Friday, February 27, 2015



95,000 words

It’s 2118, and sixteen-year-old Zackaria Kato scares anyone who gazes into her eyes. Although handy against bullies at school, the fear-inducing ability is a constant reminder of her freakish nature. In need of a break, Zackaria pounces on free tickets to a popular underground arena to watch humans fight androids. But instead of watching, she’s goaded by an enigmatic stranger into entering the ring. She’s pushed to the brink of death by the androids, triggering a second, malevolent personality called Arah to awaken inside Zackaria’s mind and bestow her with superior combat skills to crush her opponents.

Before Zackaria can discover the shocking secret about her connection to Arah, a mercenary kidnaps her sister. Zackaria seeks Arah’s assistance, but Arah will only help if Zackaria willfully surrenders up her body. With time running out, Zackaria must decide whether she’s desperate enough to lose her freewill forever by accepting Arah’s proposal.

First 250 words:
Zackaria hated trains. Buses too. And airplanes were the most unbearable. She would rather cross a cold Siberian wasteland barefoot than be stuck in a closed compartment with a bunch of people. Wasn’t the last time she boarded a train four years ago? And she was doing so well with avoiding public transportation. Until now.

With trembling hands buried in the pockets of her gray pea coat, Zackaria stepped into the Bentham Red Line’s railcar.

Her brother and sister, Ryker and Meliz, had not yet entered after her when everyone inside erupted into a hum of whispers and nervous chatter. Strangers stole glances at Zackaria’s face. She shut her eyes to spare the passengers from her gaze, but she was too late.

A toddler's cry broke through the cacophony, and his mother's blood red nails pressed his head close to her blouse. A young man soothed his yapping pug, a squished ball of brown and black. Another passenger hid his face behind a leather satchel. A couple that had caught Zackaria's eyes stared in the opposite direction. The woman whispered into her partner’s ear, and the couple, hands locked, abandoned their seats to sit further down the car. Way down. Most passengers close to Zackaria squirmed in their seats. The rest moved as far away as the length of the railcar would allow. No one dared look in her direction again.

Rage perched on Zackaria’s shoulder, digging its claws into it.


  1. Love, love, love the revisions. The judges are going to have it tough whittling it down to 10!

  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  3. Thank you, Krista! Sadly, this isn't my revised first 250 that I sent! It's my old one... :( I think I sent the wrong one to Lisa, eek!

  4. I love the last line in the 250! Great imagery. I would say the second-to-last paragraph goes on for a while, though. I love the description, but after the first two or so sentences, it starts to lag the forward momentum of the story. But then, it looks like you actually revised that, so--sorry! That stinks that it's your old one D: It's still good, though, so I wish you luck!

    As for the pitch, I love the strong sense of stakes. That's gold! I do wonder why discussion of her frightening gaze is so coy, though. It seems unnecessary, and I'd rather know, especially if it's important enough that the pitch begins with a description of it.

    I also think the last line of the pitch could be a bit stronger. It's already direct and intense, and I love that, but the use of the word "whether" gives you the opportunity to present two possibilities, but only one is utilized. Just a possibility: "With time running out, Zackaria must decide whether to lose her freewill forever or to sacrifice the only family she's ever known." Now obviously not exactly that, since I don't know your story as well as you do, but see how this makes use of the "whether" without needless repetition of Arah's proposal (since there's no way we're going to forget that ultimatum)?

    Still, those are just nit-picky things :) This story is extremely appealing, and I wish you the best of luck!


  5. Pitch: Much stronger. Really gripping premise. The only additional suggestion I have is delete "up" in the penultimate sentence as it isn't needed.

    250: Kayla's got great suggestions. This is still a strong first page, even if it isn't your most recent revision. I would like to read more. Good luck! (#7)

  6. Pitch: intriguing. Reminds me of Stephenie Meyer's THE HOST and maybe FIGHT CLUB.

    +1: The writing is all good here, but I'm not grabbed by anything until I get to this sentence: "Strangers stole glances at Zackaria’s face." I'd like it even more if I knew why her face was so distinctive. What is it about her eyes that is so intimidating? Too bad we're not reading your revision here. I'd read on anyway because the pitch concept is so good.
    (#14 OSN)


Please leave your courteous and professional comments for the writer! We'd love to hear from you! : )