#SonOfAPitch Team Leia: DYLAN

Title: Dylan
Category and Genre: Literary Fiction/Magical Realism
Word Count: 70K

Dylan

Query:

FOREST GUMP meets PRACTICAL MAGIC tale.

 Most everyone in the family calls Dylan “slow.” Worse, his abusive mother claims he’s wicked. But Dylan has magic, and can spin marbles from oysters and whip up Chicken Alfredo by tapping his thumbs together. The only one to appreciate his magical abilities is his loving uncle and caretaker, a disabled Vietnam veteran. When Uncle Jim dies, Dylan is torn from the home he loves and placed in an adult boarding house. There he meets an equally gifted but troubled young lady named Liona.

 Dylan finds a friend in Liona, and finally settles into his new life when a tragic accident drives him away. His only refuge now is the beach and the oyster beds. His old Vietnamese friend, Tim Lan, offers him a room in his shanty in exchange for his magically-made pearls. Dylan is tormented by the suspect requests of Tim Lan and muddled by his feelings for Liona. His nightmare ensues when his mother, who had once washed her hands of him, returns to exploit his gifts. Through his troubles, Dylan must find truth, and the courage to walk his own path.

250 words

By the time I was eighteen I didn’t care what Aunt Agnes said about me.

“He doesn’t connect the dots right,” she complained to everyone at my graduation party. “He can’t carry on a civil conversation. In fact, I don’t know if he is past the third-grade level of reading.”

I rolled my eyes, but Uncle Jim got mad. By the time we got home, Uncle Jim’s face was red and I swear he foamed at the mouth like a rabid dog. “He’s smart enough to finish high school, with decent grades to boot. So don’t you be talking him down.” Uncle Jim rolled his wheel chair into the house, threw his baseball cap on the couch, and grumbled something fierce, steering his chair through the litter in our living room. I appreciated his support, but I didn’t like him yelling. I dodged into the kitchen and waited for Aunt Agnes to leave.

I was happy enough. I had all I needed – a life with Uncle Jim in our little house at Windy Point. Best of all I had magic. I knew that someday that magic would make me a famous chef.

The sea empowered me. All I had to do was close my eyes and imagine the foamy surf splashing over the oyster beds, and then think of the water gliding gracefully down the beach, leaving imprints of its ripples in the sand. If I meditated long enough, the power flowed into me and tingled my left side.

 

22 thoughts on “#SonOfAPitch Team Leia: DYLAN”

  1. I LOVE this concept. I have a very soft spot for neurodiverse and so-called “special needs” people as heroes and heroines.

    Note: it’s “Forrest Gump” not “Forest”.

    I’m not sure what you mean by spinning marbles from oysters. I’ve been trying to picture it and keep seeing the fleshy slimy oyster somehow congealing into a marble. Do you mean oyster shells? Or does he make oysters create marbles like they do pearls? (I’m seeing later on that he has an affinity for oysters and can have them make pearls. I’d build up this idea in the first part of the query. Like, “Dylan can speak to oysters and convince them to make pearls”, or something better than that.)

    I would give some sort of idea of Dylan’s age before you mention him being sent to an adult boarding house. Don’t state it outright, just give a hint. Most people assume that someone living with their mom is a kid, but that isn’t always the case, esp with neurodiverse folks.

    “Tragic accident” is a little too vague. If you can give just a hint of a specific without giving a spoiler, that’d be good.

    If you can give a hint of specifics with regard to Leona, instead of “gifted” and “troubled”, that would add spice to the query. Does she have magic, too? Is it the same as Dylan’s? Was she marked by trauma somehow? Or is she just trying to fit into a world that doesn’t seem to want her?

    The pages. I love the voice here, and it’s great writing. I’m confused about Aunt Agnes. I assume she’s left behind at the party, but then she goes home with them. I’m also confused in time at the beginning, because you seem to be both at the party and after it. I like your opening line, but I think it’d be better to start with them in the car on the way home, and maybe show aunt and uncle arguing about what Aunt had said at the party, and Dylan rolling his eyes in the back. Then we see that Uncle is rabid (you don’t have to say it).

    I love the image of Uncle rolling his wheelchair through the litter in the house…

    I’m seeing a contradiction in this between Aunt’s perception of him as slow and his good grades, etc. Until we get to know him, you might want to consider not mentioning the grades. Just have Uncle defend him. It’s okay for us to not know he has good grades. It’s okay for him to not HAVE good grades, actually. There’s enough likeable about him.

    Good entry!

