Saturday, December 26, 2015


Name: Jade Hemming!
Twitter handle: jadewritesbooks 
Genre: Sci Fi

Pitch: Sara uncovers a hidden timeline which threatens to rewrite history. While authorities deny the problem exists, Sara risks her own future attempting to prevent catastrophe as enemies become friends – and friends turn into enemies.

The first time I travelled a Line, I overshot it by three minutes.
A genuine mistake, but a big one. Despite eleven months of preparation for my first time travel experience I’d overlooked a minor co-ordinate and landed almost face-down in the smoky New York subway. The people around didn’t notice me, they weren’t trained to. Nobody had time for a confused-looking Asian girl so I was lost amongst the crush of the rush hour. To them, I was just another tourist trying to find her way to Times Square.
My colleagues hadn’t thought to mention ‘by the way, Sara, when you travel through time you’ll get the world’s worst migraine’. The moment the world stopped spinning my head gave an almighty thud of protest. Never mind extensive training, they’d missed out the part where my tongue felt numb and every atom in my body tried to find itself again.
When I finally managed to move, I kept my path simple. Go up top, see where I was, because I most definitely had not arrived where I was meant to be. I kept my head down, hands in the pockets of my hoodie. I saw one guy looking at me, enjoying my seemingly-customised gear. It was not found in department stores.
An old toothless man with a matt of grey hair seemed to spot me as I approached the stairs and he laughed, waving a rotten handkerchief in my direction.
This was not how I’d planned my first visit to America.
It was one thing seeing it on screen, instructed not to speak to anyone or do anything apart from the one action the assignment stated. It was another being there, smelling the odd mixture of dust and fresh air amongst the warm bodies shuffling along the pavement – or was it sidewalk now? - trying to get to their destination. A constant stream of noise while I remained silent.
A single word has the potential to alter the entire course of human history. The first lesson taught to budding Corrections Architects like myself repeated in the coursebooks one hundred and seventy times. Those who understood the lesson would do better than others. Those who failed to recognise the importance of the smallest action would fail.
To say I was terrified to move was an understatement but I carried on regardless of my headache, nausea, and whatever it was making my knees wobble. It wasn’t the sudden cold. While I was used to a toasty Sydney climate, I’d seen the temperatures for that freezing February day and prepared for the icy blasts which stung my face.

For some reason people’s existence began to irritate the living crap out of me. Perhaps it was the migraine, or the fact I felt hungry, or perhaps another side effect of Line travel. I’d heard a few people’s moods went out of whack when they weren’t used to travelling. I just hadn’t expected it to hit me. 


  1. Love the plot! Love the character! This is one of those books that would hook me just based on the cover and description on the inside flap. Ooooh, I can just imagine what kind of gorgeous cover this novel would have!

    This is a great opening scene: time traveler thrown into the New York subway. But I think the writing itself does not match the potential that this scene has for excitement and great visual imagery. I'm wondering what would happen if you tried re-writing this scene. I feel like you and I might have similar writing styles, and I know that sometimes I get too attached to my paragraphs and sentences, to the point where editing a scene ends up having diminishing returns and I sometimes get more out of just re-writing the scene completely.

    I've been getting more into playwriting and screenwriting lately, and I think it has helped me a lot with pacing when I come back to narrative fiction (though not so much for the piece I submitted here =P). I would like to see what happens if you re-wrote this scene as if it were happening in a movie. Start with the action right away, throw us straight into the world. Let us feel the confusion happening along with the main character, rather than her narrating so many of her mental states and emotions. You pack a lot of background information into these first 500 words, but if you wrote it more like a movie, we would get the main objective immediately, along with the main character's driving motivation, the thing that makes her special enough for us to want to read a whole story about her. The stuff about Correction Architects, though important, can wait until a bit later in the story after we've had the initial thrill of seeing the main character in action.

    I'd love to see more of how this story turns out!

  2. Pitch: (Leaving comments on these too, since they get used in so many contests!) This is clear and tense and does a good job of covering your premise – as food for thought, is there any way to get more specific about the other players, e.g. who the authorities are, what history is being rewritten, or who the friends and enemies are? (although I enjoyed the reversal in that last phrase…) I know this kind of detail is the very devil to fit into 35 words, and I think what you’ve got is already pretty strong, but the more concrete you can be, the better.

    First 500: I love the details you drop in here about “Line travel,” its consequences, and Sara’s background (intensive training, specialized gear). Likewise loved the idea of “Corrections Architects.” I’m definitely intrigued to read more!

