Thursday, February 19, 2015

Entry #41: THE LEDGE

MG, Action and Adventure

IF I STAY meets HATCHET. Thirteen-year-old Bryce steals a hand-drawn map from Grandpa's barn and realizes it's a map of the trail, cabin, and lake they'll backpack to. He's determined to find what's hidden at the end of the map, but he'll have to risk keeping secrets from Grandpa to find it. On their journey, Bryce and his big brother, Jack, are separated from Grandpa and must work together to survive the wilderness . . . and each other while hunting for what's at the end of the map and uncovering a painful secret that explains the root of their tension. But when a horrible climbing accident leaves Bryce unconscious, Jack must find a way to save him, and Bryce must choose life over afterlife or their family's secret will never see the light of day. 

First Page: 
A blue plastic bin sat all alone behind the rows of boxes. I knelt and slid the bin toward me thinking it was weird that it wasn't labeled carefully like everything else. I popped the lid off and fingered through hanging files full of papers and bills, bummed not to find anything interesting.
Just as I started to replace the lid, I noticed a small wooden box tucked behind the folders. I pulled it out and flipped up its golden clasp with a click. A few pictures and a folded piece of yellowed paper lay inside. That was it? I'd come all the way to the back of Grandpa's mouse-turd-infested barn loft for a bunch of old pictures?
I unfolded the paper and saw a hand-sketched map of a river, a house, and a lake with a small 'x' drawn by the lake.
Just then, the spiral staircase to the loft creaked and groaned. “Bryce, you up there?” Grandpa yelled.
I jumped up, stuffed the map and pictures in my back pocket without thinking, and shoved some boxes around the bin to hide it.
“Yeah,” I shouted, stepping over a stack of newspapers. “Coming!”
Grandpa's head peeked up just as my toes reached the edge of the stairs, and I tried to slow my breathing.
“Whatcha up to?” Grandpa asked.
“Uh, you know, doing a bit of treasure hunting.” I tried to sound casual while the pictures and map burned in my back pocket.


  1. This sounds exciting! I'd definitely read more.

    I was thrown out of the story a bit here:
    "That was it? I'd come all the way to the back of Grandpa's mouse-turd-infested barn loft for a bunch of old pictures?"
    The two sentences go in opposite directions. The first expresses interest, the second disinterest. Perhaps show us why he might be interested in that sheet of paper that makes it worth studying. That would make us curious along with him

    Best of luck!

  2. As someone who adored the Hatchet as a kid, I can't express how much I like this concept and hope it gets picked up by an agent.

  3. Funny, that sentence had exactly the same effect on me. Maybe your narrative would flow better if you just cut it out. Your opening is good but I think it would be even better if you could find a way to convey a sense of purpose and/or urgency to Bryce's search. At present I'm wondering why he went into the shed in the first place. Was he actually looking for something or did he just find the box by accident?
    The last line of your pitch makes me curious as to whether your story is in dual POV? (Bryce and Jack?) One thing that throws me a little in the pitch is that if they are all going to the cabin anyway, why is the map such a secret? But it sounds like a very interesting story and IF I STAY (which I enjoyed very much!) is a useful comparison, as it gives a good indication of the direction your story is going to take.

    Well done and best of luck!

  4. I'm going to start at the pitch and work my way down. Big Hatchet fan by the way so you have me already leaning in favor of the story.
    Here is how I am reading it:
    Boy finds map and wants to see what the X is on the families property. (Very realistic of a boy to want to do) Two boys plan to backpack to the cabin with grandpa outside of him knowing about the map discovery, but then they get separated during the hike? So the boys decide to go find what's at the X and after finding it (on the way back to the cabin) one of them falls and there is a life and death struggle while holding the secret.
    Do you feel that the pitch gives away a big chuck of the book except for what the secret at the end of the map is that is causing the main character to struggle with what to do? Honestly curious if I am way off!
    How long is Bryce out? Is Jack a main character for part of this book, which is kind of a cool premise to shift a main character in an out of a book.
    Why did Bryce feel the need to steal the map? I try to look at things semi realistically and if I found an old treasure map in my grandpas attic I would ask him.
    As for the body: the comments above me have it pinned. I also hope you find an agent! Blessings on your work!
    A fellow competitor and writing friend.