    1. Great insight and advice! Thank you! Originally I had mentioned that he spins pearls from oyster shells and I am not sure why I cut ‘shells’ out of the query. I will mention that Liona does have special powers also.
      I like your suggestion of beginning further along. I’ll rewrite and post again. Thank you!

  2. Here is a revision. I agreed that the beginning was a little confusing.

    By the time I was eighteen I didn’t care what Aunt Agnes said about me.
    “He doesn’t connect the dots right,” she complained to my cousin Shirley the night we drove home from graduation. Shirley always sat in front whenever we went anywhere. “He can’t carry on a civil conversation. In fact, I don’t know if he is past the third-grade level of reading.”
    I rolled my eyes, but Uncle Jim growled and his face flushed red. I swear he foamed at the mouth. “He’s smart enough to finish high school. So, don’t you be talking him down.” Once Aunt Agnes lowered the lift and unstrapped his wheel chair from the van, Uncle Jim rolled into the house. I followed him inside and Aunt Agnes was at my heels. He threw his baseball cap on the couch, and grumbled something fierce, steering his chair through the litter in our living room. I appreciated his support, but I didn’t like him yelling. I dodged into the kitchen and waited for Aunt Agnes to leave.

  3. These are my opinions. Please take the comments that make sense to you and ignore the ones that don’t.

    Most everyone in the family calls Dylan “slow.” Worse, his abusive mother claims he’s wicked. But Dylan has magic, and can spin marbles from oysters and whip up Chicken Alfredo by tapping his thumbs together. The only one to appreciate his magical abilities is his loving uncle and caretaker, a disabled Vietnam veteran. When Uncle Jim dies, Dylan is torn from the home he loves and placed in an adult boarding house. There he meets an equally gifted but troubled young lady named Liona.
    (I love the opening lines! What about Liona? How is she gifted? How is she troubled? and Dylan is how old? And what does Dylan want from life, what is his dream, what drives him?)

    Dylan finds a friend in Liona, and finally settles into his new life when a tragic accident drives him away. His only refuge now is the beach and the oyster beds. His old Vietnamese friend, Tim Lan, offers him a room in his shanty in exchange for his magically-made pearls. Dylan is tormented by the suspect requests of Tim Lan and muddled by his feelings for Liona. His nightmare ensues when his mother, who had once washed her hands of him, returns to exploit his gifts. Through his troubles, Dylan must find truth, and the courage to walk his own path.
    (What accident? TELL US! And I want to know about his connection to the sea earlier. What requests are tormenting him? What are his feelings for Liona? And mom returns! So when Mom returns, is this his moment of choice? Tell me what he must choose and what might happen if he does or doesn’t. Finding truth and courage is vague.)

    250 words

    By the time I was eighteen I didn’t care what Aunt Agnes said about me.
    (I love this opening.)

    “He doesn’t connect the dots right,” she complained to everyone at my graduation party. “He can’t carry on a civil conversation. In fact, I don’t know if he is past the third-grade level of reading.”

    I rolled my eyes, but Uncle Jim got mad. By the time we got home, Uncle Jim’s face was red and I swear he foamed at the mouth like a rabid dog. “He’s smart enough to finish high school, with decent grades to boot. So don’t you be talking him down.” Uncle Jim rolled his wheel chair into the house, threw his baseball cap on the couch, and grumbled something fierce, steering his chair through the litter in our living room. I appreciated his support, but I didn’t like him yelling. I dodged into the kitchen and waited for Aunt Agnes to leave.
    (Wait, aren’t they at a party? Then they were home. The transition is very abrupt. And he lives with Uncle Jim? Why doesn’t he like the yelling? What does that do to him? Give me a physical reaction. In the kitchen…what is he doing to distract himself from the argument that he wants to escape, character build here and let us get to know Dylan.)

    I was happy enough. I had all I needed – a life with Uncle Jim in our little house at Windy Point. Best of all I had magic. I knew that someday that magic would make me a famous chef.
    (Ah! He wants to be a chef! And magic! Let me see! Give me a bit of action. What is he doing?)

    The sea empowered me. All I had to do was close my eyes and imagine the foamy surf splashing over the oyster beds, and then think of the water gliding gracefully down the beach, leaving imprints of its ripples in the sand. If I meditated long enough, the power flowed into me and tingled my left side.
    (The sea threw me off. It came out of nowhere. Can he see it? Is there a picture of it? Is he using these thoughts to forget about his aunt? And I love the power of the sea fueling him, that’s awesome! In the query you say he’s called “slow”…why? I love magic, and this story interests me!)

