Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Hangover Round 2 Entry #12

TITLE: CHICKADEE
GENRE: YA Contemporary
 
16-year-old Emma looks and acts straight. She has to. Her homophobic best friend would dump her if she knew, and a classmate was attacked for holding hands with his boyfriend. But when Emma falls for her female exchange student it’s time to risk it all.


I had just slammed my locker when Mrs. Galvin’s voice came over the loudspeaker. “Attention students. Report to the auditorium for an assembly. Now!” Really? The one day I was going to be early for Chem?

The halls were jammed, but at least we were all moving in the same direction. I fell in beside Cody. He cleaned his round, wire-frame glasses with the edge of his T-shirt as we walked.

“What’s today’s message?” I asked.

He squinted down at his chest and read, “Haikus are easy/But sometimes they don’t make sense/Refrigerator.”

Cody and I were in most of the same Junior Honors classes. He wore his nerdiness with pride. I covered mine up with makeup and designer knock-offs.

“Profound,” I said. “Not stylish, but profound.”

“We can’t all be smart and trendy at the same time.”

“Right,” Jon said, elbowing in between us. “Life’s too short. Like you.” He punched Cody affectionately on the arm. Jon stood well over six feet; next to Cody he was a giant. Next to everybody, really.

“Could you be a little less friendly?” Cody said, rubbing his arm.

Ignoring him, Jon said, “Hey, Emma, any luck talking your mom out of that Swedish girl’s visit?”

“I wish.” I grimaced.

“I don’t know why you’re not more excited. I think it’d be cool to learn about a different culture up close and personal.”

“Exactly. Up close and personal. I have to share my room with this girl. I won’t have any privacy. There’ll be nowhere to hide.”

11 comments:

  1. I think your logline is almost there. A couple of things: if you start with her age, it should be spelled out. Highlighting her friend is homophobic makes me wonder why she'd stay friends with him. You can explain that in the story but in the logline where you don't have room, it jumps out at me. Maybe concentrate on the physical danger. And I'd prefer something other than "risks it all". Maybe if you concentrate on the threat to her, you can work the risk part into that better.

    For the first 250 words, I'm not sure starting with an announcement is the best way to draw us into the characters. Personally I'd like a bit more of the main character before jumping into a three-person dialogue scene.

    Great premise and good luck!

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  2. Logline:

    Okay, I’m not big into stories about lesbians or gays, but that’s me personally. That being said, I don’t think the gay community would appreciate saying that they look any different from straight people. It isn’t like they have a scarlet letter G tattooed on their forehead to let everyone know. So, I would remove the ‘looks’ from your description of Emma.

    The bit about the classmate being attacked is backstory and doesn’t belong in the logline. It isn’t needed anyway.

    I agree with Ms.Goldstein about the risks it all being too vague. And I, too, wondered why Emma would stay friends with someone homophobic.

    Excerpt:
    The initial dialog doesn’t sound quite right. It’s been more than a decade since I was in high school, but I don’t remember them making announcements like that. It was normally more like, “Attention students. Please report to the auditorium for an assembly at this time.”

    The internal thoughts of: ‘Really? The one day I was going to be early for Chem?’ seems oddly placed. Maybe give her some physically emotional response to go along with the thought. Or just let her get shuffled along in the hall to come upon her friends.

    I like Cody already. Love his shirt. Can totally feel that he is going to be the source of comic relief in this story and he probably has loads of snark, which I love in YA books. Although, if he's the homophobe, I'm not sure I will stay a fan of his. Not sure how I feel about Jon yet...

    Emma doesn’t seem like the type that would admit to hiding anything. It doesn’t feel sincere that she’d say “There’ll be nowhere to hide.” That would probably have sparked a conversation from my friends of: “Oh, what do you have to hide?” and I don’t think you’re ready for Emma to admit to the reader about her ‘secret’.

    Other than that, I thought--for a YA contemporary--the opening scene was good.

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  3. I like the character... and agree that she seems too spunky and with it to remain friends with a homophobe. There aren't many teens that are homophobic anymore... At least not at the school where I work- so I just don't think that seems realistic. Parents maybe or grandparents more likely are the only people who might still be homophobic.

    Could Emma be worried about her grandparents finding out instead?

    Also, maybe Emma could just read Cody's tshirt instead of him having to read it to her?

    I like the idea and where you're going with it... definitely a market for this. Good luck.

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  4. I think the logline could be spiced up, more specific- what are the stakes? Also, the beginning doesn't grab me right away, but you have plenty of material to work with, so rework that to get the desired result. Try to start with "action" to draw your readers in. For me, a little less tagging on the he said/ she said type of thing, and try to tighten up some of the sentences- as in "squinted down at his chest", etc...

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  5. I am going to be the odd woman out here...I think this is great! Yes your logline could be tweaked a little, I don't feel I am a logline expert, so we will leave it at that.

    I love the voice of your MC!

    I will dare to disagree with some reviewers above. High School homophobia is alive and well. Whether driven by religion, ignorance or fear - it exists. They may not be AS vocal as they used to be, but it still happens regularly. There are plenty of recent news articles regarding kids who continue to suffer from this bullying. So I feel you are right on track.

    I didn't come away from this thinking we had met MC's bestfriend...from the logline I thought she was female. With that said, I don't think it would be far fetched for two girls who were friends since childhood to have to deal with this topic. And I could see how the gay girl (regardless of how strong she is), would be hesitant to do something (admit something) that could potentially cost her bestfriend in world -especailly if she is convinced that would be the outcome. During the teenage years, good friends are hard to come by, and even harder to lose.

    I've rambled enough. I like the voice, pace and dialogue. Keep up the good writing!! Good Luck!

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  6. Hangover Round 1 - #17. Thanks!

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