Thursday, February 19, 2015

Entry #32: TRACKED

85,000 words
YA Sci-fi Thriller/Romance


Merilee is the bold, flirty girlfriend of teen celebrity heartthrob Jarek. On a virtual network. And accomplice to dangerous, handsome Lock. When she is caught with the shadowy outcast on video feed. The seventeen-year-old wins a "real" date with Jarek, and they both fall heart first. But her dad has been fading since her mom mysteriously died. And a security task force is tracking her for not turning in Lock. Neither the alias Jarek believes is real, nor the underground where Lock hides can protect her for long. A syringe with her name on it awaits her. And it is filled with a dose of the identity-wiping serum her own mother helped create.

First Page: 

Breathless, I run through damp grass toward a soaring column wrapped in licks of smog, the sky the color of crushed plum.

Perfect day to forget your double shift, Merilee.

My best friend Cassia is waiting. Will she be different now? A lump forms in my throat. I need to be there for her. I promised.

Thrown over one shoulder, my backpack jabs me with each step. I hug it close to me – inside is Cassia’s gift. A waft of steamy air assaults my nostrils. Ugh. I stifle a gag. Ahead of me, a footpath leads from Arena Park to the residential towers, and at the bottom of a hill, I come to a halt.

The path is unlit. Awe-stonishing. Not. Overhead, slender trees cast early evening shadows.

Come on, Lee. Up the hill and you’re home.

Beads of sweat slip down into the collar of a shirt I tucked into a pair of faded cargos. My back pocket buzzes. I grab for the new communicator I bought, but something dances at the edge of my vision and stops me. I snatch my hand back and clutch the straps of my bag. My eyes latch onto the base of a park lamp. Is a security camera recording me? I trace a line of shadow up to the top. The lamp flickers once, and putters out.

Just a faulty bulb, not a camera that stores my ID and location in its database. Not that I have anything to hide.


  1. Your opening does a great job creating the atmosphere for the scene. Your descriptions and the character's thoughts make it easy to imagine the setting.

    The pitch could mention why being spotted with Lock wins her a date with Jarek.

    Also, should "When she is caught with the shadowy outcast on video feed. The seventeen-year-old wins a "real" date with Jarek, and they both fall heart first" be joined by a comma instead of a period at "...feed. The..."

  2. That sounds like a terribly exciting story. I love the first scene. You were able to instill a sense of emergency, danger and uniqueness to it. I was a little disappointed to read that she had nothing to hide. I wish she had something to hide. That would make this more exciting.
    Even if I found the first page outstanding, I found the pitch really hard to understand and dislocated. Lock is her accomplice in what? Why is the dad fading? Is he a virtual dad or a real dad? Why does she need to turn in Lock? Would someone track you for not turning in someone else or because they think you're guilty? Guilty of what? Did Lock arrange the meeting with Jared illegally? What alias Jarek believes is real? Does Merilee think her alias will protect her from who? Jarek? You see, very confusing. Why would Lock's hideout protect her? Is this all virtual?

  3. Good Evening Author,
    First 250:
    There is a lot going on here! I had to read it twice to make sure I understood everything. Your descriptions are very detailed of the surroundings which is good. Actually, I see the setting very well in my mind. I have no idea what she is running to/from though? It sounds like she is late for work (double shift), but then Cassia is waiting for her, but maybe different (Physically?). Plus there is a gift for her?
    I went from thinking she forgot that she was covering Cassia's shift at work, to Cassia is in the hospital, to birthday party/hospital? Just need a little more clarity to what is going on (not too much)
    In the first few sentences (I'm not an ace at punctuations,etc. but) I'm pretty sure that there are some punctuation/capitalization issues. The overview is feasible. I feel that there are some heavy things in the Pitch that are left very vague. If she is Lock's accomplice, why isn't she being hunted like Lock is for whatever crime... What crime did they commit? Shouldn't she be hunted for the crime and not for failing to turn Lock in? How does being on camera win her the date with the hunk? I think this could be cool if it is cleaned up.
    Good Luck, and Happy Writing!
    Fellow competitor & Writing Friend

    1. When I say punctuation and capitalization issues; the word "And' stood out to me a lot. Three times I see it leading off a sentence. Then a few of the sentences seem choppy and maybe better together i.e.
      Merilee is the bold, flirty girlfriend of teen celebrity heartthrob, Jarek, on a virtual network.
      She is his costar, but then they fall in love in real life right? That is how I am reading it.
      Hope that clarifies where I was at with my thoughts

  4. Thank you so much for your feedback so far, everyone! I am taking notes! I really appreciate every comment.

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  6. I love the language and the mood of TRACKED. Lee's voice dominates the scene, and her specific way of speaking instantly gives me a sense of her character. And your world, with its security cameras and flickering light bulbs, becomes another fascinating character.

    Typically I am not a huge fan of love triangles, unless each boy represents a life choice, becoming a symbol of what matters most to your protagonist/what she must give up or embrace. But in your pitch, I am very intrigued by Lee's double life. I'd recommend emphasizing the contrast between the two love interests.

    What an exciting premise! Love the combination of danger, mystery and adventure.

  7. Pitch:
    I agree with the other posters that I don't think your pitch did the story justice. The punctuation threw me a bit, and I wonder exactly what your MC needs to do to reach her goals. We know what will happen if she doesn't, but what must she do to avoid getting that syringe?

    First page:
    Really vivid descriptions. You start right with the action. I'd love to read more--good luck!

    Domenic (#28)

  8. Pitch: I would think that sci-fi pitches would be doubly hard to write because you have to build your world as well as explain your plot. I understand that Merilee is on a virtual network which I'm assuming is like a reality show? If not, you need to rework that sentence. Who is lock and what is Merilee an accomplice in? Is that part of the virtual network or real life? And why does she win a date with Jarek if she is already his girlfriend?

    First 250: Some of your images are just lovely. Licks of smog. Crushed plum. I'd like some more information as to who Cassia is, what's happened to her and why she would be different. I get the feeling Merilee is somewhere she shouldn't be, doing something she shouldn't be doing. Your story has a lot of potential, just needs a few tweaks to clear up some confusion. Best of luck!

  9. Thank you so much for the comments! Really, I am learning so much by your feedback and have revamped my pitch.

    p.s. Jenny - I appreciate the sympathy. :) LOL

  10. Hi! I’m late to the party, but I wanted to leave a comment for you. I love the premise of this story: it’s like READY PLAYER ONE meets the TV show CAPRICA, and that’s pretty exciting. As a former editor, I would say watch out for sentences that start with conjunctions outside of dialog, and also watch out for sentence fragments. They can be a good stylistic choice, but shouldn’t make up the bulk of a story — they can become hard to read.

    In your pitch, the idea of Dad fading (in the real world or the virtual one or both?) is intriguing. I like the phrase “fall heart first” too. It sets the stakes for loss further down the line.

    For the first 250, my big question was this: where is it taking place? Since you’ve got the setup for the virtual world I made the assumption it was there, but I couldn’t be sure since nothing answered that particular question for me.

    I would absolutely love to read more of this to see where it’s going and what happens. I sure don’t mind triangles; they’re a big part of life for most teenagers. It looks like you’ve got a gem in the making here.



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