The Writers Voice Entry – Recompense

I am so excited to have an entry in this year’s The Writer’s Voice!  Off to enjoy the other contestants.

Dear Writers Voice Coaches,

Curiosity and secrets were ever Lillian’s downfall.  When ancient rumors of what lies in the heart of Gold Mountain  resurface, she’s even willing to team up with three classmates to discover the source, a revelation that will prove far more dangerous than she expects.

Lillian Pratt, the Pratt Brat, must reconsider every constant her life: her family heritage, her social standing, her worth as a young woman.  With the help of her new friends, she will uncover a forgotten secret that is once again turning the small town of Gold Hill, nestled at the foot of Gold Mountain, into a community of nightmares and arguments.  She will call on every resource at her disposal only to discover that her greatest resource lies within.  Her new-found knowledge forces Lillian to decide if she will risk embracing her own truth (and secrets) to protect the people she’s come to love from an unspeakable evil.

If you are interested in Lillian’s journey, a literary young adult novel with a supernatural twist, I am happy to send the completed manuscript of 63,000 words.    Set in a small town in Northern California in 1952, Recompense is the coming-of-age story of a self-imposed social outcast.  Her tale might appeal to readers of The Secret Life of Bees and is unique in that it’s not about the monster but the responsibilities we embrace on behalf of those we love.

I write for corporate, non-profit, and educational websites in addition to having written essays and fiction for most of my life.  I have led writers groups and remain active in a critique group.  Recompense is my first novel submitted for representation.  Thank you for your consideration.  I look forward to hearing from you.

Sincerely,

Hannah Scott

First 250 words:

Never let it be said the good citizens of Gold Hill didn’t try to provide their children with a way out.  At least, that’s what Annual Career Day was supposed to accomplish.  It’s not an easy task when the same handful of presenters made it a yearly outing, but already held the jobs in our town of twelve hundred.  I think they got a free lunch out of it.

Chief Tucker’s droning voice irritated my ears like so many bees, and I rolled my eyes when he felt the need to tell us the two-man police department in sleepy Gold Hill needed more funding.  It wasn’t as if we had anything resembling a crime rate.  Even gossip was sleepy around here.  As usual, he squeezed every drop of interest from the topic of law enforcement.  I think even he was relieved when a hurried knock rattled the glass in the classroom door.

The chief went out into the hall, wedging his foot between the door and frame.

“There’s a tramp living up at the cave,” our principal’s voice echoed slightly in the corridor.

“Not likely, Herschel.” said the chief.

“Vincent just brought word.  He was chasing a missing snare when he ran across the trail.”

“Well, shoot.  I’ll head up there now.  Nobody goes near that cave.”

“Maybe that old grizzly dealt with him.”  The unexpected and ugly humor in our principal’s voice shocked the class into a low murmur.  We strained forward as one.

“We can only hope,” muttered the chief.

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48 Comments

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48 responses to “The Writers Voice Entry – Recompense

  1. Love your opening! Good luck!

  2. Great voice in your opening snippet–totally pulled me in! Those snarky last lines made me truly laugh out loud. Good luck in the contest, and happy writing!

  3. Hannah Scott

    Thanks, Marieke and Suzanne 🙂

  4. This sucked me right in and really left me wanting more! Best of luck to you!

  5. I want to know more about this sleepy little town. I have a feeling it’s not so sleepy. 🙂 Good luck

  6. Ha ha – I loved the line ‘Even gossip was sleepy around here.’ Good luck!

  7. This town sounds like a great setting for an awesome story! Your opening has me hooked!

  8. Hannah, what a great concept. I’m intrigued and wish I knew more!

  9. Hannah Scott

    Thank you, ladies. 🙂

  10. I love your first line! Sounds like this is a great adventure. I wish you luck with your entry!

  11. “Supernatural twist”–sold! Great writing! Best of luck to you!

  12. A literary young adult novel, that’s cool. I’ve seen a lot of agents make comments about how they wish they saw more literary YA.

    Best of luck to you!

  13. Sounds great! Best of Luck to you!!

  14. Deborah Markus

    “I think they got a free lunch out of it.” I really like this! Hope I get the chance to read the whole thing soon!

  15. Hannah Scott

    Thank you so much, everyone!

  16. I do love an upset in a small town, especially as a bystander. Heh. I hope we get to read more, Hannah. Fantastic. 🙂

  17. Sounds very intriguing, and love the descriptions, especially “even the gossip was sleepy around here.” Good luck!

  18. I wish the query gave us some more details about your book, but otherwise it sounds interesting. And I also like the sleepy gossip line. Good luck! 🙂

  19. Alison Miller

    I love the premise of your story! And great 250! Good luck!

