Can You Hit a Perfect Pitch?

Here’s my entry for the contest. Please comment!

Title: Outside In

Genre: YA Contemporary

Word count: 51,000 words


Perfect super-brain Alexis works hard for approval, but inside she’s a mess, hurting herself whenever she “fails.”  When her boarding school and her parents find out her secret, she faces expulsion if she can’t stop.
First 150 words:

A bright red B. Oh my God. My lowest grade ever.

I rubbed my cheek as hard as I could and stuffed the paper into my binder before anyone could see it. I didn’t bother to check the comments—plenty of time to memorize those later.

My throat closed up and I couldn’t draw a full breath. One full grade less than an A. My G.P.A. would sink. Miranda would pass me in class rank.

One single B could ruin everything.

What would my mother say?

Miranda got her paper back and grinned in triumph. An A for sure.

How could I be such a fool? I clenched my teeth and my hands shook. I should have spent more time on the paper until it was flawless.

Dr. Shah handed out the last of the papers, but I barely noticed. Chairs scraped. Someone sneezed. There was a giggle from somewhere behind me. But all I could see was the afterimage of a—





16 responses to “Can You Hit a Perfect Pitch?

  1. This sounds awesome! And I think it’s the first other YA Contemp I’ve seen so far. XD The only thing I’d change would be “Perfect” into “Perfectionist” since that seems to be what you were going for, and I get a lot more information out of “perfectionist.”

    Great job!

  2. I like the idea, especially since I’ve known some people who are so into their grades that Bs are like a death sentence. I think I’d reword the beginning of the pitch though. To call her a perfect super brain makes me wonder if it’s a sci-fi kind of story rather than contemporary. We know, due to her self mutilation the fact that she’s a mess, that she’s not “perfect”. Maybe more refer to her as a straight A student, head of the class, valedictorian, etc.

      • It came out in the past year or two and is the sequel to a book called inside out. I want to say it’s written by Maria V Snyder. Good books 🙂 Totally different genres though so you should be fine 🙂

  3. I was going to mention Maria Snyder’s book with the same title, but it looks like someone already did 🙂 It’s quite popular though, so just something to keep in mind.

    And this totally sounds like me in high school. I freaked over an A minus a few times. Great opening! Could really relate 🙂

  4. I really liked the voice here! It made me nervous when she got that B.
    the only thing I wondered is how is she hurting herself? Cutting? I’m sure you will address that later, tho..
    Seriously– just spot on!

  5. I like the pitch, though I agree that ‘Perfectionist’ would probably fit better than ‘Perfect’. And one small thing—”but inside she’s a mess, hurting herself whenever she “fails.””—it feels like there should be a comma between “inside” and “she’s,” to read it correctly the first time.

    As for the excerpt, I love it. =) Just another small thing—”I rubbed my cheek as hard as I could”—I’m not sure what she’s doing here, exactly, or why. As a perfectionist myself, seeing a “bad” grade would make me go red with embarrassment/frustration, and I wouldn’t want to rub my cheek to make that redness worse. I guess I just don’t understand the reasoning behind it—it tripped me up as I was reading, came off odd in a ‘this doesn’t make sense’ way.

    Anyway, I love this. I’d probably keep reading, as I like the darker side of contemporary with relatable characters. Great job, and good luck! =)

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