Friday, February 27, 2015


63,000 words
MG mystery/adventure


When Bones Malone pulls a half-delirious man from the Langille River, he stumbles onto a secret: his town is ground zero for a new technology that brings people's nightmares to life.
Langille was meant to be a fresh start for Bones, away from his father. All he wants is to take care of his mom and brothers, play baseball, and figure out how to stay out of trouble. But as he and his friends uncover a plot to turn Langille into a waking nightmare, Bones lands in his biggest fight yet. He's up against powerful people who use fear as a weapon on anyone in their way—including the town's nosy new reporter, Bones' mother.
Bones might be the bravest kid around, but he'll have to face the nightmare invention and confront his deepest fear if he wants to save his town—and his own struggling family.

First 250 words:

Clouds hung low above the town of Langille, gray as wet cement. Bones hoped the rain would hold off. He was pitching that night, if he could still throw. He flexed his sore knuckles. Stupid. He should have punched Tony Spezio with his left hand.

As if she could hear his thoughts, his mother walked faster. She was three steps ahead, locked in Too Angry For Words mode, each stride radiating fury. Bones and his brothers struggled to keep pace.

“Mom, come on,” he said.

Rachel marched on. She had not looked at him once since they left the Spezios’ house. “I said we’ll discuss it later.”

“I know I shouldn’t have punched Tony, but—”

She whirled. “Quentin Malone. The last thing I want to hear right now is an excuse.”

He hated his real name. She only used it in formal situations, like the first time they met with a lawyer. Or when she was really mad.

“He was picking on Rory, Mom,” Bones said. “I was trying to stop him.”

“It’s true,” added Bones’ seven-year-old brother, Dylan. “Tony called Rory a little sissy. He was trying to make him wear a dress.”

Rachel froze. “He was what?”

They looked at Rory, who stared at the sidewalk. Bones didn’t think his 10-year-old brother could bear to hear the story repeated.

He had tried to make peace. Honestly. He asked Tony politely to leave Rory alone. But Tony responded by calling the Malones a bunch of mama’s boys and said something crude about their mother.


  1. I like the nightmares machine aspect. Wonder if that might push it into speculative fiction though.

  2. Pitch: Interesting premise. I think my main suggestion would be to see if you can give a hint as to the motivation for bringing nightmares to life.

    250: This is a strong introduction to your MC. We learn a lot about him, the depth of his relationship with his family, and how he deals with problems in just a few words. There are quite a few characters on this page, but since you don't really have them active on this page, I think it works okay. Nice beginning. Good luck! (#7)

  3. I really like this! It reminds me of a Buffy the Vampire slayer episode! One thing I wanted to know was like what happens to the people that live in their nightmares? Do they just go insane? Good work! Loved the descriptions of the boys in the 250! Reminds me of Malcolm in the Middle!

  4. Pitch: I like the concept. To make your pitch tighter, I suggest removing 2nd and 3rd and 4th sentences and using the 5th sentence to explain who the powerful people are, what they want, and what they use to get it. Good job showing what's at stake for Bones. (I like his name!)

    +1: I suggest rewriting the first paragraph so it begins with the last sentence hook.
    Remove this: "As if she could hear his thoughts, his mother walked faster. She" and just say: His mother walked faster. Other than that, I think this page is golden. Nice voice. Nice pacing. Personalities and social dynamic all come across.
    (#14 OSN)

  5. Hi there! I really like your opening. Great revisions. A couple of questions: Wondering if your genre is correct? Sci Fi or Fantasy perhaps because of the Nightmare technology. Also, saying, '...added Bones' 7yo brother, Dylan.' is a tell. You could show us his age later since it's not necessary at the beginning.

    Great job and best of luck!

  6. I agree with a change in genre to MG speculative fiction; it fits the story better. I like the pitch and think you did a good job of introducing the stakes and giving an idea of who Bones is. The pacing and dialog exchange in the first page is awesome. One thing, though, I think you'd be better served to leave out the mother's name "Rachel" and use "Mom" in this scene since it only included the mother and the boys,

    I love the premise of this story. Perfect for middle-grade. Good luck!

    Mike Hays (#11)

  7. Hi all, thanks for the great feedback. I had wondered about genre so your comments about sci-fi/speculative fiction are really helpful.

  8. Love your pitch! Battling nightmares come to life sounds terrifying and fantastical and exciting (it reminds me a little of Dreamscape). And the bit about Quentin's father makes me come up with a dozen theories of what your mc's greatest fear might involve. Well-done! From the first paragraph of your opening I know I want to read all about Bones and his adventures.
    Best of luck!
    #10 The Land of Joy and Sorrow


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