Thursday, February 19, 2015



95,000 words



It’s 2118. Two sisters and a brother harbor a great secret: they have extraordinary abilities. Sixteen-year-old Zackaria Kato, the eldest, possesses superhuman strength and rouses bone-shaking fear into anyone who gazes into her eyes. But all Zackaria wants is to live life as a normal person. Her and her siblings’ lives quickly spiral into turmoil when Zackaria accepts an invitation to an underground battle arena and somehow finds herself in the ring. The heat of the fight pushes her to her limits, making her awaken from within a malevolent entity called Arah. Arah bestows Zackaria with superior fighting skills that devastates her enemies, but attracts deadly attention. A bounty hunter emerges and kidnaps Zackaria’s sister to lure her into battle. She and her brother set out to rescue their sister, but Zackaria fears she may have to become Arah’s eternal prisoner in exchange for help in saving her sister.

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. Good Evening Author!
    I like the story as it is read in the Pitch.
    Some suggestions:
    The word somehow is use to tell us how she got in the ring. Right before that she accepted the invite; that confuses me a bit. Maybe explain how she somehow got into the ring.. (know it's a pain to do in under 150)
    She has superhuman strength and causes fear to those around her, and then a being inside her gives her the power to fight... That bounty hunter had better have some sick skills as well to stand up to the immovable object and unstoppable force.
    So these people on the train must know who Zackaria is if they hide their face before he looks at them? Or did I miss the part that he saw everyone who was now cowering. Was there a feature she had that made them fear, or just an aura about her?
    Are the other siblings powers important to the story at all? If so, then the bad guy at the end must be a real bad dude! I do like the fear description though. I would be ticked at life if everywhere I went people freaked out around me.
    Keep up the good writing!
    Fellow Competitor & Writing Friend.

  2. Hi Krista, thank you for your kind words!

    Hi MP Eagle, thanks so much for your feedback and encouragement. Yes, I made a revised pitch in which I explain the flow of events better, including why she accepts the invitation and why she gets into the ring. I learned that “somehow” was a poor choice of words. And definitely, Z and her siblings have nothing on the bounty hunter, which is why she must a difficult decision about getting help.

    Simply gazing into her eyes induces fear. The explanation for why comes a little bit after. I’m not exactly sure how I can push it up in the first 250. But I will have to revise the line about Z shutting her eyes because she actually does like staring at people, despite her scary ability, lol. And yes, the siblings’ powers do matter. Thanks again!

    1. Awesome clarification! Good luck on those revisions and I hope to see you in round 3!

    2. Thanks! I hope the same for you!

  3. Pitch:
    Really cool concept! Almost reads like a futuristic Last Airbender. Love the secret entity!

    I would say that there's a lot going on in the pitch. I was hooked at the beginning, but the info about the sister being kidnapped at the end almost felt tacked on, which you don't want since those are your stakes. I'd maybe look at what exactly you want readers to get from these 150 words and focus more fully on that rather than a bunch of plot points.

    First page:
    LOVE your descriptions. Very powerful. Also hating trains is such a cool way to start the book. I feel like I know your character! The original names are also very effective. I'd love to read more--good luck!

    Domenic (#28)

    1. Hi Domenic, yeah, writing my pitch was pretty difficult because my story is complicated, and I wanted to find the right way to set up the instigating factor, which leads to a host of terrible things, including the kidnapping of Z's sister. I'm learning not to list things, but to clearly show how one action leads to another. Thanks for your comments and your encouraging words on my first 250!

  4. Pitch: Her abilities and the fear she inspires remind me of Shatter Me, but the evil spirit thing is a different twist. "Her and her siblings' lives" is a little awkward; why not just say "The three siblings' lives...

    250: Vivid description of her effect on other people. If just the sight of her is that frightening, no wonder she doesn't like going out in public. The last line gives us a good sense that she is not a passive heroine. Good luck! (#38)

    1. Thanks for your comments, Melissa! I've been meaning to read Shatter Me for a while now. Definitely will have to pick it up now. And noted on the the awkward phrase. Good luck to you too!

  5. Pitch:
    "rouses ... into" doesn't sound quite right to me.
    The pitch picks up for me with the underground battle. Exciting!
    "making her awaken from within a malveolent entity" sounds a bit awkward to me. Maybe try to tighten this up.I'd also like more details here. What exactly is Arah? I'd like a clearer picture of her/him/it.
    "She and her brother" -- it's unclear who it being referred to here.
    At the end of the pitch, my take is that Arah is kind of like a parasite and Zackaria is the host. That said, I'm confused as to how Arah has the power to hold Zackaria prisoner. Some more detail could help flesh this out. If you need to cut, maybe combine the first two sentences and pare down.

    First 250:
    "had not yet entered after her" -- You can cut the "after her"
    I agree with MPEagles - I would love to know in the first 250 why the passengers didn't want to meet her gaze. Based on what's there, I thought maybe she had a deformity that was causing people to shun her. Maybe add in a few words to distinguish from this and to hint at what's to come.
    Great writing. I was drawn in.
    Best of luck!

    1. Hi Gloriachao, thanks for your comments! Yeah, I realized that I need to clearly describe what Arah is. She's actually Zackaria's second personality. Sometimes trying to keep within the 150 wc makes me leave out vital information. Will be sure to add that in the revised pitch. Ahah has the ability to take possession of Zackaria's body, but only with Zackaria's permission. Wow, should probs include that too. :P And noted on putting hints to help the reader understand what's going in the train. Thanks again!

  6. Pitch: One way you might cut some words so you can use them elsewhere is to consider leaving out the siblings except where they’re absolutely necessary (i.e., the sister being kidnapped). Of course, they’re important to the MC (and to you) but if they don’t help sell the story, they might sit out the pitch. I agree with other commenters about things it would help to explain: Is Arah somehow inside of the MC? How can Arah imprison her? It might also help to clarify what the bounty hunter wants from her: Just a fight? Or is there a bounty on her head?

    First page: I knew from the pitch why no one on the train wanted to look at or be near her, but a reader coming in fresh might wonder if it’s something about her physical appearance. The descriptions of people’s reactions were vivid and effective. We’ll need to know soon whether her rage is directed at the people on the train or at the fact that she has this curse. Too bad the word count ended where it did!

    1. YES! I agree Lesley. I decided to cut out the siblings because mentioning them took up precious words that I could use to explain other things such what Arah is and what the bounty hunter wants. Yes, there is a bounty on Z's head. From what I can see from everyone's comments, I'll have to make it clearer what people are afraid of. Z's rage is directed both at the people and her curse. Thanks for your comments!


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