  20. The query was a little vague on details, but the First 250 had great voice. Good luck!

  21. Hannah Scott

    Thank you so much for the feedback. My first query draft was too long and this was my second attempt. Reading the queries on the other blogs is helping me a lot but I’m not sure it is good form to change it for the entry.

  22. Interesting concept and great voice! Good luck!

  23. Oooh – curiosity and secrets!? This sounds like so much fun. 🙂 Good luck!

  24. Hello Hannah!

    I’m from a sleepy little area myself. They can provide some great characters. And I definitely relate to having been bored in the classroom – good opener!

  25. Sleepy, folksy, and supernatural. I love it. Good luck!

  26. Ooh, unspeakable evil. AND unspeakable evil in a quiet town. I MUST KNOW WHAT IT IS. Fingers crossed for you!

  27. Ooh, such a great opening. Good luck to you!

  28. Becky

    Aww Herschel reminds me of The Walking Dead (sorry, I’m mourning my show). I like the mix of serious and humor. The MC definitely has a dry sense of humor that I enjoy.:) And if I like the MC, I’m hooked. Good luck with the contest!

  29. Totally digging the voice in the first 250 words and I love the dialogue between the adults and the kind of accents specificity you capture in them.

    I’d like a bit more in the query as I’m not sure what is at stake really. I think it could be fleshed out more while not giving anything away. From the first 250 words I’m definitely into the story. Good luck!

  30. “unspeakable evil” –Definitely intriguing! 🙂
    Best of luck to you!

  31. Is it Gold Hill or Gold Mountain? It’s one thing in the query, and another in the sample. And I like the sample, but the query is too vague to strike a chord with me. Would love to see it fleshed out some.

  32. Your 250 words are great! I’d keep reading. Best of luck!

  33. I love the comments and suggestions.for the query and made a few small changes for clarity. I’ve lived with the story for so long I forget to explain that Gold Mountain towers over Gold Hill. Thank you so much!

  34. Great voice, Hannah. Good luck. 🙂

  35. Caroline W.

    I agree, “Even the gossip was sleepy around here” is a great line that reflects not only the type of town she lives in but how she, and probably every teen there, feels about it. Good luck.

  36. The premise is great, and I really loved that first line of your 250!

  37. odetoblogging

    Terrific opening line on your 250, and lovely voice! So many bees, sleepy gossip… loved your entry! Good luck Hannah!

  38. don’t know why my name didn’t pop up with that last comment! Hope it does this time. Corinne @ http://odetoblogging.blogspot.com/ 😀

  39. kiperoo

    Love the ominous undercurrent in this beginning. Best of luck!

  40. Wendy Parris

    The first 250 are great. Good luck!

  41. Sounds intriguing – but, I would also like a bit more clarity in the query. What’s the evil? What can it do? What does she stand to lose? Loved the humor in the first two lines of your 250, though! 🙂 Best of luck to you!

  42. d. Nichole

    I like your first 250! Your query needs a bit more strength, but the premise is awesome! Good luck!

  43. Thank you so much, everyone, and please consider leaving details on the query or contacting me. I’d love to know how to improve it. 🙂

  44. Fida

    I love this! Partly because I know how it feels to be an outcast and rediscover yourself. Good job!

    #90

  45. Hey popping in to critique you entry.

    I think you have a good premise here, but it’s hard to know for sure because your query is missing a lot of details. You make some interesting statements, however they are quite vague so nothing in your query really sets it apart from other queries about uncovering the secrets of a mysterious place. Also your second paragraph feels like a slightly longer rehash of what you said in the first paragraph. So build from what you have in your first and draw the reader in 🙂

    You have some filler words in your query like even, ever etc. words like this plus really, that and a few others just take up space and muddle up your writing. Also you have some weak verbs ex: when you say things like willing to team up, it sounds a bit wishy washy, it’s much stronger to just say she does it. Lillian sounds like a strong character so you don’t want to ruin that effect 🙂

    Taking it line by line in your query:
    Curiosity and secrets were ever Lillian’s downfall. When ancient rumors of what lies (be specific what are the rumors saying lies in the mountain?) in the heart of Gold Mountain resurface, Lillian teams up with three classmates to discover the source, a revelation that will prove far more dangerous than she expects. (now you can build from this point, filling in how they set off on their journey and give an example of the dangers.)

    Lillian Pratt, the Pratt Brat, must reconsider every constant her life: her family heritage, her social standing, her worth as a young woman. (<– while interesting, i'm not sure how any of those details contribute to Lillian's story if you can tie them in somehow great otherwise I'd cut them.)

