05 August 2011

Dusting off my Middle Grade novel

Gabriela Lessa has given me a great reason to dust off my only completed novel: a contest! Rupert is my MG novel. It holds a special place in my heart since it is the only novel I've managed to finish (although, when you think I've only been at this since the new year, it doesn't sound that bad).

I'm supposed to write a one sentence pitch (which I would love some help with!) and post my first paragraph. Lots of you will have seen this before when I posted it a few months back, but for those of you it's new to, feel free to share your thoughts!

Name: Juliana Brandt
Title: Rupert Reginald Robinson, XI & the Mysterious House Next Door
Genre: Middle Grade
Manuscript word count: 23,000
Judge: Aubrey Poole

One-sentence pitch: Rupert must defeat a powerful pirate when he discovers imaginary creatures live in his next door neighbors house. (Ick, I know this is bad. Thoughts??)

First paragraph:
Rupert Reginald Robinson clutched a thick book to his chest; his forehead rested against the glass of the backseat car window.  The car bumped across the road.  His head slid to a new place and left a smudge of grease on the glass.

(I am guest posting over at Jack Flacco's on being a critique partner. Go check it out!)


  1. Hey girl! Hope the move is going...

    One sentence pitch - I read that no names are needed. How about maybe a little more about who Rupert is? Age, personality. EX: When a 10-year-old orphan realizes there's more behind the ten-foot monsters living in his neighbor's couch, he enlists a slew of daycare kids to fight off the pirate leader.

    Or something like that. Ha!

    As for the first para, it's good but who's driving? Maybe have that person speak after the first sentence to pull us in right away with dialogue. Just a thought. But it is fine the way it is!! It's so hard with just one paragraph, isn't it?? Man....

  2. The para is fine, but I'd include what kind of book to give the para the necessary oomph. Is it a non-fiction about little known critters, a picture book about monsters? By telling us a bit more about the book, you can characterize RRR in the first para without adding many more words.

    The pitch however, can use some more work. I agree with Christie, that adding more details about Rupert and the threat he's up to, would improve the pitch a lot.

  3. The pitch could be looked at as intriquing or baffling. To me it seems a bit of both. You need to lose what makes it baffling. What's baffling? What does a pirate have to do with creatures living next door? Pirates usually live on ships, or near the water. Maybe that question could be answered int the pitch.

  4. 1. Best character name I've seen in years. YEARS!

    2. Stong 2nd for Christine's pitch idea

    Good luck!

  5. The pitch could use some help. However, I am clueless about how to write it. How does the pirate relates to the imaginary monsters next door?

    The first sentence could be split in two. Or combined into one. Something about semi-colons and Vonnegut.

    "Rupert Reginald Robinson clutched a thick book to his chest. His forehead rested against the glass of the backseat car window."

    But other than that it sounded great.

  6. I like your pitch! I think it's to the point and interesting.
    Oh, and I saw your post on my blog about Shark Week. I took it down because for some reason the formatting got all screwed up. It does that sometimes when I copy and paste, and instead of messing with it, I just took it down. Thanks for commenting! And good luck with your pitch!

  7. I like this plot. I am interested into how his neighbor is a pirate (a real pirate?).

    "Convinced the creatures in his neighbor’s home aren’t imaginary, Rupert must defeat the powerful pirate that lives in the house next door—even if he has to do it alone. "

    I just really quickly rewrote it. I don't know what else to do with it. I hope that helps. Otherwise, I think the paragraph is great. You could exchange the semicolon for a normal comma with a few tweaks if you want.

  8. I like L.M. Miller's suggestion. I didn't get the fact that the neighbor was the pirate.

  9. I agree with the other comments. Like Cat I liked L.M. Miller's suggestion and when I went back and read the original I could see where that revision clarified things. That's the great thing about critiquing, isn't it? I mean, to us it is perfectly clear, we know what the plot is, but the reader can't follow unless we explain what we're thinking well and having others point out where we didn't state things clearly ends up making our work so much stronger. Will just add that I enjoyed reading it, sounds interesting. Good luck, Juliana!

  10. I agree the pitch could be more specific. If nothing else take out "next door" before "neighbor" so you have two more words to use somewhere more important.

    I suggest getting rid of the semi colon (I've heard they're bad, don't ask me why) and changing it to "Rupert Reginald Robinson clutched a thick book to his chest and rested his forehead against the glass of the backseat car window." And yes change the "a thick book" to something more specific or even "his thick book" maybe.

    Also, this is pretty short. Since you only get one paragraph I'd somehow make it longer, so you get more in front of the editor while you can. :)

  11. Thank you everyone! These comments really really helped :)

  12. Hi there,

    I agree that the pitch needs to be clarified - it isn't clear what a pirate has to do with creatures or his neighbor. If the pirate IS his neighbor, you need to say that, for sure. Otherwise, it's a great premise.

    And I agree that your first paragraph lacks "oomph" - especially after that fascinating pitch that combines pirates with mysterious creatures! Naming the book is a great idea - it would tell us a lot about Rupert. Also, how does he react to the smudge on the window? You have room, so show us more of this kid.

    Good luck!