Son of a Pitch Team Ursula Entry 10: THE DOLL TRAIN

soap-FINALTitle: THE DOLL TRAIN 

Category and Genre: Contemp YA 
Word Count: 60,000

Query:

Despite his dark skin color, high school junior Marc Amazi just wants to blend in. It’s been years since an accident, one he caused, killed his younger cousin. And the hushed voices and judgmental stares have yet to go away. He just needs to make it to graduation and then he’ll be on the next train out of town. That is, until he befriends Anna Mason. Arguably the most stunning creature in the universe. Captain of the varsity basketball team. And the only one who doesn’t fault him for his past.

 Marc’s almost out of the dreaded friend zone. Almost. But then Oct. 17 happens. Anna shows up at Marc’s house disoriented and confused, only to die in his arms. Immediately Marc is targeted as a suspect. And when her death is ruled an overdose and pills are found planted at the scene, he’s the one who goes down for delivering the narcotics that killed Anna.

 As the justice system brands Marc by the color of his skin, the town doesn’t just label him a friend in mourning. They label him a murderer. A social media group is created to attack Marc. He’s all but ready to give up and join Anna on a journey to the stars. But in the midst of Marc’s trial, Anna’s younger sister goes missing. Marc might have a real shot at finding her, but to do so he will have to battle the demons of Anna’s death and a childhood trauma he thought he buried long ago.

 
First 250 Words:

Oct. 17

The night Anna died

My mother was full of bullshit from the minute she exploded into this world until she abruptly left. She built her life on absurd lies and silly fantasies. She used to say love, not oxygenated blood, is what fueled her heart. That this love was strong enough to drive her to the other end of the world and back.

 It used to sound nice, but I never understand what it all meant. But I’m older now. I’ve put enough time into AP biology to know that she believed in fairy tales too good to be true. It’s not possible to give one person every beat of your heart, every drop of your blood, every joule of energy. To attempt something so foolish as that is suicide.

Yet, for Anna, I’d do anything.

Come back to me, I silently plead. Come back.

Her body is stretched out on the gravel pavement. I attempt to pull her up from the ground. Shake her until she wakes up or until I find a way to give her my heart. But all 5 feet and 9 inches of her is dead weight. She slips back to the ground, her arms and legs nothing but gelatin.

Only seconds ago she was seizing. Her body possessed, dancing in shapes I never knew existed. My head collapses onto her chest, searching desperately for a heartbeat. And then I hear it. Erratic and panicked throbs ricochet between us. But she is still.

9 thoughts on “Son of a Pitch Team Ursula Entry 10: THE DOLL TRAIN”

  1. Query:
    This is an awesome concept. I’m intrigued right away.

    “…pills found planted at the scene…” I’d just say “pills are found at the scene”, because we assume Marc didn’t know about them.
    “…doesn’t label him as a friend in mourning.” I’d remove the “just”.
    250
    Nice opening line.
    Two many uses of “but” in the second paragraph – I’d reword.
    I’m hoping that you take us back in time after this and give us context on this relationship, like you did in the query. I think you might also give us all of this in real time, instead of telling us that just moments ago she’d been seizing. Maybe start the scene with her showing up at his house.

    Great entry!

  2. Query…
    Despite his dark skin color, high school junior Marc Amazi just wants to blend in. It’s been years since an accident, one he caused, killed his younger cousin. And the hushed voices and judgmental stares have yet to go away. He just needs to make it to graduation and then he’ll be on the next train out of town. That is, until he befriends Anna Mason. Arguably the most stunning creature in the universe. Captain of the varsity basketball team. And the only one who doesn’t fault him for his past. (YEA!)

    Marc’s almost out of the dreaded friend zone. Almost. But then Oct. 17 happens. Anna shows up at Marc’s house disoriented and confused, only to die in his arms. (NO!) Immediately Marc is targeted as a suspect. And when her death is ruled an overdose and pills are found planted at the scene (The pills are found where she died at his house?), he’s the one who goes down for delivering the narcotics that killed Anna. (In the accident where his cousin was killed, were drugs involved in that? Does he have a history with drugs?)

    As the justice system brands Marc by the color of his skin, the town doesn’t just label him a friend in mourning. They label him a murderer. A social media group is created to attack Marc. He’s all but ready to give up and join Anna on a journey to the stars. (Oh no…) But in the midst of Marc’s trial, Anna’s younger sister goes missing. Marc might have a real shot at finding her (how? What does he know? What has he seen?), but to do so he will have to battle the demons of Anna’s death and a childhood trauma he thought he buried long ago. (Does he also want to uncover the truth for himself, to prove his worth, to be who he wants to be? To be a friend to Anna by helping her sister? If he doesn’t try to find her, what will that mean to him?)

