Monday, September 10, 2012

Entry #5

Name: Emily Cushing
Genre: MG Mystery
TAGLINE: Racing across Utah in a beat-up Winnebago, two cousins and their quirky grandpa Jim must outsmart a dangerous thief to find Butch Cassidy’s hidden gold and save a camp for troubled youth from closing its doors forever.

FIRST 250 Words:

Twelve seconds until summer vacation. Maggie’s eyes locked on the jerking hand of the classroom clock that counted down the last seconds of sixth grade. Someone in the back of the room began chanting, “Ten, nine, eight—”
Everyone else joined in, “Seven, six—”
Almost time! Maggie thought, sitting at the edge of her seat.
“Five, four—”
Just a few more seconds.
RRRRINGGGG!! The class erupted into cheers.
Maggie jumped out of her seat, slung her pink backpack over her shoulder, and slipped out the classroom door. As she ran down the school’s rickety old steps, she pulled the ‘to-do’ list she had carefully prepared the night before out of her back pocket.
Five minutes. That’s how long she’d given herself to make it to Slotz Convenience Store. She studied the large crowd in front of her and took a deep breath. She examined her bright green digital watch, pushed the start button, and took off running. 
“To your left,” she called, pushing past a circle of fifth grade girls in a group hug. “Coming through.” Maggie sidestepped a large boy picking gum off the bottom of his shoe. “Watch out.” She darted around a curly-haired girl rummaging through her backpack. Just a few more steps and Maggie would bust out of the crowd. She glanced at her watch again. One minute down, four to go. So far so good. She thought she just might make it in time. 
Boy, was she wrong.


  1. Tagline sounds like an awesome adventure. I wonder though, if it would be better to skip on the count down, make it shorter and go right into Maggie jumping out of her seat? That paragraph has a lot of momentum with her hurrying through anyway. And then more minute counting at the end of the 250words. Just seems like you may not need so much counting. But--I dunno? I like the detail of what she is encountering on her rush- descriptive and interesting.

  2. I so had an instant report with Maggie. Who doesn't remember that feeling when school lets out? I like it so much, I'd love to see you expand the countdown part. Instead of the other kids being generic, you could give them some personality, and then Maggie would have thoughts/opinions about them and thus be fleshed out further. What is the teacher up to? Is she in the middle of a sentence when the kids spring out of their chairs? Is she watching the clock too? Just a few more details to firmly ground the reader.

    I like the mystery as to why Maggie is in such a hurry, but I suggest you don't let it go on too long or the reader gets irritated.

    I'm not sure you should have the camp part in your tagline. It is strong without and it isn't instantly clear to me saving said camp would be a good thing. What if it is an abusive place? What if there just aren't any campers? The only other thing - it would be nice if there were some indication of the mc (this is my opinion - I've seen plenty of taglines that don't). For instance: ..., Maggie, her cousin and...

    Since this is all Maggie's POV, you don't need "she thought" (or heard, saw, etc.)

    Nice work!

  3. I love your tagline. Sounds like a super fun adventure story. I'd actually love to read the entire MS. Sounds like something I'd really love.

    I'm not sure you have the right starting place to your story, though. The countdown doesn't pull me in right away.

    (this is from Laurie, entrant #13)

  4. The countdown doesn't draw me in. I'd start with Maggie jumping out of her seat, getting us right to the action. I like where it's going and I'd be interested to see more.

  5. This sounds awesome. I love all the old stories of Butch Cassidy. I think that having the camp for troubled youth in the tag line is a good thing. It gives us an idea of the stakes.

    I do kind of agree with everyone else about the countdown. It does kind of draw me out of the story.

  6. I really enjoy the build-up to summer vacation. It's exactly how I felt in middle grade! I also love the details in your tagline, though I always think of a tagline as being the short little intriguing clip like on a movie poster as opposed to a pitch. Either way, I'd still read on.