Sunday, March 22, 2020

1st 5 Pages March Workshop - Grigorova Rev 2

Name: Lily Grigorova
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary
Title: Pans Island

If 18-year-old Raya could choose a family, it would be any family but hers. Her grandfather is Bulgaria’s gypsy king. Her uncle is the country’s most feared businessman turned politician turned mafia boss. Her father is a no-show. But instead of moaning about life’s unfairness, Raya has found a way to stick it to everyone. With her group of friends, she pulls pranks, so-called art attacks, on the corrupt political class.

Their art attacks catch the attention of the Pan: underground hacktivists Raya idolizes. When the Pan contacts her IRL, it’s a dream come true. The Pan’s leader—Peter Krill—is audacious, enigmatic, and gorgeous. His job offer—bringing down Raya’s uncle—is too tempting to refuse. Ignoring the warnings of her cowardly friends, Raya throws herself into Peter’s world of brazen plans, vague morals, and absolute freedom.

The Pan’s plot is underway, and the fling between Raya and Peter is evolving into something real, when Raya discovers she’s been duped. Peter’s agenda in Bulgaria is not what he led her to believe. And if she can’t stop this gorgeous liar who has broken her heart, she might not have a family and friends to complain about.


Pan /pæn/ - proper noun

1. Greek Mythology: a god of flocks and herds, typically represented with horns, ears, and legs of a goat on a man’s body. His sudden appearance was supposed to cause terror similar to that of a frightened and stampeding herd, and the word panic is derived from his name.

2. Urban legend: an international underground activist group, notorious for its elusiveness and ruthlessness. Claims involvement in the 2018 hack of the three major social networks, the downfall of Botswana’s diamond industry, and the publishing of Donald J. Trump’s private WhatsApp communication. The group’s popularity inspired the web TV variety show Hack ‘em!.

Chapter 1

City of Sofia, Bulgaria
Thursday, June 13, 2019
21:40

This was it. A year’s worth of work for our most complex creation yet. It was going live in five minutes and I couldn’t stop my hands from shaking. I slid my fingers around the loudspeaker in my pocket. With the latex glove, its shape felt like a golf ball. I walked past the planters of boxwood forming the perimeter of Parliament Square and pretended to look at my phone in my other hand. I breathed in and out.

When those sleazy politicians came to work tomorrow, they would be greeted by our masterpiece. When my uncle came to work, he would have to pass by it. A smile broke onto my face. I pretended it was about something I saw on my phone.

There was a CCTV camera on the side of the Parliament Building. I angled my body slightly to the left and let my hair fall over my shoulder to curtain off my face. A single police car idled near the entrance of the InterContinental across the square. I stopped when the monument of the Tsar Liberator stood between the cops’ line of sight and me. I pretended to stumble toward the nearest planter, sneaked my hand out of my pocket and dropped the loudspeaker at the base of the boxwood.

That was the last one.

I glanced at my phone. 21:43. Two minutes till we went live. My hair still a curtain between the CCTV camera and my face, I ambled toward the cobbled sidewalk which divided Parliament Square from Kliment Ohridski Garden. My mouth was dry. My heartbeat out of control. I couldn’t wait to see it. The message I was going to send to my Pan contact started writing itself in my mind. It had to sound self-satisfied, yet blasé. After this job, they would be begging me to work with them.

I leaned against a tree trunk on the edge of Kliment Ohridski Garden. I peeled the latex glove off and stuffed it in my pocket. The Parliament Building sparkled white and imposing in the summer night, bathed in the illumination of dozens of floodlights.

21:46. Come on. Come on.

I imagined Alex right now: typing, checking and rechecking his program, the twins crowding him, giving him useless advice and urging him to hurry. Alex would run a final check and then, finally, he’d press Enter.

Color flooded the white imposing façade across from me. For a second I was breathless with awe. Cartooned pigs gamboled across the building’s front, talked on cell phones, passed legislation, ate meatballs, and smoked cigars. There were speech bubbles, mock fights, money passing under the table. The stars of the cartoon resembled prominent political figures, including my uncle: the fattest of them all.

It was perfect, just as I’d imagined it: the colors saturated and distinct; the projection didn’t pixelate or freeze. I glanced at the roof of the InterConti, where our projectors were hidden beneath the hoods of webcams. Perfect alignment; the projection streamed in synchronization.

The sound of laughter broke through my awed observation. Several groups of people had paused on their way across the square to enjoy the projection, laughing and filming with their phones. I grinned and did the same.

Uncle’s pig avatar shook its fat ass at the audience, twerking and producing dollar-shaped farts. I laughed with everyone else. He’d be so pissed! His beady little eyes would retreat and become mean glints. He’d probably fire someone. Nothing you can do, uncle!

