Manuscript Title: The Friday Night Fright Club
Word Count: 45,000 words
Genre: Upper MG ghost story
Twelve-year-old Nita Adams, President of the Friday Night Fright Club, badly wants to see a ghost. Particularly now that the Fright Club’s in danger of imploding, due to her best friends’ other interests—sports and boys. (After all, how can boys compare to banshees or bhoots—Indian ghosts with backward facing feet?)
There’s trouble, though, with the new girl in school. Destiny claims to be a summoner—even worse, she appears to be taking over Nita’s friends’ minds. It’s a race to see who can summon a spirit first. Ouija boards, spell books, magical lockets, and sneaking into “haunted” houses are all part of the duel.
However, as Nita finds out, some spirits should definitely remain unsummoned. That's because the spirit she unleashes has mayhem and murder on his mind. And if Nita can’t find a way to stop him, someone close to her may very well end up dead.
The skull glowed in the dim light of the battery-powered votive candles. Wisps of fog snaked through its empty eye sockets. Its yellowing teeth grinned as it faced one bedroom wall and then another. Finally, it swooped down and smacked the seventh-grade social studies textbook lying beneath it. A voice rang out. “I, the Mistress of Graves, call this meeting of the Friday Night Fright Club to order."
The voice belonged to Nita Adams, president of the club. She’d been waiting for this moment all week. October was her favorite month—Halloween!—and the weather in Oregon was deliciously spooky. Tonight, the wind roared through the enormous fir trees guarding the ravine behind her house. Rain tapped against her bedroom window. How she wished the tapping was the sound of a ghost, desperate to return to a previous life! She would race to the window and let her in.
An excited shiver ran through her. She peered at her best friends, Brenny Diffendecker and Maddie Cole-Armstrong. Brenny, wide-eyed, looked spooked. Now, to complete the mission and terrify Maddie…
Nita straightened the plastic skull in front of her and flung her arms wide. Vapor from the fogger on her dresser swirled around all three of them. They looked like wraiths.
“I have two words for you,” Nita said. “Bloody Mary.”
Next to her, Brenny stiffened. “No!”
Nita turned the skull to face Maddie. “Bloody Mary, Queen of Horrors, will be with us tonight. What say you, Chief Warrior Priestess?”
“Cool!” Maddie gave a thumbs-up.
Your first 250 is a charming scene full of MG spirit and spooky quirks. The voice, too, is simple enough to highlight the charm, but give full attention to the characters. I love a good 3rd person omniscient, and you've done that quite well.ReplyDelete
In the pitch, though it is quite strong at the end and the beginning (especially voice-wise at the beginning), I did stumble about half way through: "It’s a race to see who can summon a spirit first." This is where it goes a bit wonky for me. Why is it a race? Does she challenge her to a race to protect her friends, or does she want to summon a ghost to defeat her and save her friends? This seems to be a large crux of the motivation that propels the action forward, and therefore needs to be clarified.
Also, not an important thing exactly just a formatting nit-pick, but spaces between paragraphs will make it much easier to read :)
Hope that helped! Have a good day, and good luck!
Thanks for your insights, Kayla!Delete
As for formatting, does anyone have a recommendation about what to do next time? I sent in my email (via gmail), formatted with nice paragraph breaks, and then it appeared as above. Definitely hard on the eyes!
I wouldn't worry about the formatting. Mine lost formatting also when it posted, as did others. I think it might be the fault of the mail server. Pretty sure that readers here will be forgiving enough to concentrate on the writing rather than the formatting. ;)Delete
This is great! I'm totally hooked. You've managed to weave in a conflict that middle grade kids can really relate to - friends moving on, finding other interests - with a spooky story of what happens when a ghost really does show up! I can't think of anything I would change. Best of luck!ReplyDelete
I sent mine with paragraphs breaks too and it ended up all smashed together. Wonder what we're doing wrong?ReplyDelete
I love the opening, but wonder if you could find a better transition then "The voice belonged too..." just a thought.ReplyDelete
The pitch confused me just a little bit. I think you should focus on Destiny as being the major conflict rather then her best friends being interested in other things.
Other wise the opening and pitch are great. Love the voice of the first 250.
Interesting premise, especially since the MG is a girl.ReplyDelete
Pitch: Overall, it 's really good. I did find I had to read the first paragraph several times. I think it's the wording of the 2nd sentence. Maybe "But her friends are more interested in sports and boys than Nita's Fright Club." would be cleaner. The rest is terrific.
250: Very nice setup. You convey voice, the nature of the story, and the personality of all three girls. Enjoyed it.
BTW, thanks for the comments you made on mine! (#38)Delete
Looks like I got her late to the party!
