Monday, September 10, 2012

Entry #19

Name: Judy Mintz
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary
Tagline: In CHICKADEE, a 57,000-word contemporary, realistic YA novel, sixteen-year-old Emma Daley struggles with her sexuality.

 1ST 250 Words:
If anyone asks, I’m straight.

I’m sixteen and I’ve never had sex, not that you have to sleep with someone to know if you’re attracted to them. I could have, had sex. I’ve had boyfriends. I like boys. I don’t spend all my time drooling over them like my friends do. They’re not that interesting to look at. Sometimes I catch myself staring at a pretty girl, you know, to study her makeup. Sometimes they’re not wearing makeup.

If anyone asks, though, I’m straight.

Normally this isn’t something I spend a ton of time thinking about, but some girl from Sweden is coming to live with Mom and me and I’m sweating the loss of my personal space – in advance. I barely slept last night thinking about it, so I was beat and running late this morning. I slung my pack over my shoulder and went out the front door, ignoring my mom’s predictable, “Emma, take your coat. It’s cold out!” As I walked down the hill, I pulled on my gloves, the kind without fingers, and fished my ear buds out of my back pocket.

Waiting at the bus stop was the usual morning crowd. Jon towered over the rest of them.

“Hey, Emma! What’s the deal with your exchange student?” he asked.

I pulled out an ear bud. “My what?”

“Your exchange student. You know, that alien you’ve been freaking out about.”

“She’s still coming. I’m still freaking. And Mom’s still trying to make it sound like fun.”


  1. Love the title with this premise. I feel the voice is really engaging and I want to follow along and find out what happens on her journey. Best of Luck!

  2. Your first 250 are awesome! Great voice! I would absolutely read more of this, no question.

    The only thing I'd change about your entry is the tagline. I don't think you need to say "realistic" because I think the contemporary genre implies that it's realistic. (I could be totally wrong about that, it's just me own understanding.) And although the conflict is laid out (struggle with sexuality), you may want to try working in the consequences or some aspect of voice or just some other small nuance there. Things are fine as is, but I don't think the pitch/tagline is quite as punchy and engaging as the writing is. In other words, your opening 250 totally sucked me in, but the tagline did not. Maybe injecting a little voice into the tagline would help it pop.

    I'd love to look at it again if you decide to revise it!

  3. Wow. What an interesting premise. What I love about this is even though we haven't met the exchange student yet, just by her impending arrival you have raised the tension. If Emma is questioning her sexuality, I am getting goosebumps just thinking about what an exotic exchange student will add to the mix. I love the voice, and I love the idea. Nice opening.

    I also like the repetition, "If anyone asks, I'm straight." Like if Emma says it enough she will convince herself.

    Would definitely read more!

  4. I think you have a great premise here. I think this has lots of potential, and I'd actually love to read the rest.

    I'm not totally sure you have your right starting point, though. I'd love to see the opening starting with some sort of action, as opposed to narrative about whether she's straight, or not. I'd like to see this shown through actions, rather than told to us outright.

    (from Laurie, entrant#13)

  5. I love the premise, but the tagline felt kind of bland. Cutting out the fat, you're left with:

    Sixteen-year-old Emma Daley struggles with her sexuality.

    Okay, and...? What makes her journey different? What obstacles does she have? Why should we follow her as she discovers who she is?

  6. Hi Judy,

    I love the title. I agree that the premise could give more of a hint of conflict. The voice in the piece is strong and sets up an interesting situation (with the exchange student) right away.

    While I like the opening line (and the fact that she repeats it right away), I'm not sure that I like it AS the opener. Who is going to ask? I like that we are grounded in a setting a few lines later and I'd like to see that sooner. The information given in the first paragraph is important, but I'd rather see that in a scene, so that we glean the info about her based on her actions, not an explanation.

    Sounds like a very interesting story! Good luck and thanks for your comment on my entry.