    I thought in a couple of places you could maybe zoom in a little more, keep a closer focus on what Sara is feeling and experiencing, to keep us right there in her head – in the first paragraph, for example, maybe emphasize her disorientation and attempting to get her bearings vs. what other people see (or don’t see) when they look at her. When somebody’s looking curiously at her unusual gear, I wondered whether that was consistent with people not usually noticing her? Would she be nervous, then, if somebody seemed to be staring? The other place I wanted more detail was in describing the potential consequences of speaking: “Those who understood the lesson would do better than others. Those who failed to recognise the importance of the smallest action would fail.” – what happens if they fail? What’s at stake in her assignment?

    Hope this is helpful!

    Amelinda (@metuiteme - #2)

  3. Hi Jade,

    I think your pitch starts out really strong, but you kind of lost me with the last sentence. “Enemies turn into friends and friends into enemies” is one of those phrases that could mean lots of things, and doesn’t reveal much about your plot. I would refocus on that on what, specifically, Sara stands to lose or gain when she tries to solve the problem at hand.

    LOVE your first line! Succinct and intriguing. I’m hooked.

    Your first paragraph starts off really well, but could be tightened at the end. You say nobody noticed Sara, but then say to them she was just another confused tourist … which implies they DID notice her, but mischaracterized her. I really like the “they weren’t trained to” aside and would perhaps make that the lead concept of your last couple sentences.

    In your second paragraph, you’ve already mentioned her extensive training and the fact that her colleagues neglected to mention the physical effects of time travel, so I think you could save some words in your last sentence and just concentrate on what Sara feels.

    Third paragraph-I’m not sure what “go up top” means. Up the escalator into the subway station? Outside? Perhaps be more specific about where she’s headed.

    You might say “matted gray hair,” but I don’t think you’d say “matt of gray hair.” Maybe “mop of gray hair”?

    “This is not how I had planned my first visit to America” – great. You have a knack for impactful one-liners.

    The concept of Corrections Architects is incredibly cool. I love it! I do wonder what it means to do better than others or fail – are you talking about in lessons, to decide whether or not they get to become a Corrections Architect in the first place? Or during missions, which would imply that Corrections Architects have been making messes all over the place?

    Sara’s thoughts and reactions give a great sense of place and character – well done.

    You have a really interesting premise and opening here! Hope some of this was helpful.

    Karen (#4)

  4. Hello Jade!! Thanks for entering #YayYA!

    Before I critique your work, remember that all advice in writing is subjective, and you are welcome to take or leave my two cents. Whatever works best for your story! Also, I haven't read the previous critiques, so I apologize for redundancy.

    Wow, what an awesome premise! I think my biggest quibble about your pitch is that we know nothing about Sara from it. Not her age, not even a personality trait, which agents tend to like because it helps establish a character beyond a floating name. Also, the end of the pitch is a little anti-climactic. Find stronger stakes to emphasize, such as Sara's future changing (what a terrifying thought for a teenager!).

    For your first five hundred, I love the opening line. Perfect.

    Small meh: "Asian" isn't really specific enough for me. Chinese? Korean? Japanese? Or just Asian-American, even (although I pick up she's NOT American... Asian-Australian?).
    You're missing some commas in different places (the world stopped spinning comma my head, to move was an understatement comma but I carried).

    Another thing: as far as i can tell from reading what I'm reading, if I were to turn the page, she'd just be wandering around NYC, which is fine, but not quite as exciting as I'd expect. If something big is about to happen soon, maybe hint at it somehow in these first two pages.

    Otherwise, that's all I have to say! Thanks again for entering and happy writing!!

  5. Hi Jade!

    Though it's a little confusing, the pitch had me hooked!

    For the first five hundred: I loved this. I wanted to know what was going on and since I've been there, I could see the city. However, at first I thought when you explained her landing in the city that you were giving us a flash back to the first time she did it. That may have been just a weird misreading on my part but maybe you should double check the wording there.
    It seemed like you were trying to build us up to a great thrilling moment between her and maybe some normal people where she struggles to keep rules from being broken. However, there's still the possibility to the reader's mind that all she's doing is going to wander around and maybe talk and talk to someone about info.
    I would try tying whatever happens later on to the beginning and mention the landing and wandering in New York more in passing, maybe through dialogue.

    Anyways, this sounds really cool and had me intrigued!
    -Bethany #5

  6. Hey Jade! I really like the opening of the story mysterious and complicated yet easy to understand. I like the detail abut how this is her first trip to America, nice touch there. I feel as if the paragraph that begins with "A single word..." would make a good opening to the book. Nice job!