everyone. Sometimes, this is the only thought that keeps me going. Someday she will die and I will be free.

It always makes me retch, these big emotional confrontations. I wonder what the neighbors must think as they see me hunched over at the curb, puking down the gutter. To hell with them. They never tried to help us anyway.

I can hear the slam of the screen door; almost hear the flutter as  flakes of paint fly off the sides of the door frame. I’m not getting up. I’m too tired to deal with Ricky’s shit on top of everything else. I don’t think I’m the one we have to worry about taking after her. That’s the nice thing about mental illness, doesn’t care if you’re a man or a woman. Everyone is always watching me, to see if I will become her, but that isn’t the real issue.

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14 thoughts about "Pitch S- One Step Closer to Nowhere"

  • Erin Butler says:

    Your first 150 words are really emotional and I like them a lot! I think your query needs some work though. By reading it, I don’t get a real sense of what the story is about other than the fact that Petra hates her life. What are some plot points? What are the stakes? Is it that Petra is one step away from suicide? Then, I think you need to specifically state that.

    Also, I wouldn’t use a question in a query, but maybe that’s just me. Good luck!!

    • Terri K. Rowe says:

      I do appreciate your comments. I still do have a lot to learn. I think I was hesitant to share too much ahead of time. It didn’t seem prudent to me. I think I understand your suggestions for improving future queries. Thank you! 🙂

  • I just participated in an awesome query clinic and I learned that a query should have one paragraph that can be defined as each of these:
    inciting incident (what is different about this day- like Cinderella gets the invitation to the ball)

    I think your first paragraph introduces us to Petra’s mood and voice. And the second paragraph touches on conflict. I could be wrong but I don’t see the inciting incident. I think adding that would help introduce the plot as Erin suggested above.

    The first 150 proves you can write. The sentence “I wonder what the neighbors must think as they see me hunched over at the curb, puking down the gutter.” It reveals something about Petra and tells the setting all at once.
    Nice work and good luck!

    • Terri K. Rowe says:

      I do need some serious work on query skills and editing skills. This pitch blog fest has been so very helpful for me in learning about all the areas I really need to improve in to better be able to share my writing with others. Thanks for the feed back! 🙂

  • Michelle says:

    Erin and Beth both made great points. What caught my eye was your word count. At 32,000, that’s very short for a YA novel. In my (humble and not-at-all professional) opinion, it may need to be beefed up a little.

    Your first 150 are very emotional, and give a good sense of who Petra is. Good luck!

    • Terri K. Rowe says:

      There are many aspects of writing novels that I still need to work on a great deal. I was not necessarily aware of the cut off point or need to obtain point of at least 50,000 words. Thank you for your help and thank you for taking the time to read this and respond to it! 🙂

  • Writerlicious says:

    I also noticed the 32,000 word count first thing. According to Writer’s Digest, you need at least 50,000 words to stay viable in this genre. The first page was emotional, but I feel like we need to like your protag first before we hear her wishing her mom was dead.

    • Terri K. Rowe says:

      Thank you for your suggestion. I do have much to learn to make my writing more inline with the industry standards—I just didn’t realize how much! Thank you for your feedback. 🙂
      I had based this particular novelization on an award winning screenplay that I wrote. It is very difficult making the transition to a novel. I have much to learn and appreciate all the suggestions I have gotten through GUTGAA! 🙂

  • Indigo says:

    Word count seems way too low. In the query, be careful of using so many gerunds. Use more active forms of the verbs. Her problems hardly seem so drastic as to contemplate death. This query is too short and doesn’t give enough of the story away.

    The 1st 150 are better, but be careful of being repetitive. And be more precise and focused, too. You kind of ramble from the sick mom, to some confrontation, then to the neighbors, then to Ricky before you jump to mental illness. Don’t try to fit too much into such a short space or it feels way too unfocused.

    • Terri K. Rowe says:

      I do appreciate your comments and suggestions. These are all things that I will keep in mind as I go back to do re-writes and editing—a lot of it!
      This story was originally told in a screenplay and the screenplay was a semi-finalist in the BlueCat Fellini contest last year and made it to the top 10% in the Nicholls Fellowship contest this year.
      It is such a very different process to turn a script into a novel-and I do have a lot of work ahead of me-and I can clearly see that fact now. Thank you for your help. 🙂

  • Lauren says:

    I agree with the other comments about the pitch–I found nothing there that indicates what is actually going to happen. Just a lot of conflict, which generally doesn’t make a good story unless it’s FOCUSED conflict. So give us some idea of what it’s focused on.

    The first 150 is full of emotion, but again it’s unfocused emotion. In the first paragraph this works. Not identifying the source of all the pain leaves a question (hook) that draws the reader further into the story.

    However, I think at some point during this first 150 words you need to identify her. You need to give us a target for all the emotion or it just gets spread around like jam on the walls. We’re left wondering if the target is her sister, or Ricky, or this unnamed “other” who is never even identified by relationship.


    • Terri K. Rowe says:

      I do appreciate your suggestion. I was under the mistaken impression that you had the first chapter to do the work of establishing the character. 150 words seems like such a small space to me. My opening paragraphs tend to have at least a hundred words. I certainly have a lot to learn and appreciate all the help I can get. Thanks for your ideas. 🙂

  • Juliana says:

    You have some awesome suggestions so far!

    That first paragraph of yours can be shortened down to: “Petra is tired of listening to everyone else’s problems, she has enough of her own.” Cut the rest as it’s all implied there. Then you can use the rest of your words to show the journey she goes on in your book (and the journey of her family!)

    And in general, no rhetorical questions 😉 I know how tempting it is to use them!

    Please don’t hesitate to ask if you need anything else! And don’t forget to stop by the blog today for the birthday giveaway 🙂

  • Terri K. Rowe says:

    Thank you so much for your help and for this great learning opportunity. I am experiencing periodic layoffs from my day job-and with all the great suggestions I have gotten from this experience in GUTGAA—I can not wait to get back to writing full time this week while I am laid off from my day job. 🙂

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