The first run of the cartoon ended with my personal contribution in large black letters: These hogs speak for you. Don’t laugh! Vote!

Then it hit me: something was missing. I stopped filming and dialed Alex’s number.

“There’s no sound,” I hissed in the receiver.

The loudspeakers I’d spent the last fifteen minutes surreptitiously planting around the building were silent.

“Raya, what are you still doing there?” Alex hissed back.

“Check the audio!” I raised my voice.

“Raya!”

“Check it!”

“Audio’s green,” he snapped.

“I’m standing right there,” I growled, “There’s no sound.”

I waited on the line as Alex checked the program. I’d made sure to place the speakers carefully on the ground and not throw them, I’d made sure they were all charged and set to transmit. So it had to be a software issue, especially because all four weren’t working.

Pigs’ grunting filled the square. It was so realistic, some of the spectators looked around in shock. I chuckled.

“Sorry,” Alex’s voice in my ear, “my bad. Now come already.”

“Be right there,” I answered.

The grunting raised it to a whole new level. The crowd of spectators went wild, laughing out loud and clapping. I joined in the applause, a ridiculous grin splitting my face.

The two cops had crawled out of their patrol car and were trying to disperse the crowd. I raised my phone to make a video with sound. I had about five minutes until Sofia Police Department started cordoning off the square and writing down people’s info for investigation. Just enough time to show off our work to the Pan.

I logged into the Pan’s darkweb chat room. Its background filled my phone screen: a mercurial gray with the Pan’s dragonfly logo shimmering in the middle. A chat window opened. I paused, my thumbs hovering over the keyboard. I didn’t want to sound childish. Polite and confident, that’s what I had to aim for.

I typed:

user416 A8i5w9Dear Pan

I giggled. This formal opening was going to get his attention.

user416 A8i5w9: How are you? How is life in the underworld?

I pressed Enter and waited. As usual, he responded within a minute. A thrill went through my chest at the sight of the three dots that indicated typing next to his Admin tag.

Admin: Sunny

I grinned. A quick glance around the square assured me SPD’s lamest were still scratching their heads, so I bent back to my phone.

user416 A8i5w9Sending greetings from Sofia

I uploaded the video I’d just made and waited. Ten seconds later, the response flashed on my screen.

Admin: I see. Very imaginative

Imaginative? It was frickin’ genius! I looked up to behold the glory of our piggish cartoon on the face of Bulgarian politics. Then I stooped back over my phone.

user416 A8i5w9: When you say imaginative, you mean the best damn thing you seen this year?

AdminI mean good enough for a bunch of kids with nothing better to do.

My jaw dropped. This job was the paragon of what we did. It mocked the corrupt political class in their faces and was bound to make the news cycle. The Pan should applaud its freshness and audacity and thank their lucky stars a genius like me wanted to join them.

5 comments:

  1. Hi Lily,

    Great work! The narrative flows, there's humour and a promise of heavy tensions ahead (an underground group, a girl making fun of her own family in a very public way...).

    You have a solid basis for an original and intriguing story with a strong female voice. I love it!

    Pitch:

    I'm curious about the fact that there is a 'gypsy king'. Can you leave out the word 'gypsy' (just because 'Bulgaria's king' is already loaded with information for non-native Bulgarians)?

    Revision:

    Thanks for adding 'Sofia Police Department' then switching to 'SPD' afterwards. This works well for me.

    You managed to round off the narrative in a compelling way, with a nice recap of what this story is going to be about.

    No further comments from me. Go right ahead and publish your stories!

    Best,
    Rae

    ReplyDelete
  2. Hello, Lily.I've so enjoyed reading this story. I also want to thank you for your feedback on my entry.

    Some comments about the pitch....You briefly mention Bulgaria, but I wonder if a little more info about the setting would help set the stage. Is the city of Sophia touristy, architecturally interesting, or something else that could paint a quick picture? And I wonder if you need some indication of the time for your story. "Modern day" or some such description might be helpful.

    I'm not really clear on the stakes for the story. It's obvious that Raya's in danger, but what else? Your pitch's 1st paragraph indicates that Raya has no close ties with her family, in fact, she works "to stick it to everyone." The 2nd paragraph says that she turns her back on her "cowardly" friends. So when the last line of the pitch says, "...if she can’t stop this gorgeous liar who has broken her heart, she might not have a family and friends to complain about," I wonder why she even cares. She's already burned her bridges with friends and family, so what does she have to lose?