  5. Great comments and feedback, guys! MPEagles, if you come back here, you are right on for the most part and have me wondering how not to give so much away in the pitch, yet still hook the reader/agent. The book is told in dual-POV from Bryce and Jack's points of views back and forth.

  6. Ok, I feel totally uninformed because I haven't read Hatchet. I really like the pitch, but I think this: "and each other while hunting for what's at the end of the map and uncovering a painful secret that explains the root of their tension" could be worded more clearly. The two brothers have some unresolved problem with one another, right? Not sure how the secret plays into that. Also, having read your last comment, I think it could be made clearer from the start that it's dual POV, because the query reads like it's only Bryce's. Is the family secret something to do with the map or the boys' tension, or both-it's not clear to me. If it's just the boys' secret, then it seems like the query drops the idea of what the map is about in favor of the boys' tension so it's hard to tell if the map is just a device to help them get lost.

    I love the first page, filled with voice. Maybe the first sentence should end with "in the barn loft." to give us a better mental picture of setting from the start. Good luck! (#38)

  7. That sounds like a great survival tale. I found the first page flowing very well and very mysterious. I am not sure choosing life over afterlife works but I guess it proves the stakes are high.

  8. Pitch:
    Wow this sounds cool. I'd definitely read it! My only criticism is that the following sentence is really long and somewhat difficult to read. Maybe break it down a bit? " On their journey, Bryce and his big brother, Jack, are separated from Grandpa and must work together to survive the wilderness . . . and each other while hunting for what's at the end of the map and uncovering a painful secret that explains the root of their tension."

    First Page:
    I agree that the first page needs a sense of urgency. The pitch is written in. Very exciting manner, yet the first page just shows Bryce rifling through some boxes. If you could up the descriptions or give us some of his thoughts (what if Grandpa comes in, I can't believe I'm actually doing this, etc) I think this page could be really effective!

    Good luck!

    Domenic (#28)

  9. Also, I LOVE dual perspective narratives, and while you didn't come out and say that in your pitch, I can see that really working here. :)

  10. I'll wager there's a market for this kind of survival story--and I like the idea of brothers having to rely on each other in the wilderness.

    I think you have a "where to start the story?" issue. Most of the time, we start a story too early, but I think you may have started a wee bit late. By this, I mean I would like to be grounded more in why Bryce is being a snoop. Is he bored? Does he suspect Grandpa's really hiding treasure? Is he a kleptomaniac? I would like to know him a little better before the snooping starts. It need only be a paragraph or two--"I had to remind myself that I'd wanted to spend the summer with Grandpa. I'd imagined days of hikes, and afternoons of fishing, but here I was with basically nothing to do..." I want to see him consider the barn as a good place to lark about in, and then to see him climbing the stairs(what does he notice? sensory details, please!) with a sense of excitement (or of purpose, if he is after something in particular.) If you accomplished that, I would be invested in Bryce and his adventure.

    Good luck with this potentially very exciting adventure story!

  11. Wow! This looks great! I would read it. I love the query and am eery intrigued. I think the beginning is a bit slow. I wonder if you maybe should just chop a bit and start with the grandpa peaking up the stairs and him stashing the map in his pocket? I'm just trying to help get to the action. Good luck with your project! :) Lara

  12. hhhmm--- Just thought if this: If you need one more comp, "Between a Rock and a Hard Place" is also very similar to Hatchet. The adventure with boys and having to save each other. It involves diabetes 1 and the race against time of going into a coma or something...

  13. Thank you all so much for your comments. Yes, figuring out where to start is huge and I've tried several places in this ms. I can try tweaking that a bit more. Lara, thanks for the comp!


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