    With the help of her new friends, she will uncover a forgotten secret that is once again turning the small town of Gold Hill, nestled at the foot of Gold Mountain, into a community of nightmares and arguments. (<– I'd use this as the building point for your second sentence it fits nicely as a transition after you say she teams up with three classmates) Here's where there's some need for some details as well, what kind of secret? can you say without spoiling the story? what is happening to the community? Instead of saying nightmares and arguments give an example or two of a big thing that happens or changes in the town.

    She will call on every resource at her disposal (<– again a bit vague what resources is she using outside of her classmates? give an example or two.) only to discover that her greatest resource lies within. () Her new-found knowledge (knowledge of what? be specific what forces her to decision?) forces Lillian to decide if she will risk embracing her own truth (and secrets) (again need more specifics about the truth and secrets if it doesn’t spoil the entire plot, but you can be a little spoilery) to protect the people she’s come to love from an unspeakable evil.(explain the unspeakable evil.)

    the only thing that’s missing from the end is what Lillian wants vs what happens if she doesn’t get it. I’m starting to get that feel from the last line but you need details to fill it out. I’m going to use a crazy made up example to show you what I’m talking about: Lily’s knowledge that she is a soul collecting slave to the devil needs to remain a secret otherwise she risks releasing him and his wrath upon the town. But if she keeps quiet she wont have the strength by herself to defeat him and might never return to the ones she loves.

    Also from what I got from your query this sounds like it may be more of an adventure with supernatural twist than literary, but without reading more of your manuscript I’m not 100% certain. But keep that in mind as you edit, it doesn’t necessarily read literary from the query. (Now I will say I may be totally wrong because I am no expert on literary but something look out for as your rewrite your query)

    Show the choice and what will happen (the stakes) if she doesn’t make that choice 🙂

    In your first 250 you have great voice. You have some what feels like awkward tensing in the first paragraph so you may want to trim down the wording a bit especially in the opening line, but overall I like the writing.

    That said, the biggest problem I see, is there’s a single mention of your MC in the first 250. You give a glimpse of her in the query and then she’s no where to be found in your opening. It confuses the reader.

    While I like the setup because I believe you are drawing the reader into the mystery of the mountain and its surrounding area, I want Lillian front and center and I want to know how she feels about career day and what the officers are saying. Let me hear from her pov (even if it’s third) how she is reacting to this news.

    I will say the one glimpse of Lillian isn’t overly favorable. Be careful introducing your character with an eye roll. It’s okay for her to be skeptical or say not again, we get this speech every year (or how ever frequent to show the monotony of the situation) and even throw the eye roll in after we get some of her voice and feelings, but to start with it just says she’s being a bit snotty because the reader doesn’t know where she’s coming from. And I’m guessing that’s not Lillian’s character at all, so use your first 250 to bring Lillian to the surface and let the readers get to know her and her quirky little town and how she feels about it right off the bat. I think that will help punch up your opening a bit and draw the reader into Lillian’s story.

    As with any critique, don’t feel obligated to use everything (or anything) I say. Use what works for you and ditch the rest. I wish your the best of luck moving forward with your manuscript. Hopefully making Lillian and her story really stand out apart from others will help you move on to that next step 🙂

  46. Ann

    I’ll do the 250 first. REALLY liked it, but two comments:
    1) “Not likely, Herschel,”said the chief. (added comma-nitpicky business)
    2) I had to read the sentence “It’s not an easy task when the same handful of presenters made it a yearly outing, but already held the jobs in our town of twelve hundred.” three times to understand the middle–might require some tweaking. Maybe it needs to be broken up into two sentences to be more clear.

    query:
    I agree that Lillian needs to be presented in a more positive light. I’ll give it a try:

    Lillian LOVED SECRETS. When ancient rumors of what lies in the heart of Gold Mountain resurface, she TEAMS up with three classmates to discover the source, a revelation that will prove FATALLY OR SOME OTHER WORD HERE dangerous.

    WITH the help of her new friends, LILLIAN will uncover a forgotten secret that is once again turning the small town of Gold Hill, nestled at the foot of Gold Mountain, into a community of nightmares and arguments. She will call on every resource at her disposal only to discover that her greatest resource lies within. Her new-found knowledge forces Lillian to decide if she will risk embracing her own SECRET truthS to protect the people she’s come to love from an unspeakable evil.

    See what you think–and good luck!

  47. Hannah Scott

    Thank you Ann and Jamie…your advice and information is invaluable! I’ll be writing a fresh query from scratch, and I had no idea Lillian came off badly, though she’s a bit of a pill until you get to know her.

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