HH Com 511

Anne Keene knows what she wants from life, finish her portrait series and become the next hot artist on the cover of Art In America magazine. But her plans take a detour when her best friend, Linda Mukagawa, enters a contest to win a Tokyo university scholarship so she can explore her Japanese roots. Anne enters certain she’ll never win. But thanks to her competitive streak, she beats out not only Linda, but fifty other students.

Anne’s dreams of fame are officially as wet as her Green Day T-shirt as she unpacks her bag in the Tokyo summer heat. Things are about to get even worse when she discovers a to-do-list from Linda. Racked with guilt for practically stealing the scholarship from her best friend, Anne is determined to complete the list. All she has to do is chronicle her adventures, find a famous boyfriend, and visit Linda’s relatives to find out what’s hidden in the family closet.

But Anne has a bigger problem than Linda’s list, she’s living with the Host Family from Hell. The father stops speaking to her after she “murders” his favorite bonsai tree. The mother believes Anne’s evil because she’s left-handed and the brother’s an Elvis impersonator. To escape her crazy home and complete the list, Anne treks off to find Linda’s relatives. When Linda’s cousins spill the family dirt, Anne discovers Linda's heritage may not be what it seems and by telling her the truth, she may end up risking their friendship for good.

This screams contrivance to me. Everything is there cause you want it, not cause it fits with the characters. It's an odd thing, since of course this is a novel and you DO put everything there, but there has to be a sense that these characters and this plot have purple hair for a reason, not simply cause that was the only color left on your palette.


clarice snarkling said...

No proofreading of the first sentence? I'd write it as "Anne Keene knows what she wants from life is to finish her portrait series and become the next hot artist on the cover of Art In America magazine." Or split that into two or three shorter sentences.

Believability issue: only fifty students entered the scholarship contest? Is the university you're referring to THE Tokyo University, i.e. the most prestigious university in Japan? If it is, I would suggest that a LOT more people entered that contest.

Based on your hook, I'd read the first few pages of this. I like your voice, and there's a lot of potential for comedy and adventure here. I think your two biggest obstacles to publication are likely 1.) the amount of research involved (though perhaps you yourself have lived with a Japanese family and are basing that part on personal experience), and 2.) voice, particularly if this is told in first person. Your hook implies that Anne is quite smart and motivated, and it's a pet peeve of mine when those traits are suggested in back-cover copy but not properly interwoven into the narrative. Best of luck with this, author!

Anonymous said...

I'd date the Elvis impersonator.

Anonymous said...

Way too many grammatical and punctuation mistakes to know if this is a story worth reading.

Get someone to proof and/or edit (depending on the level you want; at least get stuff proofed) anything you write with the goal of publication.

Katrina Stonoff said...

I want to know why the heck Anne enters the contest in the first place? You explain why her friend enters, but it sounds like she just does it on a lark--which seems unlikely to me--or worse as an attempt to undermine her friend.

I've had friends like that (who immediately began flirting with any guy I mentioned I liked, for instance), but I wouldn't find them very sympathetic characters.