12.18.2006

HH Com 158

The Touchdown at the End of the World, a YA novel

Except for the fact that his father is a CIA agent running a literary magazine in London, Harry is having a pretty ordinary senior year. But when he meets Aurora, a Cherokee girl whose extended family has settled down in England, things get a little weirder…


Ok well your hook stops there.
Chapter One

Anyway, not that it’s symbolic or anything, it’s important to note that this all begins on the Fourth of July. That is, while I do hold an American passport, I live in London and for me, on this particular Tuesday, I had to work. Of course, I like to think that I would’ve met Aurora no matter what, but at the risk of being melodramatic, it’s doubtful. This is one of those nights that change the course of your life forever and if I’d been off somewhere else, at a party or in the country, everything would have been a lot simpler. Eventually, I would’ve returned to America, bound for Harvard, and my march towards mediocrity would have continued uninterrupted. But then, because of a single wrong turn down a wrong hall, my life became, well… different. Not exactly strange or weird but at the very least, a lot more interesting than it otherwise would have been. And certainly not what my father, that master spy, would have wanted. But at the very least, a story worth telling (if not at such a ponderous length…)


I don't think they have senior year in the UK. I think it's called form, and senior year is fifth form.

However, nit picking aside...you know by know this isn't a hook.
I"m sure you can probably figure out what needs to be changed if you've been reading the other entries. If you haven't...well, now you have a reason to do so.

jolly good.

18 comments:

Anonymous said...

Fifth Form?

Mmm. Sounds like something an agent with a Cambridge education might know.

Bina said...

Actually if he's attending one of the four or so American/International schools in London, it's completelyplausible that he should have a senior year. In the British school system, however, he'd definitely be a fifth former, but given his dad's a CIA agent, he's more than likely in the American School of London.

HawkOwl said...

Thank you for putting "YA" at the top so I knew what I was in for.

That being said, I wouldn't name a YA protagonist attending a British school "Harry" just now. Also I'd make the girl... Ojibway or something. Cherokee seems a little... done in fiction. Or is there something particularly relevant to her being Cherokee rather than Ojibway or Slavey?

The voice totally didn't do it for me, but I admire your ability to start a novel with "anyway."

Good luck with it.

tomdg said...

Is senior year the last one before university, during which you turn 18? If so, then it would be "upper sixth form" (or just "upper sixth") in the UK - at least it was when I was at school. I think it may be called Year 13 now, but maybe someone a bit younger than me can confirm this - and it may vary from school to school.

But I could imagine the kid being in an international / American school.

BuffySquirrel said...

No no no we don't have fifth forms any more. It's Year 10. Keep up!

Anonymous said...

Or sixth form, if he's taking A Levels. I would assume he would, if his Dad is running a literary magazine.

Anonymous said...

It's sixth form and the rest are now numbered pretty much like american grades, one to twelve(iirc).

After sixth form comes college, then university, then real life hits them with a bang:)

Wabi Sabi said...

In Britain, if you continue your schooling post-16 you go into Year 12 and then Year 13 - that's what the kids would say - adults still refer to the whole caboodle as 'the sixth form.'

Anonymous said...

Actually if he was studying in the England, in the build up to going to University, he would be in the ‘Sixth Form’.

Sixth Form is two years of study (Lower Sixth and Upper Sixth) taking their A2’s and A Levels.

John said...

Well, I'm guessing that "senior year" is the year before you leave school at 18? In which case, it'd be "upper sixth" (fifth form is when you're 16). However, for the past 10 or 15 years, we've been using a numbering system a bit like the US one, so it could also be year 13. But one thing it would definitely not be is "senior year", not in a British school.

pax et bonum

Anonymous said...

Not fifth form, sixth. Upper Sixth or Year 13 is the British equivalent of the US senior year.

Alice said...

As a Brit, I can tell you that "fifth form" is now very dated and has been obsolete since about (does quick calculation) 1990; these days it's called "Year 11". Just to confuse things, Sixth Form still exists and consists of two years between the end of mandatory schooling and the start of University, either at a college or at the same school, where it would be also called Years 12 and 13.
It might just be easier to set the story in the 80's. Or in a different country.

Anonymous said...

I don't like race/culture being used as the sole descriptor of a person. Is the fact that Aurora is Cherokee really the most interesting thing about her? If so, that's a little sad.

Kit Whitfield said...

Sixth form, actually, if you mean the final year.

skybluepinkrose said...

Think paragraphs. This big block of text is a visual turnoff, esp. for YA or children's, but really for anybody.

Don't let a first-person narrator just blather. How about if we see the two actually meeting? SHOW us how life-changing it is.

Anonymous said...

Actually, I'm the author of this sad little excerpt. I made the main character a Cherokee because they do have a history in London. Back in 1730, George II made a chief named Moytoy the "emperor" of all the Cherokee. Other Cherokee had come to London before first as slaves, to be sold down in Wapping, then as sailors. There's a cool book about it all - The Cherokee Crown of Tannassy, by William Steele. I just thought it would be neat to tie it all back to the present day.

And yeah, the other main character is an American kid attending a (fictional) American/International school.

Heather said...

In summary:

Research a culture before you butcher it.

If you're going to set anything in a country you don't live in, you need to research it exhaustively, or those who "know" will shake their heads.

wonderer said...

Setting aside the form/year debate, your excerpt is all backstory, all telling rather than showing. Start with the first actual scene. From your "hook", it seems like the premise could be interesting. Good luck!