Got an email from Gabriela Lessa about her contest with Sourcebooks. To enter, I need the first paragraph of my manuscript. I also need it to be at its best. So I'm soliciting help! Here's the first paragraph. Help me improve it?
I woke in my own bed, but not in my room. Blinking a few times, I remembered why – I'd only slept in this room one night and it wasn't familiar yet. My alarm was still going off, but it wasn't right above my head, where it used to be. Stretching, I slapped the snooze finally, pulling the pillow over my head for a moment. New house. New city. New school. Well, nothing for it but to face it.
Two paragraphs later he sees a girl reflected in his mirror and the driving force/antagonist is introduced.
Pitch: Unknowing, Jared has been haunted by the ghost of his preschool friend for years, but when his family moves from her hometown, her presence becomes undeniable.
OR: After moving to a new city, Jared is haunted by the ghost of his adopted parents’ daughter, who has lived quietly through him for years.
(Changed 11am MDT - I had flipped this pitch and for some reason blogger didn't save it.)
Feel free to offer suggestions on the pitch as well. Thanks for your readership and any help you can provide.
If you'd like a more detailed synopsis, here's one I wrote for Fictionista Workshop:
Starting his first day in a new school and a new country, Jared expects to have a bumpy ride. He doesn't expect doors slamming, lights turning on and off, or a creepy girl with glasses staring at him all the time. He's also startled by the odd reflection of a girl in his bedroom mirror. Although he once believed in ghosts, most strongly in the years following his parents' deaths, he put such fantasies aside after nearly being held back a grade. He starts questioning their existence again. He isn't ready to believe in all ghost stories, but he is starting to accept that the odd things happening around him might be the result of a specific ghost -- Kimmy, the daughter of his adopted parents. She died in the same car crash as Jared's parents, and he had forgotten his preschool friend entirely.
Despite the poltergeist's intrusions into his social sphere, Jared manages to make friends and earn a place on the football team. He also meets an odd pair, Shy and Bekah, who are somewhat isolated as visible minorities. Jared slowly breaks the shell around Bekah, a black girl who feels ostracized in a school full of white kids. He also wins the interest of the head cheerleader, Emily. Known as a matchmaker for the team, Emily doesn't try to pair Jared up with any of the other girls, but makes his mouth dry and palms sweaty as she tries to get to know him. Meredith, the strange girl that is always staring at him, adds to the list of girls surrounding him and making him the envy of his football teammates.
It is Meredith who finally identifies the ghost haunting Jared. She has been able to see and hear ghosts since the death of her own mother and sister. Never finding their spirits, she is instead visited by many others. Kimmy, the ghost haunting Jared, is thrilled to be noticed and acknowledged. Understanding how Kimmy died, Meredith is able to posit why she has remained hidden until now. So young when she passed, Kimmy assumed the young boy sleeping in her bed and loved by her parents, was herself. Puberty had its hand in her realizing that she was not Jared, but the move from the home she had always lived in snaps the thread holding her seamlessly as a part of Jared. Free for the first time, she becomes frustrated and angry, jealous of the people around Jared and longing for a life of her own. Her friendship with Meredith helps, but it isn't until the Day of the Dead, when she is unable to leave her grieving mother, that Kimmy truly sheds Jared to be an entity unto herself.
After so long a part of Jared, Kimmy tries to possess his friends as she once shared his body and life. Her intrusions do not all go unnoticed, and in the end, Jared must find a way to give his old friend peace or continue to be haunted by her ghost. A special kiss, with the trappings of magic about it, finally allow Kimmy to share the body of Emily, Jared's girlfriend, and thereby share his life in a new way.