    First 250…
    The night Anna died

    My mother was full of bullshit from the minute she exploded into this world until she abruptly left. She built her life on absurd lies and silly fantasies. She used to say love, not oxygenated blood, is what fueled her heart. That this love was strong enough to drive her to the other end of the world and back.

    It used to sound nice, but I never understand what it all meant. But I’m older now. I’ve put enough time into AP biology to know that she believed in fairy tales too good to be true. It’s not possible to give one person every beat of your heart, every drop of your blood, every joule of energy. To attempt something so foolish as that is suicide.

    Yet, for Anna, I’d do anything.

    Come back to me, I silently plead. Come back.

    Her body is stretched out on the gravel pavement. I attempt to pull her up from the ground. Shake her until she wakes up or until I find a way to give her my heart. But all 5 feet and 9 inches of her is dead weight. She slips back to the ground, her arms and legs nothing but gelatin.

    Only seconds ago she was seizing. Her body possessed, dancing in shapes I never knew existed. My head collapses onto her chest, searching desperately for a heartbeat. And then I hear it. Erratic and panicked throbs ricochet between us. But she is still.

    I love this. Love. What a beautiful opening… just one thing…I’m not grounded at all at the beginning. Going from memories of mom to Anna was abrupt. Give me bits of reality at the beginning, the gravel digging into his knees…the weather, the sky, the sounds…weave in the parts about his mom give us more and more , her eyes, her hair… about what is going on lead us to Anna dying. It is so clear how much she means to him. Heart breaking.

    1. Thanks for the feedback!! I’ve been playing around a bit with the first 250 words. 🙂

      Oct. 17
      The night Anna died

      Time doesn’t stop when the world is ending. It sticks together, every moment exaggerated, ticking by so dreadfully slow.

      Knees slicing the pavement.

      Crimson drops staining the gravel.

      Anna limp. A pretty little doll someone forgot to put back on the shelf.

      It’s not possible to give one person every beat of your heart, every drop of your blood, every joule of energy. To attempt something so foolish as that is suicide.

      Yet, for Anna, I’d do anything.

      Come back to me, I silently plead. Come back.

      Her body is stretched out on the pavement. I attempt to pull her up from the ground. Shake her until she wakes up or until I find a way to give her my heart. But all 5 feet and 9 inches of her is dead weight. She slips back to the ground, her arms and legs nothing but gelatin.

      Only seconds ago she was seizing. Her body possessed, dancing in shapes I never knew existed. My head collapses onto her chest, searching desperately for a heartbeat.

      And then I hear it. Erratic and panicked throbs ricochet between us. But she is still. So very still. This horrendous symphony is only compromised of my pulse. Hers is…

      Gone? It shouldn’t be a surprise. This is what happens to everyone I love. And yet I would give her my heart, my blood, every second of every hour of every day. If only I knew how.

      Wake up. Dammit wake up.

  3. Despite his dark skin color, high school junior Marc Amazi just wants to blend in. (*The way this is worded makes it sound like his dark skin would make him NOT want to blend in, but he does anyway. It would be clearer if you said something like “high school junior Marc Amazi just wants to fit and not be judged for being the only _____ ((Pakistani, African American, whatever)) kid in ______(place)). I want more specifics about his race and why its a issue at his school) or It’s been years since an accident, one he caused, killed his younger cousin. And the hushed voices and judgmental stares have yet to go away. He just needs to make it to graduation and then he’ll be on the next train out of town. That is, until he befriends Anna Mason. Arguably the most stunning creature in the universe. Captain of the varsity basketball team. And the only one who doesn’t fault him for his past.

    Marc’s almost out of the dreaded friend zone. (*I don’t know you or if you are male/female, but as a woman, I recoil at the use of the term “friendzone” and I know lots of others who do as well. I would say something like he’s finally close to becoming more than friends with her, or something) Almost. But then Oct. 17 happens. Anna shows up at Marc’s house disoriented and confused, only to die in his arms. Immediately Marc is targeted as a suspect. And when her death is ruled an overdose and pills are found planted at the scene, he’s the one who goes down for delivering the narcotics that killed Anna. (*this is so unexpected and awesome)

    As the justice system brands Marc by the color of his skin, the town doesn’t just label him a friend in mourning. They label him a murderer. A social media group is created to attack Marc. He’s all but ready to give up and join Anna on a journey to the stars. But in the midst of Marc’s trial, Anna’s younger sister goes missing. Marc might have a real shot at finding her, but to do so he will have to battle the demons of Anna’s death and a childhood trauma he thought he buried long ago.
    (*I LOVE THIS I WANT TO READ IT NOW)

    First 250 Words:
    Oct. 17

    The night Anna died

    My mother was full of bullshit from the minute she exploded into this world until she abruptly left. She built her life on absurd lies and silly fantasies. She used to say love, not oxygenated blood, is what fueled her heart. That this love was strong enough to drive her to the other end of the world and back. (*This opening is fantastic)

    It used to sound nice, but I never understand what it all meant. But I’m older now. I’ve put enough time into AP biology to know that she believed in fairy tales too good to be true. It’s not possible to give one person every beat of your heart, every drop of your blood, every joule of energy. To attempt something so foolish as that is suicide.

