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Author Topic: YA Contemporary Thriller: Forty Days  (Read 907 times)
koji
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« on: October 23, 2017, 02:17:53 PM »

This is a very first draft for a query for my YA. I'd appreciate any feedback:

Caught between East and West in a little known country being abandoned by its citizens, Bulgarian teens latch on to the Mravki Challenge as a way to get noticed. Fifteen year old Mira doesn't believe the suicide game is real until her best friend, Desi, jumps to her death at the bidding of an anonymous administrator.

Desi leaves behind a letter and a phone, sucking Mira into the game. Through gruesome daily tasks, Mira finds herself questioning the Bulgarian Orthodox Church, coming to terms with modern psychology in a society that would rather rely on folk remedies, and figuring out how to use the traditional forty days of mourning to say goodbye to her friend.

Every time she cuts herself, hikes along the railroad tracks, or lies to her parents, Mira gets closer to the final task of killing herself. Having made two new friends and fallen in love with another player, Mira no longer wants to follow her friend into death. But the game admins threaten her with public humiliation and the torture of her loved ones if she doesn't complete each task.

Mira must decide whether she can trust the Bulgarian police, who can't seem to catch the game creators, and find the strength to walk away from the game before her own forty days of mourning starts.

Forty Days is a YA contemporary thriller. Its complete at 85,000 words.
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mgmystery
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« Reply #1 on: October 24, 2017, 08:04:58 AM »

This seems like an exciting book for YA! (And a nice job for a very first draft  Smiley)

Caught between East and West in a little known country being abandoned by its citizens, Bulgarian teens latch on to the Mravki Challenge (Is this a real thing?) as a way to get noticed. Fifteen year old Mira doesn't believe the suicide game is real until her best friend, Desi, jumps to her death at the bidding of an anonymous administrator.

Desi leaves behind a letter and a phone, sucking Mira into the game (I think we need a clue as to why Mira would participate after Desi just died.). Through gruesome daily tasks (related to the game?), Mira finds herself questioning the Bulgarian Orthodox Church, coming to terms with modern psychology in a society that would rather rely on folk remedies, (I don't understand how these things are related to the rest of the plot.)and figuring out how to use the traditional forty days of mourning to say goodbye to her friend.

Every time she cuts herself, hikes along the railroad tracks, or lies to her parents, Mira gets closer to the final task of killing herself. Having made two new friends and fallen in love with another player, Mira no longer wants to follow her friend into death. But the anonymous game admins administratorsthreaten her with public humiliation (what kind?) and the torture of her loved ones if she doesn't complete each task.

Mira must decide whether she can trust the Bulgarian police, who can't seem to catch the game creators, and find the strength to walk away from the game (What's keeping her there? Is she trying to help the police to save other teens?) before her own forty days of mourning starts.
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MKWrites_318
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« Reply #2 on: October 25, 2017, 03:23:04 PM »


Caught between East and West in a little known country being abandoned by its citizens (Why?), Bulgarian teens latch on to the Mravki Challenge as a way to get noticed (What's the Mravki Challenge? I spent the rest of the query wondering specifically what it is.). Fifteen year old Mira doesn't believe the suicide game (I'm assuming this is the Mravki Challenge, but again, it needs clarification.) is real until her best friend, Desi, jumps to her death at the bidding of an anonymous administrator.

Desi leaves behind a letter and a phone, sucking Mira into the game. Through gruesome daily tasks (Such as?), Mira finds herself questioning the Bulgarian Orthodox Church, coming to terms with modern psychology in a society that would rather rely on folk remedies (Without previous mention of either the church or folk remedies/tradition, this feels a little odd/forced.), and figuring out how to use the traditional forty days of mourning to say goodbye to her friend. (Is it traditional to the region or to the Mravki Challenge? You might want to explain this a bit more, since it's your title. What do the forty days of mourning entail?)

Every time she cuts herself, hikes along the railroad tracks, or lies to her parents, Mira gets closer to the final task of killing herself. (Why is she cutting herself? Is it part of the game? Also, why is hiking along railroad tracks a bad thing here?) Having made two new friends and fallen in love with another player, Mira no longer wants to follow her friend into death. (This sentence is a little clunky. This is also the first mention of Mira being suicidal in her own mind rather than only at the behest of the game, and it's a bit confusing.) But the game admins threaten her with public humiliation and the torture of her loved ones if she doesn't complete each task. (This is the first time we've encountered stakes in this query. I would add more tension earlier on.)

