This 250 was in a contest earlier this year (Query Kombat) where it was ripped to shreds by dozens and dozens of comments by judges and other competitors. It was brutal. But a few of the comments clicked with me and led to edits which made my manuscript better. This manuscript also got me my agent. So, as rough as it is to take those comments, sometimes they are just what you need. 

Without further ado, here it is: 

 Name: Jim O'Donnell

Genre: YA Contemporary Fantasy

Title: Gray Hole

Word Count: 66,000

Special Question: Grayson is a serial killer with a heart of gold. So Jar Jar Binks?

35 Word Pitch:

By Saturday, six high school seniors will be dead. Again. And again they'll begin the week on Tuesday, destined to relive the week before prom until they convince their classmate, Grayson, to stop killing them.

First 250 Words:


You tell yourself today will be different. Maybe it will. The lockers are the same sick, pale blue as yesterday, the linoleum floors still shine with same pungent cleaners that have been disintegrating nose hairs and SEAL-Team-Sixing brain cells for all four years you’ve spent in this school. And your classmates – if they’ve changed anything other than the color of their hair, it’d be tantamount to Chris Hemsworth intentionally eating a carb.

But still.

That pale blue used to be your favorite color before your wardrobe and your attitude took an about-face to the dark side. The chemical glint and nauseating smell from the floor is fading with each sneaker’s squeaking step. And those people – the juniors, sophomores, freshman, even your classmates – they all could –

Your head snaps against a locker so hard it’s unclear whether the high pitched hum ringing in your ears is a sudden bout of tinnitus or if the blue painted metal is actually screaming back at you. You try to pull away and see if the locker’s ugly blue was repainted red, but the hand that put you there doubles the pressure from its sweaty palms, digging the blunted and jagged ends of chewed away nails into the back of your head and your left cheek.

You stop struggling before you start. Today will be no different. Embarrassment is the baseline of high school, and pain is just a reminder you haven’t left yet.