    Yet, for Anna, I’d do anything.

    Come back to me, I silently plead. Come back.

    Her body is stretched out on the gravel pavement. I attempt to pull her up from the ground. Shake her until she wakes up or until I find a way to give her my heart. But all 5 feet and 9 inches of her is dead weight. She slips back to the ground, her arms and legs nothing but gelatin.

    Only seconds ago she was seizing. Her body possessed, dancing in shapes I never knew existed. My head collapses onto her chest, searching desperately for a heartbeat. And then I hear it. Erratic and panicked throbs ricochet between us. But she is still.

    (*LOVE. VOTE FROM ME!)

  4. Query –
    I think Andres, Elizabeth and Kathy have give you so much great advice I want to just say “ditto.”
    First… ‘Marc’s almost out of the dreaded friend zone’ is a fantastic line.

    Marc’s almost out of the dreaded friend zone. Almost. But then Oct. 17 happens. Anna shows up at Marc’s house disoriented and confused, only to die in his arms. (A disoriented and confused Anna shows up at Marc’s house only to die in his arms.?) Immediately Marc is targeted as a suspect. (I love this) And when her death is ruled an overdose and pills are found planted at the scene, (Check wording to make sure it conveys what you mean – a little confusing now) he’s the one who goes down for delivering the narcotics that killed Anna.

    The character feels real, conflict is strong, and the stakes are high. Thumbs up on the Query !

    First 250

    I love this voice and your words so much. Excellent job. Really fabulous.

  5. Thanks for all the critiques and suggestions! Here’s my revised query and first 250 words.

    Query:

    High school junior Marc Amazi would do anything to blend in. But his dark skin isn’t exactly an invisibility clock. And though it’s been years since an accident, one he caused, killed his younger cousin, the hushed voices and judgmental stares have yet to go away. He just needs to make it to graduation and then he’ll be on the next train out of town. That is, until he befriends Anna Mason. Arguably the most stunning creature in the universe. Captain of the varsity basketball team. And the only one who doesn’t fault him for his past.
     
    Marc’s almost out of the dreaded friend zone. Almost. But then Oct. 17 happens. Anna shows up at Marc’s house disoriented and confused, only to die in his arms. Immediately Marc is targeted as a suspect. And when her death is ruled an overdose and pills are planted at the scene, he’s the one who goes down for delivering the narcotics that killed Anna.
     
    As the justice system brands Marc by the color of his skin, the town doesn’t label him a friend in mourning. They label him a murderer. A social media group is created to attack Marc. He’s all but ready to give up and join Anna on a journey to the stars. But in the midst of Marc’s trial, Anna’s younger sister goes missing. Marc might have a real shot at finding her, but to do so he will have to battle the demons of Anna’s death and a childhood trauma he thought he buried long ago.

    Complete at 60,000 words, THE DOLL TRAIN is a contemporary YA manuscript told through Marc’s point of view in chapters that alternate from “before Anna died” to “after Anna died”. The all too real consequences of cyber bullying are woven into the story by interspersing pieces of the other characters’ social media interactions in between Marc’s chapters. 

    250 Words:

    Oct. 17
    The night Anna died

    Time doesn’t stop when the world is ending. It sticks together, every moment exaggerated, ticking by so dreadfully slow.

    Knees slicing the pavement.

    Crimson drops staining the gravel.

    Anna limp. A pretty little doll someone forgot to put back on the shelf.

    It’s not possible to give one person every beat of your heart, every drop of your blood, every joule of energy. To attempt something so foolish as that is suicide.

    Yet, for Anna, I’d do anything.

    Come back to me, I silently plead. Come back.

    Her body is stretched out on the pavement. I attempt to pull her up from the ground. Shake her until she wakes up or until I find a way to give her my heart. But all 5 feet and 9 inches of her is dead weight. She slips back to the ground, her arms and legs nothing but gelatin.

    Only seconds ago she was seizing. Her body possessed, dancing in shapes I never knew existed. My head collapses onto her chest, searching desperately for a heartbeat.

    And then I hear it. Erratic and panicked throbs ricochet between us. But she is still. So very still. This horrendous symphony is only compromised of my pulse. Hers is…

    Gone? It shouldn’t be a surprise. This is what happens to everyone I love. And yet I would give her my heart, my blood, every second of every hour of every day. If only I knew how.

    Wake up. Dammit wake up.

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