Mira must decide whether she can trust the Bulgarian police, who can't seem to catch the game creators (First time the police have been mentioned. I was under the impression she was in this alone.), and find the strength to walk away from the game before her own forty days of mourning starts. (The last bit is a little confusing too, since it's not clear what exactly the forty days of mourning require. I understood it on the second read through, but not the first.)


It's a great concept!

The first paragraphs had me thinking it was more of a dystopian thriller, but then the police showed up in the last one, and now, I think it's a more straightforward edition to its genre. I think explaining the Mravki Challenge/forty days will help clear up the confusion a lot.
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koji
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« Reply #3 on: October 27, 2017, 02:25:21 AM »

Thanks so much for your feedback! It gave me some things to think on and get tighter.
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Munley
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« Reply #4 on: November 19, 2017, 02:58:13 PM »

I looked up the Bulgarian Orthodox beliefs regarding the 40 days. Posted this passage from one of the things I found, as a source of information for anyone asking what the 40 days are about. I'm sure you already know this:

Death and Afterlife. Ideas about the afterlife are extensive, though many Bulgarians deny believing them. Traditionally, bodies had to be buried within twenty-four hours. At death the soul is believed to begin a forty-day journey to the other world. Many necessities for this journey and subsequent life, such as lighted candles, food, wine, clothing, and money, are buried with the corpse or laid on the grave. These supplies are replenished by relatives of the deceased in rituals conducted at the grave site on significant anniversaries of the death, including three days, forty days, six months, and one year. In addition there are several days in the Eastern Orthodox religious calendar devoted to the dead when everyone goes to the graveyard to light candles, lay out food, and pour wine on the graves of their relatives. The Communist government promoted civil funerals to replace religious ones and developed an annual civil ceremony at graveyards for honoring the dead. Bulgarians participated in both, and even in civil ceremonies much of the religious ritual was retained.

Read more: http://www.everyculture.com/Europe/Bulgarians-Religion-and-Expressive-Culture.html#ixzz4yubOAO9t
===========================

I'm wondering if Mira does any of the things described here to help her deceased friend along in her journey. Does Mira see her own participation in in the suicide game as a way of loyally accompanying her friend on this journey, literally, not just symbolically with candles, food and wine poured on a grave?

Including something about this might help explain why she's doing the game at all. Or, alternatively, telling us something that was in the letter Mira's friend left behind for her.

I agree with the suggestion of leaving out questioning the ways of the Orthodox Church and their use of folk rituals unless you can make it more relevant to other things in the query. As written now, it strikes me as an oddly injected indictment of old folk ways as useless and irrelevant, compared to modern psychology, something the peoples of every "backward" country should be embracing. (Personally, I think a lot of modern psychology is unwisely presumed to be the ultimate authority on what makes people tick, and there are things about the old folk ways worth preserving.)

This sounds like a great story. Just looking for a way to clarify -- without giving too much away -- why Mira participates, beyond the fact that it seems to be a thing that's catching on with teenagers there.



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gckatz
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« Reply #5 on: November 24, 2017, 07:31:42 PM »

This is good! If you're Bulgarian or have any connection to Bulgaria, be sure to mention it in the bio paragraph.

Quote
Caught between East and West in a little known country being abandoned by its citizens, Bulgarian teens latch on to the Mravki Challenge as a way to get noticed. Fifteen-year-old Mira doesn't believe the suicide game is real until her best friend, Desi, jumps to her death at the bidding of an anonymous administrator.

Desi leaves behind a letter and a phone, sucking Mira into the game. Through gruesome daily tasks, Maybe use a different phrase? "Daily tasks" makes me think "everyday tasks," not "tasks assigned at a rate of oen per day." Mira finds herself questioning the Bulgarian Orthodox Church, coming to terms with modern psychology in a society that would rather rely on folk remedies, and figuring out how to use the traditional forty days of mourning to say goodbye to her friend.

Every time she cuts herself, hikes along the railroad tracks, or lies to her parents, Mira gets closer to the final task of killing herself. Having made two new friends and fallen in love with another player, Mira no longer wants to follow her friend into death. But the game admins threaten her with public humiliation and the torture of her loved ones if she doesn't complete each task.

Mira must decide whether she can trust the Bulgarian police, who can't seem to catch the game creators, and find the strength to walk away from the game before her own forty days of mourning starts. Great ending.

Forty Days FORTY DAYS is a YA contemporary thriller. Its complete at 85,000 words.
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