12.18.2006

HH Com 152

When aspiring dancer Dana Phillipson breaks her leg during rehearsal, she views it as a minor setback. However, when Dana’s overprotective mother declares that dance is “too dangerous”, and yanks Dana from her elite New York school to go home to Colorado, it becomes a crisis. The only dance studio nearby can’t even afford heat! As if that weren’t bad enough, Dana’s mother announces that dance is “too dangerous” and she expects Dana to live a “normal teenage life.” So Dana does what any sensible teenager would do. She lies.

Determined to return to New York, Dana invents a job to conceal the hours she is spending at the dance studio. Unfortunately, Dana discovers that recovering from her broken leg set her dancing back significantly, a fact that is driven home when her old school refuses to take her back without a full audition.

Preparing for the audition means more hours dancing - and more lies. Dana creates a boyfriend named Derek to account for her time, but eventually Dana’s mom decides she wants to meet “Derek.” Dana pays a boy at the mall to take her on a date but one “date” leads to another, and Dana finds herself falling for the real life version of Derek. She spends so much time with him that it puts her future dance career in jeopardy, but she doesn’t know if she’s risking her dreams for a guy who cares about her or if he’s only in it for the money.


This is a narration of events, not a hook. The focal point is Dana wanting to go back to NYC and the things she does to make that happen. Focus on that. The broken leg is backstory ("after Dana breaks her leg and her mother forces her to leave ballet school in NYC"...)

I'd read pages of this cause even with an unfocused hook cause I like the idea of a book about wanting something so much you'll do anything to get it.

25 comments:

Anonymous said...

I like pretty much everything about this story for a YA audience. Well done.

RT

Xiqay said...

I see why Miss Snark says this is unfocused.

I also liked the straight-forward declaration that this MC does what any normal teen would do in the same situation-lie. Although that may not be a universal truth, it sets the tone nicely.

I want to keep reading.

desert snarkling said...

I think the main "hook" is the romance--girl hires someone to be her boyfriend, to hide the real passion that's taking up her time. That could be a fun story.

katiesandwich said...

I think this sounds neat, but it has elements that I believe could use some more thought and invention. The biggest thing: Her mother thinks dance is too dangerous because she broke her leg? There are tons of ways to break your leg. My husband's best friend broke his leg weed-eating! If the broken leg is the last in a line of incidents and her mother decides that she can't take any more, then that would make more sense in my opinion, but to me, a simple broken leg seems too trivial. True, this might be all the motivation some parents need, but I think the more the girl has going against her, the better for the plot.

Best of luck with this! My oldest friend (I've known her since I was seven) is a graduate of dance college and is pursing a career in dance, so it's something I'd like to read. I've always been so jealous because of my lack of coordination!

Steven said...

I didn't see a story in the first paragraph.

Kiki said...

I would love to read this book!
The beginning (dancer with broken leg) reminded me of a TV series I used to watch as a young teen. if only I could remember the name of the series...
It had a ballet girl and a guy in a wheelchair...

Anyway, I *am* a bit sick of seeing the 'faking a boyfriend' thread. But at least she's not taking him to a wedding.

But yeah, I'd want that book.

Hey author, drop me a line if you need another random reader!

HawkOwl said...

I hate teenagers and romance.

I totally want to see more of this.

Go figure.

shelby said...

I think this sounds great. I would totally read it. Stick with this!

aries said...

I think the hook reads more like a synopsis but it is an interesting story and one that I'd definitely want to read. I think there needs to be more YA stories that focus more on teens' initiative and ambition than glorifying obnoxious behavior, i.e. Gossip Girl or The A List.

Anonymous said...

I'd rewrite the last bit about the 'risking her dreams for a guy who really cared about her'. I get a very instinctive lip curl from that. It reminds me too much of the adult romances where the high-flying career woman realizes all she really wanted was to stay home and be a housewife. (I have a problem with the gutting of aspirations, not with housewifery.)

I'd suggest putting in something along the lines of 'can she find a balance between her love for dance and her love for 'Derek'.'

On the other hand, it's been a while since I read YA books regularly and I was more a Point Horror fan then.