    Now for the well-done revision. I continue to love the intrigue, progressing tension and use of technology. The details for setting up the prank are fabulous. But in some details, descriptions are repeated.
    *In paragraphs 3 and 5, Raya's hair "curtains off her face." Can one of these be changed to some other way to hide her face? Or the second one could just mention that her face was still obscured, or whatever.
    *Check dialogue tags in the following section:

    Then it hit me: something was missing. I stopped filming and dialed Alex’s number.

    “There’s no sound,” I hissed in the receiver.

    The loudspeakers I’d spent the last fifteen minutes surreptitiously planting around the building were silent.

    “Raya, what are you still doing there?” Alex hissed back.

    Raya hisses into the receiver and Alex hisses back. Could one of these tags be changed to avoid repetition? Or consider using "said" for these 2 tags. That would make this line stand out: “I’m standing right there,” I growled, “There’s no sound.” You could possibly even eliminate Alex's hissing tag altogether. I think it's clear who's speaking.
    *In one paragraph, Raya is "breathless with awe" and a little later, she has "awed observation." Can one of these be changed?

    Lastly, the descriptions of how Raya places the speakers don't seem to match. Third paragraph: "...dropped the loudspeaker at the base of the boxwood." Later: "I’d made sure to place the speakers carefully on the ground and not throw them...." Maybe she could drop them, but still make sure they were in position and unobstructed. Then the second description wouldn't be needed. So that later paragraph would read: "I waited on the line as Alex checked the program. I’d made sure the speakers were all charged and set to transmit. So it had to be a software issue, especially because all four weren’t working."

    I hope these comments are helpful. Again, great work on your revision and best wishes with this project.




    ReplyDelete
  3. Hi Lily.

    I really like your pitch and the unique words you used would clearly get a lot of attention. 'hacktivists', 'art attacks'... I like your creativity. Well done.

    I'm just not sure what does she gain by bringing down her uncle. It seems like Peter needs her to do it however, she seems able to do that on her own (or with the friends she already have)?

    Just a question. Was is voluntary that Pan's leader name is Peter? If so, I wonder if there are any other references to Peter Pan's story in your book.

    You did a good job with this revision and I wish I had something helpful to say to help you improve it but nothing comes to mind. Sorry.

    I wish you the best of luck and I hope you'll have a wonderful publishing journey.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Hello! Great revisions! You have a wonderful beginning to a story here. I'm a fan!

    Pitch:
    I agree with the others - Bulgaria’s gypsy king - maybe remove "gypsy." To me, it sounds like you are saying he is the king of the gypsies in Bulgaria. Without the gypsy, he is king of all of Bulgaria.

    " underground hacktivists " I love this.

    There are a lot of characters introduced in the pitch. It might be a good idea to cut some from the pitch, leaving your MC and Pan leader. This can give you more room to describe the stakes of the story.

    Story:
    I don't have too much to say on the story itself. I love it. You did a great job. I'm curious about her relationship with PAN, what they hope to accomplish with the art-bombing, and about her relationship with her uncle.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Overall, this was very compelling! I already like the setting and the premise is intriguing.

    I’d love more of a hook in the first paragraph, something that showed us more of Raya’s worldview, what she’s hoping to get throughout the novel, and what’s stopping her. I think you’re close and could get there by being more specific with your words.

    Use the image of the glistening Parliament building to set the stage, then internalize what she envisions. Try to avoid passive. In this first paragraph, you can compare things like her shaking hands now with how her Uncle scared her maybe. Or show her placing the loudspeaker with shaking hands and how the sound would compare to her uncle’s voice. Internalize about what she wants, what she might need, the tone of the book. You need to set the reader up for what this whole book is going to be about in just a few sentences. It’s that promise or pact you’re making with the reader.
    Here are your own words just tightened and rearranged to ground the reader and show wants, needs, and conflict.

    The Parliament Building sparkled white and imposing in the summer night, bathed in the illumination of dozens of floodlights. Our masterpiece was going live in five minutes. When those sleazy politicians came to work tomorrow, they would be greeted by our most complex creation yet. When my uncle came to work, he would have to pass it. A smile broke onto my face. I pretended it was about something I saw on my phone.
    21:46. Come on. Come on
    My mouth was dry. My heart beat out of control. I couldn’t wait to see it. The message I was going to send to my Pan contact started writing itself in my mind. It had to sound self-satisfied, yet blasé. After this job, they would be begging me to work with them.

    The first word ‘I’ gets a bit distracting.

    Use contractions when you can to make it flow.

    If you mention something a second time like the curtain of hair, you don’t need so many words the second time.

    Great Job! Good luck with this!

    ReplyDelete