Thursday, February 19, 2015

Entry #29: RIVETED

68,000 words
YA Sci-Fi


As one of the mechanical race known as the boltedkindred, Johnny Rivet has the curiosity to seek out reasons for the cold war separating him from his human friend, Rebecca.

Johnny is used to being feared. He has his own fears, though: the unfinished men, people with eyes like dark ink pools and paper skin masquerading as humans. These creatures burn with an irrational hatred of the boltedkindred who share their city, a crumbling alternate-1950s metropolis with futuristic technology. When Johnny and Rebecca are together, the eyes of the unfinished men follow.

No one else notices the faces the unfinished men wear aren’t fully human. No one else sees the city is breaking down.

Together, Johnny and Rebecca notice, and they want to know why. They unite to stop the cold war before it erupts into a violent inferno—and find they’ll have to leave home to do so.

First 250 words:

There was a time when the only questions I’d been preoccupied with were the tiniest mysteries of the universe, questions that fascinated but were never a matter life or death. Why does the rose bloom? How does the bumblebee fly? Never questions like, Who are the unfinished men? What do they get out of destroying the boltedkindred?

Because I couldn’t see them for what they were yet, creatures only masquerading as humans. Now, thinking of the ink-dark, sightless-looking pits of their eyes sent an unconscious sharp impulse of nervous energy looping through my thoughts.

But back then, I would spend hours in our garden watching bees and calculating their flight paths; it was my version of daydreaming or cloud-watching. Bees moved from one brilliant merlot-colored rose to the next while numbers streamed languidly through my brain. Happiness sparked in me, warm and pleasurable.

I spent vast hours and countless lazy days dwelling on the golden ratio or the flight of the bumblebee. According to the myth, science said bumblebees couldn’t fly. Apparently the wings didn’t have enough lift to support the weight of the bee.

But it wasn’t true. The flight of the bumblebee was complicated, certainly, but with the right model, it all computed.

Me, though? Thus far, my existence didn’t compute, and that made me a fearsome creature.
I liked watching bees because I loved knowing that there were mysteries of science that were far less complicated than they initially seemed. It gave me hope, reminding me that maybe one day my own people would make total sense to humans.


  1. Love the premise, the title, and the pitch. Love it all.

  2. PS. Would love to connect with you so give me a follow on twitter and I'll follow you back :)

  3. I found this line to be the most intriguing of your pitch: "Johnny is used to being feared". Why? What is fearful about him? What powers does he have? Does he like being feared? Would he rather not be so scary? I'd like to know more about his relationship with Rebecca. Is she just a friend or is there more of an an emotional connection? Wars and violence can be interesting, but ultimately it is emotional connections that keep people reading. The writing is lovely in your first 250, but I'm worried it is too quiet for a YA audience. It's too much description and backstory. Start with some action and leave the introspection for when the reader is attached to Johnny. Good luck with this. I see a lot of potential!

  4. Good Morning Author!
    Ok let's see..
    I am interested to know how if there is a cold war between the two "species" if you will... how does Johnny become friends with Rebecca in the first place?
    I love the struggle to fit in feel here but I fear that maybe you use to much description in your 150 that could be used on giving us a sense of the book overall verse "explaining yourself." You maybe able to condense it if you gave us a book reference to give us and overtone; like IRobot meets Lost World set in 1950's Gothem. 7 words gives me a vibe on how the book is going to read. Like the story line and how much it can offer. I agree with Jenny.. how can you make this spark for YA readers?
    Good Luck and Happy Writing
    Fellow Competitor & Writing Friend #35

  5. Your writing is so lovely! And I appreciate you using the golden ratio and the flight of the bumblebee to reveal your mc's fears and dreams. An analytical thinker-dreamer is a fascinating character, and I would love to get inside his head and follow the train of his thoughts until the last page. You pose many questions right away, one of them: Why doesn't Johnny's existence compute? Why doesn't it make sense to humans? I will keep reading just to see where the answers to these two questions might lead me. Well done!

    This said, your pitch reads more like an MG fantasy than a YA. I think the reason for this is your phrasing "Johnny Rivet has the curiosity to seek out reasons for the cold war separating him from his human friend, Rebecca." The word "curiosity" makes him seem young. I'd encourage you to rework this. "As one of the mechanical race known as the boltedkindred, Johnny Rivet questions the reasons for the cold war separating him from his human friend, Rebecca."
    Feel free to ping me on Twitter any time. :)
    Good luck and write on!!
    #44 The Land of Joy and Sorrow

  6. Pitch:
    You've created a really interesting world here, but most of the pitch is backstory rather than plot. I think you could delete vague phrases like "has the curiosity" and "is used to being feared" and use the word count to describe what the characters need to do, how they do it, and what will happen if they fail. That last sentence is where things got really interesting, but it was only a sentence.

    First Page:
    This is beautifully written. I love the questions your MC asks. However, the switching tenses (I thought this then, but I know this now) makes me feel disconnected from the story. I appreciate the stream of consciousness, but perhaps it would be more effective if it were coupled with a bit of action. Start us off with a bang! Good luck =)

    Domenic (#28)

  7. Pitch: Lots of intriguing things here: the setting, the unfinished men, the main character being a robot. I agree with other commenters who recommend you clarify why Johnny is feared—and also why he fears the unfinished men. What threat do they pose to him? I also wasn’t sure about the use of the term “cold war.” Are humans and robots spreading malicious propaganda about each other and stockpiling weapons to intimidate each other? There are lots of interesting things going on that just need to be set out as clearly as possible.

    First page: I agree with other commenters that it could be tighter. Consider giving the reader a “concrete place to land.” It doesn’t have to be in the middle of actual action, but it helps to know more about the MC’s current state of mind. You might briefly describe the bumblebee flight observations, which give a great picture of what the MC’s state of mind used to be, and then contrast that with what’s going on right now in a more in-depth way.


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