Which was more: 'Is Alyx risking every thing for a guy who really cares for her, or is the serial killer who has removed the left hand from ten of her friends?'

Jodi Meadows said...

I like this. I think it could use some polish, but I'd probably read it.

I take issue with the mother thinking dance is too dangerous, though. I mean, sure, you can hurt yourself, but you can hurt yourself doing almost anything. If anything, dance is too expensive.

Or, if the mother did think it was too dangerous, it doesn't seem like this would be a new thing. Certainly not because of a broken leg. Something more long term, maybe? Frex, a knee issue?

But yeah, that aside, I like this hook. I'm all about a girl doing anything to get back what she's lost. :D

Good luck with this!

Anonymous said...

I find it very interesting that Miss Snark will look past the ill-written query, which to me is indicative of the writing, to request pages. I'm not trying to be nasty--but on some occassions I see she says she'd read pages because the theme appeals to her (even when the writing does not spark)

Anonymous said...

How can breaking a leg be a minor setback for a dancer?

clarice snarkling said...

I like the idea, though the writing in the hook doesn't grab me. I'm definitely curious to read pages, but, based on the hook, not I'm not hopeful that the writing will sparkle. Prove me wrong, author, because I'm a total YA lit-loving nut and a dance aficionado, to boot. Your target audience!

CoyoteMom said...

Definitely one I would read with my daughter. I'm a YA fan though....

Annie said...

Anon: she's also said that this is why she asks for query+pages as a regular procedure (in actual work, not the CoM), because the ability to write a good query doesn't necessarily correlate with the ability to write a good book.

She's also said (in the CoM) she'd look at those pages very critically to make sure the problems don't carry over.

puzzlehouse said...

Recently, an editor said on her blog that she thought a book about hip hop vampires sounded "pretty damn exciting" (I'd rather chew my leg off and crawl away, thanks...). On another blog, an agent said says she doesn't want anything to do with a novel if it involves a serial killer.

It's a crapshoot - sometimes it's your hook, sometimes it's your writing, but sometimes it all depends on which buttons you push.

Anonymous said...

A broken leg, even for a dancer, is much easier to recover from than a blown-out knee or torn tendon -- this from someone with a torn rotator cuff, torn knee ligament and joint replacement in her big toe (damn those pointe shoes!).

Anonymous said...

where is she getting the money to pay the boy? i want to read this book just to find out. :)

shannon said...

I like the idea but I hope the Mum character is more convincing in the book than in this hook.

These kind of stories are quite popular. It reminded me a little of Bend it Like Beckham, one of my favourite movies. But they can also become cliched in their structure and outcome. Good luck with this.

Sonarbabe said...

Ahhh, a YA story that isn't about magic! I like the concept of the story. It sounds really cute. I was drawn out of the hook when the author mentioned "it's too dangerous" a second time though. It seemed repetitive. I'd like to see pages of it though.

Elyse said...

As a 19 year old ballet dancer who loves YA novels, this has definitely grabbed my interest.

However, I am having a really hard time believing that "Derek" would be able to distract her enough to keep her from her dreams. This storyline would have to be extremely compelling for it to work for me.

Another issue you may encounter is that the story, being about a ballet dancer, may cater to a very specific and limited audience. Finding a way to stay true to the dance aspect of the story while making it enticing to readers who may not enjoy dance or associate with the dancer type may be a hard balance to strike.

Good luck!

MWT said...

As for the mom, it could be something as simple as thinking that dance is a waste of her time, and she should be doing something that will be more useful to her future. Like becoming a doctor, lawyer, or businessman. Or something.

Anonymous said...

I disagree about the too-niche market comment, actually. For a start, dance is a good backdrop upon which to thrash out a hearty YA story about friendship, love, dreams and all that. Also, there are lots of movies out these days - Save the Last Dance, Step Up, etc etc - and they're very popular, I think because it's not just about dancing. A manual on dance, yes, that has a limited audience. But I think Young Adults are eager to experience, through books, all sorts of things they might not get a chance to do themselves. Just a thought.

Algebra Angel said...

Thank you for all your encouraging comments! You have inspired me to continue with a story I was burned out on.

The Author