Thursday, February 19, 2015

Entry #9: TRACKER220

74,000 words
YA Sci fi/Thriller


When everyone has a brain-interfacing tracking chip, one glitch threatens the network. Sixteen-year-old Kaya Weiss is that glitch.

With a series of thoughts and blinks, Kaya can contact anyone and search for anything on the tracker network. But the authorities monitor everything—where Kaya goes, who she talks to, and what she searches. It’s never bothered her much, until her tracker malfunctions, and the authorities carve into her skull to reset it.

When Kaya’s tracker goes off the grid a second time, there’s no way she’ll become a lab rat again. Except a rogue movement called the Ghosts also hunts her—to exploit her faulty tracker and destroy the network. Evading the authorities requires serious tech skills, but Kaya can’t trust the Ghosts either. Accustomed to having infinite knowledge at her disposal, Kaya must rely on her intelligence to uncover the source of the glitches before either side lobotomizes her for the defective tracking chip.
First page:

We were going to get caught. No question about it. Masking your tracker signal got you a date with the authorities at best, and at worst… I didn’t want to think about it. I wasn’t lucky enough to get away with this. I was never that lucky.

Troy grinned and held out the radio wave generator. “Come on, Kaya. You know you want to.”

I shook my head. A few minutes of freedom from the tracker network wasn’t worth the risk. If the authorities showed up, they’d brain probe us to check our chips for glitches.

Troy waved the box in my face. “You sure? It’s such a rush!”

I shivered despite the bonfire blazing in front of us. “No, I’m good, thanks.”

That little box was trouble. Worse than Pandora’s. My muscles tensed. At least if I refused to disrupt my tracker signal, I wouldn’t have to lie about breaking the law.

Trekking into the woods to watch everyone attempt to beat the record for longest signal disruption was insanity. Why couldn’t we hang out at the fly-in theater instead? Anything other than pursuing a one-way ticket to tracker juvie. 

But they loved the thrill of tempting fate—the ultimate game of chicken. At best, they had about five minutes of interrupted tracker signals before the network alerted the authorities.

I leaned into Harlow, and he put his arm around me. He’d never ditch me. But most of his friends wouldn’t hesitate to use me as authority bait if the agents showed up. Not if—when.

Troy glared at Harlow. “Looks like your girlfriend’s afraid of getting caught.”


  1. This is a very cool concept, and I like your MC.

    Good luck!

  2. I love the first part of your pitch even through I stumbled over "brain-interfacing tracking chip" I'm not sure how you could make it more clear without using a few more words. Also the part about the ghosts seems a little lack luster. Maybe amp it up a bit like on top of running from the authorities the Ghost are after her too and she doesn't know who to trust.

    Over all though, I really like the premise.

    I like the opening although I'm confused why she would be "authority bait" is it just because it would be her first time or because she slow?

  3. Pitch: Sounds like Kaya is a strong character who isn't going to let anyone push her around. I like her already. First Page: I admit I'm a little lost in your world. There's a lot of unfamiliar terms strung together very quickly. I realize this is one of the challenges of a fantasy novel. I guess I need a better understanding of what the tracker network is before I can figure out the importance of a freedom from it. But I think your concept is strong, and your work has tons of potential. Best of luck.

  4. Good Afternoon,
    I like your MC. Very Matrix feel to this one.
    If a glitch threatens the system, why does the authorities wait until it malfunctions? Wouldn't they want to fix a glitch right away?
    Once she figures out what is causing the glitch... Then what? They will still hunt her right? Just because she knows what is going on doesn't mean the story is over right? Pitch left that a bit fuzzy. What is the ultimate goal here?
    Interrupting the tracker is a 'rush' Was there physical pleasure derived from being free of the tracker for moments? Does the tracker cause a small bit of discomfort when it's on?
    Like the concept of teenaged revolt against the system feel, just not really sure where it is going because I don't have strong sense of punishment and raw power of 'The System' (it should have a catchy name)
    These are my humble thoughts, and I hope that they are helpful in your artwork!
    Good Luck!
    Fellow Contestant & Writing Friend #35

  5. Pitch: I like the image that she “is the glitch.” In general, the pitch provides the right amount of information to make it clear what the problems/stakes are. It also sets the tone of a tense thriller.

    First page: This may be one of those situations in which everything is explained on page 2, but it would definitely help to find out about these things as soon as possible: Why is it a rush to mask your tracker? And why is Kaya with these guys if she’s so afraid of being caught? Peer pressure can easily make someone do something scary, so it would be good to know very soon if that’s the case.

  6. Pitch: Cool premise. I suggest you end the first sentence with a colon and then just state "sixteen-year-old Kaya Weiss"-you'll save a few words you can use elsewhere. Make what's unique about Kaya a little more clear: is the tracker merely for everyone to be monitored and yet she's able to monitor the system? Otherwise, it seems like everyone can be online with their brain and I'm not sure what her "glitch" is. She must rely *only* on her own intelligence, right? Because if she uses the system to figure things out, they'll track that? I think perhaps being more clear about what the glitch is and why it's a threat to the system would help. I agree this sounds very Matrixy.

    250: Good voice and even though this is scifi, it captures the rush kids are searching for when they engage in dangerous behaviors so your audience should relate well to this. I like that she's cautious, and yet she's out with a bunch of daredevils-makes for good conflict. I'd read more.

  7. I like your premise--very Matrix meets Divergent. I agree with what's already been suggested and wonder if a little tightening in your pitch would make room to give us a little bit of the why on Kaya--why can she access the network when no one else can? It feels like that little detail might deepen the backstory and amp up the conflict a little bit. I'd rather know WHY she can do it rather than the how that you provided "With a series of thoughts and blinks." Great 250--I think you did a great job of introducing us to Kaya's world with a very authentic YA voice. Nicely done...

  8. Pitch:
    I'm a bit confused as to how your MC is the glitch. What happened that made her the glitch? I also think the ending would be stronger without "for the defective tracking chip." Cool concept, though. I like that there's not one clear-cut villain!

    First Page:
    I really liked it. The first few lines sold me!

    Good luck!

    Domenic (#28)


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