Jan 1, 2012

Post #5

Logline: Border Crossings tells the story of three women from three different worlds whose lives intersect as they enter the world of organ transplant and egg donation.

First 250 Words:

Two years of opening hospital-room doors hadn’t eased the dread of seeing her tiny son lying vulnerable as a soft-bellied fish on the starched white sheets of the bed, wires and tubes surrounding him like the tentacles of a giant squid. Knowing that those mechanical tentacles monitored his fragile heart and fed him the medicine that kept him alive didn’t stifle the anxiety: How will Koji be today? Is it a good day or a bad day? Yuki counted silently to three and pushed the door open.

Koji’s crooked, five-year-old grin beamed out from his moon face, and she could tell right away it was a good day. Even better: the mechanical tentacles were stored neatly away. Her little fish was free. Yuki scooped him up into her arms, pressing his small, bony chest to her. She nuzzled into his neck, searching for his smell underneath the hospital antiseptic.
“You’re squishing me, Mama,” Koji said, squirming from her embrace.
“Sorry, sweetheart. I’m just so happy to see you.”
“Why?”
“I’m always happy to see you, silly.”
“Oh,” said Koji and he looked nervously at Asana, the nurse, who was fussing around the room, rolling up a piece of plastic tubing and stowing it in the cabinet.

Yuki stood up and bowed in greeting, silently chastising herself for not acknowledging the woman sooner.
Asana handed Yuki Koji’s chart and said, “From a heart standpoint, it was a good day.”
Yuki nodded vigorously, her excitement building as she looked at his numbers:

--J.F.

10 comments:

Melodie Wright said...

I really like this excerpt and logline. The fish metaphor was a great one to use here, and I instantly related to Yuki's fear and hope for her son.
Your concept is also strong - I haven't come across many stories combining organ transplant and egg donation. It caught my interest.
I would definitely read on. Good luck, and please keep me posted on your publishing progress!

Unknown said...

My immediate reaction to reading the log line was, 'how is the author going to pull THAT off...' with regards to organ transplantation and egg donation - I have no clue how they correlate to one another. But it intrigued me enough to take me into the words.

I agree with the PP regarding the strength of the excerpt. I thought Yuki's voice rang true. The writing style I enjoyed. It seemed delicate, and that appeals to me. Well done - please continue with this project!

Mark Andreas said...

logline: can you include what is at stake for the three women so it's more than just their lives intersecting, but how their lives intersect and what significance it has for them personally? Of course I'm not used to this genre, so take it with a grain of salt.

I really liked your opening. Fantastic description. Soft-bellied fish gave me the perfect image. Really well done!

John Williams said...

http://www.kittywumpus.net/blog/2011/02/14/5-things-to-do-in-your-first-3-paragraphs/

I find the conflict is missing in both the logline and the first 250 words. Your prose is wonderfuly descriptive, but there's only two potential conflicts in that first 250 words: (a) Koji's health, but clearly he's doing OK today so I'm uncertain if he's on the mend or still deathly ill, (b) Yuki's emotional distress over her son's health, but clearly he's doing OK today.

The fact that she's distressed implies that he's still deathly ill, but that isn't clear in the first 250 words. It is equally possible that he's on the mend, and she's just worried because he's been in a delicate state and will remain worried until he is able to leave the hospital. That I cannot be certain of Koji's state makes the conflict uncertain.

The dialogue seems natural, as do the character reactions. Like others, I enjoyed the fish metaphor.

I get the feeling that the chart gives us a sense of the conflict, but the 250 word limit makes it impossible for you to include the information in your submission. I would suggest you move the chart reading to earlier in the scene and make the opening be the visit with the doctor. Doctors rarely permit review of a patients chart if the patient is in a delicate state. Permitting the chart review in front of Koji implies (to me) that he's not doing too bad (possibly recovering after a transplant... but if that's the case, what is the conflict?)

Best of luck.

earth said...

I really liked this excerpt. Just reading it gave me an instant picture of what's going on. I really like your writing style. It flows so well, and you make us feel for the characters. Best of luck! I'll read this in a heartbeat.

tarak said...

The logline doesn't really follow the formula I've seen (neither does mine :)), but it hooked me. Stakes are definitely implied with what you have.

I loved the first 250. The voice came through and your descriptions were lovely and heartbreaking. "Her little fish was free." My only comment is I'd want to read on, without question.

Great job!

Bron said...

The logline shouldn't include the title of the piece or 'tells the story'. Just jump straight into the story. It's also a little short of specifics. The overall concept does sound interesting, but there are so many ways in which this could be done, and some would appeal to people more than others.

Your writing is good and I'm another one who loves the fish metaphor. It's particularly appropriate given this scene at least is presumably set in Japan. But I had the same problem as John Williams: there's no stakes. There's no reason for me to read on. Koji is doing well. Why would I, as a reader, want to turn to the next page and keep reading? I suggest starting in a place that introduces some conflict. With organ transplant and egg donation there must be plenty of these scenes.

Turbo said...

I agree with the folks above that I'd like a little more clarity of the individual stakes in the logline.

The excerpt, though, is great. The writing gives me a great deal of confidence -- it shows competence and deftness. I'd definitely want to read on and get a better sense of Yuki and Koji's lives.

T. Bruce said...

I don't know why this one didn't make it into the contest! The writing is beautiful, the story engaging. I became instantly hooked - I wanted to keep reading to find out what was wrong with Koji, was he going to get well or was he dying? Etc.

I agree with others that the logline needed more description of the stakes. The log line makes it sound just like three women struggling with infertility, which isn't a story I'd read. But from the excerpt I WOULD TOTALLY read this!

Good luck! I hope you find an agent/publisher soon!

The Sisterhood said...

I don't understand why your entry didn't make it to the contest either!

It could be the logline. Though you grab the reader's attention with "organ transplant" and "egg donation," it seems a bit vague. Can you perhaps focus on the main character and tell us specifically what her struggle is? Or how do the lives of the three women intersect? (I'm assuming one of them donates something (egg/organ) to another.) Also, where does the story takes place? (It seems important to understand cultural differences that may arise, etc.) This novel appears to have a lot of substance and human interest, but it's not clear from the logline in what direction it's going.

Minor comments:
- Initially, I thought the child was a newborn (tiny son)
- Instead of "sweetheart" which is an American expression, could you possibly find a term of endearment in Yuki's native language to give the piece more "flavor"?
- Love the mechanical tentacles and giant squid simile.
- I agree that the fact that the child is doing better lowers the stakes and doesn't "force" the reader to continue reading. (Though I would keep reading because your prose is good and the subject seemed interesting.)

Hope this helps!
Lorena