Monday, September 17, 2012

GUTGAA Pitch Contest #16: THE DESIREE

YA Romance with a sci-fi twist


Sixteen-year-old Stevie Ryan has her hopes set on making the U.S. Winter Olympic snowboarding team. When her Achilles tendon tears during a competition, her dreams are crushed. Now she’s stuck spending the summer in a leg brace in Chicago. Frustrated and away from her life and friends, Stevie learns to make do in the neighborhood and stumbles onto a vintage cinema called The Desiree.

There she meets the owner’s eccentric (which is a euphemism for agoraphobic insomniac) grandson, Knox Trotter, and he’s way different than the local boys back home. Knox’s oddities are what allure her—with his quirky film lines and love of vintage fashion. Besides running the theatre himself one day, Knox wants one thing: to learn the truth of what happened in the theatre on the night he was born, when his parents disappeared. The answers seem to be tied to the theatre, but The Desiree is barely hanging on financially. If it closes down, Knox may never achieve his goal. If there’s one thing Stevie understands, it’s the pain of unreached goals. The closer she gets to Knox, the more his mission becomes her own, but they have to hurry, before The Desiree shuts its doors forever. If that happens, not only will Stevie lose the guy she’s falling for, but the secrets the theatre holds will remain a mystery forever—secrets that reveal a gateway to another realm of existence.

First 150 Words:

Straddled behind the driver, Stevie Ryan gripped the snowmobile’s side handles as they cruised up the mountainside, her face turned toward the morning sun. Fresh powder from last night’s snowfall shimmered on the surrounding peaks. The sky was cloudless. Conditions were crucial, and so far, everything about today was ideal. Stevie shifted in her seat, antsy with adrenaline, ready to carve the snow-packed surface of the half-pipe and claim another title. Closing her eyes, she inhaled evergreen air so deeply that her nostrils tingled. Find your place, find your Zen. She refocused on the horizon and tucked her earbuds under her snowcap, cranking her favorite Coldplay song until the music swelled in her ears. God, I love it here.

As the half-pipe came into view, the muscles in Stevie’s legs flexed. Today would make it all worth it—all the sweets she’d given up, and partying with friends; all those weekends she’d risen at daybreak while every other sixteen year old in America was sleeping in.


  1. The concept is interesting. Another realm of existence is what did it for me. Although, I wasn't really drawn in until the end of the first paragraph. I think you could combine it to a sentence or two. If you had lead with the "vintage cinema called The Desiree" somehow, it would have drawn me in quicker.

    I'm wondering why Stevie would lose the guy if the theater shuts down. I can't decide if it's a question I should be left wondering or if there should be a little more clarity on that.

    Sounds like this could be great!

    May the odds be ever in your favor.

  2. Oooh, what a fun/eerie premise. This has a nice contemporary vibe which will couple nicely with sci-fi element. I'd like to keep reading this one (wink/wink, nudge/nudge.

    I love the sample--we're getting a nice peek at how important and all-consuming snow boarding has been to Stevie. (Question: Have you received any feedback that Stevie may be a hard female name choice?? I'm stumbling on it a bit--prolly just me).

    I think you've got something great on your hands here and I wish you all the best!


  3. Congrats on getting a vote to move forward - it's not hard to see why!

  4. Stevie! What a great girl's name! Though I'm not completely sure it would work in 3rd person...(I'd have to read more to get used to it). I loved this pitch because it's so textured and detailed (Olympic snowboard team and vintage theatre!), and the suspense of the supernatural element draws me in and makes me want to read more.

    Congratulations and good luck!


  5. PITCH: This one is different, and in a good way. The character’s goals and stakes and arc all seem very well tied together, and I feel I’m reading the pitch of someone who understands STORY. Not just writing, but story structure.
    FIRST 150: What was before a “yes” is now a “YES.” From the pitch, I know what’s about to happen to her, but even without that, I already want to hang out with this character. I can’t quite put my finger on it, but confidence and voice both come through in the writing. Also, from my other comments, you know I love me those sensory details. They place me firmly in the story. I hate snow, but I love being here with this character. Fine, if I have to give some critical feedback, I’d ask what’s up with the semi-colon at the end of the excerpt. Really, that’s the only thing I can find.


  6. First to get the suspense out of the way - YOU'VE GOT MY VOTE!
    I love the juxtaposition of Stevie's athletic, outdoor life to the shadow-filled interior mystery of the Desiree. I really find the premise intriguing and want to read more!