I agree that it looks like your MC is fighting on two fronts; save FC from boys and sports, and the new girl. Have the ever summoned a ghost before Destiny? Is their first one going to be their worst one?
She had been waiting for this moment all week... Next sentence talks about the month... sort of threw me a little. (Petty right?)
Last thing and I will ditto all praises above my humble comment.. How often do they meet? If I were a parent and my daughter and her friends were in there rooms in the seventh grade trying to summon spirits... I may consider taking her to church... Or is this more of an annual tradition that they are keeping going? Not real sure what vibe I should get from the gathering. Thinking as a parent: if my kid is getting a book about a four girls obsessed with the dead I may say pick another book. If it has a few times or even once a year thing going, I'd be more apt to say "Grab it, but if you wet your bed, you clean it up!"
You are a wonderful third person writer. Great feel.
Have a wonderful evening!
Fellow Competitor & Writing Friend #35
Ouija boards, spirits, and Fright clubs! This is such a fun setup, which is also only a step away from terrifying. I like the idea of a rivalry taken too far, and a game turning into a fight for survival. There's so much opportunity for character growth here, not to mention for adventure, thrilling and frightening both.Your writing is atmospheric and wonderfully descriptive and the hint of humor makes it all the more enjoyable.ReplyDelete
I agree with Kayla; what if you clarified the second part of your pitch: "When Destiny tries to steal Nita's thunder and—even worse, her friends by claiming she's a REAL summoner, Nita rises to the challenge. And the race to see who can summon a spirit first is on. "
What an awesome story!!
#44 The Land of Joy And Sorrow
#44 The Land Of Joy And Sorrow
Ooh--I like your tweak of the pitch, Katya. Will def. use it if I make it any further. (Gulp! It's going to be a bear to cut these 50 down to 25. So much good stuff!!!)Delete
A story about ghosts and girls? I'm in. This promises to be a fun and exciting story, a bit terrifying too! In terms of marketing, tone of 250, MS length, and issues of friendship/loyalty/trust mentioned in pitch indicate MG to me, rather than upper MG. I enjoyed the 250. Seems like the pitch needs help, though. I echo above comments and suggest concentrating on the competition with the new girl. Maybe start out with the set up: Every Friday night for the past (# months) Nita and her friends meet hoping to summon ghosts, banshees, bhoots, even the dreaded Bloody Mary (I love that she's president - so much pressure!), but so far all they've done is scare themselves. Now introduce the new girl and say why she's a threat. Next introduce the complication making all of this so much worse. Finally say what Nita stands to lose if she doesn't fix all this. You have all the elements already, it's just a matter of tightening the prose in the pitch. (So much easier to see when it's not my own!)ReplyDelete
Best of luck with this.
I think it's terrific.
~ Melissa (#43: The Other Side of Normal)
I love the pitch. Duels with summoned spirits? It reminds me of some of the great saturday morning cartoons I used to watch although the spooky vibe I get from the first 250 makes it unique. While it's interesting to know what a bhoot is (I sure did not know) I wonder if a similar yet more familiar ethereal creature might suffice so you don't need to keep the explanation. I can't find much to comment on in the first 250 except to nit pick which I won't do. For me, the Bloody Mary bit made me want to read on because I remember those games as a kid.ReplyDelete
Well done and good luck!
John (#26: Aurum)
I like the sound of this story and you have done a great job with the pitch and first page. I think you can get more bang out of the first sentence of the pitch if you leave out the "President of the Friday Night Fight Club" and just go with "Twelve-year-old Nita Adams badly wants to see a ghost." and work the President of the Fight Club into the second line. "She's President of the Friday Night Fight Club, which is in danger..."ReplyDelete
The only little thing that pulled me out of your first page was "An excited shiver ran through her. She peered at her best friends," Maybe just show that "She shivered and peered..."
Excellent work! Good luck.
Mike Hays (#19)
Ooh, I love this. First off, bonus points for setting the story in Oregon! The names you've picked for your characters are great & give a real sense of their personalities, even in the first 250.ReplyDelete
The pitch is well done, I get a good sense of what's at stake. Best of luck to you! I want to read this one when it's published.
Love the first line! What an original character! The second sentence of the first paragraph feels a little clunky, though. Perhaps edit it into two full sentences? May read just a bit better!
There's also a lot of info in the second paragraph. I agree that I wonder why there is a race to summon spirits. What's the main conflict? Her friends? Destiny? The spirit she conjures? Obviously these are all very important to your story, I just felt a little overwhelmed.
This immediately drew me in--I wish there was more!
Good luck, and thanks for the comments on mine!