Feedback: Super Intern Contest


I like that little checkmark!

The committed Erica Chapman finally sliced and hacked her way through all 30 randomly selected pitches & first 250 words in the Super Intern Contest. Being a lover o’ math & calculatory functions of a complex nature, I had to run some simple stats on the contest. Erica was gracious enough to clarify a few responses I couldn’t quite nail down as a Yes or a No.

Disclaimer #1: This is totally my own doing because, well, I wanted to.
Disclaimer #2: I interpreted each of Erica’s comments. Where she was ‘on the fence’ I either asked for a clarifying verdict, or took the overall tone of the feedback to polarize her comments into a Yes or a No.

Here are how things turned out:

70% “No, I wouldn’t read more”
30% “Yes, I would read more.”

I’m not sure how those numbers compare to the usual slush pile ratio, but those are the stats for this contest.

At least two of my online writerly friends also made the randomized cut. Of the two, 1 received a Yes, and the other received a No. The full details, entries, and comments can be found here: http://brenleedrake.blogspot.com/. For your onsite reading enjoyment, my entry and Comments are posted below.

Super Intern Contest – FREEBORN
Genre: YA Sci-Fi
Word count: 79,000

Query letter:

Dear Mr./Mrs. Uber-Agent,

The Surgeon Generals are liars. The lives squirming inside the guts of Katia and the other clones aren’t parasites. They’re Freeborns.

The squirming in Katia’s gut means two things: she is infected with the dreaded parasite, and her boring life as a sixteen-year-old clone is over. Despite her precautions, the infection—which attacks regardless of gender or age—has implanted a living tumor inside her. Katia knows she should obey the Surgeon Generals and submit to their so-called treatment, but claustrophobia has a way of pushing her to do crazy things. Trapped, with nowhere to run, she accepts Adam’s offer of asylum in a safe house full of infected rebels.

As Katia’s stomach swells, she experiences feelings she has never known, discovers the truth about the life wriggling inside her, and joins the rebels in their insane plan to shift the power. The militant Doctors and assassin Candystripers are proficient at ending the little uprisings which threaten their illusion of peace. Only, they have never faced a threat like the plot Katia and Adam are involved in.

The rebels plan to infect every man, woman, and child on the planet with the Freeborn parasite the leaders are seeking to destroy. Not only do they have the guts to do it, but they also have the means. Katia’s fear of tight places is nothing compared to her fear of what will happen to every clone in the world, herself included, if she and the other rebels should fail—or even more so if they actually succeed.

Freeborn is the 79,000 word YA Sci-Fi offspring of The Hunger Games and Contagion.

I am a writer, poet, and visual artist. With published short stories, articles, poetry, and illustrations, Freeborn is my second full-length novel. As I seek an agent, the concept for the sequel is in the works.

Thank you for considering Freeborn.

250-word excerpt:

Katia shuffled down the busy sidewalk, hunching over her cane. Mindful of the surveillance cameras, she periodically stopped to adjust the scarf securing her gray wig. Though her old lady disguise was fake, her Infection was real.

Every face that passed wore a government-issued prevention mask. The virus did not discriminate, but attacked regardless of gender or age. None were immune. Even though Katia had taken every precaution, the sickness had wormed its way into her blood. The parasite now squirmed in her gut.

A pair of Doctors brandishing chrome assault rifles blocked her direct route to the building. One tiny prick from their portable infection detector would immediately unravel her disguise. They often slammed the infected to the ground—just for kicks—before hauling them off to a quarantine center. That was their role: abuse their authority, mess with the rabble, keep the streets clear of the infected, and toy with them along the way.

Katia held her breath and shuffled behind the Doctors. Their voices turned towards her as she passed, but they didn’t address her as she mounted the steps to the ten-story structure. Like most corporate buildings, this one had been converted to housing to accommodate the rising population caused by the Infection.

The woman in Suite 940 was her last hope. While most people referred to the woman as a witch, she called herself Ilythia. Katia’s friend—one she almost trusted—had passed on the information; Ilythia possessed the ability to help the infected through the horrific final stages.

***********

COMMENTS

erica m. chapman said…
QUERY
I remember this. And I really liked it before. This is good. I really like this premise and the way you’ve set up everything in this. I’m confused as to why they would want to infect everyone with the parasite? Isn’t that a bad thing? You may want to make that more clear. Also, comparing your story to the Hunger Games is not something I would recommend. This is good. You have me intrigued.
250
This is intriguing. I like what you’re setting up. I get an idea of the surroundings and the world we’re in. Letting us in on the infection early on is a good idea. I would read more of this.

John Lucas Hargis said…
Thanks for hacking through all these pitches for us, Erica. You’re a gem.
1. Nix the Hunger Games reference. Done!
2. So, the ambiguity about ‘why’ the rebels would want to infect everyone: I thought that might be a perk-up moment in the Pitch to get the agent to want to find out. Guess not…lol FAIL!
So stoked that you’d read more. Gives me a happy face. See —> 🙂

erica m. chapman said…
My pleasure!! Ah, it’s always better to be more direct, I think. Just my opinion ;o) Glad i could help!

***********

The next phase of the contest entails 3 of the pitches being escalated for a 10-page critique. While I would love to receive that bonus prize to give Freeborn a little boost, I am already appreciative for the feedback on my first 250. I have been having success with the Pitch, but it is nice to finally get a bit of feedback on [at least the opening of!] the writing itself. It gives me hope. Much hope.

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