    1. Thank you, Kathy. I have a lot of your questions explained in the synopsis but I thought it was too much for the query. I’ll integrate it more. The revision fixes the abruptness I believe, and I agree with you about the sea. I’ll see what I can do to fix some of this because I felt the same way about some of the things you suggested.

  4. Query:
    A FOREST GUMP meets PRACTICAL MAGIC tale. (awesome combo ☺)

    Most everyone in the family calls Dylan “slow.” Worse, his abusive mother claims he’s wicked.(these two sentences paint a clear picture for me) But Dylan has magic, and can spin marbles from oysters and whip up Chicken Alfredo by tapping his thumbs together.(love this) The only one to appreciate his magical abilities is his loving uncle and caretaker, a disabled Vietnam veteran. When Uncle Jim dies, Dylan** (How old is he?) is torn from the home he loves and placed in an adult boarding house. (does his mother send him?) There he meets an equally gifted** magical?, but troubled young lady named Liona.

    Dylan finds a friend in Liona, and finally settles into his new life when a tragic accident drives him away More of a hint to what happened?. His only refuge now is the beach and the oyster beds. His old Vietnamese friend, Tim Lan, offers him a room in his shanty in exchange for his magically-made pearls. But Dylan is tormented by the suspect requests of Tim Lan, muddled by his feelings for Liona and scared?unnerved? by the return of his mother who only wants to exploit his gifts. (I grouped them together because it felt like the trifecta of trouble 🙂 Through his troubles, Dylan must find truth, and the courage to walk his own path. (truth about Liona? Tim Lan? Life? )

    I love story being told in this query. I think some details could be added to flesh it out more, but it’s definitely on the right track. Great start!

    First 250 :
    I like the changes you made to your intro. (I paused on the sentence about Shirley sitting in the front seat because it felt like such an authentic observation.) Great job! I wanted to keep on reading.

    All thoughts/suggestions/opinions are humbly offered. Thanks for sharing your words.

  5. Here is my new first page.

    All I had to do was think about crispy bacon and a golden omelet stuffed with cheese and vegies, and then flick my wrist, and there it was. Piping hot on a platter. That’s what I did this morning for Uncle Jim.
    He chuckled, “Served à la fantasia!”
    After we ate I pushed Uncle Jim’s wheel chair in front of the TV, handed him his coffee, grabbed my bucket, and waved goodbye.
    “What are you in such a hurry for?” Uncle Jim asked me. “Agnes isn’t coming for me for another half hour.”
    “Just feel like walking. Maybe some beach combing. I’ll shuck some oysters for tonight’s stew.” I said as I grabbed my pail from the porch steps. I could make a dinner out of thin air with my special powers, but I liked using real ingredients too. I usually mixed and matched, collecting fresh food off the beach and then mixing in some magic. I’d be a famous chef someday what with my abilities.
    “You be careful out there and don’t bust your knuckles up shucking them oysters,” Uncle Jim shouted out as he rolled his wheelchair to the front door.
    “I’ll try,” I called back to him and waved. Little chance I wouldn’t bust my knuckles or fingers or scrape my knees but no sense worrying Uncle Jim. I walked briskly to the beach, which was pretty much our backyard because we didn’t have a fence.

  6. Okay, here is my revised query.
    Most everyone in the family calls Dylan “slow.” Worse, his abusive mother claims he’s wicked. But Dylan has magic, and can spin marbles from oyster shells, and whip up Chicken Alfredo by tapping his thumbs together. The only one to appreciate his magical abilities is his loving uncle and caretaker, a disabled Vietnam veteran. When Uncle Jim dies, Dylan’s Aunt Agnes sells the house and ships Dylan off to an adult boarding home. There he meets an equally gifted but troubled young lady named Liona.

    With a rocky beginning, Dylan finally finds a friend in Liona whose mind-reading abilities makes it easier for him to communicate. Just when he settles into his new life, a tragic accident happens. His most treasure possession, his precious gift from his deceased uncle, breaks. Despondent, Dylan flees. His only refuge now is the beach and the oyster beds. His old Vietnamese friend, Tim Lan, offers him a room in his shanty in exchange for his magically-made pearls. Dylan is tormented by the suspect requests of Tim Lan and muddled by his feelings for Liona. His nightmare ensues when his mother, who had once washed her hands of him, returns to exploit his gifts. In all this confusion, Dylan must discover himself and what it is he wants in life, and then the courage to pursue it.

