Monday, September 17, 2012

GUTGAA Pitch Contest #38: DAUGHTER4254

YA Dystopian/Futuristic


Sixteen-year-old Daughter4254 lives in a pragmatic world where humanities are outlawed. No names. No art. No music. Her creative soul is suffocating. To avoid the MindWipe reserved for free-thinking delinquents, her mother teaches her how to survive in the community without losing identity. But when Mother falls ill and is sentenced to death, she spills the biggest secret of all: people used to have real names, and she once had a secret love. Not only that, but there are others like Daughter4254.

Fueled by the grief of losing Mother, and the desire to free her creative spirit, she stages a mutiny of art, music and film. Daughter4254 almost succeeds but is betrayed by her brother and thrown into prison, where she meets Thomas, a boy from the mythical mountain colonies where the arts are encouraged and people have names. If they can’t escape quickly, they will both be sentenced to the MindWipe – a process that erases your mind leaving your body free for the government to use. When their escape plan goes awry, Daughter4254 is forced to choose between changing the world or following Thomas to the quiet life of freedom she has always desired.

First 150 Words:

It was against the law for my mother to comfort me when I cried, but that’s what I remember most vividly about her. If it was at all possible, she would hold me while I sobbed like a  brand new one. My mother tried to teach me not to break down emotionally when I was young; it would give away my mental status. But it was not a lesson I learned quickly or easily. the hugs and kisses and pats on the back were part of many secrets we owned. We constantly gambled that the Auto Eye attendants would not notice us: one small blip of a family on their hundreds of monitoring screens.

Still, the large round bubble loomed like a wicked insect on the ceiling of our home pod. The camera and microphone concealed beneath the dark plastic lump recorded our every word and move and sent them back to the government for monitoring.


  1. Hi,
    Your query has clear stakes and is to the point. My only concern is that I can't connect with the MC. Her voice doesn't come through. I like the strong, creative side of her. If there was a way to show it in the first 150, rather than tell? Probably a scene involving the MC where you show her character.
    Best of luck.

  2. Hello. Congrats on GUTGAA!
    As I read your query, I wondered how you'd write this story with such a name for your MC, but when I saw your 150 in 1st person, it clicked for me. I think that's a great idea.
    I think you've got a great premise here, but I agree with Suja, there's a lot of telling in your opener. Steer clear of was and were verbs as much as possible (I know it's very difficult) and see how it sounds. Your character seems very creative. Let her paint the story for us.
    Good luck!

  3. Hi,
    This story sounds really cool! I love the premiss.
    One line in the query tripped me up: "there are others like Daughter4254." Does this mean there are others who are also creative? Because I think that can be assumed since there is a process to "rectify" this through a MindWipe (I love the idea of a MindWipe by the way!). Or does it mean that there is a rebel alliance of creative people?
    I like the uniqueness of this story. I really think it has something! Good luck!

  4. I was intrigued right from the start. I agree with the above comments to make your MC show her feelings more. I'm not sure why you mention the mother had a secret love, are they not allowed to love anyone? Also, show how the mother taught her to hide her feelings in the query. I like the stakes you mentioned at the end of the query. I'd read this book!

  5. Good luck 4254.
    @ everyone else confused that the 150 words didn't answer everything... read the book.


  6. Sounds good! The generic names end an eerie feeling to it that I love, and I think the concept is cool. I do think that the query reads a bit like a synopsis; it gives away a lot of the major plot points rather than leaving mystery. But, that's just my two cents. Cool idea and good luck!

  7. Thank you to everyone who's commented! I really appreciate all the great thoughts!

    Funny that you should say the query gives away too much, my first few drafts were deemed "too mysterious!" HA! We can't win for trying eh? :)

  8. WOW! I read this pitch yesterday and it's crossed my mind a few times since then. It's high concept, which can be potentially dangerous if not cinched up just-so, but it seems like you've got a pretty good handle on the details.

    Your sample paragraphs set a nice (albeit) sad tone for the life DAUGHTER 4254 leads as well as the motivation for the quest she'll soon be facing.

    Good luck with this project--It definitely caught my attention.


  9. PITCH: I’m in love with this one already. The only things that bother me are the phrases creative soul and creative spirit. Maybe just use one of them? Also, I love the choice at the end, but it’s more of a hook if we’re left with them needing to escape. That last sentence makes it feel to synopsis-y for me.
    FIRST 150: Great opening. I feel like I’m in the hands of a writer who knows what he or she is doing. The image of the monitor like “a wicked insect” is especially powerful.
    I’m sure by the time I post my comment, everyone else will have mentioned the typo—lowercase “t” at the beginning of a sentence.
    The writing flows smoothly, we get just enough hints but not too much—perfect teaser to want to read on.


  10. This is a really strong entry and you're a great writer, but ultimately I couldn't figure out how this book would stand out in the very crowded dystopian genre from MATCHED, or DELIRIUM, or ENCLAVE, or a number of other books already out. You may want to focus on that what sets your book apart should you decide to revise your query. But I'm very, very sorry I couldn't vote you in!

  11. Thank you so much for your comments and votes! This was a much needed boost to my writing heart at just the right time. I'm gearing up to rewrite my query and just have one question: How can I stand out from these big name dystopian books when all dystopian stories seem to have the same elements? MATCHED, DELIRIUM and even DIVERGENT all remind me of Lois Lowry books. I just feel like everything has already been done, can I do it to? Any hints for finding a way to stand out?