  7. Okay, disregard that first page and here is the real one. That one didn’t work.

    By the time I was eighteen I didn’t care what Aunt Agnes said about me. I had want I wanted. Uncle Jim and magic!
    “He doesn’t connect the dots right,” she complained to my cousin Shirley the night we drove home from graduation. Shirley always sat in front whenever we went anywhere. “He can’t carry on a civil conversation. In fact, I don’t know if he is past the third-grade level of reading.”
    I rolled my eyes, but Uncle Jim growled. He didn’t say anything though. How could he? He was facing the back of the van sitting in a wheel chair behind me. Once we got home, Aunt Agnes lowered the lift, and Uncle Jim steam-rolled into the house. I followed him inside. Aunt Agnes was at my heels. He threw his baseball cap on the couch, and grumbled something fierce, maneuvering his chair through the litter in our living room. I appreciated his support, but I didn’t like him yelling. I dodged into my room and waited for Aunt Agnes to leave.
    That was graduation night.
    I woke up early the next morning, still bummed about Uncle Jim being so mad. I thought I’d cheer him up by making breakfast, so I got up early. Our kitchen wasn’t very big and we didn’t have a lot of utensils, but cooking was easy with only a couple of cast iron pots and a tea kettle. I supposed I could have drummed up some more kitchen ware with my magic if I wanted to, but then there’d be more tools to wash and neither me nor Uncle Jim liked washing dishes. I made his coffee with the French Press that Uncle Jim bought me for Christmas.

  8. This is my final revision on both. So if you judge, please judge this one.
    Query:
    DYLAN, is a work of literary fiction and magical realism, complete at 70,000 words. A FORREST GUMP character who meets PRACTICAL MAGIC.

    Most everyone in the family calls Dylan “slow.” Worse, his abusive mother claims he’s wicked. But Dylan has magic, can spin marbles from oyster shells, and whip up Chicken Alfredo by tapping his thumbs together. The only one to appreciate his magical abilities is his loving uncle and caretaker, a disabled Vietnam veteran. When Uncle Jim dies, Dylan’s Aunt Agnes sells the house and ships Dylan off to an adult boarding home. There he meets an equally gifted but troubled young lady named Liona.

    With a rocky beginning, Dylan finally finds a friend in Liona whose mind-reading abilities makes it easier for him to communicate. Just when he settles into his new life, a tragic accident happens. His most treasured possession, his precious gift from his deceased uncle, breaks. Despondent, Dylan flees. His only refuge now is the beach and the oyster beds. His old Vietnamese friend, Tim Lan, offers him a room in his shanty in exchange for his magically-made pearls. Dylan is tormented by the suspect requests of Tim Lan and muddled by his feelings for Liona. His nightmare ensues when his mother, who had once washed her hands of him, returns to exploit his gifts. In all this confusion, Dylan must come to an understanding of who he is, what he wants in life, and find the courage to stand up for himself.

    250 Words

    By the time I was eighteen I didn’t care what Aunt Agnes said about me. I had all I wanted. Uncle Jim and magical powers!
    “He doesn’t connect the dots right,” she complained to my cousin Shirley the night we drove home from graduation.
    Shirley always sat in front whenever we went anywhere. “He can’t carry on a civil conversation. In fact, I don’t know if he is past the third-grade level of reading.”
    I rolled my eyes, but Uncle Jim growled. He didn’t say anything though. How could he? He was facing the back of the van sitting in a wheel chair behind me. Once we got home, Aunt Agnes lowered the lift, and Uncle Jim steam-rolled into the house. I followed him inside. Aunt Agnes was at my heels. He threw his baseball cap on the couch, and grumbled something fierce, maneuvering his chair through the litter in our living room. I appreciated his support, but I didn’t like him yelling. I dodged into my room and waited for Aunt Agnes to leave.

    That was graduation night.

    I woke up early the next morning, still bummed about Uncle Jim being so mad. I thought I’d cheer him up by making breakfast, so I got up early. Our kitchen wasn’t very big and we didn’t have a lot of utensils, but cooking was easy with a couple of cast iron pots, a tea kettle, and enchanted powers.

  9. I love the updated versions!

    I paused here:
    Just when he settles into his new life, a tragic accident happens. His most treasured possession, his precious gift from his deceased uncle, breaks. Despondent, Dylan flees.
    -and wondered if you need -a tragic accident happens – since you reveal this in the next sentence.
    But that was it.

    Really enjoyed reading it again 😀 Great work.

      1. You’re going to send it to Katie, I think at the email you sent the original entry to.

        I love Dylan and want to know his story 🙂

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